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The 2018 London Book Fair or the “Publishing Maze”

If you have read my recent posts or are following me on social media, you might know I have spent five wonderful days in London for the annual book fair!

Truth be told, I am still pinching myself! But it did happen, and here is what I had to say about it!

wlcome to the book fair.jpg

First things first, I was invited to the Book Blogger Awards hosted by the fair, but I was lucky to be allowed to enjoy this fair as part of the Orenda Books team, which means I got to see the professional side of it all. I cannot thank Karen Sullivan enough for this. More thanks to come later as I am grateful so many people made this week the perfect first trip to London I couldn’t never have dreamed of.

Day one : how to live on adrenaline and excitement!

Up at 5am to catch my flight, I was everything but tired when I reached the venue to set up the Orenda Books stand! I was impressed by the place. Huge doesn’t even begin to describe it. Needless to say I spent four days getting lost between the different halls and places!

My work at the bookstore has taught me the way you present your books to the public is essential, so we had fun making sure everything looked good for everyone who popped up or walked past our little corner! When I say we, I must include the fantastic Susan from The Book Trail. She took care of me, introduced me to lots of people, made sure I had the best of times, and this experience wouldn’t have been the same without her. Life offers you friends when you don’t expect it. We connected and now I feel I’ve known her for years. This was my first gift from the fair. I got a sister from another mother!


Day two : how to swim in a crowded pool and how I discovered I was a secret Londoner

I am not stupid, I knew there would be many people. I just hadn’t realized that the place was barely enough to contain us all! It was not so full that you couldn’t breathe but it was difficult to find a quiet place!

My big mission started on this Tuesday : as an Orenda Books fairy, I was to give away our beautiful babies to visitors or exhibitors to let them know who we are, what we do, and spread the book love! I walked so many kilometers!

But what made this Tuesday special was the meeting I had at 1pm. Johana Gustawsson. The French queen who had made me realize French was a beautiful language which did not have to be boring. What was supposed to be a nice lunch ended up almost four hours later! Bit of a chatter box, am I? I learned so much from this time spent with such a gentle soul, brilliant mind, and adorable person. My heart bursts with pride and happiness whenever I think about it. Thank you for allowing me to steal some of your precious time, Johana. Dream coming true, part 4!!  (1 was coming to the UK, 2 was meeting THE Karen Sullivan, 3 was helping out as a #TeamOrenda member, 4 was finding my lovely Susan! So many things in two days!!!!)

So, the Londoner part… Five entire days in the city and I never got lost! I was to meet Johana downtown, found Picadilly’s line, helped a sweet editor find the book fair on my way back, met the London pavement when I fell hard because of the “look on the right” stuff written on the ground (silly idea!!!!!). I took the train, the tube, cabs, whatever, without any ounce of anxiety, worry,  or hesitation. I just knew where I was going, I felt so welcome in London that it was a bit as if I were home. I’m a Londoner with a weird accent!

Ps: a big French publisher recognized me! WOW! Not over it!!!!

Day 3 : feed your boss and discover what happens once the fair closes is just as important as the fair itself!

You know you are working with the best when they don’t take time for lunch when they work! I had my first Tesco experience! Yes, it seems silly, but what made me happiest wasn’t the thought of sightseeing or whatever, it was experiencing London as though I was actually living there. So I discovered the Meal Deal, a very patient cashier, and the Cadbury section!

Apart from the food, I wandered around the French corner and mustered the courage to give my card to a few publishers. Most of them were quite busy or not interested, but it did not matter. I did it, as a professional. Why does it matter? Because until I got here and put the Orenda Books badge on my clothes, I had never felt like I truly belonged. I’d always felt I was one step behind. But thanks to Karen, West, and Susan, I was suddenly part of the industry. Swimming with the book sharks and dolphins! Talk about a boost in confidence!

Then came the pub. Of course, it’s London!!

Day 4 : surprises and a gathering of book bloggers

What is great with people who care and know you, even though you’ve only met them in real life a few days before is that they know how to help you and make you grow. This amazing Thursday saw me holding the Orenda fort on my own, something I truly loved since day one, as well as my big jump into the real deal. A professional meeting. Me with real people talking to me as if I had any idea what was going on! Shaky legs but determined to do well for my boss, I did my best, knowing I could never thank her enough for the lesson learned.

