‘Banning the Bullshit’ Sunday – on a Friday: The London Book Fair (baby!)

No, I don’t mean it was a smaller event than usual, it is from one of THE greatest and funniest shows that I have ever seen (aside from Ab Fab and Will & Grace, that is) ‘Friends’. See here?

London, baby! Sigh… anyway, not too much of the brown stuff, remember, Saffi? ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, London Book Fair?

Well, have a look! This was the view from outside the day before it opened, following the digital conference. Looking gooood!

So, the journey began at Newark Station, ‘cos believe it or not, London is NOT close to everything in Britain! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Just in case you didn’t think there WAS a Newark in England!

And… the view from the platform (no, not 9 and 3/4’s, that comes later!)

Sooooo, setting off to The Big Smoke in the freezin‘ April sunshine (without a coat, I might add. Duh, it is April!) this jet-setting, best-selling author (oh, hang on, nope, that’s not me, that’s my partner-in-writing-crime Mark Williams. See here for his take on that) travels the only way there is: First Class! Ahem, anyone who knows me, knows that is NOT how I roll, BUT, when I booked this in advance, I got such a deal, that I couldn’t resist. I mean, come on: I am a best-selling, soon-to-be-published slash the most-successful UK (truly) indie author, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Plus, with only one and a half working arms, I didn’t fancy sharing a double seat with a commoner! ;-))

Soooo, it had to be done. It’d be rude not to!

Anyway, this was the view from the not-so-cheap-seats as the train hurtled toward a place I have only visited for three reasons prior: 1) Because my parents MADE me 2) For a sporting event of concert or 3) for business/meetings.

And THIS was the silly, misguided sticker on the window! pffffft ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ooops! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hello! Do you KNOW who I am? Sheesh…

So, onto Sunday. The day before the fair. I was lucky enough to have arranged to meet a reader who I had exchanged emails with relating to Sugar & Spice (and whose story is featured on my sister blog HERE. Look out for a SHOCKING update to her story soon!) and we spent the whole day in the pub, drinking mucky, London beer (mine through a straw as I can’t lift a pint), watching football, moaning about humanity and the legal system in general and basically forging a friendship that will undoubtedly last a lifetime. See, there are some HUGE perks to being a writer. You know who you are MRS! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fast-forward to Monday morning. Eeek!

OK, so it is fair to say (no pun intended) that A) I have never done this before and B) I have a major physical impediment at the moment that makes it difficult to shave underneath my right arm, let alone barge thousands of people out of the way to get to the Amazon KDP stand to moan about them losing our book for almost six weeks! (I mean, come on, really? Did they have a stand with fist-proof glass? No!) So, I walked up the Earls Court steps with MAJOR trepidation, my new Sony cans on my head and my heart in my mouth. Hey, I AM human you know! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s my view:

Gu-ulp!

And I was right to take that swallow.

The place is incredible.

I took a photo of the stand list so that I could find my way around (with one arm and a whole coffee table full of brochures that I had managed to procure walking through the main entrance – hello! You want me to hold my badge up at the same time?) and when I had finally fought my way through the wall of Chinese paparazzi to look at it and get my bearings, realised this was one of fifteen columns, starting with ‘A’! I knew then, that I was doomed.

So, what do you do? Well, knowing I didn’t have scheduled meetings until 1300 and 1800, I did what any sane girl-writer would do, I called a bloke!

Matt Horner of ebookpartnership.com fame (who are on my blog links btw) had messaged me the day before and asked to meet up with him and his wife and business partner and I am soooo glad I did! After spinning around with my finger to my lips, dropping my leaflets and gulping back copious amounts of bottled water, I finally found them and brought some sanity back to my predicament. I met him and his lovely wife for the first time (having spent almost two years conversing with them via email, seeing them convert our first ebooks into digital and now forming a mutually beneficial ebook distribution association), got my bearings and actually calmed down. I did (well, sorta) know someone there.

