Is going to the London Book Fair a good idea for the freelance designer?

It’s a natural state of thought that if you specialise in book design, in one form or another that the London Book Fair is the place to be. Or at least a place to be peering into the roped-off stand of that big publisher you dream of designing covers for – penguins aside, is the Book Fair the place to be or is time better spent with a nice Cappuccino in front of a warm backlit keyboard contact hunting on LinkedIn? I searched for an answer…courtesy of, who were recently thinking the same thing.

  1. Don’t expect to find a job at the London Book Fair. Nobody is interested in your CV, but maybe you can sneak a business card into their fish bowl. Yes, a real business card! Do you have one?
  2. Network. I just picked up a book from the library called, The Introvert Entrepreneur. Bill Gates (& Mark Zuckerberg for the millennials) is an introvert – he did ok I think.
  3. Exhibitors are there to make deals, not talk to you about freelance work, unless you have a close cousin in the Chinese Ministry of Education perhaps.
  4. Look at the stands – which ones are busy, look for reasons why and it might give you an idea of publishing trends, design styles, font use etc. Look at competitor stands and see which product range most suits your style or interest. The Book Fair is a great place for research, new developments and insight.
  5. Find out about relevant seminars before you go and book a place, then make sure you turn up! Some are free, so seek these out and book early.
  6. Wear comfortable shoes, but probably not flip-flops…