Surviving The London Book Fair
By A. Bello, co-founder of The Author School and author of 'Emily Knight I AM' & pop up story 'Rose' and 'Lox'
On the 14-16th April is the 2016 London Book Fair in Olympia. Now, as a first time author, it's always a challenge whether to go or not. You want to go because you feel like you should but on the flip side, you're thinking, what do I actually do there?
Trust me, I went through the same thing back in 2013 and my first time there was a mess! I didn't know who to talk to, what to do with myself, at one point I called my friend and kept saying, “I'm so overwhelmed.” I found the publishers...not very nice or helpful and there was just soooooo many people. Also, I had submitted my manuscript to a literary agency, who were interested and they were at the fair, so I wasn't sure if I should introduce myself or not. It didn't help that I had no idea where the agents were and only discovered them when the fair was almost over and most of the agents had left!
I was asked by Helen, who is my book publicist, as well as co-founder of The Author School, to go again last year to promote The Author School. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to it but I agreed to go. I can say it was a million times better and learnt from my mistakes
So here is my survival kit for the fair
1. Book appointments
There are publishers, cover designers, editors even agents that you can meet as long as you book an appointment before hand. Some will get back to you, some won't but it's always worth trying. Make sure you leave enough time in-between meetings because the fair is HUGE! You can just go up to a stand and talk to people but if they already have a prior meeting booked, you will have to wait around.
2. The BIG publishers are a NO
As much as you may want to meet HarperCollins (trust me I did too) but unless you have an agent AND you have booked an appointment, they won't see you. And it's okay because there are loads of publishers who will.
It is daunting because there is so much going on but talk to people. When I went the second time round, I was speaking to everyone about The Author School and when I was talking to an editor, she told me about a new children's publisher looking for authors. So you never know who can help you.
4. Business Cards
Get some great business cards and leave it with people. Also collect as many as you can. Trust me they will come in handy.
5. Literary Agents
I have heard that you can pitch to agents at LBF. I have never done that because to me it is to daunting but what I did do was go through the directory from A-Z and I emailed as many agents as I couldabout my manuscript. You would be amazed how many agents there are! And that's how I got signed.
6. Food ain't cheap!
Take snacks if you can because the food there is very expensive. Once your inside, you don't want to leave the fair to come back in, so be prepared. Take cash with you as well.
7. Lastly, really plan out prior to the fair what you want to achieve.
My goal was to get agents, publishers, editors knowing about The Author School and wanting to offer their services. Do you want to find a self publishing company and get some advice? Do you want to find a great editor? It will save you so much time and you will feel less overwhelmed.
Enjoy it! It is a great experience and there is nothing like being surrounded by people that love books. Once you get in, grab a map, circle where everyone is and see as many people as possible. If you do get a bit overwhelmed, they sell really great cakes there!
Have fun and good luck!