If you’re an illustrator visiting BCBF for the first time, this is for you! Literary agent Debbie Bibo has kindly shared with us 5 tips on how to make the most of your experience in Bologna. This is particularly useful if you’re on your first run; however, we’d recommend ‘regulars’ to have a look, too – you may find some piece of advice you haven’t put into practice yet!
Book fairs can be an exhilarating experience, but they can also be overwhelming.
1. Plan at least one meeting-free day walking around and checking out as many stands as possible. The more stands you see, the better idea you will have of each publisher’s list.
2. Be an active observer. Observe how different markets and publishers have different styles and aesthetics. Observe the type of books a publisher produces. Observe the trends. What are publishers focusing on this year? Where does your work fit in?
3. Collect information. When you discover an interesting publisher, ask for a catalog or note down their name and study their catalog online when you are back home. Most publishers post their submission guidelines on their website.
4. Ask about walk-ins. As walk-in meetings are rare (publishers and agents schedule their meetings before the Fair), if you want to talk to a publisher and don’t have a meeting, ask if they accept walk-ins. If they don’t, ask for a business card and the contact name of their commissioning editor, acquisitions editor, or art director (depending on whether you are looking for an assignment or looking to pitch a project).
5. Check out the events. There are lots of interesting and practical events at the Fair. Take advantage of these to learn more about a specific topic, to have your portfolio reviewed, and to expand your horizons!
Good luck and enjoy the ride!
Debbie Bibo is a literary agent and editorial producer of children’s picture books and illustrated books. A native of Northern California, she moved to Milan in 1992 and worked for years in art publishing before founding Debbie Bibo Agency in 2011. The agency represents and promotes an eclectic selection of debut and award-winning authors and illustrators from around the world. Many of the books her agency represents have won multiple awards and have been published in over 25 languages. She has worked as an editorial consultant for international museums and holds courses on the process of picture-book making and the children’s book market at Mimaster in Milan, the Europe Institute of Design, and Ars in Fabula in Macerata, Italy.