OK, it's a well-known fact among my friends that I (Rachel) am going to the Frankfurt Book Fair. (Along with 280,000 others.) My excuse: New Zealand is the Guest of Honour and my excellent, outstanding, frivolous book Scarlet Heels: 26 Stories About Sex is in the New Zealand Society of Authors' catalogue.
What's my strategy? It's been slippery but finally, two weeks before the event, I'm getting my head straight.
I tend to make a meal out of every professional conference by over-preparing. But a trade fair is not a conference! This one is a smorgasbord of 7,000 dishes. Not surprising then that that my stomach had started churning and my plan became a waist-high midden of printouts, Evernotes, Read-Laters, notebooks, cards, flyers and folders.
"When you said you were going to a book fair, I imagined a suburban garage sale," said one friend. I wish! The circuit is 35 kilometers. Think 7,000+ exhibitors and 3,000+ events. Intimidated by scale, I had laboriously pre-selected certain publishers' stands and mapped a route over three days that skimmed them all.
So earnest. Bad idea. Doomed to failure. Doing my head in. Start again.
Now, back home in Wellington I wouldn't be mad keen on a schedule any heavier than this. I would prefer to give each appointment its due.
So why did I imagine I could achieve ten times as much at a ginormous, disorienting book fair in a foreign city? What was I thinking? I'm not a professional marketer. The Frankfurt Book Fair is no place for authors and I'm just a cheerful author along for the ride.
Instead I will take pleasure in my commitments, cruise a few of the massive halls, hang out at the New Zealand Society of Authors' stand, and see what happens.
I go to the fair burdened with numerous assumptions that may all be completely erroneous. Here's an opportunity to do some market research.
Right, sorted, pretty much.
Final mystery: what do you wear to the Frankfurt Book Fair? Comfy shoes, for sure—but how warm are those enormous warehouses? This week Frankfurt could be 23 degrees C. in the day time, 3 degrees at night. Videos show people in T shirts and more people in warm jackets. OK, I pack.
JiangXi Publishing Company strategy for 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair
Average weather in Frankfurt for October
Photo of crowd at Frankfurt Fair downloaded from ZombieTime.com