The London Book Fair Unveils Author HQ and Writers’ Summit Line-up

The London Book Fair Unveils Author HQ and Writers’ Summit Line-up

London, Wednesday 6 December 2023. The London Book Fair (LBF) is excited to announce today speakers and topics for its popular strands for authors and illustrators: the three-day Author HQ programme, as well as the one-day conference Writers’ Summit.

L-R: Lemn Sissay, Anya Smith, Abiola Bello, Rachel Hill, Nicola Solomon

The one-day conference Writers’ Summit will kick start the week of the Fair, on Monday 11th March, at the new venue of Novotel West London. The conference aims to equip authors with practical tools for their writing journey, empowering them to get their work noticed by agents, publishers and readers in an increasingly crowded market. The day will feature workshops, panel discussions, industry and expert advice, as well as networking opportunities.

With speakers including writers and illustrators Natasha Carthew, Hazel Mead, Tabitha Rayne, Greg Buchanan, Natasha Bowen, Abiola Bello, Sana Rasoul, Davina Hamilton, Yvonne Battle-Felton, Sacha Black, Dan Holloway and leading experts from HarperCollins, Rethink Press, Bitter Lemon Press, The Diverse Book Awards, Writing East Midlands CIC, The Working Class Writers Festival, Reedsy, Stardust Book Services, BookBrunch among others.

With a keynote delivered by Lisa Sharkey, Senior Vice President at HarperCollins US, topics discussed on the day will include how authors can own their own media, getting started in the book industry, diversity and inclusion in books, mastering the technical details of publishing (formatting, cover design, editing), writing in a modern market, and finding the support you need on your journey as a writer.

Taking place between Tuesday 12th and Thursday 14th March at London Olympia, speakers participating in the Author HQ programme of talks and panels include: Lemn Sissay, Vicky Palmer, Gavin Esler, Danielle Jawando, Manon Steffan Ros, Charlotte Eyre, Orna Ross, Joanna Penn, Amy May, Anya Smith, Zubs, alongside key industry experts from Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hodder, Amazon KDP, Storymix, The Carnegie Awards, Society of Authors and many more.

Designed to share insights into the current trends and hot topics of the book industry, talks at Author HQ will cover TikTok and social media tips, neurodiverse stories, how to prepare for publication, writers and mental health, the YA book market, building tomorrow’s readers and more. Once again, Author HQ will be sponsored by Kindle Direct Publishing, with a series of sessions featuring bestselling self-published authors and KDP experts providing advice and guidance for authors.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 13th March, Author HQ will bring back its special Illustrators Programme, featuring a business masterclass on contracts and copyright, precious advice on how to get your illustrations published, the process behind a cover design, and a networking reception for illustrators.

Confirmed speakers at the Illustrators Programme include Illustrator of the Fair Flavia Z Drago, award-winning illustrator Jennifer N R Smith, Matthew Kelly of HarperCollins Children’s Books, Charlotte Abrams-Simpson of Orion, Joanna McInerney of Big Picture Press, Rachel Hill and Sarah Morris from the Association of Illustrators and more. New to this year, the revised Illustrators Gallery will host a special display of the winners of the 2023 World Illustration Awards.

Lisa Sharkey, Senior Vice President at HarperCollins US and Writers’ Summit Keynote Speaker, said: “As Jorge Luis Borges once said ‘I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.’ For people who love books, whose lives and careers are driven by the power, beauty, and wonder of words, it feels like arriving in Paradise when you walk through The London Book Fair. I can’t wait to be back seeing the smorgasbord of ideas from the worldwide zeitgeist and appreciating the cultural melting pot as I walk from booth to booth admiring books from around the world, meeting with my colleagues and friends.”

Gareth Rapley, Director of The London Book Fair, said: “Our offering to authors and illustrators is one of the most important strands of the Fair – they are the creative cogs that keep our industry going. We are excited to announce an incredible line-up of events as part of Author HQ, the Writers’ Summit and our popular Illustrators Programme. From masterclasses to insightful conversations from experts in the field, networking opportunities to practical workshops, The London Book Fair will offer something to perspective, new, recent, and veteran authors alike. We are thrilled to have so many brilliant writers, illustrators, publishers and leading voices in the industry sharing their knowledge and insights at next year’s Fair.


Highlights from the Writers’ Summit programme include:

Chair’s Opening Remarks: Join Lucy McCarraher, Founder of Rethink Press, for her welcome and introduction to the current writing landscape.

Keynote Address: How Authors Can Own their Own Media: All authors worry about writing their books, but often they don’t think through how they are going to raise awareness about themselves and their books across the world! In today’s crowded landscape, how can authors find the right communities? Should they be all over social media or should they simply look at one social media vertical? Can AI help with marketing? What are the best marketing and PR techniques? Lisa Sharkey, Senior Vice President and Director of Creative Development at HarperCollins US, shares her insight on how authors can own their own media.

