UK Meet Introduces – LM Somerton

Introducing our next spotlight author, LM Somerton.

Hi, I’m LM (Lu) Somerton. I live in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep.

I started writing to fill time between jobs but have been firmly and unashamedly addicted for the seven years I’ve been published. I love the English weather, especially the rain, and adore thunderstorm and rainbows. I love good food, warm company and a crackling fire. I’m fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and my stories often contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.

I’ve been with Pride Publishing since the start, have over 30 books out in the world and love attending events both in the UK and abroad. I love meeting readers and fellow authors who then become friends, despite being an introvert.

I’m an avid reader as well as an author and still get tongue-tied around my favourites when I get to meet them. I’m looking forward to seeing friends old and new at the 2020 Meet!

Check out all my info here.

UK Meet Introduces – Jess Faraday

Introducing our next spotlight author, Jess Faraday, and her upcoming book, Shadow of Justice.
Constable Simon Pearce doesn’t believe in love. It’s a dangerous proposition for many people in 19th century London, but for an ambitious copper climbing Scotland Yard’s greasy career ladder, it’s out of the question.
He doesn’t believe in monsters, either, though there seem to be a lot of them about. Whether it’s a ghost haunting a London churchyard where men seek men’s companionship, a phantom hound in Edinburgh that’s hell-bent on revenge, or a murdered businessman on a cross-country train who just won’t stay dead ― the mysterious has a way of finding Pearce, whether he wants it to or not.
Shadow of Justice is a collection of eight short mysteries, coming in March 2020 from award-winning author Jess Faraday.
fbt    JessFaradayBook

UK Meet Introduces – Ally Lester

Please allow us to introduce the next author in our UK Meet Introduces series …

Ally Lester

Ally Lester is mostly writing in the Lost in Time universe at the moment. Queer paranormal murder-mystery-suspense historical romance with a bit of time-travel in there for kicks.

Lost in Time and Shadows on the Border have gay MCs and are set in 1920s London. The Flowers of Time will be released in March and features a lady botanist and a non-binary explorer traveling through the Himalayas in the 1780s.

You can read excerpts of all published books here. If you sign up to the newsletter you get access to a free serial, Inheritance of Shadows, set in rural England in 1919.

Ally lives in Somerset with Mr AL, their kids and Morris the underwear-eating dachshund. She’s middle-aged, non-binary and has too many animals. Pronouns she/they.

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UK Meet Introduces – David C Dawson

It’s finally 2020, which means the UK Meet is less than nine months away. Can you believe it?

In honour of this magnificent and momentous news, we decided to feature our spotlight delegates each month on our blog, leading up to the big day. We asked, and you answered!

Please allow us to introduce…

David C Dawson

David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers featuring gay men in love. He’s an award winning author, journalist and documentary maker.

His latest novel, Heroes in Love, is published in January 2020. It’s a story of forbidden love, seen from the viewpoint of today. Can the strength of two elderly lovers inspire a young, gay couple of today?

David’s debut novel The Necessary Deaths won Bronze for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. The second in the series is The Deadly Lies. His third book For the Love of Luke came out in October 2018.

David lives in London, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

DCD Headshot

Facebook / Website

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year again, and with only twenty sleeps left, we here on the UK Meet team want to get in a little early to wish everyone a very merry Christmas.

To those who don’t celebrate Christmas, we hope you have a wonderful winter and a truly happy holiday season!

We’d also like to give a big shout out to Alex Jane and her Rainbow Advent Calendar. Alex works tirelessly on this each year to celebrate GLBT+ writing in its festive forms, including tales from our very own team members!

If you’re following the releases, let us know what you think in the comment section below, or if you’re new to the Rainbow Advent Calendar, click here to catch up and treat yourself to some fab, free fiction.

‘Tis the season of giving, after all.

Choosing Sponsors

With less than a year to go before we all arrive en fabulous masse in Southampton, we thought you might appreciate some insight into how we pick our sponsors.

