October 27th, 2016

Ten Tips When Attending The Frankfurt Book Fair

Having returned from the Frankfurt Book Fair, billed as the biggest event of its kind in the world, attracting an estimated 280,000 visitors and 7000 exhibitors, what have I learned? Ten pieces of advice for any author hoping to travel to the Book Fair.

  1. Collect euro coins and start saving. With the Euro at parity against the pound, the cost of staying in Frankfurt is considerable.  A meal for three at a fairly ordinary restaurant can easily top £100.


  1. Before you go, if you have the chutzpah, try to set up appointments – to see and pitch to agents, perhaps. Authors attempting to gate-crash this industry party are not entirely welcome so it pays to be prepared and optimistic.


  1. Get a copy of the full exhibitors’ guide and set up any meetings for day two. (Day one will be spent getting lost.)


  1. Before you go, finish your magnum opus, at least to the stage of complete first draft. Most agents will only consider representation for finished work.


  1. Reconcile yourself to walking at least ten kilometres every day. Wear your most comfortable shoes.


  1. Decide which language you are going to speak, and stick to it. This nugget of wisdom was my daughter’s advice and, on mature reflection, I concede it saves a lot of bother.  Frankfurter locals are usually fairly fluent in English.


  1. Read the small print. A week-long pass for the Buchmesse is E82, which includes transport on all public networks, but only with full photo ID.  A Buchmesse pass, brandished hopefully, is not enough.  Authors with pen-names beware.  That said, public transport costs are reasonable, and a drop in the ocean of general expenses.


  1. Take a bottle of water. If you manage a good breakfast, that will probably see you through to the evening.


  1. Check the weather forecast. Frankfurt is milder than where I live, and the weather feels more settled.  That said, rain means rain, so best take a light waterproof.


  1. Traditional publishing is still very big in Germany, and the book-buying public are loyal and articulate. Self-publication options, so far as this author can gauge, are still in their infancy compared to the levels of engagement for this option detected at the London Book Fair. If self-publication appeals, research the options from the comfort of your armchair and save a cool few grand.

Fran Macilvey is the author of Trapped: My Life with Cerebral Palsy.

The true story of one woman’s life with cerebral palsy.

Living in the Belgian Congo with her husband in the 1960s, Fran’s mother became pregnant with a daughter. However, right after she gave birth in the hospital, she felt strange. Unbeknownst to anyone, another daughter was on the way, but before anybody responded, an hour had passed. Because of the delay, Fran was born with cerebral palsy.

Growing up with her siblings in Africa, Fran always felt different. When everyone else was playing and having fun, she would watch and wish she could join in. After the family moved to Scotland and Fran grew older, her hurt turned into anger, self-hatred, and suicidal depression. Then one day, someone looked at her and saw a woman to love, and that was the start of her journey to self-acceptance.

Fran has written the painful truth about her life to help readers understand how disabled adults really feel. In her revealing account, she shows just how hard it is to maintain the appearance of a “normal” life. More importantly, out of her million and one mistakes have come lessons in real acceptance, peace, and joy, which she would like to share with her readers.


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by Fran Macilvey


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