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Failing At The Fair

This week I went to the London Book Fair. I knew that it wasn’t the most advantageous place for a blogger, but with very few big book events going on over here in the UK (I’m looking with envy of all you lucky Americans going to the Book Expo) I took a chance.

Unfortunately the first sign that it wouldn’t be too good was my badge coming through. The application form said that what you put down as your job and company would be on your badge, so naturally I put down “blogger” and the name of this site. I knew that even if blogger support isn’t universal in publishing, a lot of publishers do like us and thus it made sense. So discover my disappointment when my badge arrived, relegating me to the somewhat pointless position of “visitor” – I say pointless because everyone glances at everyone else’s badges as they walk past, looking for an interesting networking opportunity.

Thankfully, in a way, the rest of the disappointment was mostly my own fault. No, the fair isn’t the best place for bloggers, it’s mostly for trade. But I expect that if I’d been a little more forthright I may have been able to have a conversation or two about upcoming releases. And there are seminars that I believe would be useful and also a good place to meet people in the industry.

Reading about what the fair is for is nothing compared to actually being there, and as someone who knew they were taking a chance I did indeed feel out of place and spoke very little. So maybe it wasn’t worth it this year – however having been once I now know how I should approach the next one.



April 17, 2011, 5:23 pm

Oh, that’s a bummer :-( Did other bloggers also have “Visitor” on their badges, or did they have their blog sites on there? I hope they change that for the next time you attend! Seems like it runs differently than other book fairs I’ve heard of.

Charlie: I didn’t see anyone with “blogger” about, and only heard of one other blogger who attended so I’m not sure. I’m thinking I might email the organisers next time to ask about their opinions.

Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

April 17, 2011, 6:04 pm

Thanks for letting us know about your experiences. I did look into going last year, but decided that there wasn’t much point – unless you are trying to buy the rights to a book.

If you are looking for a big book event to go to then I highly recommend going to a book festival. I have loved my time at the Edinburgh and Cheltenham ones, but I have heard great things about the Hay and Oxford ones.

Charlie: Thanks for the info, Jackie, I’ve only heard of Edinburgh’s (though admittedly I haven’t looked too much). Yes, I’m really not sure about next year, got to consider possibilities.



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