Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Bologna Children's Book Fair 2013

Last week I was at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. It's the third year I've been and I'm starting to feel like I've got the hang of it so I've decided to pool my minimal Bologna knowledge and give you Bologna 101: What Elys has learnt.

1) Everyone needs a Frances. Frances is my agent and she's a force of nature. She sets up meetings with everyone worth seeing before hand, tells me who I should come along and meet, tows me along to see the great and the good and then tells them how brilliant I am. People who wouldn't even look at me twice on my own will pour over my latest dummy after an introduction from Frances. She pretty much means my bologna is sorted before I even get out there and all I need do is show up. Get yourself a Frances, but not this one, she's mine.

2) Never eat any of the food at the fair apart from the pizza from the pizzeria next to the authors cafe. The pizza from any other outlet is like a block of chalk with melted cheese on top. Pizzeria pizza is genuine Italian brilliance and is even made in front you by someone's terrifyingly busty traditional Italian mother. The mothers will shout at you if you don't understand the queuing system or order more pizza then they think you need but it's worth it for a decent lunch.

3) Wear thick socks and comfy shoes. You will end up walking miles and your feet will hate your for it. You'll be able to tell that they hate you from both the way that they feel and they way that they smell.

4) Three of those tiny coffees in a row will make you feel like you're about to have a heart attack.

5) Buy LIMONCELLO, not LIMONCETTA. The former tastes like a delightfully refreshing sherbert lemon tipple and the latter tastes like value vodka mixed with bleach. If you do accidentally buy lemoncetta and all the illustrators you're staying with regard you with disdain you can make it palatable by mixing it with lemon soda.

6) On the Cambridge School of Art stand the person holding the pink book has all the power.

7) If you're standing in a queue and shout 'oi, you, PUBLISHER!' everyone will turn round. Won't they Sarah Whelan?

8) Don't get too worked up about the whole thing. If you start to feel that you might go mad if you see another picturebook leave and get yourself some gelato.

On reflection and after rereading those bullet points I think it's fairly obvious I don't really have a clue what I'm doing there but if you're an illustrator and thinking about doing it next year I'd say go, but not on your own, try and set up meetings before hand and don't put too much pressure on yourself. Oh, and always lemoncello, never lemoncetta.

Here's a few photos of the fair and the CSA stand. They don't really convey the scope of it but alas I wasn't very on top of the pictures this year.

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