Friday, 15 April 2011

The London Book Fair: Free Stuff and Inspiration

Hanging out in the Illustrator's Bar
Arrived at London Book Fair and experienced a sense of excitement and longing as I looked at all the publisher’s stands with their beautiful, glossy books on display.Aaaah heaven! Mark went to the talk on ISBN numbers (It wasn't just about ISBN numbers, in fact had hardly any mention of them - Mark) and I thought I’d start the day as I meant to go on, slipping in a massage. Well, a girl has to get her priorities in order! Then it was off to a slightly more interesting seminar!

The seminars were extremely informative with top notch speakers.

‘The Great Debate’ featured Richard Charkin, Executive Director of Bloomsbury, Cory Doctorow an award-winning author, Andrew Franklin Managing Director of Profile Books and James Bridle a editor/publisher/technologist who discussed whether publishing would become irrelevant.

Ultimately the majority of people disagreed with this premise but the onslaught of a technological age and the failure of publishers to invest in marketing and business campaigns for their ‘products’ weaken their position in the market.

Mark and I sneaked into the out-of-bounds and terribly exciting ‘Rights Centre’, where big pitches where being made, to listen to the talk on ‘The Secrets of Success’ of children’s books. The panel which included Lisa Edwards from Scholastic Books and Sarah Odedina from Bloomsbury reiterated that they look for originality and a fresh, new voice. Hmmmm, I better get scribbling!

At the talk on ‘Prizes in Children’s Literature’ I got the lovely Philip Pullman’s signature. Sadly I had forgotten my novel by him so I got him to sign my A4 piece of paper. He looked slightly perturbed! The talk concluded that prizes are a great way for new writer’s to launch themselves and come to the public’s attention and a great way to commemorate fantastic writing.

Further highlights of the Book Fair included meeting all the lovely SCBWI people, meeting more lovely people at the Tweetup, getting lots of free books from promotional seminars and stalls including our fellow SCBWI-er’s book The Truth About Celia Frost (Paula Rawsthorne) and sampling rather many glasses of free wine at the end of day one (!).

All in all the London Book Fair was a really positive experience and gave an insight into the ‘industry’ behind an author. I would urge everyone to go at least once although a lot of the information is probably more pertinent if you are already published. However, for me the most inspiring talk was given by the writer and illustrator Lauren Child. At 29 she was still kipping on a friend’s sofa ‘undiscovered.’ Lauren stressed that writing about something that resounds with you is more important than trying to emulate other authors or tap in to market trends. She emphasised the importance of hard work and determination which when combined with a little bit of luck can take you on an unexpected journey!