2022 Keynote Speaker

Meryl Halls, Managing Director, The Booksellers Association

Meryl Halls has been Managing Director of the Booksellers Association since April 2018, and has spent her career promoting and supporting booksellers. Her career at the Booksellers Association began with managing events and conferences, and later she became Head of Membership Services, responsible for establishing programmes and campaigns, including the Independent Booksellers Forum, Independent Bookshop Week, the Books Are My Bag campaign, the Children’s and Christian Bookselling Groups, Irish and Scottish initiatives and other BA events. She is Vice Chair of the Independent Retailers Confederation, Policy Board Member of the British Retail Consortium, Executive Committee member of the European & International Booksellers Federation and a Trustee of World Book Day.

Welcome and Introduction

Jeremy Thompson, Managing Director, Troubador Publishing Ltd/The Book Guild Ltd

Jeremy Thompson is the founder and Managing Director of Troubador Publishing Ltd and has over 30 years’ experience in commercial and self-publishing. He founded the Matador self-publishing imprint in 1999, making it the UK’s most widely recommended author services provider, and launched the Self-Publishing Conference in 2013. In 2015 he acquired The Book Guild Ltd as a Troubador subsidiary company. Jeremy regularly speaks at conferences on self-publishing, including the London Book Fair, Self-Publishing Conference, Winchester Writers’ Conference and the Westminster Media Forum.

2022 Session Timetable

In a packed day, delegates can choose from a range of sessions to suit their own knowledge requirements. Here is the preliminary session timetable (subject to change).

  • 8.45-9.30am Registration and coffee

  • 9.30-9.45am Welcome and Introduction

  • 9.45-10.45am Session 1: Matador ‘Masterclasses’

  • 10.45–11.00am Morning coffee

  • 11.00-11.45am Keynote: The Booksellers Association

  • 11.45-12.30pm Session 2

  • 12.30-13.30pm Lunch

  • 13.30-14.15pm Industry Panel: Choosing the right self-publishing company

  • 14.15-15.00pm Session 3

  • 15.00-16.00pm Plenary Session: Sophie Hannah

  • 16.00-16.15pm Afternoon Tea and Cake

  • 16.00-17.00 Author Panel: Publishing perspectives

  • 17.00-18.00pm Drinks reception

9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Session 1 - Matador Masterclasses

Joe Shillito and Josh Howey, Matador

With an understandable emphasis placed by authors on their cover design, the inside of many self-published books can often be overlooked. Typesetting is far more than a simple formatting of text to fit a page; it is an integral part of a book’s overall design, contributing not only to how well a book has been produced, but also to the reader’s overall experience of the volume. This session looks at text design and how it can raise the game for any self-publishing author.

Chelsea Taylor, Rosie Lowe, Jack Wedgebury, Matador

Cover design is so often wrong on self-published books, with authors making the same mistakes over and over. So how can you get your book cover looking like something from a mainstream commercial publisher, so that it stands as good a chance as possible of selling? In this session, Matador’s cover designers look at the common pitfalls made by self-publishers with their covers, and how to approach cover design like a pro; and we look at cover design from a printer’s perspective, with all the fantastic opportunities that technology now offers to enhance covers.

Alexa Davies and Sophie Morgan, Matador

The use of social media in all its forms has become an essential part of any author’s marketing arsenal. With Twitter and Facebook being the two most important platforms, others such as Instagram are fast catching up in popularity. But what is the best way of using each such platform, and how do they differ in what results they can offer authors? This session looks at social media from an author’s perspective, and offers insights on how best to use the various platforms.

Megan Lockwood-Jones and Andrea Johnson, Matador

Downloadable digital editions have been a fast-growing sector of the books market, with ebooks having shaken up the market in recent years. Now audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the books market, with digital downloads rapidly increasing with the increase in home devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Home Pod. This session looks at the importance of digitally downloaded books in ebook and audiobook formats, and how Matador can help issue books in both formats.

11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Session 2

Stuart Evers, NetGalley

Getting your book noticed is difficult; so this session is designed to help you find strategies and tactics for improving the reach of your titles. Assistant Director of NetGalley UK, Stuart Evers, will show the power of pre-publication reviews, the value of visibility, and how to stand out from the crowd.

Clive Herbert, Nielsen Book

Selling books is all about making the cover attractive, getting the media interested, no? Well, no. Selling books is about data, that often technical stuff that accompanies the more glamorous aspects of publishing a book. Data can include reviews, an author biography and photo, a contents list, the price, page extent, a detailed synopsis and extract… and the more data (and the more accurate it is), the better the sales are likely to be. This session looks at the importance of data to self-publishing authors, and advises that it should be ignored at your peril.

Cressida Downing, The Book Analyst

Editing can take many forms, from line editing to structural editing, copy editing to developmental editing. This often baffling variety of editing can be a minefield for self-publishing authors unfamiliar with the intricacies of the publishing world. This session takes the mystery out of editing, while placing great emphasis on the fact that no self-publishing author should be contemplating publication unless and until they have had their work edited.

