Case Study:

Fiona MacBain
Report on Attendance at the London Book Fair 16 March 2017 – Be There grant

Having the opportunity to pitch my second novel, Glasdrum, at the London Book Fair was a dream come true.

After years of rejection by literary agents and publishers, I self-published my debut novel (Daughter, Disappeared) in November 2016 with considerable help from XpoNorth/Emergents in the form of funded editorial reports and self-publishing advice.  The reports improved my manuscript enormously and the advice, delivered via Ben Galley, gave me the confidence to tackle the publishing process and the subsequent essential advertising.

I had given up with the traditional publishing process and it was liberating to be free from the cycle of submission and rejection, which is time-consuming as well as soul destroying. I was lucky with my debut novel – through targeted Facebook advertising I managed to sell over 800 books in the first four months, and gained 50 top Amazon reviews in that same period.

Although self-publishing had gone well, it was time consuming, so prior to publishing my second novel Glasdrum, I submitted it to the Write Stuff pitching event at the 2017 London Book Fair. I was astonished to be one of only six authors to get through to the final of the Dragon’s Den style event, pitching to literary agents in front of an audience. However, it meant travelling to London and staying there overnight.

This is where one of the drawbacks of being a new Indie Author kicks in – it’s expensive! I had spent a considerable amount on editing and design services, and Facebook adverts to launch my debut novel, and had already been to London a month earlier to do a reading from Daughter, Disappeared, in Waterstones, Convent Garden, as part of Novel London. Going back to London was going to be a financial stretch, even though I knew this was a unique opportunity to find an agent for my second book, and to indirectly publicise my first book. I was therefore very grateful when I applied for the XpoNorth ‘Be There’ grant to be awarded £150 towards the costs of the flights and accommodation.

The event itself was nerve wracking. There was a crowd of around 200 and in addition to pitching about my second novel, I also mentioned my already-published book, Daughter, Disappeared. I did not win the event (the agents chose one of the six authors pitching, who then got to choose which agent they wanted to work with), but I got excellent feedback from these industry experts (the agents judging the event were Laura Williams, PFD; Euan Thorneycroft, AM Heath; Piers Blofeld, Sheil Land and Camilla Wray, Darley Anderson) and some valuable exposure which has provided me with useful publicity material for Facebook (with almost all my current book sales having been generated via Facebook sponsored posts).

Fiona MacBain, 18 March 2017