My first book fair, looking for some tips and what to do

  • Hello everyone, and Happy new year! Hope you all are having a great year so far.

    This is (maybe) my third post, with no art sadly.
    So in April I'm planning on attending to the FILBo in Bogotá-Colombia, a big event centered around BOOKS! Now I've never gone to nothing like this, big nor small and figured I could use some guidance from you guys. Besides I will have to travel kind of far and preparation is a must.
    I'd like to go there and meet people in my same line of work, make some friends and hopefully get to connect with a rep or find some new job opportunities (something I have never done either) but I have no plan. Should I bring postcards? How many? Should I print my portfolio or just use my phone? How do I know who is willing to chat a little bit or give my portfolio a look? Should I bring my laptop with me? I'm I missing something?

    I will appreciate any insight you have guys.

    Oh wait, I do have some art. A video timelapse from my first piece of the year:

  • I would recommend a printed out portfolio.

    Devon has recently showed on her instgram a nice portfolio at reasonable cost

    It looks quite professional

  • Hi! I've not been to FILBo so can't really offer any advice in relation to the fair specifically, but I've been to Bologna book fair a couple times and wrote a blog post about my experiences which you can give a read here

    I brought 100 post cards the first time I went to Bologna and only used about 50. The second time I brought 100 and was not precious with them at all. I left them in stacks for people to take and gave a post card to EVERYONE I met, whether they were other illustrators or art directors! I came home with none 🙂
    Some people have printed portfolios and some have work on their Ipad. I would think a phone screen would be too small though so I would recommend a printed portfolio in that case.
    If you know what publishers/art directors/agents will be at the fair you can try emailing them to arrange a meeting. I would suggest doing this sooner rather than later as they've very busy schedules. They could be booked up already! At Bologna publishers set aside a set time where illustrators could queue up at their stand for a meeting. First come first serve. Not sure if this will be the same, but if it is make sure you arrive to the queue very early if you want to be seen. Even half an hour early! I often made friends with other illustrators while I was in these queues.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  • @idid Her book looks beautiful! Looks like a... well a book instead of a portfolio. Love it, will definitely copy that design.


  • @eriberart This is exactly what I was looking for, an illustrators view on the matter. Will contact all the publishers that will be there right now. Haha, loved the third method on finding art director's emails. I used the 2020 edition of the yearbook and emailed every rep studio last December with a carefully written "cover letter" and a few pieces, I managed to get the interest of two! But haven't heard back from them as of now so I'll bug them every two weeks.
    Great blog post, found everything in it highly useful! But you didn't point out how many days you stayed? That's one of my concerns too, the one I'm attending lasts about two weeks but I'm planning on staying just three days, is that enough?
    Again, great information, shared in social media I will


  • @Jose-A-Nieto Glad you found it useful! Bologna Book Fair is only 3 and a half days long. The first time I went, I went for the whole thing but found that almost everything happened on the first 2 days. The second time I only went for the first 3 days. I'm going again this year and only going for 2 and a half days. You might find that you can't make meetings with everyone, just make it clear you will only be there for those 3 days.
    If all else fails and you aren't able to make loads of meetings, just remember that the experience of the fair itself is so valuable!

  • @eriberart Got it. Thanks! By the way, really like your work, I've always wondered how some artists like you achieve this "simple" but charming and thoughtful look

  • @Jose-A-Nieto Thank you! I am probably just impatient so I end up creating work very quickly and not including loads of details 😂 But that suits me!

  • @eriberart It works though

  • @eriberart thank you for sharing your experience!

    Quick questions, did you find going to book fairs helpful to your career? Is it possible to get any projects/contracts with book publishers in this way? as the meetings happens very fast, like 5-10 minutes, I would assume.

  • @idid People do get work from the fair but it doesn't always happen. Usually in the meeting if a publisher likes your work they ask you to email them a PDF of your work later. This happened to me but unfortunately I didn't get any response after that!
    I haven't had work from going to the fair yet, but it is still a valuable experience to network and see what is doing well in the childrens book industry. To be honest I was still a university student when I went and I don't think my work was good enough. Maybe when I go this year, fingers crossed! :face_with_stuck-out_tongue_closed_eyes: I've already had an agent reach out to me who wants to meet me in Bologna :smiling_face_with_open_mouth_smiling_eyes:

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