The Author’s Journey: Making the Most Of your Publishing Experience: Join us for a thought-provoking conversation as we delve into the challenges and obstacles that authors face. This debate will cover a wide range of topics, including the initial steps of entering the industry, securing a publisher, and working with an agent, as well as the marketing aspects of promoting and illustrating a book. Speakers include illustrator Hazel Mead; self-published author Tabitha Rayne; Joshua Fletcher, AKA Anxiety Josh, therapist & author at the School of Anxiety; and Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of the Society of Authors.

Essential Skills in Bookmaking: A session designed to equip self-publishing authors with top tips for editing, book formatting and cover design. Industry experts will guide you through the intricacies of these critical aspects of book production, empowering you with the knowledge and tools needed to create a polished and marketable book. With Nastasia Bishop-McHugh, Founder of Stardust Book Services; Martin Cavanagh, Content Marketing Manager at Reedsy; and author and editor Roz Morris.

Panel discussion: Becoming a Writer in a Modern Market: Join us for an enlightening session as we explore the world of emerging formats for writing, and the transformative power of new technologies, including AI, in the realm of literature. Speakers will delve into the impact that these new mediums have on the traditional publishing industry. Speakers include Greg Buchanan, author of Sixteen Horses, and video game writer; Lucy McCarraher, Founder of Rethink Press; Natasha Carthew, Artistic Director of The Working Class Writers Festival; François von Hurter, Co-founder of Bitter Lemon Press; and Jo Henry, Managing Director of BookBrunch.

Dan Holloway in Conversation with Sacha Black: Sacha Black is a lover of words, expensive shoes, and breaking the rules, whose books and podcast for authors can teach you how to improve your writing and become a badass entrepreneur. Dan Holloway is a part-time writer of dark fiction and a performance poet known for experimental narratives that fuse avant-garde and introspective themes. Join them for a wide-ranging and entertaining conversation that will span the diverse spectrum of independent author-publishing.

Diversity & Inclusion In Books – Have We Done Enough? Gain a broader understanding of how diversity and inclusion (D&I) are delivered in the wider creative industries and engage in a thought-provoking conversation with Kurdish author Sana Rasoul; Abiola Bello, Author, Publisher and Co-Founder of The Diverse Book Awards; writer and teacher Natasha Bowen; and Helen Lewis, Founder of Literally PR and Co-founder of The Diverse Book Awards.

Finding Your Village organised by The Society of Authors: Being a published writer is hard, not just the writing but navigating the publishing world, knowing what route to take, how to evaluate contracts, know when you’re being taken advantage of, find funding and maximise opportunities. How do you find your writing village to support you through good times and bad? Speakers include authors Davina Hamilton, Trish Cooke, Yvonne Battle-Felton, Abie Longstaff, and Johanna Clarke of the Society of Authors.

Chair’s Closing Remarks: Join Henderson Mullin, Chief Executive of Writing East Midlands CIC, as we wrap the day and reflect on key learnings and takeaways from the conference.


Highlights from the Author HQ line-up, sponsored by Kindle Direct Publishing, Bookvault, and Kevin Anderson & Associates include:

Preparing for Publication: Get expert advice on how to prepare for the publication of your next book, with speakers including Jasmine Richards, Founder and Editorial Director of the kids’ fiction development studio Storymix, and Vicky Palmer, Creative & Marketing Director at Hodder and former Marketing Director at Transworld, who won a Nibbie for her stellar Marketing Campaign for Lessons in Chemistry.

Keeping up with Social Media: Social media is a huge tool for readers and book buyers, but how far should authors be keeping up with it when it can sometimes feel so overwhelming? From X, to Instagram, Threads to TikTok, without forgetting Facebook, what advice do the experts have for authors to promote their brand and books? Join Lisa Sharkey, SVP at HarperCollins US; Publishing Consultant Ain Deheb Bensenouci; and Jojo Schlattner, Senior Social Media Manager at Penguin Random House UK.

How I Write: Well-known authors Lemn Sissay (My Name is Why, The Fire People) and Gavin Esler (How Britain Ends) share a glimpse of their writing life, offering insight into how they wrote their best-known books.

The Rise & Rise of the Indie Author: Self-Publishing Futures: Exploring latest trends and future predictions in self-publishing, with a particular focus on the impact of AI (artificial and augmented intelligence) on independent authors. Speakers include: Michael La Ronn, fantasy author, YouTuber, and founder of Author Level Up; Joanna Penn, author and award-winning entrepreneur, founder of The Creative Penn; and Orna Ross, novelist, poet and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Lead Role for Neurodiverse Stories, Characters and Authors: Bestselling charts are featuring neurodiverse stories, main characters and authors more than ever, so we hear from writers about their writing journey, getting published and what’s to come. Speakers include authors Marina Magdalena, Talia Hibbert, Holly Smale and Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors.

