Monday, April 25, 2016

3 weeks left to enter ROSA's first Imbali Award contest

We at ROSA are delighted to announce the launch of the Imbali Award, an award that recognises and rewards excellence in romance writing. Imbali is the Zulu word for flower, reflecting ROSA's floral acronym and logo, as well its African origins.

A first in Africa, the award is open to all African romance authors who have published a romance novel between July 2014 and December 2015.

In this first year of the contest, the Award will be limited to fifteen entries only, and entries close on Friday 13 May.

The entries will be judged by a panel of book bloggers and reviewers, including Lu-Marie Fraser of the Sugar and Snark book blog, blogger and editor Lia Marus, Laurynne Gouws of romance book blog Book Review Bay, and blogger & reviewer Nandita Baard.

The winner will be announced at the gala dinner of ROSA's third annual Romance Writing conference to be held in Johannesburg on 24th September 2016.

Details of the contest as well as entry forms can be found on the ROSA website

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Gina Rossi reports back on London Book Fair 2016

After the Fair: Gina Rossi reflects on her first visit to the London Book Fair, 2016

At the Quantum 16 Conference, the launch pad of the London Book Fair held the day before the opening, Baroness Gail Rebuck, D.B.E., and Chair of Penguin Random House UK, reminds those present that it is still stories and the people who write them that underpins absolutely everything in the publishing industry. With this in mind, I step into the vast main hall at Kensington Olympia, on Tuesday 12th April 2016, ready for my first book fair ever, and pause to marvel.

Do I speak for all writers when I say we rarely have an opportunity to feel special? We spend stacks of time doubting our ability. It’s our job to worry, to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Yet here I am, surrounded by – literally – millions of books, trillions of words, each and every one written by a successful author. How inspiring is that? Right now, I feel special.

Onward, and this is what it must be like for a bee inside a hive. Everyone’s working, or walking with purpose. A few, like me, are standing alone, gawking. All around, rising to the lofty iron girders of the exhibition hall, the steady hum of thousands of earnest voices pitching, presenting, selling and promoting. Ridiculous as it sounds, there are books everywhere – on tables, shelves, racks and counters. Everywhere.

Jeffrey Archer
First things first. Within the massive hive, I make a beeline for Author HQ, except I don’t. It’s not that easy. Even with the handy floorplan I get lost, and wander, happily distracted by the surroundings. There’s no logic to the layout that I can see; it’s not like children’s book publishers are together in one area, with cookery books somewhere else. What a feast for the eyes! Here’s a publisher of colouring-in books, including the fabulous ones created by Millie Marotta, and there’s a place you can take a hologram selfie with the Bard himself, while over at FCM Media there’s a book being written ‘live’, contributions welcome. As for the English Pen Salon, you could sit there all day listening to short talks by Jeffrey Archer, Marian Keyes, Jeanette Winterson, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes… I could go on.

Author HQ
A quirk of fate (read ‘eavesdropping in the loo’) leads me to Author HQ, where I meet best-selling author and writing colleague, Louise Rose-Innes. There she is, smiling, calm, and elegant – the personification of a tall glass of cool water in the hot hurly-burly of the crowd. I’ve known Louise online for several years but this is the first time we’ve met, and it’s an absolute highlight. Immediately, I feel like I’m connecting with a good friend.

Louise Rose-Innes and Gina Rossi

We talk about everything: the fair, ROSA ( – we’re both members), Louise’s brand new release A Passion So Wild, London, South Africa, Romance Writers of America (, family, children, education, success and failure, The Wild Rose Press (, editing, publishers and publishing, book covers, writing, writing and writing. We finally said goodbye after a visit to the Kindle Direct Publishing stand where we popped in to a warm welcome by Darren who answered questions and gave advice freely.
“Never forget,” he said, “that there are only two people in this business of publishing: the writer and the reader.”

That said, day over, heads full of advice, ideas and inspiration, Louise and I parted company, and went home to write. Will I go to the London Book Fair next year? Absolutely yes!
Who’s coming with me?

