INDUSTRY KNOWHOW Book Fairs: Need to Know

Our Industry Knowhow series from Janne Moller, Rights Manager at Black & White Publishing, comes to an end this month. In her last piece, Janne offers her advice on what to think about if you are considering attending any book fair as a writer or illustrator. 

Over this series on book fairs we’ve looked at the three biggest fairs of the year, Frankfurt, London and Bologna. Looking back over each KnowHow, you can see a pattern emerging for what you can think about regarding book fairs, and whether you will go. So, in this final piece, here is a scoop-up of Things To Remember When Thinking About Going To A Book Fair As A Writer Or Illustrator.

Before You Go
  • Do your research. The better you have planned and the more prepared you are, the better your approach will be.
  • Set up appointments if you’re ready to do this and have a manuscript or portfolio to share.
  • Google the book fair website and see what’s on. The visitors programme can be a good introduction to the industry.
  • Go for the weekend or seek out the events after the trade is done. In Frankfurt, the last day is usually on a weekend and is more geared to what is entertaining, plus there's more is going on, and it's open to the general public. However, most editors will have left the fair by then.
  • Book travel and accommodation early! Book fairs hike up prices wherever they are.
  • If you want to see publishers, email to book appointments as early as you can. Think about getting in touch with people two to three months beforehand.
  • Think about who you want to see and then cross reference this with the book fair website directory to see who is attending. This can be time-consuming, but it is handy and will reassure you of who you want to see.
  • Always try to find the right person to talk to and try to get their direct contact details if you can. Keep your email brief, tell them about what you’re working on and ask for a quick chat. Give them the option on time. Quick and concise is the best way.

At the Book Fair  practical advice!
  • Wear comfortable shoes, you’ll likely be trawling the aisles for hours.
  • Bring drinks and snacks with you – there will be places you can buy food and drink, but they are often expensive and very busy.
  • If going to a big book fair like Frankfurt, London or Bologna, study the layout of the fair before you go so you have a rough idea where to go for the publishers you want to see. The Frankfurt Book Fair stretches over ten halls and you can waste a lot of time running around aimlessly if you don’t know where you are going. Having said that, if you have the time, do wander about and discover lots of publishers you would probably never have come across elsewhere.
  • It’s also advisable to try to find out the best route from your accommodation to the fair before you go – both to have an idea of how long it will take you to get there, but also to know in advance whether you can walk or if there’s a bus or a train, or a taxi might be required.
  • If possible, make business cards for the trip. Most publishers get contact details from people they meet this way.

Useful links

Here are a few links which might be of interest to those of you considering going to book fairs:

We looked at Frankfurt, London and Bologna but do check out Aldus, the European Book Fairs' Network, BookExpo America, Guadalajara/Mexico, the biggest book fair for the Spanish-speaking market, and Beijing Book Fair. Obviously there are many more, but these are some of the biggest industry book fairs in the world.

* Main Image: Carden Conejo School


Janne Moller has been Rights Manager at Black & White Publishing for 14 years and has been attending book fairs for almost 20 years. Born in Denmark, she has lived in Edinburgh for 15 years. Books she has worked on at Black & White include Estelle Maskame’s Did I Mention I Love You? series and The Year After You by Nina de Pass published under the B&W YA imprint, Ink Road.


Eleanor Pender is Knowhow Editor. If there's something you'd like to know how to do, send your suggestions to

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