The most important thing about the relationship between UK Meet and its sponsors is that it should be beneficial to both parties, as well as to our delegates as a whole.

Our sponsors tend to be from the LGBTQ book world, simply because it’s easiest to see how publishers, bloggers, cover artists etc. in our corner of the fiction market can benefit from the publicity UK Meet sponsorship brings them. Increasingly, we’re counting individual authors among our generous sponsors too.

We have several tiers of sponsorship on offer, and the top two – Gold and Platinum – bring with them the opportunity to have a book/display table throughout the Meet, rather than just during the Book Fair. This increases visibility and allows more time for interacting with interested delegates.

The benefits of sponsorship to UK Meet are obvious: sponsorship money allows us to provide entertainment and other benefits to our delegates that wouldn’t be covered by the ticket price alone.

Do we ever decline sponsorship? Yes. We want the Meet to be a safe space for all our delegates, which means not accepting sponsorship from individuals or organisations whose position in our genre is currently controversial.

In the past we’ve made the decision to politely return money where we felt public association with the sponsor would not be in UK Meet’s best interests at that time.

If you’re interested in sponsoring UK Meet 2020, please get in touch with Jamie Merrow on jl.merrow@gmail.com. And thank you for supporting our Meet!

Being a Newbie at The Meet

It’s crazy to think the world has spun an entire revolution around the sun, and then some, since UK Meet 2018.

Before we know it, September will be back again and hundreds of us will be descending on the Grand Harbour in Southampton for a glorious weekend of all things GLBTQ fiction.

Last year, committee member Jack Ladd was a total newbie. He didn’t know what to expect, had only spoken to a handful of people via email and, as he pulled up to the hotel solo, anxiety began to swell.

It didn’t last. Ladd says the weekend flew by in a haze of laughter, learning and entertainment, not to mention invaluable insight, expert advice and hugs galore from new friends young and old.

So, to ensure you have as much fun as he did, we’ve put together a little list of hints and tips so you too can make the most of your first Meet.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Friends

Clare London used to go to anime/cosplay conventions, and it was 4 YEARS before she plucked up enough courage to ask one dear friend what her REAL name was. She’d been calling her by her pen name, Badmomma, all that time (they had a good laugh about it at the time and since).

The fact that you’re at the Meet is the first, biggest, and best step, and, don’t forget, EVERYONE is nervous of meeting new people, however confident they may appear. We’re all on the same page, so be encouraged to smile and offer your name, and you may make some true friends from the occasion.

Come Prepared

Charlie says join the delegates FB group (but please don’t request to join until we’ve confirmed your ticket) or volunteer for the registration desk or bag filling. These are all fantastic ways to break the ice and get to know your fellow delegates. And, Jack adds, if you’re passionate about a particular topic, consider putting yourself down for panels.

This might be daunting at first, but it’s a great way to meet your fellow speakers (over a cheeky drink pre or during the event, perhaps?) not to mention the bond you’ll share after speaking in front of a whole room of inquisitive minds.

Public speaking not for you? Instead of speaking in a panel, be sure to catch one. That way you’ll find yourself in a room of like-minded people with plenty to talk about over the weekend.

Join In

If you can, definitely opt for the Saturday night Rainbow Dinner and Friday social event, and try to arrive early enough on the Friday so you can register, grab a drink and mingle. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to make new friends, see the local sights and, the next night, don your glad rags for a fabulous evening of entertainment, delicious food and dancing.

Wind Down

One important, often overlooked aspect is ensuring you take a break if needed. Don’t feel like you must to be on your A-game 24/7.

There’s nothing wrong with bowing out for an hour or two to enjoy the facilities, explore Southampton alone, or simply have a much-deserved nap. We all need a little me-time now and then, and where better than a lovely hotel?

Be Yourself

And most importantly, be yourself.

The UK Meet is all about celebrating GLBTQ fiction and everyone who reads, writes, lives and loves it. Diversity, respect, tolerance and kindness are the Meet’s foundations and we pride ourselves in creating a safe-space for anyone who wants to join the family.

