Takeaway from the Online London Book Fair’s Writer’s Summit 2021

Had the awesome opportunity to attend last week’s Writer’s Summit at the online London Book Fair. Here are some pearls of wisdom I picked up while there…

My only regret about the Writer’s Summit at the online London Book Fair last week is that I couldn’t attend the whole day. Well… that, and that it wasn’t in person. But what I did get to see and listen to was brilliantly informative. Shout-out to my old friend Hannah Brewer, the Conferences Manager, for giving me the nudge to go along.

There’s more detail in the video above, but the basic gist of the two presentations I attended is below.


A panel consisting of industry players. More specifically, YA writer Abiola Bello; literary agent Catherine Summerhayes; Kimberley Young from HarperCollins; Ben Hughes from IngramSpark; and Alison Jones, Director of Practical Inspiration Publishing. Between them, they shared some of the respective pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing.


PRO: Literary agent steers you through the process. Including, but not limited to marketing, publicity, and selling adaptation rights.

PRO: You can potentially reach more readers.

CON: Success largely comes down to luck.


PRO: Speed to market.

PRO: Authors can springboard to traditional publishing later.

CON: Harder to hit higher sales figures.

CON: Greater degree of investment. If not in the book’s publication, then in the marketing and publicity.

I would also add another point the pro list: you retain total creative freedom. Publishing companies may ask you to alter your work quite drastically. Just like Nina Manning told me when I interviewed her back in 2019.


This is the second presentation at The Writer’s Summit I attended that morning. With literary agent Liza deBlock at the head of proceedings. And in this 30-minute masterclass, she gave a foolproof formula for the perfect Elevator Pitch.

According to Liza, it need only be one or two sentences, and should contain these three elements only. (1) Character, (2) Setting, (3) Conflict.

Then with the Submission Letter, the second part of her class, you also include the work’s title, genre, total word count, plus any comparative works.

Because I had to leave, I missed out on a feedback opportunity for the Elevator Pitch for You Can Hear Chopin from the Attic. All the same, I have left the proposed version as an example below:

Heinrich Oeunhausen is the manager of a luxury hotel in Berlin. With war raging around him, he must also conceal his sick wife from his Nazi clientele.

Want to know more? Why not let me know in the comments? For more author news and views, my Facebook and Instagram pages are here.