Frankfurt Survival Guide

It’s that time of year again when the publishing world heads off to Frankfurt for a few days of meetings, parties and other shenanigans. The move to hall 6 this year is bound to throw some seasoned publishing-types off-balance, so we thought it was a good opportunity to ask some experts for their advice on how to negotiate the rest. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, or not ….

Sam Missingham, Head of Audience Development, HarperCollins

Samantha MissinghamApart from the obvious ones of having flat shoes, a bottle of water and nurofen on you at all times, the main thing I would say is take full advantage of the fair. There are all kinds of events, conferences and talks happening, plan ahead and go to as many as possible. Talk and connect with everyone you meet, opportunities are everywhere. Hustle hard.

Kate Wilson, Managing Director, Nosy Crow

Kate WilsonHave a full-ish schedule booked before you go (a bit late for this advice, I know): there is nothing worse than wandering around trying to look interested in the University of Uninteresting Press’s titles for the fifth time because you haven’t arranged enough meetings.

However, (and I never manage this), do allocate some time to look at the halls that house publishers other than English-language publishers. It’s such an amazing opportunity to see the aesthetic and content diversity in the world.

But look at the English-language halls too: nothing makes you feel more humble about your own publishing offerings than seeing them in the context of the vast amount of other stuff that’s being brought to market.

Wear comfortable shoes.

If you’re a woman, especially a woman rights seller, keep fluid intake during the day to a minimum or you will spend hours queuing for the loo.

When you recognise someone in the aisles,  say hello and, unless you are absolutely sure they know who you are, tell them your name: meeting people out of context can make placing them tricky!

Isheeta Mustafi, Editorial Director, Rotovision (Quarto)

Isheeta MustafiDrink lots of water.

The van outside hall 8 serves very nice chilli chips (mit 3 kinds of wurst); useful for non-wheat eaters.

Avoid the taxi queues outside the messe; the centre of town is 5 minutes on the train.

Anna Lewis, Founder, Completely Novel and Valobox

Anna LewisFind a new religion. Ideally, this religion should include a Holy Trinity of bread, sausage and beer. Welcome these things into your heart. They are all that will sustain you for the next 4 days.

If you find a stand with good wifi then don’t move. Set up camp and tell all your meetings to come to you. They will love you for it. You can then convert them to your new religion.

 Suzanne Collier, Assistant Director Sales and Marketing, Plurus Books. Founder, bookcareers.com

Transferable skillsIf you’ve got meetings, next to each appointment have a checklist of material or information you’ll need for that meeting.  In the panic of Frankfurt it is easy to forget your key title, particularly when you might be saying the same thing repeatedly.

Keep hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and have a healthy snack every 2-3 hours in between meals (piece of fruit) even if time is tight.  This will keep your brain functioning and prevent you from feeling so drained.

Wear comfortable shoes and pre-pack throat lozenges and cold/flu treatments.  Frankfurt is known for the ‘Frankfurt Cold’, (it is a bit like Freshers’ Flu).

If you are looking for a job at Frankfurt, then networking is key. Make a note of everyone new you meet, exchange business cards and follow up. You never know, the joke you shared in the coffee queue might lead to a future job; it does happen.

Rebecca Smart, Managing Director, Ebury Publishing

Rebecca SmartThink about your goals for the fair and ensure your meetings will allow you to achieve them.

Try not to have pre-booked meetings for every minute of every day – sometimes the best opportunities come from those unplanned moments when you bump into someone in the aisle. And you need some time to wander and soak up the ‘memes’ of the fair.

Attend some workshops or talks – think about who the audience will be as well as what you want to learn. Who might you meet?

Plan your evenings well in advance (so this advice may come too late!), as social time can be the best way to cement long-term business relationships. Casablanca bar is usually a good place to go to meet UK trade and digital folk.

Drink plenty of water, especially at night after drinking alcohol. And don’t think you can get away without a good night’s sleep – it never pays!

For more tricks for the Fair you can read Laura Summers’ ‘Tips and confessions of a Frankfurt virgin‘.

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