London Book Fair 2022

Like many events during the Covid pandemic, the London Book Fair was cancelled for 2020 and 2021. But in line with the general feeling in the UK that the Covid threat was diminishing, the organisers decided to go ahead with the famous publishing-fest.

Although I whipped it off for the photos, my FFP2 mask was clamped to my face for almost all of the three days I was there. I did take it off when eating and drinking! Then I discovered half my skin make-up came off with it. Sorry, Max Factor. At least I saved on lipstick.

In France, we haven’t long come out of the legal obligation to wear a mask indoors. We didn’t use namby-pamby words like ‘recommending’ or ‘face-coverings’ – you wore your mask or you were fined 135 euros. But it was more than that. The French do have a sense of and tradition of civil solidarity and the majority of people still wear masks in my local shops, post offices and public buildings.

My first LBF in 2010 – an extract from my blog

The year of the Icelandic volcano ash cloud. I went there, with my planned schedule, aiming to get a feel of the industry, to increase my knowledge, to talk to people and, of course, to meet up with fellow Twitterers(sic!). All this I did. But I got a lot more.

Although it was a trade show, and it was obvious that many meetings were prescheduled business deal-makers, what struck me was the friendliness and willingness to talk of all those I got chatting to, whether on the stands or in the coffee shops.

As a newbie to this world, I am not yet cynical or blasé, so despite my sore feet I was very satisfied with my day out.

LBF 2013 impressions

When people ask me what is there at the London Book Fair for authors, I reply that meeting and talking with other authors plus industry professionals is one of the most important aspects. The formal talks make up a good grounding in the basics, but the experienced authors come to make new  contacts and learn the finer points of the book trade. It’s not the place for authors to pitch to agents; the latter are here to sell rights for their current clients. Their schedules are punishing and they will become tetchy if you attempt to interrupt them!

Authors will find the usual friendliness and sheer pleasure of talking books and news has an abiding attraction…

This was the year I joined the Alliance of Independent Authors.

2016 – I launched INSURRECTIO at this one!

This was fun! I hardly sat down for three days with the launch itself (I was thrilled at how many people turned up), being interviewed by Kobo and attending some fascinating talks including one by crime writer Peter James. This was the first LBF I wore my (in)famous green jacket. But more and more, I was networking with other authors, possible publishers and the odd agent.

At LBF 2017, I was becoming established on my publishing journey and I learning increasingly more about publishing and marketing, and by then I knew more people – agents, authors, publishers, movers and shakers. My focus shifted from sitting in talks to talking to people. In fact, I spent 90% of my time talking to others. What about? Anything and everything to do with books, concerns, latest opportunities, how to do things and technology.

My take-home? However experienced you are, you can always learn something. I was probably more ‘cynical and  blasé’ than that newbie seven years before, but despite my sore feet (obligatory for LBF) I was very satisfied.

So, what did I do in 2022?

A lot of talking! I volunteered for one stint on the Alliance of Independent Authors’ stand and ended up being there for all three days. After many years of being a fully independent author and with eleven fiction books and two non-fiction under my belt, I was able to share my experience and knowledge with new and aspiring authors and hopefully welcome them into the ALLi community. Authors sticking together and mutual aid are the hallmarks of ALLi; it’s a non-profit organisation whose mission is ethics and excellence in self-publishing.

Allis (left to right): Carol Cooper, Jill (JJ) Marsh, Debbie Young, Karen Inglis, Helena Halme, moi, Jane Davis (Photo courtesy of Jill Marsh)

I was delighted to meet up with many friends and industry contacts post-Covid, learn what had been happening to them and make introductions. I was equally pleased to support my writing friend JJ Marsh at the 2021 Selfies award where her book White Heron was one of the finalists in a very tight field.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the low quality of checking that attendees had proper vaccination passes /certificates, nor that the LBF staff were unmasked. I’ve heard anecdotally since it finished of many unmasked attendees being struck by the infection. And my favourite tea trolley at the back of the hall had disappeared! However, there was much to enjoy as long as you took precautions yourself.

So, a step back into a kind of normal book life. Next month, I’ll be in Bristol at CrimeFest. Come and say hello. I’ll be the one in the mask and the green jacket.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email update. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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