Thank you Matt and Diana! You are not only ultimate professionals, but you saved my life! ๐Ÿ˜‰

And so to the rest of the day. Well, for those of you who have never visited The London Book Fair (of which I am now not one) it is awesome! The buzz, the mutual interest and general love of air-kissing, can probably not be replicated anywhere else. (anyway,ย our French publisher certainly agrees!) The vibe as you enter the venue is something that if any writer could describe it, then they are onto a winner. BUT: It is also, most definitely NOT BS free!

I might get slated for this, but hey…

I found most of it (as I knew I would) very pretentious and a meat-market for the industry (so-called) insiders to peddle their wares and self-congratulate.

I SAW NO/VERY FEW WRITERS!

I saw LOTS of publishers, lots of adverts for books (which you would expect I guess) and lots of stalls with smartly dressed people who had no doubt rehearsed their elevator pitch for quite some time.

Speaking of the ‘elevator pitch’, here’s one: (not a pitch, but one more reason why the book fair, ISN’T about books) – I had a message from our agent, saying I should pop up and see her to say hello, before meeting later that evening (away from the fair). Get this. I wasn’t allowed!

I stood in an infinite queue ย of wanna-be-repped-like-they-needed-to-be-authors, stand and agent name number in hand, only to be told that I couldn’t see her, without an appointment! Fortunately, I had our wonderful, super-efficient (deal to hard-cover publication in 8 months, not-so-scared) publisher to meet in the meantime, so that took the sting out of it!

Not only did she tell me that ‘Paraphilia’ (the translated French version of Sugar & Spice) is completed and that she had arranged 4 days of publicity in both France and Belgium, with press, media and TV interviews galore, but they were sending 300 hardback copies out for promo to bloggers, reviewers, papers and journo’s alike! She even produced a glossy brochure with yours truly (as in, Saffina Desforges partnership) slap bang in the middle of it!

THAT was the highlight of being at the fair, that and sending our newly acquired agent home in a taxi after two bottles of wine and a conversation that will never be repeated! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now please don’t get me wrong. The fair is A-MAZZIng as Scott Mills would say, and it is a GREAT way to meet people whom you have worked with/conversed with over continents and the net, who happen to be in the same place at the same time, but I cannot help thinking it is a bit like stepping through the wall at the station and ending up somewhere else.

(see below)

I wanted to be here:

And ended up here:

I needed two days’ sleep when I got home (not as many as our agent probably needs after a whole three days there ‘Speed-author-dating’) but it was still a thrilling experience.

What I am NOT convinced about however, is that is was free of the sloppy stuff. In fact, I reckon it might’a been a TOTAL BS-fest and I was too scared to notice!

Either way, I’ve been, I’ve survived and I will probably be there next year. Although I hope, the future’s purple and not brown.

Until next time… (when normal service will be resumed) stay BS free!.

Saffi

x

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Writer, dreamer, pantser.

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7 comments on “‘Banning the Bullshit’ Sunday – on a Friday: The London Book Fair (baby!)
  1. Loved the photos! (even if I had to force them to show themselves on my computer.)

    Your Newark looks much quieter than the one we got over here. And realy? Platform 9 3/4 – that’s just awesome *giggles* Although I think ending up in that pretty space before it might have been better.

    Conventions are scary places. I went to PAX East Coast (gamers convention) one year – so glad I had my hubby and two friends to guide me through the madness. It definately fizzled me out so I can understand your need for sleep completely. Congratulations on surviving. Maybe I’ll get there some day.

    :} Cathryn

  2. Cathryn (i have a sister called Katherine) I know totally what you mean! It was a great experience, and had my arm been a bit better and I had been able to do a bit more, it might have been whole lot more enjoyable BUT, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that if you weren’t a ‘published’ writer (which we are) then you didn’t belong.

    The most amusing thing of all, was the China contingent. and how they recognise the digital market, YET, they were taking pics with unknown Chinese writers, with BOOKS in their hands! Now i have no probs, with books, I LOVE them, but let’s face it, the future ain’t paper!

    No matter which way you shake the jar with the wasp in it, the book fair ISN’T about the people that write the books: it’s about the people that SELL them. And that’s OK. As long as you want to go to a car lot that flogs dodgy motors.

    x

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