The Written World

By Lynne Fellows



Writing festivals crop up in every corner of the globe throughout the year; there’s bound to be one near you. But what purpose do they offer? Is it a case of ‘seen one, seen them all?’ I don’t think so, and that’s what we’re going to explore in this series. We’ll be looking at book fairs, literary festivals, writing conferences and even an online convention where distance is no issue.


These events attract huge numbers of readers, authors, publishers and even some literary agents all looking to meet and swap ideas with fellow literature buffs. Many events include opportunities to meet local and famous authors, and some offer breakout sessions where you can improve your writing skills or even pitch to an agent. To cultivate and encourage its visitors appetite for reading, you might even find story-telling programs, and possibly purpose-built, fun activities for children.


This month we’re going to take a look at three events taking place next month in Europe.

Firstly, we’re off to the London Book Fair, which runs from 10-12 March at Olympia.

As you’d expect, this is one of the biggest events of the year with hundreds of exhibits, a couple of award ceremonies and, specifically for authors, there is Author HQ, comprising a theatre and networking area, which attracts a great deal of interest from the self-publishing community.


Additionally, Author HQ provides a forum for discussion of the ever expanding number of approaches to publishing, including many exciting initiatives such as agent meetings and panel style "pitch slam" events. Meanwhile, the “Author of the Day” programme helps bring writers face-to-face with reputable and bestselling authors who will share their journey to publication during a special series of talks at the Fair.


For more info, check out the website. https://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/

A short hop away across the channel is the Paris Book Fair - “Livre Paris”, which runs from 20-23 March. With more than 160,000 visitors last year (2019), this is another important literary festival.

So, what’s on offer here:


This international book fair is a fascinating affair for the numerous visitors who come to discover and buy books, enjoy surprise meetings with authors and explore other cultures. In 2019, more than 3,000 authors and celebrities were on hand for book signings. Each year more than 50 countries are present, and book and writing professionals get together to discuss industry trends.

With several themed stages to explore, here’s a couple of hors ‘d’oeuvres to whet your appetite.

How about the Crime Fiction stage? An opportunity to meet all the major names in the genre as well as some new writers, and hear them speak about how they see the world today and how they imagine tomorrow, through a series of very special, thought-provoking exchanges.


Or there’s the BD, Manga & Comics Stage giving an overview of the richness and diversity of what the French call ‘the 9th art’. The BD year will look back at the key trends and themes of the year in BD/comics/manga. New and established authors compare views on these new shared discoveries.


For more details, a little joie de Livre , follow this link. https://www.livreparis.com/en/thefair/

Our last destination on this whistle-stop tour of European Book Fairs takes us to Italy, to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair to be precise, which runs from 30 March – 2 April.


Smaller than the previous two due to its niche market, it still attracted almost 30,000 visitors last year from 80 participating countries. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a hive of activity - with cultural events and business training programs for everyone in the kid's content industry today. From meeting authors to reviewing innovative approaches in picture books, from illustrators to translation rights, this is the place to keep up to date with the latest trends in children’s publishing and content.

And how do the Italians manage the various debates and discussions? Well, in a Bologna café, of course, which offer opportunities to listen and share experiences with a whole range of professionals in an open and informal atmosphere. Each Café is named after its main audience: the Authors Café, the Illustrators Café, the Translators Café, the Licensing Café. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.


For more details, follow the smell of Italian coffee … http://www.bookfair.bolognafiere.it/en/about/bologna-childrens-book-fair/5656.html

We hope that’s given you a flavour of how diverse these writing events are.


Next time, we have an interview to share with you, with the team behind WriteHive, an online convention made for and run by members of the #WritingCommunity.


Don’t forget to let us know your experiences at writing events. We’d love to hear your stories.

About the Author: Lynne Fellows is a reader, writer, and freelance translator living in sunny Spain. You can generally find her with a book, a dog or two, and an unhealthy supply of cake. Follow her blog - Just 4 My Books - for book reviews and a sneaky peek at her stories.

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