Aidan Morrissey, HNS Conference Organiser

A good historical novel is the result of extensive research so as to be as accurate to the storyline’s period as possible. In this session, novelist Aidan Morrissey looks at some of the research he undertook before writing his novel, and at the vexatious question of anachronisms. For some, these are the bane of historical fiction; for others, they are the lifeblood of literary and prize-winning authors.

Sarah Taylor, Berkeley Communications

Every story follows an arc and a formula, each has tension and drama. Every story has someone we can relate to… and so should your marketing and publicity. Nowadays, ‘local author writes book’ won’t cut the mustard – your press release, interview pitch and other marketing content must be memorable, and bring the story of you and your book alive. In short, storytelling doesn’t finish once you’ve typed ‘The End’. This session will delve down into the storytelling aspects of marketing and publicity, and how you can leverage its power in your marketing efforts.

1:45 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Industry Panel

John Sailing, The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain; Martin Reed, The Society of Authors; Alysoun Owen, Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook

With the explosion in recent years in authors opting to self-publish, the number of suppliers – from excellent to adequate, ‘dodgy’ to simply out to exploit – has also burgeoned. The options and offers open to authors can be bewildering, and in a wholly unregulated market, authors far too often fall foul of the scammers.

This panel, lead by representatives of the UK’s most respected advocates for authors – the Society of Authors, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook – looks at how to tell the difference between the saints and the sharks and avoid those tales of woe at the hands of the self-publishing charlatans.

2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Session 3

Stephanie Carr, Matador; Philippa Iliffe, The Book Guild

Getting reviews of your work is one major factor in why so many authors decide to publish. So what avenues are open to you to ensure that you get those all-important reviews? National newspapers, the regional press, retailers’ reviews, readers’ reviews, bloggers, social media… all have their own pros and cons. And what about paid-for reviews? How far should you go to get a review? And what happens if you don’t like what someone then says? This session looks at the many avenues open to self-publishing authors to obtain genuine reviews for both books and ebooks, and at the benefits and pitfalls of each option.

Paul Mendelson, author and screenwriter

Alfred Hitchcock said that to make a great film you need three things: the script, the script and the script. The same is equally true in TV and radio. Every writer’s journey is different and even after 45 years of writing for a living, Paul A Mendelson wouldn’t presume to teach you how to crack it. But perhaps, in a very personal talk, he can help you to find your voice and make your own opportunities. And as he’s a BAFTA-nominated comedy writer, he’s hoping he can also make you smile. (He also loves questions!)

Kate Nash, Literary Agent

Like most things, there are trends in book publishing. When Harry Potter became a success there was a flurry of ‘wizard’ books; vampires ruled the roost for a few years, and recently it has been the turn of anything ‘plant-based’ to take pride of place on the shelves. Literary agent Kate Nash needs to know what publishing companies are looking for, so staying on trend can be vital. For self-publishers too, catching the wave of a hot subject can bring success beyond that expected. This session looks at what genres are on the rise and fall in the publishing world.

3 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Plenary Session

Sophie Hannah

In this talk, Sophie will explain how writers can maximise their chances of success and happiness by giving up on trying to solve the wrong problems and starting to identify and solve the real problems they face, in order to make their writing dreams come true.

Sophie is an internationally bestselling crime writer, founder of the Dream Author Coaching programme, and Course Director of the University of Cambridge's Master's programme in Crime & Thriller Writing. 

4:15 p.m.

Author Panel: Publishing perspectives

This panel session looks at the different routes to publishing, the pros and cons of each, and the expectations that authors often have from each. Featuring both mainstream and self-published authors, the session will conclude with a Q&A.

Paul A Mendelson

Paul A Mendelson is a BAFTA-nominated screenwriter, playwright and author. An ex-lawyer and adman, he created and wrote the long-running comedy series May to December, So Haunt Me and My Hero for BBC, created Neighbors From Hell for DreamWorks Animation and the acclaimed Martin Clunes drama Losing It. He has written several original plays and dramatisations for BBC Radio 4. Paul’s first novel, In the Matter of Isabel (‘a wonderfully funny comic novel’ The Independent) and his movie script were bought by Hollywood within a week of publication. He has since written two more novels, a collection of shorter fiction and two bizarre children’s books Losing Arthur and The Funnies, all published with The Book Guild.

Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling writer of crime fiction, published in 49 languages and 51 countries. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. In 2014, with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family and estate, Sophie published a new Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, which was a bestseller in more than 15 countries. She has since published two more nationally and internationally bestselling Poirot novels, Closed Casket and The Mystery of Three Quarters.

In 2013, Sophie’s novel The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. She has also published two short story collections and five collections of poetry – the fifth of which, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A Level and degree level across the UK. Most recently, she has published a self-help book called How to Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment – The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life and launched the How To Hold a Grudge Podcast.