10 Dos and Don’ts for Wannabe Publishers at London Book Fair

by Helena Markou

Let me begin by saying if you want a job in publishing then you want to be at London Book Fair. Registration is free. Just sign up as a visitor and make sure you select "student" from the drop down menu.

LBF is all about the sales of rights, so people are there to have important meetings (which are often scheduled months in advance). Many publishers have back-to-back appointments all day long, but there are usually people floating around the stands, manning reception and answering ad hoc questions.

On the hour and on the half-hour is a good time to catch people between their scheduled appointments, but try to develop a ninja-like awareness of “the unoccupied” and be ready to pounce with a disarming opener at all times.


1. Do make a wishlist of the publishers you want to talk to and get their stand numbers in advance.

2. Do check the seminar listings for talks worth attending, but maybe avoid software and “solutions” providers, they can be big sales pitches.

3. Do be brave and talk to people especially if they look like a Director or CEO, you might get lucky and impress the right person.

4. Do prepare introductions & openers in advance, for example… 

  “Hi my name is HELENA” – Seems obvious but they are unlikely to remember your name unless you communicate it verbally to them.
  “I review children’s books on my blog, who does your children’s marketing? Can I take their email address?
  “Who heads up your children’s list in editorial? Can I take their contact details?
  “Do you have any internships? Who should I email? What advice could you give someone like me trying to get into the industry?” 

5. Do take business cards and/or copies of your CV (ERROR FREE) to hand out.

6. Do take a packed lunch or exit to eat. £10 for a bottle of water and a sandwich is ridiculous (there’s a number of conveniece stores around Olympia).

7. Do visit The Bookseller stand and check out the dailies.

8. Do find out the hashtag and tweet whilst you’re there.  Also worth following the discussions on twitter during the Digital Minds Conference, especially if you can't be there in person.

9. Do wear something smart but BRIGHT. You want to stick out from the sea of grey suits, and remain memorable to the people you’ve spoken to.

10. Do bring comfortable shoes & lip balm as the concrete floors & book dust will, literally, try to suck the life out of you. 


1. Don’t expect there to be anywhere to sit down and if you do see a vacant seat be prepared to fight for it.

2. Don’t take it to heart if some people are a bit unhelpful and curt, they are just busy doing their jobs.

3. Don’t waste your time trying to speak with people who are clearly too busy to talk to you, move on to the next on the list.

4. Don’t make yourself sick on freebie sweeties.

5. Don’t waltz through publishers’ stands like you would a bookshop, they are often considered semi-private spaces by their occupants.

6. Don’t ignore small & independent publishers, they work very hard to survive in the publishing industry and have wisdom, wit and savvy in spades. And you never know they might have jobs going as well.

7. Don’t walk off with books unless you are 100% certain they are free proof/review copies.

8. Don’t ask to purchase a book from a stand, it’s not a retail orientated book fair, you’ll look silly.

9. Don’t pass up an opportunity to do competitor analysis and collect ideas, intelligence for new product development projects.

10. Don’t leave London without heading to Lucky Voice in Soho for Karaoke.

Ok the last one isn’t LBF specific but always valid as a general rule of life.

About the author of this article

Helena is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Publishing at Oxford Brookes University.  You can stalk her on twitter @helena_markou or LinkedIn.

Edited by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 28 Mar 2014 around 10am

Last edited: 27 01 2018