THE MOTHER OF ALL BOOK FAIRS
THE FRANKFURT WORLD BOOK FAIR
Regarding the Frankfurt Book Fair, which for those who do not know it is the World Book Fair (the mother of all fairs), it is mainly a meeting point for people in the publishing industry. The purpose of the Frankfurt Book Fair is mainly to:
a) Be a showcase for publishers from around the world, who bring their most representative titles and present them on stands, mostly to sell their rights to other languages;
b) A scouting event for publishers (mainly, also agents) who wish to acquire rights from other languages;
c) A deal-closing time for the purchase of rights of all types, some of which had been talked about before the book fair started.
In fact, publishers and editors who attend the book fair usually have their schedules already set up regarding who they will meet, where, at what time. The must make "stand time" in case other editors or agents show up looking for titles, or agree to interviews with the media.
The media has its own section and they are looking for the news on what is being published, which is one of the main reasons why publishers decide to invite writers to their stands or to promote their books in the press, radio and TV. If you are invited, you get free passes, so you (as a writer) don´t have to pay the entrance. As far as know, stands are only for those in the business, so writers who do buy their own entry tickets (but only if they can prove they have business to do at the fair, such as through a letter from a publisher or agent) do not need to pay for space, which is indeed expensive.
The book fair is divided into (last time I was there) around 10 different buildings, with sections for German publishers, Foreign publishers, Press, Media, Agents, etc. To walk across from one end to the other can take up to an hour, or you can take the shuttle buses. I would say it´s as big, if not bigger, than a large international airport, though much more congested. Even the air turns stale and hot from the conglomeration.
If you are just going to show your face as a writer, forget it. Editors, unless they know you, have little time left. And in order to meet an agent you should have had a prior agreement to meet there, mainly if you were not traveling to their country of origin. Publishers bring their top authors, mainly as promotion, and in my case it was mostly to sign contracts with German editors, or promote my books, or in my particular situation (as I live in Ecuador) to meet up with the staff, and join in their parties (by invitation only). So in that sense it serve me to befriend editors and have them see me in the flesh rather than just as a signature on a contract or as a photo in my books. In other words, if you have no business going on there prior to the fair, and if you are not a publisher or an agent looking to buy or sell rights, it only serves you to wonder: Does it make sense to write more books, with so many already standing on shelves?
Books are launched at the fair, they announce the Nobel Literature Prize during the Frankfurt Fair, and the German Literature Prize.
It is open to the public the afternoon on the last Saturday and on the final Sunday, closing time, where actual books (not all) are for sale, which is simply to keep publishers, especially from other countries, having to haul boxes of books back on the plane. So the weekend is true madness, as the already packed halls receive an onrush of people looking for new titles or to get a good deal on books, as they are usually on discount (or, if you are an author of the house, they may even start giving free copies during the week meant for promotion and press; should have seen my bags!).
For more info, you can visit:
FOR MY MOST RECENT NOVEL, THE GALAPAGOS AGENDA, HERE