Friday 19 April 2013

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London Book Fair - Blogging: The New Community Write-Up

So as you would know from reading this post, I was asked to be the Media Partner for the London Book Fair 2013's Children's Innovation Theatre, and I was also asked to be a speaker. So:

On the 16th April 2013, I went to the London Book Fair.

To speak on a panel.

Called Blogging: The New Community.


Photo taken by Hermione Lawton
Photo taken by Hermione Lawton of Puffin.

So this isn't your normal event report. I'm not going to tell you in detail what was discussed (mostly because it's all a bit of a blur!). This is just a post with a little bit from me, gushing, and some photos.

I originally turned down the chance to talk on the panel because public speaking and I don't really go so well together. I have a fear of saying the wrong thing, being judged and laughed at. But my contact twisted my arm (in the nicest way possible!), and I said yes. Cue lots of nerves and feeling sick and trying to think of what the hell I could say. I emailed various people - bloggers who had been on panels previously, publicists for advice in general or on specific things - and tried to work out what I wanted to say, what I wanted to talk about. I sorted myself out several paragraphs of texts to make notes from, but wasn't really sure how what I wanted to say would fit in with the other panelists - Nina Douglas from Orion Children's Books/Indigo, Kat McKenna from Simon and Schuster's Children's Books, and Casey Davoren from Dark Readers. So I was super happy when a meeting was suggested for two weeks before the event for us all to have a sit down and talk about what we wanted to do. We decided on a conversational type of talk where we had various topics we could just chat about. I felt much more at ease about the whole thing because we pretty much did the talk at the meeting, so it was just a case of doing it again - and I had more to say/things I could talk about than I realised, so it was all good.

Jump to the day of the event, last Tuesday. I was so nervous! It wasn't until Casey and I were taken to the Children's Innovation Theatre did it really kick in what I was about to do. It wasn't a room, but a section within the main floor. There was no desk, just four stools in front of around 50 stools the audience were sitting on. Nothing to "hide" behind. Kat and Nina joined us shortly after and we got miked up... and then we began.

Oh, it was so good! I fluffled my words in my intro, and later on, I kind of repeated myself a little as I got overwhelmed looking at the audience (which had doubled! Groups of people standing at the sides and the back or sitting on the floor! SO many people!) and kind of forgot the questions I was being asked. And I also forgot to mention certain things I wanted to say.

Taken by Nina Douglas
Before the audience doubled!
Photo taken by Nina Douglas of Orion Children's Books/Indigo.

But overall, it was great! I can't tell you from memory exactly what was said, but I do know I made points I really wanted to make, I said things I felt were important, and made it clear that with the books I review on my blog, I do things kind of differently (not reviewing to deadline, etc) and talked about review policies, and receiving books, and relationships with publicists/publishers. It was a great discussion, and it was awesome hearing the things Kat and Nina had to say on certain things, too, from their side of the blogger-publicist relationship, the things Casey brought up which I completely agreed with, and the cool things she does on her blog (make-up tutorials based on book covers AND creating her own filmed fan trailers!).

It was great, and I found out later that so many people I "knew" - contacts I have - were there, but I didn't realise they were there as I hadn't met them before. I had emailed a number of authors and publicists just letting them know the event was happening if they were down that day and were interested, and a fair few of them turned up! It was great seeing professionals Lauren Bennett and Rosi Crawley and bloggers Stacey from The Pretty Books and Faye from Daydreamer's Thoughts. It was awesome having people come up and talk to me afterwards - meeting previously-unknown-to-me bloggers and authors, and brand spanking new publisher - ReadZone Books - editors. So much support!

I also stayed for the following two events, PPC Campaigns of the Year - The Changing Face of Book Publicity, and The Young Movellist of the Year Award panel, which Lauren Bennett was talking on (more to come on this!), both of which were awesome and really fascinating. And then home - to find Twitter inundated with mentions from the awesome people who were at the event. Seriously, it took me ages to read and reply to them all, but it was fantastic the amount of support people gave - they really enjoyed the event, telling me how well I specifically (from those who knew how nervous I was) and all of us panelists together did, and new people following me and checking out the blog! It was just fantastic!

