I just got back from the London Book Fair, the world's second-largest book fair after Frankfurt. Hundreds of publishers, printers, and other companies from around the world gathered in London for a flurry of deal making. This fair is mostly for publishers and agents to sell international rights for their titles and printing services to drum up new business. It's not a literary convention and writers were in the definite minority, but as an author I found it tremendously useful.
The first thing I did was stop off at the booth for Osprey Publishing, who will be coming out with my American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics this fall and have just signed me up to do Medieval Handgonnes: The First Black Powder Infantry Weapons. It was nice to finally meet a lot of the people I've talked to on the phone or email. It also gave me a chance to discuss other possible titles and discover that the marketing director reads my blog anytime Osprey is mentioned. Hi Richard!
I spent the rest of the time exploring the booths and seeing what new lines publishers were coming out with, and what developed lines are missing titles that I could write. I came back with a tree's worth of catalogs, pamphlets, and sample books, plus many, many ideas. While there weren't many people from editorial, the business folks know all about what lines will be expanding and what lines are not living up to sales expectations, so I gathered a wealth of insider information and contacts. I even had one publisher solicit me for a couple of titles! Will any of this lead to more books for yours truly? It's too early to say. In this business, until you have a contract, you have nothing. But even if I don't get anything, I certainly learned a lot.
I'll be doing several more posts on the book fair in the coming days, including tips on how you as a writer can get the most out of a book fair, the latest in POD technology, what's hot and what's not in the publishing world, and more. I've also posted some impressions on my other blog.