Friday, April 18, 2008
Going to the fair
Went down to meet my editors at the London Book Fair this week. It was frenetic. I had to wear a badge saying "writer". I felt like a walking snack. The fair is not really for writers, apart from one or two big name ones who make key-note speeches, it is for the business end of books - the agents, the publishers, the money men. I think they all drink too much coffee because they all seemed to be buzzing - perhaps it is because they are in such close confines with their competitors. I was meeting my French and Italian editors at my agent's stand in a section called International Rights (which involves selling the rights to publish a book abroad. That is to say you are selling the same thing over and over again which is what you call a good trick if you can manage it). Consequently, this section is full of earnest Europeans hunched over tables anxious not to miss the "next big thing" but struggling to understand if they should indeed buy that book about Gothic cathedrals in Lincolnshire. I was thoroughly intimidated by the whole event. I do not think I know enough people - everywhere I looked agents were kissing scouts were kissing publishers. It seems to be quite a kissy business. And they were all on this incredibly tight schedule of back to back half hour meetings with each other. This made even the simplest thing like going to the toilet obviously quite stressful courtesy of the large, time-consuming queues. I heard one woman go into her meeting saying: "It's alright, I pretended to be disabled." You have to be quite ruthless to do that.