It’s LBF time again (18-20 April 2023) and if you’ve been before, you’ll know the days can be gruelling and the Fair bewildering at times. I tend to only manage a day or at most two (my MS makes a full day of anything a trial, so three in a row, no thanks) and being an indie writer with other work commitments, taking time out and spending a day at LBF is a balancing act.
It’s also an inspiring and useful place for authors, with lots tailored to author needs. Here’s my 5 key tips to fellow authors who may be new to LBF – especially indie authors and/or those without representation or a publisher yet.
Know why you are going
- It’s fine to go for no other reason than to soak up the atmosphere, but there are so many opportunities to be had that a little thinking and planning will help make the most of the day. It’s the perfect place to learn something new at a seminar, network with like minds or speak to a service provider about working together. (Yes, you may be capable of doing everything, but you can’t do it all well to deadlines. Respect your writing and your time, get help where relevant.)
Research what and who is available
If you’re there for events:
- Check the timetable hasn’t changed and leave time to get from one event to the next by checking the site floor plan. Some events overlap so you’ll have to make choices – do it now, then check again on the day!
- If an event is important to you, plan it in before anything else so you don’t miss it due to an over-running appointment elsewhere at the show.
- Take a shooting stick or similar (I take a fold-up saddle stick) if you will struggle to stand for long. Most events fill up early and if you have a packed agenda, you might arrive too late to sit. It’s a hard lesson, learning that seats are at a premium at LBF!
- Take brief notes on a pad or phone – thoughts, actions for later.
If you’re there to talk to specific individuals or exhibitors:
- Speak to them and pre-book an appointment. The show is full on and they will have business aims themselves – turning up and hoping for their time may not work.
- Be clear about what it is you think they can offer you, and what you can offer them so they know you are serious about partnering with them.
Make time after LBF to follow up on contacts made
- You found a website designer/editor/marketer you love? So doubtless did many others – make yourself their ideal new client. Check what they need from you when you meet, and be sure they know that you’re ready to provide it as soon as you have signed up.
- Food and drink is not cheap. Be prepared, check nearby streets for a snack or bring your own (things you can eat/drink standing because limited chairs, remember!)
- If you can only fit one day in, use the LBF site to work out which day gives you most bang for your buck. Use the LBF directory and map to plan your appointments with some wiggle room. It can easily take 10 minutes to get from one side of Olympia to the other.
- If you are doing 2 or more days, allow plenty of breathers in your day. Hell, it’s a book fair – take a book or better still buy one there!
Above all have a great time and I hope to see you there (mostly around Author HQ, the Tech Theatre or the Main Stage)