I've booked everything for the Cape Town Book Fair (CTBF) which is happening from the 31st July until 2nd August. This will be my third time there. I fund myself. I have no talk lined up. No stall to attend to. I go there because it is always beneficial to me. The money spent is never regretted. I see it as an essential business trip.
So what do I do there? First, I attend as many interesting talks as I can. I love hearing writers talk. I like to know about their process. Not to copy it, because I know my path is my own, but more from the aspect of a reader, actually-their thoughts behind their book, how they got from idea to book. I also like industry talks: talks about ebooks or book cover design or anything book or publishing related.
I like to meet up with friends. This year I have all types of people I want to see. Cape Town friends, internet friends, even some Botswana friends. My friend Bontekanye Botumile has a stall there for her self-published children's books and I'm excited to see what she does with the stall to market herself and her books.
This year I'll be meeting up with some of my publishers. It's amazing in a way that last year at the Book Fair is where I met my first publisher in South Africa and this year I will see her again, but I'm happy to say I will also be meeting up with my two new South African publishers as well. For us in Botswana, South Africa is the next biggest market after ours. It's sort of a stepping stone to overseas markets such at Europe and America. Until I wrote this paragraph I hadn't realise that in one year I'd made such progress in South Africa. Four books with the publisher I met at last year's CTBF, two with the second publisher and one with the third. That's good work for a year.
I'll hopefully get a few columns out of the Book Fair too, so that will be handy.
Many writers here think I'm wasting my time and money by going to CTBF, but I don't think so. Face to face connections matter. Learning new things about the industry matters. Being around writers matters. Making new contacts is essential. I see the book fair as a vital business expense.