Before we went to Frankfurt Book Fair everyone kept telling me how big it is. What they didn’t tell me, or at least, what I couldn’t fully appreciate from their remarks, was just how big it really is. It is enormous. London Book Fair pales in comparison (and I still remember how terrified I was the first time I stepped into Earls Court for the first time). I can’t even describe how vast the whole of Frankfurt fair is. For those of you trying to imagine it now, well, there are shuttle buses that help you get around the area. That’s how big it is. Once you do come to terms with this, everything becomes a lot easier.
Then there’s the people. So many people. So many meetings. But that is one of the reasons why Frankfurt is brilliant. We met with editors and agents from countries ranging from Germany to Korea and each was fascinating in his or hers’ own way. Hearing first hand what is selling in Italy, and what they are looking for. What have been the biggest deals recently in Korea. What is big in Turkey. This is where you realise just how important these meetings are, as nothing beats sitting across the table from someone and hearing all this information first hand. Sometimes all it takes is for one snippet of conversation to be the catalyst for something in the future. Something as simple as remembering that en editor loved a specific book before it comes to be time to submit to them can be the difference between a yes or a no when it comes to your book…
There’s drinks parties and dinners. There’s lots of these, but they’re all with other agents and editors and so you’re constantly meeting yet more new people. And of course there’s also everyone you already know around the place so at times it does feel like a big networking exercise, but fun. We mingled at the ‘Finland’ stand one evening where they were hosting a drinks party and men were walking around serving vodka shots (other countries were hosting their own similar events). And then seemingly every single person in publishing descends upon the Frankfurter Hoff Hotel come night. It’s a great opportunity to see everyone, if you can find them.
Being my first Frankfurt, I had presumed to somewhat find my feet in my own time, however, this was never going to be the case. After Broo Doherty became ill just before we left, our three-man team of David Headley, Broo and myself was already a man down before we’d even begun. Unfortunately, David’s own health was rapidly deteriorating, so much so that by our last day of meetings he was unable to make it in for any meetings. Cue myself, last representative of DHH and first-time attendee of the fair, taking all of our final meetings solo. It’s fair to say I fell in at the deep end, but it makes the whole experience more rewarding and I enjoyed it all. I’ve no doubt that the whole experience was invaluable for me and will only make me a better agent in the years to come. Now, I need to get on the hunt for some new clients, and I’ll look forward to next year.
(on that closing note, you can see what kind of books I’m looking for here, and I’m eagerly awaiting your submission)
Follow Harry on twitter: @harryillers