Friday 10 May 2013

Talking to the Big People

The process of involving the smaller presses in the Free Verse poetry book fair is usually straightforward: we invite them, they say yes/no and if yes pay the table hire and turn up on the day. But we’d like to present the full range of poetry publications, including those of the mainstream publishers, and here the process gets difficult.

For last year’s book fair, held in September 2012, I asked Faber as early as the preceding November if they’d like to take part. And kept on asking, and kept on being told they would ‘have a meeting’ and get back to me. A few days before the event, someone phoned me and said yes, they’d like a table, but they’d have a problem with staffing it because the event was on a Saturday. Bless. Too late anyway, as there were no tables left.

Cape, regarding the same event: after many attempts, I got through to someone in sales who liked the idea of Cape participating but explained that the table hire cost would have to come out of the marketing budget, not the sales budget, and someone would get back to me. They didn’t.

Chatto, this year: an editor has promised to speak to ‘someone in sales’. I’m not expecting any rapid new development.

Faber, this year: after weeks of trying to find out who will make a decision on whether they want a table for this year’s book fair – editorial? sales? marketing? – I’m told it’s the man who runs Faber Factory Plus, the sales service that a few months ago took Carcanet and Bloodaxe under its wing and has, its website boasts, ‘a keen eye for opportunities beyond the traditional book retail trade’. So a while ago I asked FFP if they wanted a table, or maybe more than one table to display the Carcanet and Bloodaxe lists as well as the Faber list, and suggested that as more than half the tables were already taken they should let us know soon. I’m still waiting.

PS: Last night there was a book party for a CBe author and a Bloomsbury author. CBe paid for the wine. I asked Bloomsbury if they’d care to contribute. No, they said, because they didn’t have a budget for this and it wasn’t agreed in advance.

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