Olympia, London

March 12 - 14, 2024 | by Caitlin Robson, Marketing Assistant

I was not working at Black Spring Press last London Book Fair, so this was my first time attending and WOW it is a sight to behold.

Kensington Olympia is enormous, and there are hundreds of stalls to see and talks to attend. To be in a room surrounded by so many like-minded people all sharing in a love for books, publishing, writing and on a raw level a love of READING, five-year-old Caitlin wouldn’t believe she finally made it there.

Having not been before, I quickly learnt that the Book Fair’s main purpose is two-fold; for other nations to connect with the English-language literature sector and get their books published in English (this is quite the pool in which to fish for undiscovered gems) and also for English-language publications to connect with foreign rights for their books. I didn’t know that until this week and it was super interesting to learn about.

Black Spring Press was a part of the IPG stand this year, (the Independent Publishers Guild) and it was great to mingle and chat to some of the other publishers around us, and check out some of the great books that were our neighbours on the shelves. There was a really interesting company next to us called “Immersive Publishing” that works with photo recognition software and augmented reality to enable pictures to literally jump out of the pages!

I arrived on Tuesday and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the place sadly missed a fantastic talk about BookTok (because I immediately got lost) and the future of marketing that would have been incredible but I did manage to find the socials for the presenting speakers so all was good.

Festivities included, business matters were also attended by our director, Dr. Todd Swift and our Managing Editor Cate Myddleton-Evans who attended meetings with our foreign rights agent and also the largest Dutch publisher discussing our great catalogue of books, and also had other important meetings with BookSource, our UK distributor.

  • The three days absolutely flew by, flicking my phone through the schedule of talks, deciding which ones to attend and then quickly manoeuvring myself past the masses of people to get there in time. I attended a bunch of different talks which were all fantastic; the first was called “Preparing for Publication” (superrrrr relevant to me, all the impending doom of pre-publication with finishing writing and marketing and tips on how to capture audiences). My favourite piece of advice was activating your family and friends which made me feel better about annoying my close circle about actually PRE-ORDERING my book that is coming out. 

    I went to another talk in the Sustainability Hub about “From Stereotype to Empowerment: How female representation in books can influence the advancement of Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Equality).” It’s important to champion diversity and different marginalised authors to make sure everyone can see themselves in the fictional characters that are being written. I found all the talks were almost too short, there was a lot of time left for questions and obviously a tight schedule for the whole day.

    Starting day two, I went to another talk about “marketing for your genre”, hosted by a panel that used a wide variety of methods to market their books, using TikTok, using book tours and meeting readers and even community events that are aligned with plot and location points straight out of the narrative. I thought it was really important that they spent an intentional 1–2 hour block of time dedicated to marketing, and then allocating the rest of the time for story writing.

  • I was super excited to make it inside the Main Stage for day two, where I got to listen to two talks, “Transforming the Future of Written Word with Artificial Intelligence” which wasn’t as scary as it sounds. The conversation was from some really interesting scholars who didn’t try to push their personal opinions on AI but instead just suggested not to be fearful of large language models, but to anticipate what is coming in the future of publishing and always evaluate facts (because these technologies have no recognition of ‘truth’. Even the definition of AI was debated, where it was suggested that Artificial Intelligence is a term for a large family of technologies (that includes our location-based maps and navigation systems) , not restricted to one stereotype of augmented assistive language software. The importance of valuing creativity will always stand tall in this rapidly changing digital landscape. 

    I stayed at the Main Stage for the day’s main Author Talk, with TV personality and crime writer of ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ series, Richard Osman who has a new book, “We Solve Murders” coming out in September. He very reassuringly reminded all the writers in the room, “There’s a voice in your head and it says ‘you’re terrible’ and it never goes away but you have to go and write for two hours anyway” and my favourite thing that he added, was that writing is the thing (besides the decades of tv work he has done) that his writing is the thing he is most proud of because “the writing is the thing that comes from my soul.” I love that. 


    My only disappointment with the book fair was that, for the mass of books that were there and that I could see, I wasn’t able to buy a single one. Big sad.

    Please be encouraged to attend next year’s London Book Fair, it’s an absolutely unmissable event! You might even make some new book friends!