Friday 19 April 2013

My visit to the abbatoir - by A Cow

An author visiting a book fair has been likened to a cow visiting an abbatoir. But I'm sure that was said by someone (in publishing) who thinks authors should sit at home twirling their pens and not knowing anything that undermine their potential for being exploited and lied to.

So here's a little photo essay (more essay than photo) about What I Did in My Easter Holidays.

I'm not going to bore you with meetings. I took photos of the stands of some of my publishers. I didn't have meetings with all these, and I also had meetings with some I didn't photograph.

Call me stupid, but I hadn't realised before that it's the red carpet that tells you you're still in the children's books zone - which is where I spend a lot of my time.


Arcturus - providers of very fine lunch on Tuesday. Thank you, lovely editory folk!

Barrington Stoke






Ransom! A shared stand, but all meetings at this little coffee bar in Hall 2 (yes, hiding from the real book people).

I didn't bump into quite as many people as usual, but possibly because I had seven meetings on Tuesday (fewer Monday and Wednesday) and so not much walking around time. But there was one bumping-into (won't name and shame) which led to rather too much drinking in Old Brompton Road when the fair closed on Wednesday, and so to me staying an extra night in London.

The best part of all was staying with other writery friends in the fantastic apartment of one of them, overlooking the Thames. Super food, wonderful company - and the Fair was a bit of a distraction, really....


  1. Yes, but what is a Book Fair for - do those competing publishers behave in a civil manner towards their rivals? Do they speak kindly to booksellers? Do they glare at authors who have the temerity to tiptoe past and try to sneak a look to see if their book is on display? Do tell! :)

  2. I've always been suspicious of the cow to an abbatoir saying. The fair looks amazing and I am jealous.

  3. Catdownunder, a book fair is *for* publishers to sell foreign rights, primarily. But it's a good place for us to get an idea of what's going on, maybe go to some seminars (or not, as most of those I went to I walked out of), meet up with other writers, meet up with editors and just get a feel for how things are going. The last is rather intangible - this year's fair felt buzzier and more optimistic than it has felt for probably three years. That's a good sign; it suggests the industry is picking up again.

    I arrange to see editors I'm working with already. It's good to have a personal, face-to-face relationship with them. Sometimes new commissions come out of those meetings, but there are other benefits. You get to know the people you work with (otherwise it's mostly email/phone); they can put a face to your name; they are reassured that you are actually a professional player who takes an interest in the industry and wants to know what's going - and will make the effort to go to the book fair.

    Yes, publishers seem to be civil to their rivals. I haven't seen them speak to booksellers, but I'm not sure how many booksellers go. Some glare at authors and others are more welcoming.

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