The London Book Fair is next week and I have been busy preparing for my third year there with the publishing company I work for. Although the fair is mainly for rights sales and business, hundreds of authors flock there as visitors every year, whether to help out their agents/publishers, or in the hope that they might be able to pass their manuscripts on to that contact they have been hankering after. With so many influential people in one room, one of them is bound to want to hear about your big idea, right?
Not so much. Although you can never say never (and you really can’t in publishing) agents and publishers don’t go to the fair to take submissions. I snuck upstairs one year and saw a whole floor of agents I had received rejections from over the years – many of them sitting at tiny desks on their own just a few meters from me. Did they want to know? No. They are not there for that and I suggest that writers and authors don’t try if they don’t want to be told where to go. Sometimes cheekiness does get you places, but I for one am not one to try it – not after last time *represses memory*.
So what does an author do at the London Book Fair? Here are my suggestions:
- Go to Seminars and Talks
There are a whole load of great ones this year! My favourites include: Does Teen Fiction Require a Ratings System?, How to build Social and Brand Equity on a Shoestring, Social Networking: Authors have their say, Best of UK Children’s Books, How to Get an Agent and New and Opening Markets – all these are my picks, being an unpublished YA author. There are plenty more, for all interests. The London Book Fair is filled with publishers looking at their lists for the next few years. You want to know what the next big thing is? You’re sure to find out here.
- Speak to People
There are a few places you can do this. The Author Lounge situated in the fair itself is a haven for writers to go and mingle. Many authors do find the fair a little boring after a few hours, and it is nice to have the opportunity to sit and speak to others in the same boat. Do bare in mind though, that this area and all the talks based in this area are run by a self-publishing company. If you are after finding out more about self publishing – great. If not, take the advice here with a pinch of salt. I myself give talks on self-publishing with work and it can indeed be a great way to go. I’ll be on stand A355 if you want to talk to me without all the sales crap. I can’t be doing with that. Eugh.
The other place is at BookMachine’s networking event. If you haven’t discovered BookMachine yet – do so. It is worldwide and gives you a rare opportunity to be in a networking situation with industry nuts. I’m involved in an event myself in May in Brighton, UK. Come!
- Soak it up
Take the opportunity to browse stands and enjoy being in a room full of people who love books. I recommend only going for one day, as tickets are a little pricey and it isn’t a fair for authors. But in that one day, you sure can learn a lot. And you never know who you could happen to bump into. I will be taking a synopsis and first chapter pack for my novels, just in case…