Is it really worth attending the London Book Fair?
This is a question that many professional writers will be asking themselves this week. The annual London Book Fair kicks off at Olympia tomorrow and today is the last opportunity to buy discounted entrance tickets online. I’ve been to the fair in the long distant past, when I worked in the book trade at the end of the nineties. Then, I was on the other side of the fence from where I am now. In fact, back when I worked at the Good Book Guide, I attended a few different trade fairs, particularly when I was selecting products for the gift supplement. Even then, I had doubts about their worth. Most of the decisions I made were based on the product catalogues I brought back to the office with me, which presumably I could have received through the post (or from the company website these days).
Of course, it’s not all about sourcing new products. These trade exhibitions are about networking and building up contacts, aren’t they?
This week I would actually be able to attend, as my husband is at home to do the school run, otherwise I wouldn’t even consider it. But as I peruse the event website, I become less and less convinced. There will be hundreds of folk there, each one battling to reach the stands for all the major publishers. Yet, I don’t want a ‘big name’ publishing contract, I’m doing very well on my own, thanks, and learning lots of new skills along the way. There are training seminars to attend on marketing and digital publishing. Well, everything you need to know on these subjects is already available free on the internet, to be perused in the comfort of your own home.
I’m missing the point. The draw of the Book Fair is the buzz and the exciting prospect of meeting fellow authors and perhaps a well-known writing celebrity or two. But is it really worth it? I live fairly near to London and the jaunt would cost me at least a hundred quid. I could use that money extremely profitably on book jacket design or editorial services (not to mention my daughter’s upcoming birthday). I think I’ve already talked myself out of it. I might have enjoyed it when I was younger and could afford to waste the cash. Because it really would be wasted. The modern publishing world doesn’t look the way that the Book Fair would wish to present it any longer and thank goodness for that. To enjoy an expensive day of small-talk and glossy brochures all results in more expensive books for the consumer.
I think I’ll stay at home this year and spend that money on my daughter’s birthday party. I shall continue to work hard in my little office, using all the treasures that the world wide web can provide me with and produce my books and Ebooks at a fair and affordable price. I suspect that would be a far better use of my time and money.