Thursday, April 18, 2013

Palaces of books

So I had a break from writing and spent a couple of days in London, as I was delighted to be taking part in a Salt panel discussion at the London Book Fair, on Building Brand and Social Equity on a Shoestring (that means creating a brand - essential now: the fair was fair buzzing with that word - and promoting and selling books thereby, all without a budget via social media). I was speaking alongside our publisher Chris Hamilton-Emery, my irrepressible fellow Salt author and blogging colleague, poet Katy Evans-Bush, and Salt crime writer Christina James, whom I was delighted to meet for the first time. It was lovely too to meet Elaine Aldred, who chaired us in excellent and tactful fashion (10 mins each didn't seem nearly enough for all the things we had to say!). Elaine will be writing up the gist of the whole discussion, and I'll link to her piece when it appears. We had a receptive and communicative audience - about 200 people, I'd say, consisting of authors, a few journalists and a majority of publishers. I enjoyed it immensely, and found my fellow panelists' contributions practical and helpful. Christina has blogged about it here.

Then (after waiting to pay in a long queue of literary types hugging plastic pots of salad) I had a catch-up over lunch with Katy, who always cheers and inspires me (she's so good with words!) before attending a very interesting session on the Future of the Literary Agent, which I've written about a bit on my Fictionbitch blog.

After that session I went back to my nearby hotel for a short while and, all ready to put into practice my own advice on social networking, tweeting on the hop and uploading the pics I'd taken on my iphone, I dropped the thing down the loo and it was kaput!

Well, I'd never been to a book fair before - oh, that's not quite true, I've been to alternative book fairs - and this really was amazing: a place two or three times the size of an aeroplane hangar filled with publishers and industry professionals in their tellingly differently-sized sections, from the shared shelves of members of the Independent Publishers' Guild, to Bloomsbury's section which was, as Katy said, like a palace, and HarperCollins's, well.. city, really.

Bit of an eye-opener, really.

And, do you know, there's a pub near Euston station with a cat that always comes and sits on your knees?

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