Self-publishing, agency lead LBF debate

Self-publishing, agency lead LBF debate

The future of self-publishing, the new agency model and the Penguin Random House merger will be the hottest talking points at the London Book Fair, industry figures predict.

Self-published authors will have a greater voice at LBF than ever before, with agents and authors coming together for the LitFactor Pitch curated by AuthorRight, while the Alliance of Independent Authors celebrates its first birthday at the fair.

Agent Luigi Bonomi said: “I think we’re really moving into a very different world. To date it has been a reticence, a diffidence towards publishers by self-published authors, and vice versa, and maybe this year the Cold War between these two communities will be broken by the two sides meeting face to face, and realising they both have separate strengths and weaknesses.”

Sam Copeland of Rogers, Coleridge & White agreed that there was no sign of self-publishing slowing down. He said: “Just this week, I have seen one successful self-published novelist get an agent, and two other agented self-published books via the Kindle White Glove programme hit the top 10 on Amazon. I don’t see any signs of self-publishing bubbles bursting at present or in the near future, not unless Amazon changes radically, and I don’t see that happening.”

But a note of caution was creeping in for some. Agent Lorella Belli said: “Now publishers have some self-published authors in their lists, they are holding off on others as they wait to see the results. It might lead to a slowdown if they don’t perform as well as hoped.”

Simon & Schuster executive director Kerr MacRae predicted that the refining of the agency model would be a key talking point: “It will be about what that will mean for prices and the digital market. Everyone will be watching what everyone else is doing in terms of how the prices may be changing.”

Meanwhile, Atlantic editor-in-chief Ravi Mirchandani said that during a pre-LBF trip to New York the Penguin/Random House merger came up “in conversation after conversation”. He added: “Obviously at the fair it will be hotly under discussion.”