First highlight of the day, my meeting with one of the best French editor. Lilas, such a personality, such a force of nature, such an amazing person. She took the time to talk to me, to give me advice and to share views about the difference between France and the UK. I loved every minute of this unplanned meeting and I am looking forward to seeing her again!

Second highlight of the day, meeting the bloggers! I was elated to finally meet you in person! Sarah, you are the sweetest, please never lose this sparkling smile of yours. Anne, my rock, thank you for everything. Okay, not making a list here! I just enjoyed eating, drinking, and chatting about everything with you, guys. Thank you for making this day a special one. Online support becoming real life support did make me tear up, but for good reasons and I am the luckiest person ever.

Day 5 : rest, enjoy, and be grateful

I stayed in my PJs up to noon, I emailed, I read, I breathed, I lived. And almost missed my flight!!!

Note to myself and to others: This book fair is definitely for professionals, which was very surprising to me. Paris Livres is all about readers meeting authors etc, so different from what was really happening in London!

In a nutshell, until two days before the event, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to come. Magic happened. My favorite raisin came to my rescue (yes, I give weird nicknames to my friends), and I owe so much to someone in particular. I don’t wanna show off or whatever, and I have missed stuff I should have mentioned in this post but it’s all in my head, and in my heart. I left London with a smile, stronger, happier, and knowing I would be back soon.

Thank you mom, for supporting me and pushing me in the right direction when I started doubting. Thank you Orenda mama for everything and more. Thank you London for your beauty and thank you all for the love!



49 thoughts on “The 2018 London Book Fair or the “Publishing Maze””

  1. I cannot tell you how much I love this post! It’s so wonderful to feel your excitement through your words, so pleased you had a fab time. I adore Johanna too, she’s just so lovely & kind & has time for everyone. Mama Orenda is the best isn’t she? Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love you more!!! The excitement is still running through my veins and I don’t ever want to forget the feeling! Johana is amazing, and Mama Orenda… Oh my, I owe her so much, and she is the most wonderful woman ever. I am so lucky to be able to learn from her! xxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a lovely post. What a great time you had ~ and it’s such fun meeting people you only know by their online profiles in the flesh, isn’t it?!


  3. Oh my goodness Meggy, what an amazing time you had there. I’m sure you have so many fantastic memories, photos and new friends to remember and think about. It just sounds the best time. I’m so glad you went, achieved, enjoyed and are looking forward to going back. Plus you got Cadburys!!!!
    Thanks for sharing your journey, I was excited to hear how it went, and it looks even better than I could have imagined. So happy for you. (but not so much your knee!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even writing this post, I had a hard time believing it had actually happened, haha! My heart and head are filled with the best emotions and they’re working as fuel to make me go through the nightmare the next weeks are going to be. I will cherish this week forever. It was a milestone, a giant step to prove myself I could do it! And I loved having your support, it was so important to me! Thank you ❤
      Haha, all the Cadburys went to my mom!!!! My knee is still very unhappy but I couldn't care less!
      Lots of love! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, what a nice trip! Happy to hear you had so much fun! ❤
    When I'm on city breaks (in different countries to my own that is), i love checking out their grocery stores… hehe 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m delighted to hear you had such a good time Meggy – I was gutted I couldn’t go despite having an invite but we had guests staying for the entire time! It sounds as if you had a ball – the world really is your oyster now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I actually read this earlier today but my stupid phone won’t let me comment… I loved reading about your experience; it sounds like true heaven. ❤ I'm so happy you had such a great time! It sounds like you are right at home in the publishing world. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t mind those exams! Theory is one thing, but fitting in in the ‘real’ publishing world is so much more important. 😉 ❤


        1. ❤ I needed to hear this. I am so nervous about those exams because we're supposed to have learned things, but the truth is we haven't been taught enough to fit what they require now! And I've learned more during my week in London than at uni… But I can't fail my degree! So much frustration!!!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yeah I totally get that… Failing is not an option as they ask for the degree if you want to work in publishing, but having actual experience already and contacts will mean so much more in the future! Having one step inside already is a huge help. 😉 I’m sure you will be able to fix everything else! xx


  7. So happy for you! It sounds like you had a fabulous week. I’d love to attend one of these years. Do people come from the U.S.? At book expo last year I met bloggers from Spain. Of course most attendees are from the U.S. but there were a fair amount of people that came from other countries too.

    Liked by 1 person

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