Great Tips for Self-publishing Success: Want to learn more about how to market your book and address your target audience? Join the organisers of the Selfies Book Awards and indie authors for some tip tops from the experts on making the most of your self-published work. The talk will be followed by the presentation of this year’s Selfies Book Awards for the best indie published adult fiction, adult non-fiction and children’s book from 2023,  followed by networking drinks.

The Yoto Carnegie Shortlist Announcement 2024: This special panel event will see the 2024 shortlisted titles for the Yoto Carnegie Medals for Writing and Illustration exclusively revealed, following a discussion about the Awards’ mission to empower the next generation through books and reading. Jake Hope, Carnegie Awards Executive will be in conversation with 2024 Chair of Judges Maura Farrelly; 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing winner, Manon Steffan Ros; and 2023 Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Illustration winner, Joe Todd-Stanton.

Diversifying Authors, Diversifying Incomes: This panel session will tackle the many ways in which self-publishing contributes to promoting diversity and inclusivity – in content, in audience reach, in publishing options, and in income streams. Hear from successful indie authors on why they chose self-publishing for its creative freedom.

You’ve got this! Mental Health Resilience for Writers: Being a writer can be lonely and emotional – rejection can be hard but so can success. How do you deal with rejection? With imposter syndrome? With post publication blues? How do you share mental health issues with your publisher or your agent? And who will support you when you are feeling fragile? Join writer and academic Lily Dunn; award-winning comics creator Hannah Berry; author and wellness speaker Chloé Pierre; Anna Frame, Communications Director at Canongate; and Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, who writes under the pen name of Sam Blake.

YA Spotlight: How To Get Noticed in a Crowded Market: YA books are trending, but with a crowded market which is particularly influenced by BookTok, how can you get your book get noticed? Speakers on this panel include author Danielle Jawando, journalist Charlotte Eyre and BookToker Samantha Soar (@samfallingbooks).

Authors and BookTok: Content Creators Leading the Field on TikTok Share Their Tips and Advice: BookTok’s influence on the book sales market is undeniable, so we’re hearing from the content creator experts themselves about their tips and advice for authors wanting to make their mark on TikTok. Join BookTokers Joe Reads (@joe.reads), Amy May (@amymaybooks), content creator Anya Smith and Bookstagrammer and schoolteacher Zubs (@Zubscovered).

Getting Started: Building Tomorrow’s Readers: Join Steve Antony, award-winning writer and illustrator of 22 children’s books, and ‘School Libraries Champion’ of the School Library Association, about how to raise the next generation of readers.


Highlights from the Illustrators Afternoon programme, as part of Author HQ, include:

Illustrator of the Fair – Flavia Z Drago: A special in-conversation event with the Illustrator of the Fair, Flavia Z Drago. Born and raised in Mexico City, Flavia studied Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK and is currently collaborating with Walker Books in London, making picture books with monsters as main characters. Her first picture book as an author and illustrator called Gustavo the Shy Ghost (2020) became #1 in The New York Times Best Sellers; it was followed by Leila the Perfect Witch (2022) and by Vlad the Fabulous Vampire (2023). In 2021 she was the winner of the Klaus Flugge Prize.

AOI Publishing Contracts Masterclass: In this mini masterclass, The Association of Illustrators (AOI) will guide you through copyright, contracts, rights, advances, royalties and important clauses to watch out for, with Sarah Morris, Membership Manager at the Association of Illustrators.

AOI Panel Discussion – Getting Your Illustrations Published: Want to know how to catch a decision maker’s eye, and get published? Join the AOI’s CEO, Rachel Hill in discussion with Joanna McInerney, Head of Big Picture Press; Matthew Kelly, Art Director (Fiction & Brands) at Harper Collins Children’s Books; and Charlotte Abrams-Simpson, Art Director at Orion Publishing Group.

In Conversation with illustrator Jennifer N R Smith: An insight into award-winning illustrator Jennifer N R Smith’s creative practice, inspirations and journey that led to her first children’s book, Glow, being published by Thames & Hudson in 2023 as the first in the natural history series Wild Wonders, with the second book to soon be released in 2024. The session will be chaired by Sarah Morris, Membership Manager at the Association of Illustrators.

Illustrators’ Afternoon Networking Reception: Join fellow illustrators and creatives in the Illustrators Gallery area for an informal networking reception.

Further details about The London Book Fair line-up will be revealed in the run up to the Fair and will be available at this page.

The London Book Fair (LBF) is the world’s largest spring book trade and publishing event, and will return to its home at Olympia London from 12 – 14 March 2024. Visitor registration is now open, at this link.

To apply for a press pass for The London Book Fair, please click here.

View the full Writers’ Summit programme here, and the Author HQ programme here.

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