A random summing up, and notes to self for 2017:
  1. Author HQ had a range of writing and publishing gems to offer (the newbie writer in particular), by way of lectures and panel discussions. It’s a great place to start.
  2. Each day, Twitter was positively red-hot with latest publishing news, invitations, screenings, readings, book launches, signings, and plenty more. Keep an eye on that and adapt your visit accordingly (if you’ve got a bit of time right now, take a break and enjoy all the highlights here: - go back to 11th April, at least).
  3. It was warm in there. The sun came out, beating through the massive glass barrel roof, turning the venue into a hothouse (it was built in 1886 as an agricultural hall). Wear thin layers, and keep taking them off. 
  4. I didn’t get sore feet, I realised the day after. I got sore everything! My step-counting app registered 14052 steps on day one. Be prepared.
  5. Seating was sometimes limited. Louise and I discussed taking along a golf stick next time, or a folding stool! There were no huge queues at the loos as some would lead you to believe, at least not when I went. Likewise, no unreasonable queues for food / drinks.
  6. Don’t listen to those who say you can’t pitch to an agent or publisher at the LBF. You can, to some, but you need to approach them well in advance. So: 
    1. - Select the agents / publishers you wish to approach.
      - Send a polite email asking whether they'll be exhibiting and whether or not they'll be taking pitches.
      - If they are, make appointments and be super punctual come the day.
      - Take along exactly what they request.

    Finally: Smile. Connect and communicate. Feed off the energy and enthusiasm of the event. Take in as much as you can. Be inspired. Go home and write. Feel special.

    More information on Gina Rossi and Louise Rose Innes can be found at and

    Panel discussion at Author HQ

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Before the Fair: Gina Rossi visits the London Book Fair for the first time next week.

Today's guest post comes from ROSA author Gina Rossi:

Springtime in London means the London Book Fair’s right around the corner. I’ve never been, but a few months ago, I found ‘early bird’ tickets online for the LBF 2016, and immediately bought one. Seconds later I wondered why. Why would a writer go to a trade fair focussed on the publishing industry? Is there a place for authors, too?

I began to ask fellow writers for their views − and did some of my own research on the LBF’s own, great website – asking the question “Why do you go to the LBF, and what advice would you give a first-timer, like me?”

Here are the answers:

“Wear comfortable shoes!” – Lizzie Lamb, author of Scotch on the Rocks (you won’t believe how many people dished out this bit of advice, so take heed).

“Make appointments. Don't simply turn up and expect publishers to stop and chat. They will have paid thousands for their stands and are there to do business. So, contact them early to set up meetings. And, check the online exhibition guide and plot your route around the fair before you arrive. Catalogues are heavy! Browse them at the fair then read them online when you get home. Avoid queues for coffee - pack a flask and a sandwich instead.” − Jan Ellis, author of French Kisses.

“Network. Connect. Make friends. Interact. Have fun!” − Linda Nightingale, author of Love for Sale.

“I’m going to LBF 2016 because immersing myself in the publishing world inspires and helps me become more creative and determined to succeed. If others can do it, so can I. Also, there’s the Author Club which I think will be good for networking. I’m also looking forward to meeting authors who I’ve corresponded with on social media but never met face to face.” – Louise Innes, author of A Passion So Wild

“Don’t be scared. If you’re a first-timer like I was, it can be very daunting, especially when you don’t know the make-up of the industry. But take your time, get a feel for the place, attend seminars, speak to people. You’ll soon find your way.” − Dan Jeffries, Author.

“Take water, a notebook, business cards, mints, a snack and some lip balm, and don’t be afraid to talk to people – we’re all here for very similar reasons.” − Marta Dziurosz, Translator in Residence, Free Word

“Make a plan of what you want to go to, get orientated around the large venue early in the day and I’d recommend signing up for the opportunities at Author HQ.” − Catherine Miller, Writer.