So now, on to some thank you's. Thank you to every single person who came to the event. Knowing people were at the event because they were interested in what we had to say made it so much easier to do - you know, it wasn't compulsory to be there, yet you came, and that was just awesome! Thank you to those who came to the event also in support of me and the other panelists - because we had talked about it and my nerves, because I emailed to let you know - I really appreciate it, and knowing there were friendly faces in the crowd really helped!

Thank you to Casey, Kat and Nina for being brilliant panelists and for a great conversation - and, Kat and Nina, for prompting Casey and I with questions and controlling the general flow of the discussion. It was so much fun!

Thank to you El and Bon for giving me such an awesome opportunity; inviting me to be the Theatre's Media Partner - SO cool seeing my blog logo on fliers, leaflets, and the wall of the Theatre - and to take part in the blogging panel! It's just so awesome for my blog, my CV and for me.

And finally, a special thank you to Amelia Robinson of The Graphic Files for creating a logo for my blog with a very tight deadline, despite having a queue of people waiting for graphics and having her own life outside of blogging and graphic design! She is awesome, and so unbelievably talented! Just look:

Blog logo on wall

Blog logo on wall

Blog logo on wall

Me with blog logo on wall
Photo taken by Faye of Daydreamer's Thoughts with my phone.

Awesome day! So hope I get to do something similar again! More photos below.

Photo taken by Lauren Bennett
Photo taken by Lauren Bennett of RHCP.

Photo taken by Lauren Bennett
Photo taken by Lauren Bennett of RHCP.

Photo taken by Tricia Macmillan
Photo taken by Photo taken by Tricia Macmillan of ReadZone Books.

Photo taken by Chiara Priorelli
Photo taken by Chiara Priorelli of Allison and Busby.


Photo taken by Vicky of Books, Biscuits and Tea.

***All images used with permission of those who took them.***


  1. Looks and sounds great, thanks for sharing. I love getting little snippets of what LBF was like, I think my dream is to attend someday :-)

    BookishTrish @ Between the Lines

    1. No problem! It was such great fun! Hope you can make it some time in the future! :)

  2. Public speaking is my number one enemy so I know how you must have felt - but you all did great! :) The only thing I wasn't really fond of (which isn't the panel's fault, of course) is that it wasn't in a separate room but in the middle of the fair. It's such a shame because it was an interesting talk and the crowd was so loud that quite often we had to listen really hard to hear what you guys were saying. But yes, huge congrats on such a great event! I might do a blog post about it soon so if I do, I'll make sure to send you the link. x

    1. Thanks so much, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I think I would have preferred a separate room too - looking up to suddenly so many more people was a bit daunting. I'm sorry you couldn't hear us brilliantly, perhaps I'll mention it to my contacts just so it's something to consider for next year.

      Oh, if you do write a blog post it would be awesome to be sent a link, thank you! :)

    2. Maybe it was because I was sitting quite at the back, I don't know :( But yes, a separate room would have been so much better. Let's hope things improve next year!

  3. I actually was planning on going but I found out that it was for adults only so.........too bad....maybe when I'm
    But I wish I was there to see you :)

    1. Aww, that's such a shame! (I was actually unaware it's 18+) Maybe next time! :)

  4. It was a great talk and I loved how much support you all had! It was interesting hearing another bloggers point of view and also seeing it from the publicists view as well.

    And you did a good job as well! I know how tough speaking in front of people can be - if uni hadn't forced so many presentations on me I don't think I'd ever have found my confidence. But once you get going and you talk more and practice more, it becomes easier. You'll be a pro in no time :D

    Great post Jo :)

    1. It was a great talk, I really enjoyed it! And bowled over by all the support, just incredible!

      Oooh, a pro in public speaking! I love the sound of that! :P I definitely want to do more. I know it's something I can talk about, you know? I didn't really have any presentations to do at uni - un/fortunately?

      Cheers, Faye!