I’m a pretty decent guy. Valued too. At least that’s what the voices in my head tell me. Joking! I don’t really have voices in my head. They stopped talking to me a long time ago. Now I mostly get the weather channel or BBC Radio 4 if it’s sunny outside. Outside of my head, value was a word being spoken a lot at the London Book Fair this year.
One of the largest international fairs in the publishing industry, LBF brings together everyone from editors to company directors. It also brought together a lot of authors and writers like me; people who often forget their own value. Following a nervous exchange with Kris Austin the CEO of Draft2Digital, I figured my value was pretty damned low. Kris was really helpful, engaging and willing to chat. The problem was me. Beginning a conversation by babbling the first thing that comes into your head is never a good idea. Have you ever had that dream where you’re standing in front of a huge crowd of people and you realise you’re naked? This was worse.
Author marketing is something I do as part of my platform building. It involves getting people to see the pretty decent guy I mentioned at the start and generate interest in my books and what I write. But I can still be really bad at it sometimes. After I’d finished spouting absolute rubbish at Kris, I slunk off to recover and bash my head against the mirror in the toilet (note; never do this when other people are washing their hands beside you).
Fortunately help was at hand that day in the form of people like Gail Powell from Oodle Books and Mark Lefebvre from Kobo. Gail was nice enough to start the conversation so I wasn’t dithering about gasping like a goldfish. She even consented to a selfie after we’d had a useful chat and exchanged business cards. This warmed me up nicely for Mark, a Director at Kobo. Again I dithered but this time I did have the balls to actually say hello. Mark was delighted before admitting that he struggles with talking to new people as well. He described himself as an ‘omnivert’, (it’s not a dinosaur – I checked). You might have heard the term but for anyone who hasn’t, it’s a cross between an introvert and an extrovert. People like Mark (and me I guess) are comfortable by themselves but once spoken to are happy to engage and chat. We struck common ground pretty fast. As it turns out it’s really hard to shut either of us up as once we meet fellow professionals, we like to talk to them.
Remembering your value by remembering you’re not alone
It never occurred to me that a respected and well known company director would be shy. I met several more that day along with some big name authors who all admitted to the same problem. We all panic (some of us by hyperventilating) when confronted with new people or new situations. Fortunately we get over it by going to these events, sharing information, helping others in our industry and realising we’re not alone.
The voices in our head try to protect us, but sometimes you just have to ignore them and go for it. Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun’s just come out and I think I can hear The Archers.
You can find out more about my time at the London Book Fair or ask questions by connecting with me on Twitter @TheOnlyJohnnyA #LBF2016
You can download my book on Career Change at Amazon here (also available at Apple, Nook, Kobo and all good retailers)
You can also download Grave Tales, a collection of short stories at Apple, Nook, Kobo and all good retailers. Amazon edition available shortly.