Liberties at London - London Book Fair 2013

After three weeks of recovery, I finally feel able to blog about this year's London Book Fair. I jest - I had a really good experience at the Fair last month, and have spent three weeks following up on the huge number of meetings we had over the three days. I finally have some time now to blog about the details of my first book fair and how Liberties fared increasing our network of international agents who will represent our titles in territories around the world.
Ireland stand being set-up
The booking and scheduling started back in January, and by the time April hit we had a pretty packed diary. I also booked on to the 'Introduction to Rights' seminar run by the Publishing Training Centre as part of the London Book Fair. The Sunday was a beautiful sunny day in London town; unfortunately for my vitamin D levels, I spent the day inside an Earl's Court meeting room from noon until 7pm. As it was being held in Earl's Court, I was able to get a sneak peek at my new desk for the following 3 days, and get an idea of the extent of the Fair while it was still being put together.  

Bird's-eye view from seminar

The seminar was fantastic and so informative; it was also great to get to talk to my peers in the industry, many of whom are just starting out in the world of rights too. The day was split into an early afternoon session, a late afternoon session and then a "speed-dating" type session where each of the 5 speakers had a desk and attendees could approach them to seek advice on a one-to-one basis. I spoke to four out of the five, and got some great tips on building up a rights department. I had already done the 'Selling Rights' day organised by Publishing Ireland in March; so, after both days of training from 6 industry experts (5 on the 'Intro' course, and the lovely Sophie Brewer on the Publishing Ireland course), I felt fully ready to face my first book fair. Almost. 
Turkish, Lebanese, Irish & German
collective at Kalem Agency party
The night before the Fair began, I attended the Kalem Agency party in the Pembroke pub, just around the corner from Earl's Court. Turkey was the market focus of the 2013 London Book Fair, and Kalem kicked the Fair off in fine style with a packed room. It was a great experience, though a little daunting at first as I didn't know a soul there; but, I met some fantastic people that I hope to stay in touch with for a long time.  With all the sense I could muster, I headed back to the hotel before midnight to get a good night's sleep before the Fair as it was going to be a busy 3 days with about 30 meetings scheduled.
Our table at the 'Ireland at London' stand
I headed into the Fair for 9am to meet up with Sean, and we kicked off our first meeting at 9.30am on the Monday morning, easing ourselves in gently with an hour's break after that appointment. From then on we were pretty much back to back meetings on both Monday and Tuesday. We met agents from Italy, Turkey, France, Spain, Brazil, Australia, India, China, Japan, Scandinavia, Portugal, Holland and the USA.  We also met some authors, printers and other publishing industry folk over the three days. On Wednesday we didn't have the desk at the Ireland stand, as most of our meetings were on other people's desks that day, and we took some time to wander about to see the Fair hall. By 2pm, after a long 3 days of meetings, we called it quits on LBF 2013 and headed for the airport. Thankfully for us, our flight was one of the last to make it to Dublin that evening in some seriously windy weather.
Three weeks of follow-up on all the meetings, and I have plenty more to do yet, but we are happy to announce that we now have agencies working on our behalf to sell our titles into almost every territory in the world. We are still lacking in one or two places, but we can hopefully work on those last few regions in the lead up to the next book fair. Another week or two now and my Frankfurt bookings for October will have to commence.
A big thank you to the Ireland Literature Exchange, to Sinead, Denise and Aoife for a great job on the Ireland at London stand.  You really helped to make this LBF a great experience, and a really fantastic first book fair for me!