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 35 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, and launched Indie-Go to help indie authors produce their own books. 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).

  • 9.00-9.30am Registration and coffee

  • 9.30-9.45am Welcome and Introduction

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

  • 10.45–11.00am Morning coffee and biscuits

  • 11.00-11.45am Keynote: The Booksellers Association

  • 11.45-12.45pm Session 2

  • 12.45-13.45pm Lunch

  • 13.45-14.45pm Industry Panel: SoA, WGGB, W&A

  • 14.45-15.45pm Session 3

  • 15.45-16.00pm Afternoon tea and cake

  • 16.00-17.00 Plenary: Sophie Hannah

  • 17.00-18.00pm Drinks reception

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

Session 1 - Matador Masterclasses

Chelsea Taylor and Jack Wedgbury, Production Department, 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.

Megan Lockwood-Jones and Andrea Johnson, Digital Department, 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.

Joe Shillito and Joshua Howey, Production Department, 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.

Jonathan White and Sophie Morgan, Marketing Department, Matador

Our ‘Marketing Toolkit’ will equip you with all you need to know to successfully market and publicise your new book. Included is an explanation of how both the book trade and media work with newly published titles, as well as best practice to follow to make your book as successful as possible. It will demystify the process and give you a clear view of the challenges and potential for success for a self-published title.

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

Session 2

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.

Aidan Morrissey, HNS Conference Organiser/historical novelist

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.

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.

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.

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.

2:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Session 3

Stephanie Carr, Digital Department, Matador; Philippa Iliffe, Marketing Department, The Book Guild Ltd

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.

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.

Clive Herbert, Publisher Services Manager, Nielsen BookData

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.

Ashton Hinton

Whether on a cover or inside a book, illustrations have an innate ability to engage an audience, inspire the imagination, and can even make reading more exciting. Considering illustrations for your book is not an aspect to be overlooked as they can often be the key to the success of a book, grabbing the attention of wandering readers from the shelves.

Should I have illustrations in my book? What difference would illustrations make? How do I work with an illustrator in the first place? Illustrator Ashton Hinton can help answer these questions as she walks you through the process of working with an illustrator from start to finish, what to consider before hiring an illustrator, and the impact good illustration can have on your own book.

4 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Plenary Session

Sophie Hannah

In this talk, bestselling author Sophie Hannah 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.