London Book Fair – From Helena Markou

Mar 30, 2010

I love it when people send me things I can use on here – this has come courtesy of Helena Markou, Publishing Innovation Associate at Blackwells – it is how to use the London Book Fair. Of Course you can find me (Suzanne Collier) at the London Book Fair too – I’ll be at the Careers Centre on the Monday Afternoon and Tuesday Morning if you want to drop by.     I’ve added some additional comment too, so you won’t go off track…

10 Dos and Don’ts for Wannabe Publishers at London Book Fair

Let me begin by saying if you want a job in publishing then you want to be at London Book Fair.  Registration is free.  Just sign up as a visitor and select student from the drop down menu.

It’s all about the sales of rights, so people are there to have important meetings (which are often scheduled months in advance). Many publishers have back-to-back appointments all day long, but there are usually people floating around the stands, manning reception and answering ad hoc questions.

On the hour and on the half-hour is a good time to catch people between their scheduled appointments, but try to develop a ninja-like awareness of “the unoccupied” and be ready to pounce with a disarming opener at all times.

  1. Do make a wish list of the publishers you want to talk to and get their stand numbers in advance.   Also check the floorplan before you go so that you save your feet.
  2. Do check the seminar listings for talks worth attending, but avoid software and “solutions” providers because they are often big sales pitches.  Not entirely true – these can be highly beneficial if it is an area of publishing that interests you.
  3. Do be brave and talk to people especially if they look like a Director or CEO, you might get lucky and impress the right person.
  4. Do prepare introductions & openers in advance, for example….
  • Hi my name is HELENA” – Seems obvious but they are unlikely to remember your name unless you communicate it verbally to them.
  • “I review children’s books on my blog, who does your children’s marketing? Can I take their email address?”
  • “Who heads up your children’s list in editorial? Can I take their contact details?” – You should note editorial are unlikely to be at , because it is…? That’s correct, an event for SELLING RIGHTS
  • “Do you have any internships? Who should I email? What advice could you give someone like me trying to get into the industry?”
  1. Do take business cards and/or copies of your CV (ERROR FREE) to hand out.   Do remember that most CVs handed out at the London Book Fair end up in the bin.  Much better to make the contact and email your CV after the fair, or even better, make sure you are registered with the CV Clearing House on – we are doing a special ‘London Book Fair’ – more details to follow.
  2. Do take a packed lunch or exit  to eat.  £10 for a bottle of water and a sandwich is ridiculous (there’s a Tesco about 10mins walk if you know where you’re going).
  3. Do visit Sam Missingham at The Bookseller stand and give her something to tweet about. Don’t think Sam will be the only one Tweeting…  Twitter will be very exciting…  (I’m @suzannecollier)
  4. Do find out the hashtag and tweet about  whilst you’re there. The London Book Fair hashtag is #lbf10
  5. Do wear something smart but BRIGHT. You want to stick out from the sea of gray suits, and remain memorable to the people you’ve spoken to.  You don’t really want to look like a traffic light though.
  6. Do bring comfortable shoes & lip balm as the concrete floors & book dust will, literally, try to suck the life out of you.
  1. Don’t expect there to be anywhere to sit down and if you do see a vacant seat be prepared to fight for it.
  2. Don’t take it to heart if some people are a bit unhelpful and curt, they are just busy doing their jobs.
  3. Don’t waste your time trying to speak with people who are clearly too busy to talk to you, move on to the next on the list.
  4. Don’t make yourself sick on freebie sweeties.
  5. Don’t waltz through publishers’ stands like you would a bookshop, they are often considered semi-private spaces by their occupants.
  6. Don’t ignore small & independent publishers, they work very hard to survive in the publishing industry and have wisdom, wit and savvy in spades.  And you never know they might have jobs going as well.
  7. Don’t walk off with books unless you are 100% certain they are free proof/review copies.
  8. Don’t ask to purchase a book from a stand, it’s not a retail orientated book fair, you’ll look silly.
  9. Don’t pass up an opportunity to do competitor analysis and collect ideas, intelligence for new product development projects.   Do check out how busy the stands are – particularly of the companies that you want to go and work for – if they don’t seem to be doing business in London – where are they doing business???
  10. Don’t leave London without heading to Lucky Voice in Soho for Karaoke. (Ok the last one isn’t LBF specific but always valid as a general rule of life.)  Hmmmm.