London Book Fair 2015 – Authors – Why Go?
Why I Go To The London Book Fair
First let me say I go because I have meetings with my editors from other countries. It is a golden opportunity to meet them and discover what if anything I can do to help them sell my books. Because a book fair is all about selling books – just like any other industry fair – it’s about sales and acquisitions. In the normal course of things the author, the content provider, doesn’t have a role to play.
However the second reason I go to the London Book Fair is to connect – to the industry. As writers we are cut off from the business side of books. We write the words away from the selling. If we’re lucky we meet once or twice a year with our agent and editor and maybe publicist. We subscribe to The Bookseller and read the deals that are done for other authors and the best sellers lists. It keeps us informed but it doesn’t give you the buzz. The London Book Fair is about the buzz, what’s new and what’s hot.
The place positively pulses with energy and excitement. Who will land the best and the biggest deals. In the past few years a place has been made for authors at the fair – Author HQ. It gives authors a ‘home’ to meet other authors and hear industry experts talking about the innovation and marketing developments. This is the place to network.
The big fairs are agents’ lifeblood. They make deals all year round but during the days of the fair it is deal central with meeting after meeting with barely a moment for a coffee or a breath. They are focused on their clients and not looking for new ones at this point. In the International Rights Centre, which looks more like a speed dating event, deals are done in half hour slots. It is intense. While having a meeting with an editor, I have noticed the agent next to me has pitched ten different authors to the editor with them. The focus required must be huge.
This isn’t a place to ‘find’ an agent or a publisher but it is certainly a place to see how they work, to understand the industry better, and to connect to other authors. I met with twenty fellow authors some of whom I’d only ever met on-line. I have been a published author for four years and an apprentice for seven years before that. During that time I have met many in the industry so in the course of the fair I chatted to six agents other than my own, five editors from other publishers, four publicists, a few journalist and masses of other new people who work somewhere in the field. But most of these were quick hellos in passing – never when they were engaged in a meeting and never when they were up in the International Rights Centre.
Authors do have a place at the London Book Fair. They need to learn, to connect and to remind the industry that the content providers want to know what is happening, what is now and what everyone thinks the future will be. We also don’t want to miss out on the good drinks parties!
So for authors who are thinking of venturing next year…go with your eyes open, comfortable shoes, listen to the buzz, attend a seminar or four but do not disturb the business at hand. If you want direct contact with agents and editors go to the events where they schedule to meet authors – like the Festival of Writing where pitch sessions are a daily event.