In 2007 I first visited the London Book Fair, in the hope of buttonholing an agent/publisher/interested party, and after trailing down alleyways of stallholders, all intently interviewing and avoiding catching eyes of anyone without an appointment, realized that the LBF was not a place where authors were recognized as relevant to anything. I had a self published book on a shelf in the nether reaches of the indie publishing section tucked as far from sight as possible, upstairs in an isolated desert, where the custodians picked their teeth and exchanged opportunities for a coffee or a smoke. I vowed never again.
This year was very different.
Some self publishing subsidy publishers had made it into the big-time hall and the world of digital, marketing, self publishing had commandeered Earls Court2 alongside the thrusting Chinese theme. All seminars seemed geared to the new world. Was I alone in imagining a cold shiver, a glacial denial in the ranks of traditional publishing? They seemed to have their backs to the prevailing wind. Some had clustered together under group umbrellas, the Mind Body Spirit section looked hopeful of survival, the Small Independents seemed huddled for mutual support, and authors now walked with more confidence. Authors had invaded, and authors were catered for. Two publishers actually accepted a manuscript, and promised to read it. Way hey!
Nobody said it was going to be easy; but the tide has turned, undoubtedly.