The first session of the second day I unfortunately missed as I was heaving with cold. Seriously, I am rarely ill but when I am I make a damn good job of it. Apparently it involved a free writing exercise that I was sorry to have missed.
The next session was the keynote of the day by Piers Alexander, author of The Bitter Trade. Piers was attending as last year’s Pen Factor winner to describe his self-publishing journey.
I sat in amazement listening to the story. Firstly it was disheartening to hear how his novel, although capable of winning the Pen Factor, couldn’t find representation. And then Piers began to get into the meat and veg of his story, describing the very bones of self-publishing, from attending the London Book Fair to organising print runs to comissioning covers and all the while not scrimping on price because he was so concerned with quality.
The finished product is a spanking-looking book, it must be said. I did have a word with Piers in private about how much the whole business cost, and although I wouldn’t be so rude as to write the figure down here, I will say it was vast. I hope The Bitter Trade does well enough for his to judge the process a success.
After the announcing of 2014’s Pen Factor winners (and congratulations to all three of them), came a panel on book reviewing. Now, I always review books I read on my Kindle, probably because the damn thing prompts me to at the end of the novel. But I don’t put a great deal of trust in the amount of stars a books has, particularly if fewer than ten people have reviewed it. So went the general consensus at the conference.
The difficulty seemed to be getting your novel reviewed in the first place. If it’s literary, it stands a better chance (because there’s less of it about? Or because it’s ‘highbrow’ to review? Hm.), and if it’s SF it stands no chance at all.
Obviously I think this is stinkingly unfair. But before you know it, here we are again, ranting about the book-class war.
The final panel of the day was ‘Canon Tales’, where eight people made precisely 7-minute presentations about their lives in writing anf publishing. There were hilarious, sad, confusing, maddening and wrenching stories and it was one of the best parts of the whole weekend, for me. I particularly enjoyed the authors’ journeys, as they showed how even thirty years ago, small presses were their springboard into becomming career authors.
This is a very reassuring idea! Final TLC Conf’ blog tomorrow, and my summings-up.