Friday, March 27, 2015

Ready for Bologna!

Can't believe it is the third time I am packing my things for Bologna! I am so excited, I just love this book fair, can't help it. Meeting people who have the same passion - children's books - as I do and talking with them is just a breath of fresh air to my working life. (and I need that right now so badly!)

Above, I took a quick shot of my promotional material and books that I will be taking with me. If you are an illustrator going to Bologna, here is a short advice if you'd like to prepare yourself a bit before you go.

1. Don't feel stressed trying to book appointments beforehand. I did try last year and from all the emails I sent, I only got 2 replies saying they would book an appointment with me. Fortunately, plenty of publishers bring their art directors and editors with them to the Fair and they have illustrator hours and free slots for appointments, so do not worry, you'll be fine. Just take a walk around the stands on the first day and ask much as you can.

2. When trying to get appointments at the Fair, please take a look at the stand you're trying to approach and try to imagine your work there. Does it fit? Is this the right publisher for your illustrations? Consider the publishers book portfolio, if your style is not what they are into, don't put yourself through a meeting that could turn out unnecessary for both sides.

3. Get ready before you go. Try to create a nice portfolio, or just take dummy books, or published books, whichever you prefer. Show it to the art directors and editors and make sure you have enough business cards or postcards to leave behind.

4. Quick tip for illustrator's business cards - I like to put a sample of my work on one side and my contact details on the other side. This is because I think most people in the children's book business are very visual, and seeing your illo on the card will make it click much faster when they pull out their business card dossier after they get back to the office.

5. You can bring a poster to put on the illustrator's wall if you like. You can also put a box with postcards or business cards for people to take away as they pass by the wall. However, I decided not to bring these this year - don't think they really work in the way you would like them to (I saw a student taking ALL of my postcards away right after I have left them at the wall last year).
*illustrator's wall is a huge white wall right in the entrance hall of the Fair.

6. Bring a notebook or have your phone with a calendar at hand when you walk around the Fair. It's good to have it on you when you need to jot down the times and dates of the appointments. Mark down a number of the stand, too.

7. Wear comfortable shoes. Trust me, this is one of the most important things to do :-)

8. Bring a backpack or a suitcase on wheels. You'll probably have a lot of promotional materials to carry and maybe books. This is much better for your back than a purse or a big bag. Some of the publishers will also give you a catalog with contact details instead of a business card.

9. I always bring a bottle of water and some dark chocolate :-) I know there is food at the Fair, but it has happened to me before, that I wasn't able to go for lunch when I was hungry, because I was standing in a queue at the illustrator's hour.

10. Have fun! Keep your eyes open! Talk to people, this is probably the place where you can meet the biggest number of professionals from the children's book business in Europe. Make it count!

Hope this will be helpful for someone. Good luck! See you in Bologna!

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