UK Meet 2020 Ticketing: Please Read this Very Carefully!

Happy September, everyone.

This post explains everything ticket-wise for UK Meet, including how we’ll be administering the priority booking period in order to ensure that only newsletter subscribers can access this service during that time.

When is the priority booking slot?

From October 7th October 13th 2019 You will only be able to access priority booking with a unique access code.  

How do I get a code?

We’ll send out a ‘Thunderbirds are go’ e-mail to newsletter subscribers on October 7th, time TBC. Reply to that e-mail and you’ll be sent your unique access code.

There is no other way to get a code and there will be only one code per subscriber e-mail address (apart from in exceptional circumstances – see below*). You cannot begin registration without this code.

Please note: Places are limited as in previous years, and Unique Codes will be offered to mailing list RESPONDERS in the first instance. In other words, even if you’re on the mailing list, you MUST RESPOND to our priority booking email ASAP to request a place. You’re not guaranteed a place just by being on the mailing list.

What do I do when I get my code?

Go to the UK Meet website and register, entering your user code in the relevant box. You have up to a week to use your code, so you don’t need to rush. Once you’ve registered and paid you will have secured your place. You MUST pay at least the deposit to guarantee the place (deposit is £50 and non-refundable).

Can I book a place for my friend at the same time?

We’re afraid not. You can only book one place per code, and that place has to be for the person given the code. If you have friends who want to use priority booking, they have from now until October 6th in which to sign up for the newsletter, which they can do by going to our website: https://ukglbtfictionmeet.co.uk/ and clicking on the sign-up link.

What happens if I haven’t used my code by the end of the priority period?

It will expire, and you’ll have to go through the open booking process. This will also happen if you haven’t paid at least the deposit by the end of the priority period.

When do you anticipate that tickets will sell out?

We can’t predict whether that will be during the priority period or much later. Whenever it happens we’ll shut booking and set up a waiting list. This system worked very well in previous years and we were able to offer tickets to all people who still wanted them even if that was close to the event itself.

When does open access start?

October 13th. In past years there have been no places left by that point and the waiting list has been operational. If there are places this year, we’ll still use an access code system – information will be on the booking page of the website.

What will happen if people try to buck the system?

UK Meet peeps are generally good eggs so we expect them to behave themselves. However, we have put a series of safeguards into place to guard against anybody abusing the process, for example by giving their code to somebody else. Any misuse of the system will result in the booking being invalidated. 

Is there an early bird discount this year?

There sure is. Early Bird discount runs to 29th February 2020 @ £120 (General ticket) / £145 (Spotlight ticket). Tickets must be paid in full by this date to qualify. Then ticket prices go to £140 (G) / £165 (S).

All details about the tickets, what’s included and other terms and conditions are on the website under 2020 Event Details/Ticketing (or simply click here).

What’s the absolute final deadline for payment?

All balances must be paid by 30th June 2020. At that date, if you haven’t paid, your place will be allocated by us to the next person in line.

*Exceptional circumstances:  to be agreed with the Team in advance. Please email Charlie if you think you qualify e.g. you have a dedicated carer. If you’ve already notified us of this we’ll have you on record.

Ticketing The Meet

UK Meet started as a dozen authors in a room, from which it grew to the event we now know.

In the early days, when the organisers met to plan, we’d ask, “What do we do if we get over subscribed for tickets?” At that, we’d chortle in our Brit way and reckon it would be a nice problem to have. Only when the problem reared its head, we discovered it isn’t nice. We needed a plan, and in true UK Meet fashion, we started with a strategy.

What we wanted was a system which:

  • Was fair to everyone, not favouring any groups or individuals.
  • Gave some priority to people who’d attended or expressed an interest in UK Meet, without making it a closed shop.
  • Was easy and cost effective to administer.
  • Gave us control (we’re all a bit Sheldon Cooper).

