Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Frankfurter Buchmesse!

No, it's not the name for the mechanically separated meats found in the common American hot dog, meine Autoren. The Frankfurter Buchmesse (known to us as the Frankfurt Book Fair) is this week (today, October 6th, through October 10th), and is the largest trade fair for books in the world.

Publishers, literary agents, editors, authors, and other industry insiders from around the globe attend the Frankfurt Book Fair to negotiate international rights, network, and drink a whole bunch of German beer. (If it sounds mega awesome, that's because it is.) Alas, I'm not cool enough to be invited and don't currently have the spare cash to fly to Germany for a week (because if I did, I'd have already gone for Oktoberfest), but I've heard enough good stories to know that it's a productive and entertaining meeting.

The fair is open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday, so if you happen to be in the area (or feel like booking a last-minute flight), you can visit exhibitions set up by publishers from dozens of countries and learn about The Next Big Thing(s) in Publishing. I imagine it's a time-consuming and expensive endeavour, dear readers and writers, and I'm frankly (ha! "frankly") not sure how much networking you'd be able to do, so I don't recommend you go unless your editor or agent has specifically asked you along (in which case you're already there). That said, you can always ask him/her if it might make sense for you to go next year.

Conferences in general, however, particularly those run in the good ol' U.S. of A. by your genre guild of choice (e.g. the RWA, the MWA) are great events for you to meet agents and other authors, network, discuss your works in progress, attend readings, and so on, and I absolutely encourage you to try to attend one or two of these per year if at all possible. Trade fairs, conferences, literary festivals, readings, seminars, &c can be of immense value to you, your work, and your career, and as long as you're not breaking the bank to attend them, it's a good idea to make it to those being held in and around your area. If you've got the money to travel a bit, (inter)national events are great, too.

For those of you who have attended trade conferences (or even—be still, mein Herz—Frankfurt): how was your experience? What did you like best/least? Would you recommend that/those conference(s) to others, and why?

To the commments!


  1. I don't know if this counts, but publishers who attend the America Library Association conferences usually feature a mini-book con in the Vendors section.

    It's incredible---I met Eloisa James (literally bumped into her while ogling Neil Gaiman), Mo Willems, three editors, and two agents.

    I wasn't prepared to pitch (especially with my arms full of swag), but I did my best and they were very kind.

    Plus I scored a lot of ARCs and new releases (some autographed).

  2. I'm an aspiring author and attended for the first time a Mystery(and Thriller) Writers Conference at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA, in July making a mad dash from a vacation in Sedona to Northern California. It was fab...and all my favorite authors were there conducting classes...critiquing our met with my heroine Katherine Neville, Eight and The Fire, and she critiqued 20 pages of my work...along with DP Lyle, MD, forensic guru and author of Stress Fracture. In residence were Michael Connelly, Elizabeth George and Michael was so much fun and we all supped together on the patio for lunch...about 100 or so and my favorite panels included DP Lyle's How to Write a Murder...deconstructing all the lame clues left behind by the OJ and the notorious murderer (now in San Quentin) who said he went boating in SF Bay on Christmas Eve...and guess what? he was dumping his wife's body overboard....These authors really like the smaller personal conferences...where a writer can also hook up with an agent..there were two there. So, I'm definitely going back...since am fifty percent finished with my magnum opus and should be ready to roll it out by next summer. Lynn F. Casella

  3. I go to Frankfurt every year, because, well, I live in Frankfurt. It's not fair that is very friendly to the public, and that includes authors who are not specifically requested to be there. It's all about the rights people selling rights and they seem to just want to be left alone to deal in rights.

    Book Expo America is my favorite fair.

  4. I went to Book Expo America two years ago (back when it still had money and there were free books everrrrrrrrrrrywhere) and it was amazing. I got to go for my job, and I'd recommend going for at least a day to anyone who's got a connection to the industry. The general public would go nuts over the access to authors there.

    Been to plenty of library conventions, including ALA, as well. Because of my interest in fiction, I usually enjoy those panels and the mini book cons best.

  5. I live just south of Frankfurt and since I am a Book Freak, I decided to test out the Book Fair a couple of years ago. It was very disappointing: the publishers showcased all their fabulous new books and I wasn't able to buy a single one. It really is just for people in the industry and not for readers.

    However, I have heard that the Liepzig Fair, which takes place in February, is more reader-oriented, with lots of author readings and signings.

  6. I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival this year and it was incredible! Free books, great pizza, interesting people, literary agents, publishers and bookstores. I think there were over 200 tents, not to mention the all day author reading (I saw Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, and Salman Rushdie). This reinvigorated my writing spirit after months of stagnation, so I highly recommend it to anyone.