Do you like book fairs?
Janet and John do. John is an author. Janet wants to work in publishing. This is their first time at the London Book Fair.
“Gosh,” Janet says. “It’s very big.”
“That’s what they all say,” John says.
Olympia is huge. There are 25,000 people here. Exhibitors come from all over the world. This year, the market focus is Indonesia.
John knows all about Indonesia. “It is a country a long way from London,” he tells Janet.
The first stand is Harper Collins. Someone smiles at Janet. So Janet foists her CV onto the person from Harper Collins.
Helpfully, people have their names and their job titles on their conference badges. John examines several people’s chests closely to find one he wants.
John pounces on an unsuspecting woman whose badge says AGENT, and thrusts his lovingly prepared manuscript into her hands.
Ever hopeful, John!
“I need a coffee and a doughnut,” Janet says. Janet drags John to the nearest café.
“But not at those prices,” Janet says.
“Well, I’m going to splash out,” John says.
“See you when you get back from the toilet then,” Janet says.
By the time John returns, Janet has met two friendly people, studied a floorplan, and found out more about the London Book Fair.
“John, come quickly,” Janet says. “You must go to Author HQ.”
Author HQ is on the next level up, a long way from the big shiny stands. It is almost as far as Indonesia.
“My feet hurt,” Janet says.
Today Janet is wearing snazzy heels to make an impression. The only impression they make is on her corns and her hammer toes.
Janet and John struggle up to the Writer’s Block on Level One.
“Look,” John says. “There’s a Society of Authors stand. I think I might join.”
Now John is being clever.
At Author HQ, there are no seats left. To listen to a talk, John sits on the floor beneath someone eating an egg and cress sandwich.
When the talk finishes, Janet and John meet up again.
Janet still hasn’t bagged a job, but she is cradling two bulging holdalls. One of them is full of bookmarks, sweeties, and flyers. The other bag is full of shiny new books.
“Where did you buy those?” John asks.
“I helped myself,” Janet says.
“That’s stealing. You must put them back,” John says.
“My feet hurt,” Janet says. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Well, there’s nowhere to sit down,” John says.
“What about that nice big display over there? It looks sturdy,” Janet says.
Bye, bye, beautiful display of children’s books.
See Janet and John run as fast as they can.
John goes back to Author HQ. The next session is called Turning Yourself into a Brand.
“Sam Missingham is a publishing guru,” John whispers to Janet as he scans the carpet for space.
“I know all about branding already,” Janet says. “That’s why I’m taking lots of selfies for Instagram.”
“How does Instagram work?” John asks.
“You take pictures of yourself in front of all the different publishers’ stands, upload them to Insta, and wait for the job offers to roll in,” Janet says.
“I did not know that,” John says. “Besides, the wi-fi is a bit shit here.”
“I have a personal hotspot,” Janet says.
“I know you do,” John says.
“I want to go home now,” Janet says.
“Are your bunions throbbing?” John asks.
“Yes,” Janet says. “And I have a migraine.”
“Come on then,” John says. “I’ll treat you to something special on the way home.”
Don’t be like Janet and John. Do your homework before you get to the London Book Fair. And take paracetamol with you.