What we didn’t want was:

  • Assigning quotas that restricted the numbers of types of delegate.
  • People being able to cheat or manipulate the system.
  • That annoying situation where you’re halfway through buying a ticket and the site crashes, leaving you with no idea whether you’ve been successful or not.

So we decided:

  • Everything would be handled chronologically, first come first served, whether that was initial ticket sales or administering the waiting list.
  • We’d use an access code system – people would need a code (allocated by us) to be able to buy a ticket but would have plenty of time to use said code, so avoiding website overload.
  • Ticket sales would initially be limited exclusively to our newsletter mailing list before going on general sale. We’d manage this by getting people to reply to a specific ‘Thunderbirds Are GO!’ email.
  • We’d administer all the process personally, which might be a lot of work, but would give us ultimate control and make it easier to troubleshoot.

This system works for us, so we’ll be using it again this year – full details of timings and administration will go out to the mailing list (and be on our blog) in September, for sales to start in October.

A few things we’d be ever so grateful if you’d note for when ticket sales start:

  • There are more people on the mailing list than we have spaces for delegates. While ‘mailing listers’ get priority, we can’t guarantee them all a place.
  • We may be superstars, but we haven’t got superpowers (believe it or not). Please don’t take to social media panicking 10 minutes after codes become available at 12 noon because you’ve hit ‘reply’ to the email at 5 seconds after 12 and you still haven’t heard back. Last time we got 80 replies within the first few minutes (being added to all the time), so just imagine how long it takes to process them all properly and keep a proper and accountable audit trail.

And remember, if you don’t manage to get a ticket immediately, don’t despair. We maintain a waiting list on the same first-come-first-served basis and in past years, all those on the list have been able to get a ticket eventually – if at the last moment – as others find their plans change.

Self-Publishing Tips and Tricks

Most of us know that all it takes these days to learn, well, almost anything is a Google search and a tenacious ‘tude. Getting to grips with self-publishing can be no different.

So, instead of reinventing the wheel or regurgitating the same how-tos topping search rankings, we’ve decided to highlight a few quick and easy tips we think really work. Or at least have worked for us!

If you’re brand new to self-publishing, before reading on, we suggest you take a look at a more comprehensive guide like this or this, for example.

Clare London says:

Find a friend who’s already been there, who can advise and reassure you during the first steps.

Keep a watch on titles being published in your genre so you can mirror the cover style / the keywords used on Amazon / the blurb and strapline style. That way you can be seen where they’re being seen!

Be prepared to keep on top of your release, after the first few heady days. Diarise places to post about it, to join in network events, to bring it periodically back to people’s notice.

Subscribe to a couple of self-publishing newsletters like the Alliance of Independent Authors who offer general advice and updates on the industry out there. You don’t necessarily have to subscribe to be a member, the advice is often freely shared.

JL Merrow on formatting:

I always recommend Jutoh as a formatting program. It cost me $20 when I bought it, and it makes life so much easier than trying to struggle with Smashwords’ meatgrinder.

Conversion results are much more reliable than Calibre, which is great for managing your ebook library and converting, say, mobi to epub, but not ideal for creating ebooks from Word docs. Jutoh has an excellent tutorial video on YouTube and you can get up and running with the program very quickly.

Charlie Cochrane adds:

I use a pal who has all the gear (and knowledge) to convert things. They get the books for free in return and my undying gratitude.

Jack Ladd on promotion:

A lot of the lists tell you to get a social media presence and promote yourself. That’s all well and good but how can you stand out from the umpteen other authors vying for attention? For me, I looked to the past. To be exact, Charles Dickens’ serialisation, Pickwick Papers.

Released over instalments, Dickens had readers hooked, eagerly waiting the next instalment of his tale. Simply put, I did the same: as I write my full-length novels, a few days a month I write a chapter of a prequel to my work in progress. I then quickly edit and publish this on my website, promoting it via my author Facebook page.

While it may be extra work, and I am no Charles Dickens, it’s a great way to keep readers engaged, drive visitors to my site and get my name out there among the throng.