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The Book Fair

SCBWI had a stand at the Fair for the first time this year, and it was a marvellous base of operations for us. Being worn out by the Conference I was quite happy to take things steady at the Fair. I had nine appointments with publishers, but spent a lot of time at the Stand as I had two showcases to run, two portfolio reviews, and two hour long 5-minute portfolio critiques – SCBWI kept me pretty busy.

There was always something going on at the Stand, the constant crowd of members hovering around in front of it tended to attract other passers-by and was a great way to generate interest in SCBWI. As every showcase ended the card, posters and books at the stand multiplied, until by the end it was starting to look pretty messy, something I’d like to address in future, but the overall impression was very good. To my knowledge we sold the rights to two books directly from visitors to the stand – an Australian author and Babette Cole both had books that were seen on the stand and subsequently picked up for foreign editions.

I ran a presentation on SCBWI Tokyo and another on my own work, both seemed to go down well.

Perhaps the most interesting event was a sketching “duel” between Doug Cushman, Paul Zelinsky and Bridget Strevens-Marzo, who all illustrated live a picture book text written and read aloud by Erzsi, line by line.

The repeated readings were particularly effective in drawing in an audience (pardon the pun). The Illustrator’s Duel

We also ran two hour-long 5-minute speed portfolio reviews which were well subscribed to. Doug and myself were the main reviewers, seeing some 20 portfolios each overall, some of the work was pretty good and deserved longer than 5 minutes for comment, but I think the attendees went away satisfied and with a good impression of SCBWI.

By the end of the Fair we were all pretty exhausted, but well satisfied that the Conference and Fair stand had been a great success.

The biggest lesson for me was that the market in most countries is becoming more and more geared towards bright, simpler, commercial images, and not the more laboured traditional work I often was approached to do in Japan.

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