Wednesday, 18 April 2012


Another Book Fair, another blogpost. I really need to get on with actually posting a little more often...

London Book Fair is very different from Bologna: it's for more than just children's publishing; appointments aren't just about acquisitions; it's a shorter commute from my house and the coffee is much worse. It's an intense few days (especially if you don't map your route through the fair between appointments and allow for vital toilet/tea-drinking/toasted panini-eating time).

Here are some of the things that happened at the fair:

  • I got to hang around the beautiful new-look Bounce stand and catch some between-meeting chat with other publishers represented by the mightiest children's sales force in the land. And some of said sales force too.
  • There was the joy of handing out Catnip's gorgeous new catalogue and, AND, some very lucky people received a shiny (literally), limited edition proof of Colin Mulhern's forthcoming thriller, Arabesque.
  • I had the utter delight of seeing an author approach the Bounce stand, introduce himself and say that he's written a book and would like to talk to someone about it. This is not unusual. Lots of authors do this at the fair. BUT THIS BOY WAS FOURTEEN YEARS OLD. How cool is that? Fourteen and with the gumption to cold-call industry professionals at a massive trade fair - I know forty-year-old writers who'd quail at the prospect. Lucky for me I was able to have a chat with him about starting out in writing, give him advice on the resources available and tell him about a seminar that was running later in the day that he might be interested in checking out. This is the thing I love more than anything in the world: giving away what I know about publishing to people who want to listen.
  • I went to the Best Seminar Ever, (or Express Yourself if you look at the programme) run by Bali Rai and Booktrust where a panel of teens talked about reading. It was just... refreshing and perfect. Sometimes the way publishing professionals talk about teen readers troubles me. It can seem a bit 'us' and 'them' and weirdly, 'we' seem to have an agenda when it comes to 'their' reading habits. I hope any of those prescriptive tendencies were assuaged by this panel of intelligent, interested and articulate people who were quite clearly capable of dictating their own reading choices in exactly the same way as the audience of 'grown-ups' were. More of these seminars, please. Publishers may not have the resources to test their books on the prospective audience, but it doesn't mean we don't want to listen. (Oh and the 14-y-o author did take my advice and go along for a listen and talked to Bali at the end. Whoop.)
  • I managed the inevitable almost-missed appointment. 'I thought we said my stand - but you thought it was at yours... ARGH. Schedule fail.' But managed to make it work. Phew.
  • Tuesday I managed to survive by only consuming a banana, a tracker bar and a KFC - which I don't recommend.
  • Self-control was summoned when I saw Patrick Ness waiting outside the exhibition centre. He was wearing earphones (the international sign for 'I am happy in my alone time') and instead of running up to him and thanking him for enhancing my life with his words (and possibly sobbing about them), I walked past like a sensible grown up. Then I rushed over to the Bounce stand and told them I'd just seen Patrick Ness.
  • And I got to chat to a ton of people outside of official meetings by wandering around, and making it to the tweetup. All of them awesome, obviously, because y'know, they like books and stuff.

*If you know what this means without looking it up on the internet, you are more down with the kids than any of the audience at the Express Yourself seminar.


  1. Reminds me of my first Writers' Week here. (I was sixteen and a very well known Australian poet turned up at school and begged time off for me because I had dared to write to her - three poems included. Eek- the brashness of youth!) Good on the fourteen year old.
    It sounds a great deal of hard work mixed in with a little fun.