Today I attended the London Book Fair. I know I'm not a publisher or illustrator or any of those professionals. I'm not even an author... yet!
But after talking to some members of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) I decided it could be an interesting day. I booked the tickets a while ago and started to plan in preparation.
I made sure I had business cards printed - both for this blog and to promote me as an aspiring author. I wrote out some simple pitches for my novels and had them ready in a little folder. I knew the chances of getting to hand them out were practically zero but I wanted to make the effort just in case.
Turns out I didn't hand any out, but at least I have them ready for another occassion.
We made it in good time though and got to Earl's Court for about 9:40. I had planned the day so we could attend all of the talks/seminars we wanted to and the first one was at 10. When we walked in, we thought we would have to check in (email said to collect badge holders?) we didn't see anything for this, and asked an assistant where we should go and she told us to go in, so we headed up the stairs, came to the bag search area and people to scan our badges then walked in, simple. Or so we thought.
We found a giant floor plan - but that was zero help, it only had the stalls marked on it, we wanted conference rooms.
After walking round for ages looking lost we finally went up to the info desk and was pointed to a sign for 'Thames Room', helpful, I should have guessed seeing as I was looking for 'Old Press Office'. But we made our way upstairs and found the right room and got seats just in time.
This was the view from upstairs:
The first talk was 'Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover', which looked at book design and marketing and the process books go through. They also showed us some examples of good and bad covers and talked through what should be on a cover and why. It was really interesting. Probably not relevant to me at this point but interesting none the less.
After that we had 30 minutes until the next talk so we went for a little look round, which turned into a hunt for some food, as by now we were both hungry. (Let me say - there was some good food, but boy do they raise those prices!!!)
Next we went to 'Reading Outside the Box' which was a discussion panel consisting of authors Matt Haig, Chris Priestley and a lady from Picadilly Press (think she was from the Editorial department, but not sure.) This was probably the highlight of my day, the panel discussion was fab, all three had an ease about them and a good sense of humour. They discussed the idea of literary and genre lead fiction, traditional ideas of where a book fits on the shelf - how we see books and in turn their authors.
The talk was recorded to be put up as a podcast if you want to go to London Book Fair website and listen I think you can.
After that we had another half an hour until the next talk so we decided to see if we could find out where the 'Author Lounge' was, as we had a talk there in the afternoon and it was a tight turn-around to get there. After being shown it on the map - despite me staring at said map for at least 10 minutes without seeing it, we went and got some quick lunch and then went back up for our next talk 'Books as Brands' we sat at the back knowing we would have to sneak out early to get to our next talk.
There was a panel there doing a discussion, someone from Egmont UK, and I can't remember who the other 2 were (sorry). They were talking about books that can become a 'brand', something they can market and sell etc, luckily the actual discussion finished early and just left question time, so we sneaked out and got a bonus half hour so we could look round a bit on the way to the Author Lounge.
The Author Lounge - oh my goodness! We pictured this nice roomy space with chairs and a speaker and generally a nice place - oh no, it was a small enclosed space with a few benches in a row, three speakers at the front and so many people squeezed in, I finally know what it feels like to be a sardine. We were there early and still ended up standing at the back wedged in. The talk was 'How to get a Literary Agent' which was one of the main things we wanted to visit, as my mum and I both have stories we would like published one day we know we need an agent, so this was what we were waiting for right? Hints and tips to get us in? Actually no - the people just basically talked about what they do for a job and told us agents want to find 'books that will sell'. Well, this wasn't news to us. After 15 minutes stuffed in the hot crowd, feet aching, back hurting and generally getting annoyed we ducked out, and decided not to go back for the last talk we had planned as it was back in that same place.
So we now had about an hour and a half to have a proper look round. There were literally thousands of stands showing everything from digital publishing (Kindle, Createspace - ebooks etc) Audio books, foreign language books, art, education, children's, book products like bookmarks. Just so much and a lot of them were very cool looking.
You couldn't really talk to any of the people on the stalls as they were there to get books sales/licensing/publishing stuff, but it was cool to look round. Here are some pictures i took.
Usborne was one of the coolest areas, this was just part of their 'wall', i think they had a giant hot air balloon on a bit of it.
Scholastic had a Hunger Games Poster!!!
Simon & Schuster had an awesome Mortal Instruments picture and one for 'Zom-B' by Darren Shan
Little Tiger Press was very cute, look at those faces. :D
Lemony Snicket has a new book coming out!!! Gonna be good, love the purple cover. I then saw a giant display for his books. ------->
So overall it was a good day and I'm glad I went. Totally knackered afterwards though.
I bumped into 2 of my fellow SCBWI members, but missed the rest which was a shame. I saw Teri Terry and Candy Gourlay sitting in the same talk as me, but didn't get time to say hi.
I did however find someone else in the crowd: