At 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
- 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!