The London Book Fair happens every year in April. Book Fairs are huuuge events, with publishers from all over the world sending publicists and sales people (and sometimes editors) to have meetings and talk at seminars. Plus, of course, have a stand to display all their latest books. Agents, too, have the opportunity to meet with agents from abroad and foreign publishers and try to persuade them to take on their clients’ books.
It’s not primarily a place for authors, and one author said caustically on Facebook, ‘Why would an author want to go to LBF? You wouldn’t take a cow to the burger factory, would you?’ He had a point, but I quite like going along. It reminds me that there is another side to publishing; one that I’m not involved in but is vital to the success (or not) of my own career. I went a few years back and felt a bit lonely because I didn’t have a network of author friends then, but this year lots of people were going and there was the chance to meet up and chat. As well as that, I was very keen to try to talk to the people from Barrington Stoke, who have published eleven of my books over the years and who are based in Edinburgh so I never get to see them!
I haven’t been on the Tube for a while, so was fascinated to see the new ‘bendy train’ on the District and Circle Lines! (My companion, author and friend Sally Nicholls, was amused by my excitement…clearly she gets out more than I do!)
On arrival at Earl’s Court Tube station, I was met by this ‘thought of the day’:
Earl’s Court exhibition centre was impressive as ever, but I was particularly impressed by this huge picture of wonderful writer Malorie Blackman, who was to be their ‘author of the day’ on Thursday (damn! I was there on Tuesday!)
I attended a seminar on how to get children reading, which included some lovely people from Booktrust and Seven Stories (in Newcastle) as well as Mairi from Barrington Stoke and fellow author and friend Steve Cole. Afterwards I managed to speak to Mairi and we’re hopefully planning on another book together, hurrah!
Then I met up with Kate Maryon and we had lunch together. Kate’s been blogging for Girls Heart Books since it started but we’d never met before, so that was really nice. We were joined by Steve and then John Dougherty and Sally. John and I had an animated discussion about something…
and somehow, I never got round to seeing any other seminars or events because we got in some wine and just had a jolly good gossip!
I’d have stayed longer (especially as John informed me that the Blackwells stand was giving away FREE ALCOHOL) but had to get back to pick up my daughter from my mum. I’d booked a First Class ticket for my return journey – my first time ever!
But it was a bitter disappointment. True, the seat was comfy, and the journey was quiet because there were very few people in First Class. But where was my cup of tea and biscuit? Where were the other perks of travelling in style? I was so let down that I had to buy myself a bells-and-whistles hot chocolate at Oxford station to make up for it:
It came with a straw and a fork!! Quite the poshest hot chocolate I’ve ever had, and very delicious.
By the time I got home, I was very tired but happy. London Book Fair isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if you’ve got nice friends and A Plan (even if you throw out the Plan!) it’s a great place to be. Maybe I’ll go again next year 😉