One of my favorite weeks has arrived—greetings from Kensington, where I write with a belly full of curry, a whisky by my side, and the first 8 of 26 meetings during the London Book Fair under my belt.
This year, I’ve been joined by Foreign Rights Manager Extraordinaire Danielle Burby, and for the first time we have taken a table at the Fair in order to be better organized (and not spend half the day running around like chickens with our heads cut off…) While next week I’ll be able to give a better indication of international trends based on our conversations, on our first day Danielle and I were both surprised (pleasantly) by the desire expressed repeatedly for books with feminist themes—or at the very least strong female protagonists. Considering the eye-rollingly sexist backlash to the latest Star Wars trailer that indicated the presence of another female leading role, we were delighted to hear several editors request feminist science fiction or fantasy novels.
Generally, the mood is more optimistic about sales possibilities than the past couple of years, even though particularly European publishers still say they aren’t really out of the woods yet. Our vantage point—the GOOD part of Siberia, as we called section 28V—allowed for excellent people watching, and you really can see the value of a convention like this one—it’s old home week, but not a boondoggle. EVERYONE has days packed with meetings.
We saw a couple of authors who conceivably mistook LBF for Thrillerfest attempt to pitch editors or agents, who really were having none of it. When we were sitting looking straight ahead, we were simply girding ourselves for the next hour and a half of meetings. There really wasn’t even much time to wander the main publisher booths on the Floors—we’ll do that during an hour off tomorrow.
And once the day was over, it was time for a stop-off at a film-world party in Soho (not in the rain) and a supper of dosas and chana masala at Woodlands, my favorite restaurant in London. We know that before we blink twice we will be on the plane back to NYC. Our hope is that we will bring home some knowledge and the prospects for deals with us, along with magazines featuring 1D, coffee from Fortnum and Mason, and perhaps a duty-free Macallan. More next week.