|Rachel, me and Jamie mid-roam at #LBF14|
So, from the moment I sat down in my chair last Tuesday and sent my first #LBF15 tweet, I'd achieved all my goals. I had low expectations about the fair and was prepared to spend a lot of time sitting quietly at my table or chatting to Jamie (who was sharing the stand with me, naturally), and I would have been perfectly happy with that. Over the course of the fair, though, there was a lot of discussion about how the brand-new Poetry Pavilion concept was doing and lots of people asked me if I was having a 'good fair'. I think I answered every time 'I'm having a great fair!', which was such an unexpectedly superlative reaction that I thought it would be good to share why.
Reasons I had a great London Book Fair
ONE. Being part of the party.
|Me and Jamie with our table and chairs at #LBF15|
TWO. Publisher Skills 101.Never have I had to explain the concept of the Emma Press to so many people in such quick succession, and on such dwindling reserves of energy. Contrary to my fears, people did actually stop to chat at the Poetry Pavilion and I had to summarise the origins and aims of both the Emma Press and Valley Press (when Jamie wasn't around) to authors, bloggers, printers and other publishers.
I was also pleased to get a bit of practice in slapping down patronising people. Usually I'm taken too much by surprise to react, but at the LBF they came regularly enough that I was able to experiment with varying degrees of hostility.
|A fine panorama of #LBF15 by Jamie|
THREE. The Inpress Poetry Pavilion.The LBF isn't really geared towards unpublished authors, even though the Author HQ hosts talks from editors and agents and being part of the party is important for writers too. For an unsigned writer, I think the LBF is more like a sweets museum than a sweetshop (don't try extend this analogy too far, or at all), which is why the Poetry Pavilion was such a treat. As I sat on the little row of small poetry publishers, I thought about how this was a genuinely useful section of the fair for unpublished poets, where they could come and get to know the editors of some ambitious small presses which might actually be interested in publishing them. I hope the LBF decides to run with this in future years, because it's a valuable resource for unpublished poets and small presses alike.
On setting up a poetry press in your 20s panel @LondonBookFair with @LondonBookFair with @valleypress @TheEmmaPress pic.twitter.com/feZv0DuD3Q— Nine Arches Press (@NineArchesPress) April 15, 2015
FOUR. The talks.I went to most of the talks on the Poetry Pavilion, partly to take a break from explaining the Emma Press to people, and I'm delighted to report that Inpress did a fantastic job of whipping up a programme of readings and discussions at incredibly short notice. Again, I found myself musing on how genuinely useful these talks were, especially to young publishers. When else was I going to hear Michael Schmidt and Simon Thirsk weighing up the differences of Carcanet and Bloodaxe, and Jo Bell and Judith Palmer evaluating the Canal Laureate scheme and the value of arts partnerships?
I especially enjoyed the panel discussion on translating poetry from Susan Curtis-Kojakovic of Istros Books, with Damir Šodan, Ana Brnardić and Pedro Serrano, and felt quite enthused to start dabbling in translations myself. If you're a translator and think you have something which is just right for the Emma Press, get in touch!
My friends @valleypress @wbphull #publishers at the London #Book Fair #LBF15 pic.twitter.com/SFv2Ndcqx0
— Stephanie Cox (@cox_stephanie) April 15, 2015
FIVE. Hanging with my peeps.What really made the fair for me was that several of my favourite – and soon-to-be favourite – small publishers had also decided to come along. I wouldn't say that my life as a publisher is particularly lonely, but I do miss the sociability of working at Orion, with all the tea breaks and chats across desks. The three days of the LBF were a great chance to have proper chats with Katherine from Ugly Duckling Presse, Jane from Nine Arches Press, Clive from Burning Eye Books, Mick and Sarah from Seren and Tom from Penned in the Margins, as well a rare catch-up in person with Jamie from Valley Press. I also got to meet Michael from Carcanet, Jenny from Candlestick Press and Shane from Wrecking Ball Press.
SIX. Pens.It was a good excuse to get some promotional pens done.
All prepped for the dark arts seminar with my @TheEmmaPress pen. #LBF15 pic.twitter.com/sz6FCvGQpZ
— Joseph Coelho (@Poetryjoe) April 14, 2015