LBF Overview: Age of Algorithms

Posted: April 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

The London Book Fair felt very different this year. Previously, print publishers ruled the roost and showcased their star authors (Hilary Mantel, and in YA, Anthony Horowitz and Patrick Ness). They were stridently denying the digital revolution would have any impact on ‘real’ books.

This year the Kobo logo was everywhere, and the Books Are My bag give-away sounded a very defensive note. People who buy real (print) books from real (bricks-and-mortar) bookshops are now a niche who need to distinguish themselves with special markers. Once that was all there was, now – Welcome to the Age of the Algorithm.

New Adult

As a YA author my focus was on YA as a genre and how to get visibility as an author in the new digital world, and the intersection of the two (blogging, niche branding).

Two seminars examined the new genre of New Adult (New and Opening Markets: Young adult, teen, new adult and crossover

New-Adults-Steamies-Crossed-Genres–Reinventing-Teen-Fiction). Was it just YA with added sex? Is it defined by who reads it or the age/ life stage of the protagonist (leaving home, first years of college)?

Authors seemed to feel that it was a marketing invention aimed at the 18-25 age group with outliers, bright aspiring younger readers and some 25-35s, settled with young families looking back nostalgically on their college years. Though Abbi Glines said she had met readers in their 70s. All agreed that, because of the age of the protagonist (16+) you could include more sex, but what was really the focus of interest was romance, relationships, independence and self-discovery. Twilight readers grown up, pushing into chicklit territory.

It also seems to be driven by an audience raised on tv (Girls, Skins)


On the author side the buzz word is discoverability. Self-publishing is now technically simple, but how do you get any sort of visibility as an author? A number of seminars addressed this (Successful-Self-Publishing; branding, and what authors need to know; Good Reads; Amazon CreateSpace and KDP). I found all these useful and will write up in more detail. The star turn, though, which made the whole visit worthwhile was Advanced Online Marketing for Authors. I will devote a whole page to the enthusiastic Joanna Penn’s tips. I’ve paid hundreds of pounds over the years for workshops and seminars on how to ‘break in’ but this was simply the best.



Then there were the intersectional book bloggers, of whom the most prolific are YA readers, with publishers now knocking at their doors for reviews and coverage.


Equal Measures: Achieving diversity and equality in children’s books has now become something of an institution at LBF. I was particularly interested in the issue of gender and LGBT representation. As one of the speakers pointed out the BT bit tends to get lost. Where are the bi and trans characters in YA fiction? The few that there are tend to come from the US. I’ll be asking for suggestions of UK YA books that present positive representations.

  1. Intriguing start, Gerry….looking forward to the expansions

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