“What are all those people doing on the stands?”
Well … a very long day in good old London town but I have to say a thoroughly enjoyable experience at the London Book Fair and thanks to some wonderful ‘Scoobies’, I learnt all I need to know about visiting in the future. It was a bit like being a kid in a candy store or, in my case, being at Harry Potter World.
Some of the stands were stunning and I took quite a few images of things that caught my eye. The first was this amazing artwork on the Bloomsbury stand … there were images all the way round but this really spoke to me and I kept wondering what her story was.
There was a great deal of discussion going on on this stand which had an eclectic mix of books but I was intrigued by Big Foot!
Now the Knights Of folks were tied into another stand but when I saw the Moomins I was immediately staring at all the wonderful books and stationery that was available. There are very few images that have stayed with me from my childhood but the Moomins have great longevity.
One of the key areas that, if I had realised had presentations for free (well included in the price of your ticket), was the fabulous Children’s Hub. There were some amazing people there and I was gutted I missed Chris Riddel, who was drawing as a number of writers read from their books. But the stand was surrounded by wonderful drawings by Quentin Blake from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Was lovely to see the traditional amongst the new (if you can call Roald Dahl traditional).
I did spot ‘Barry Chicken’ on my way around the Chicken House stand … and it was pretty amazing to see so many of the books that have been on my reading list and blog all in one place. For a small publisher, they carry an enormous weight with the MG community.
Now back to my original question, what were all those meetings about? In my naivety, I had no idea that book deals and meetings with agents would be taking place. I know, I know, what did I think they were all doing there, having tea and cake! I was also blissfully unaware that the publishers didn’t want random pretend authors (like me!) wandering across their stands with a big backpack on bashing everyone on the head. But ignorance is bliss and not once did anyone really stop me looking at the books due to be released this year.
Friends and Suprises
If you noticed the picture at the start of this Blog, you will see the wonderful books by Andy Shepherd (The Boy Who Grew Dragons is on my TBR pile!). It’s rather lovely now being connected with people who are being so successful and I love scouting for their books amongst all the others. However, living in a tiny town by the seaside, you wouldn’t think that we have a world renowned artist and author living amongst us, but we do! And seeing Laura Wall’s fabulous Goose adorning the Harper Collins children’s stand was so fantastic. I had to work very hard to persuade the man on the stand to let me take a picture, but mentioning that I happened to have several or Laura’s paintings on my walls seemed to make him change his mind. I am not sure he believed me but I really do have 3 of her ‘Love at the Seaside’ series on the walls of my home.
Finally my favourite image of the day and the reality of someone really seeing their book in print came about with the lovely Clare Helen Walsh, who I have met through the SCBWI. It also made me realise the very long journey from writing to print and yet the magic of seeing something for real at such an enormous event was tangible.
So what did I learn?
- Firstly, by the time I come next year, that I might be confident enough to be meeting some agents
- Don’t bring too much stuff as you will be carrying it
- Find the first stand with a bag to stuff it full of interesting catalogues and cards
- Picture Book writers are very persuasive and almost had me thinking picture book!
- BRING YOUR OWN FOOD! The food in the place is expensive and not all that healthy
- There is nowhere to sit … wear comfortable shoes
- Come for more than one day, see everything and soak it all up
Fabulous day and thank you to, Clare, Fiona, Soni, and Alison for showing me the ropes and special mention to Fiona who showed me that I really can blag anything out of these publishers if I try hard enough. Finally, Rowena, I bought no books … so buns and latte … but I’ll shout you a champagne for The Goose Road, if you sign my copy!