Why should I go to the London Book Fair?

2015-04-14 12.13.44At about this time each year, writers begin to discuss whether they’re going to, or should be going to, the London Book Fair. I’ve been an attendee for years and always enjoy it but if a writer asks if they ‘should’ be going to the Fair I usually say ‘Not unless you want to’.

Here are some of the things that LBF isn’t:

  • a place to pitch to agents and editors (unless you’re an invited finalist a ‘Dragon’s Den’-type competition or an agent or editor has invited you to meet her or him there specifically to pitch. I have never heard of this latter thing happening)
  • a book shop
  • a venue in which to sell copies of your book, unless you’ve paid for a stand in order to do so
  • free to attend (unless you count your publisher/fairy godmother paying for your ticket as ‘free’)
  • a madly comfortable place

So what is it?

  • a trade fair held in massive, noisy, busy halls
  • rows and rows of stands occupied by publishers and representatives of every conceivable angle of the book trade, both print and e
  • a place where business is done
  • areas where attendees can hear interesting talks from those in the book trade including authors but much less so agents and editors. They are usually closeted in the rights centre, conducting business.

It’s a good place to:

  • expand and develop your knowledge of publishing and the book trade
  • learn that the book trade is more than you thought it was
  • and that there are some writers who are MASSIVE
  • meet your writerly mates and hang out
  • make new writerly mates
  • if you’re a published author with overseas contracts, be introduced to the relevant editor, if diaries allow
  • meet interesting delegates, many from other countries
  • get sore feet and a headache
  • stand in queues
  • see imaginative marketing ideas
  • feel sorry for all the agents and editors with back-to-back dawn-till-dusk meetings. I find this particularly rewarding when I’m hanging out with my mates with a glass of wine/cup of tea in my hand
  • 2014-04-10 13.30.58

My recommendations:

  • wear comfy shoes
  • make arrangements ahead of time if you want to hang with mates
  • read up on all the things you might want to attend and note them
  • turn up at such events early if you want a seat
  • take some means of taking notes
  • and paracetamol
  • be prepared to pay London prices for your drinks and food. The Fair is, after all, in London
  • leave the hall and get some fresh air at least twice a day
  • enjoy the buzz!


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31 responses to “Why should I go to the London Book Fair?

  1. Superb advice from a pro! I would love to reblog this please, if I may.


  2. A great post, and I immediatly shared it. There should be a short exam at the end (multiple-choice, of course).
    If you don’t pass, you don’t get a ticket!! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mags Cullingford

    Excellent rundown and advice, Sue. Been once, enjoyed the buzz and novelty of it all, and may be would go again if I felt strong enough. Certainly a great insight into the whole industry.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like a lot of hard work to me (and sadly, not relevant yet!) πŸ™

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A helpful blog, Sue. I have gained work from the fair, but more in my journo and non-fiction days. Nowadays I attend with my students to show them how the publishing world works. It’s never too early to learn about the world we hope to join. I do suggest carrying a synopsis and first chapter etc incase someone asks but don’t go with the intention of targeting publishers. The year when volcanic ash stopped flights was great for writers to speak to industry people while they stood about twiddling their thumbs. x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Some great advice here, Sue. I feel the same – it’s great if you have a solid reason to be there, but otherwise it’s best avoided. It can feel a little depressing if you don’t have a contract or book to discuss, to be wandering about looking at all the glossy publisher stands and huge author/book displays and feeling like Billy-No-Mates! This year I’m making the effort again as I have several new editors to meet, a publisher party to attend on the Wed evening, some mates to hang with, plus I’ll be checking in with my agent for a drink at the Ivy pop-up, of course, dahling. But yes, sore feet, long queues – esp for the ladies – and no seats at the talks. It’s quite spectacular though. Worth the entry fee. πŸ™‚


    • My most memorable Fair was when my first book had just been printed. There hadn’t even been time to mail me a copy. I got onto Transita’s stand and they put a copy in my hands and I got tearful! Everyone on the stand signed it for me and I have it still.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Sounds like good advice, my first visit this year and yes, all I expect is a little bit of networking, plus a general overview of trends in publishing, new imprints/publishers perhaps, and insights on how other authors are faring with self-publishing. Maybe a seminar too. Comfy shoes sorted – cheers! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Shared Post: Why should I go to the London Book Fair? | Social media | Writing | Cars

  9. Reblogged this on Writing, Work and Wine and commented:
    Hello lovelies,

    Check out this fab post by Sue Moorcroft about The London Book Fair (yes, the capitals are on purpose!) I’ve never been to LBF but hope to get there one day πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  10. veronicabright103

    Excellent blog. It filled in gaps in my knowledge about the London Book Fair. Wish I lived a bit closer.


    • Thank you! Yes, I am lucky in living only an hour from London by train, Veronica … and by having a very good friend who’s prepared to put me up every year. πŸ™‚


  11. Reblogged this on write4bairns and commented:
    Fascinating! Would love to go one day!


  12. Reblogged this on Pills & Pillow-Talk and commented:
    As I look forward to next week’s London Book Fair, I realize I haven’t got a notebook, my comfy shoes need re-heeling, and I haven’t even checked out what’s on, let alone printed my badge. So I think fellow author Sue Moorcroft’s advice is very timely. Here it is, fresh from her blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Good: def shall continue to avoid! Am not ‘introvert’ as many writers like to identify, but I do hate swirling crowds, being stuck inside stuffy buildings, and too many books to see at once! πŸ™‚ Better enjoy hang out with mates in a park or pleasant cafe/home, if pre-arranging!


  14. beverleyeikli

    Thanks for the insights, Sue. I’d love to incorporate the London Fair with our next trip to Norway.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Tomorrow will be my first visit to the London Book Fair, Sue and I can’t wait to see what it’s all about. Your bullet points are so helpful (noted re comfy shoes!), and I look forward to seeing you there.x


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