“It’s like Glastonbury – your feet hurt, and you need stamina but it’s a pretty inspiring place to be.” − Harriet Williams, Project Assistant, London Book Fair 2015

“Stick with me, if it’s all a bit bewildering or we get lost, there’s always a gin to be found somewhere…” − Amanda Prowse, Writer

“Prepare, prepare, prepare. Book your meetings in advance and enjoy the event. Whether it’s a new title you’re seeking or just advice and information on the world of publishing, it’s a must attend event.” − Asif Bashir, Director and Founder of Unique Inspiration

“Try to prepare your visit in advance. Make sure you allocated enough time to attend several professional sessions. Visit the digital zone to discover new technology companies, trends and what is coming next. Stroll down the aisles with an open mind and a smile in your face. Attend as many cocktails and parties as you can to meet and network with interesting people from all around the globe.” − Javier Celaya, CEO of

“Just keep walking, keep smiling and keep kissing passing cheeks if they are proffered.” – Jo Glanville, Author and Ghostwriter

“The Fair runs Tuesday to Thursday: book leave for the Friday.” − Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association

“Work hard, play hard, wear comfy shoes and talk to everyone and anyone – you never know who you might meet in the queue for the loo!” − Emma House, runs PA groups across all areas of publishing

“Pace yourself!” − Jane Tappuni, EVP of Business Development

“Jump in, the water’s warm. Everyone at events is there to do business and come out with more than they went in with so don’t be shy. Throw caution to the wind and your inhibitions and go meet people. You might surprise yourself.” – Caspar Thykier, CEO and co-founder of Zappar.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers, go to ALL of the free events, set yourself some goals and again, hustle hard.” − Sam Missingham, Head of Events at HarperCollins

“Considering this was my first time, and that I’ve been in the industry since about January, I’m maybe not the best person to ask for advice. But I would say, chat to everybody. There’s no one who I met at LBF who wasn’t really lovely and kind. Everyone seems to completely understand how hard it is to get into the industry – after all they’ve all done it already! They’re very supportive. So, if it’s your first time, I guess my advice would be not to be afraid. You’re really welcome there, even if you’re a total newbie to the industry like I was!” - Jasmin Kirkbride, Publishing newbie and writer (2014)

“Avoid the drinks receptions before 5pm.” − Alison Hubert, International Director of Book Aid International

“There is so much….Crussh (in Academic on the right hand side of EC1 and Publishing Solutions in EC2) sell the most delicious smoothies, and superfood salads, which are the perfect pick me up from the long days and nights of LBF. Don’t wear new shoes – give yourself at least 2 months to break them in or (for the ladies) bring ballet flats in your hand bag. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! The show is large and there is a lot going on which can be daunting if you have not been before, there are many veterans of LBF on the organising team, and there are no stupid questions. We were all first timers.” − Jennifer Booth, LBF Operations Manager

“Wear very comfortable shoes. Arrange lunch in advance. Try to see people you love to see who you cannot often see. Meetings are valuable as much to keep up favourite relationships as to pitch your books actively. Try to get to the V&A while in town!” − Gail Hochman, American literary agent, Brandt & Hochmann Literary Agents, Inc.

“Be on time for appointments.” − Maggie Hanbury, The Hanbury Agency.

“Do check out the remarkably comprehensive seminar programme and plan your day. It does not have to be a random yomp!” − David Roche, Owner/Director David Roche Enterprises Ltd, & non-exec Chairman of The London Book Fair Advisory Board 2013.

“Talk to as many people as possible. Explore every corner. Seize every opportunity.” – Bryony Woods, DKW Literary Agency.

So, I’m ready – and inspired. I can’t wait!

Please look out for my next article, ‘After the Fair’, right here on the ROSA blog. Thank you ROSA for hosting me today. And thanks so much to all the super authors, members of the publishing fraternity, and the London Book Fair 2016 itself, for quotes and contributions to this article.

See you there,