London Book Fair, Day 1

This article is part 1 of a 3-part series. You can also read summaries for Day 2 and Day 3.

At time of writing, I’m currently sat in Nespresso Cafe in St. Paul’s feeling kinda frazzled. I had actually intended to stay at the LBF all day until 6.30pm, but with a gap in my pre-prepped schedule for the day of about an hour and a half, I decided to be kind to myself and leave. I have 2 more days to come, and a dinner with friends tonight, so energy-management was a sensible move.

Here are the day’s highlights:

Taking it easy
I went in this morning feeling fairly calm, despite the nervous anticipation I generally get before going into a new/social situation more on this social anxiety here). I avoided last-minute reading/planning and just went with it. This was very much the theme of the day. I had a couple of things I wanted to go to, and wandered about in between, before leaving early.

On the way in, I spoke to a friendly Brazilian girl who was helping out. She was lovely, and I kinda wish we’d had longer to chat! The cubes there were good, despite the encounter being brief.

The place is huge!
OK, so I knew it’d be pretty sizeable, but Kensington Olympia is actually massive. Also, as a guy who’s sense of direction is already pretty bad, the rooms and their codes are hella confusing. It took me a good while to get to the different locations.

I felt a bit like an outsider
Basically, aside from the talks the bulk of the 2 floors was stands for the different publishers, big areas for the likes of Penguin Random House, and little ones for some of the little ones. There were seats and tables, and the chat going on was business-/sales-related. i.e. Not for little old wannabe author/blogger/random dude like me.

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View from queue.

But, the vibe was nice
The bookish community (I like that word, ‘bookish’) is a friendly one. There were suited people and more smart-casual/casual folks. Even though I wasn’t such an “important person”, I didn’t *really* feel out of place. Well, except when I finally found a place to rest my feet and tuck into my sandwiches, and was told that a “private event” was about to start there.

I also had a couple of chats, and one with a lovely bookseller who was telling me that she had been here before, for Comic-Con. Turns out she kinda wanted to be an author too, and so was wearing a couple of hats. To be honest, it seems that most folks in this world wear more than one hat. So I don’t feel so strange!

The talks
I’m pleased to say that there were a couple of great talks today, one on diversity and another on mental health in publishing. Both were particularly useful for me and, it seems, significant for others. It was encouraging, though unsurprising, to hear that mental health has growing appeal in the literary world.

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“Being mental” talk

When I had time during the day / whilst getting lost, I wandered around the publishers’ stands, looking at the books and picking up a couple of catalogues. There are a couple of other stands I want to visit, particularly as I am interested in approaching them to do work experience.

Gosh, I could easily sleep right now. But I’m also looking forward to more – and especially the SYP networking and talks from 3pm!

Ciao for now,

Jas 

✏ Written: Tuesday, 10th April 2018 @ 4.46pm

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