Why I’m not going to the London Book Fair

It’s been really tempting to buy the discounted SCBWI member ticket and go to the London Book Fair, considering I am in London and as you know, passionate about books. But in the end, after carefully reflecting and making a pros and cons list, I’ve decided against it. I havent found any articles on why not to go to the book fair. So I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.

From what I gather, the fair will be full of companies and agencies that have a relationship to books, major publishing houses, literary agents, self publishing, digital publishing and video/film… etc…. That IS a lot of companies and agencies. It would be really interesting to go and get a feel of the market and see what they are working on, their portfolios, the current trends and what they are looking for.  But most of these companies will be networking with other companies and agencies. They’ll be interested in speaking with their authors or illustrators, already published authors or illustrators, investors and the like. They will not be able to spend time with other individuals such as myself, who althought are self published , do not represent an interesting enough time or money investment during those three days. At least that is what i gather from all the articles and reviews of past book fairs I have found online.

If I were to go, I would have the following expectations:

  • Be able to speak to major publishing houses about my work and whether or not i would be a fit.
  • Be able to get a critique about my portfolio of illustrations with several agencies where i would seek representation
  • Attend a few talks about the market, traditional vs self publishing, the need or not to have an agent, how to market your own books, how to find a niche market , just to name a few…
  • Meet similar individuals and forge lasting relationships

Of all my expectations, three would not be met. Let me explain.

I live at the opposite side of London. Which means it would roughly take me 2 hours commute back and forth to get to the fair. I wouldn’t be able to leave home before 9 and I would need to be back by 17:00. That means that I will have at the fair, just around about four hours ( 11:00 – 15:00). And since I will only be able to go on the one day, I don’t think I’ll manage to do much else but walk about as fast as i can to absorb everything, without having the opportunity to speak to anyone, let alone to try and organize a meet any other time. There you have it. The major element for my decision not to go, is time.

Obviously when you factor in the price of the ticket for just those four hours at the fair, even theprice of the discounted SCBWI ticket, it’s really not worth it. At least not for me, and not this year. Maybe next year?

As far as meeting similar individuals and forging lasting relationships, well, I can thank Facebook for this. With groups online where we can share our thoughts and views on the market, ask questions, and get feedback on anything really, I have already made a few friends and I am confident that this is just the beginning of those lasting relationships.

That being said, I’ll be looking forward to hearing what others have to say about the fair during and after the event. So let me know if you went and what were your thoughts about it !

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