So within days of arriving back from our summer sojourn in Parts Foreign, watching the graceful little egrets stalking the lake, listening to little owls hunting across the mountainside and delighting in the swoops (an eclectic mix of crag martins, swifts, house martins and swallows) cruising the skies, chittering with excitement as they demonstrate their aerial dexterity, not to mention the equally acrobatic and considerably faster F-16s (a different of martin entirely!), I have dived straight back into Publishing. Those heady days of bright blue skies and lots of degrees have already faded into grey as the temperature sinks down into the teens . . .
No matter, for the spunnocks are delighted to have us back (if only to refill the seed holder; how is it possible for a flock of small birds to have demolished a kilo of assorted seeds in two weeks, I ask myself?) and there is plenty of excitement on the horizon as this week we are mainly preparing for Frankfurt – as publishers and booksellers have been doing for more than five hundred years . . . Nope, not a misprint: the first Frankfurt Book Fair was organised by local booksellers not that long after Johannes Gutenberg revolutionised printing by inventing a new type of printing press using moveable type in 1439 . . .
These days, rather than paying Lederhosen-clad young boys and dirndl-wearing girls to take messages from one bookseller or publisher to the next, we send out a hundred or so emails, announcing our presence and requesting appointments. These days I have Nicola to do the juggling of diaries and negotiating for slots – and she’s much tougher than I ever was about leaving time for a lunch break! We have even managed to fight off the many, many companies who are apparently desperate to meet me to discuss the possbilities around Digitization and Content Conversion of your Publications (sic). In the past a couple of these enthusiastic entrepreneurs have managed to slide into the schedule somehow – imagine how desperately disappointed they were to discover that when I said ‘Quercus provides all my production needs, so I can see no point in a meeting!’, what I actually meant was: Quercus provides all my production needs so you turning up here is a complete waste of my time as well as yours. Apparently both of the gentlemen who’d blagged appointments expected me to be so wowed by what they were offering I would instantly tell Quercus – and obviously now Hachette – that I’d rather hand all my ‘Digitization and Content Conversion’ needs to Eboksizusinnit, thank you very much. Sadly for them, this time Nicola is being extra-vigilant* (although she did point out that if they do sneak in, it gives me 30 glorious minutes to rest my voice – but no, I need those slots to make sure our Beloved Authors are distributed far and wide.
So the hotel is booked, the Fair Passes have been distributed (even the one that was found hiding in the greenhouse, for reasons I can’t even begin to explain), and the meeting tables have been allocated (at least, we have to assume the tables have been allocated as this year we will be joining the ever-increasing entity that is the Hachette UK Stand – every year it takes up a few more aisles of Hall 8).
We’ve been through the rights guide to update the entries, changing the titles where necessary, adding the new acquisitions – and because we’re apparently not using printed catalogues this year but displaying the information on our tablets, Nicola’s spent the afternoon collating, printing out and stapling quote sheets and preparing blads of first chapters of our new authors, to give editors a little taster, right then and there, of the delights in store for them.
So now all we have to do it get the AIs up to date . . . but I think that’ll have to wait for tomorrow.
*ARGH! No! That’s what happens when I interfere will a well-oiled machine: I have accidentally offered an appointment to just one of these! Retires to corner to write out 50 times: I will let Nicola make my appointments and not get in the way when she has already got it sorted . . .