Bologna: Children’s Book 101

Promoting yourself as Children’s Book Illustrator/Author At Bologna Children’s Book Fair

So you heard about Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCNF) and interested in attending but are clueless on what to do? No worries, I have some tips here that you can refer to.

PROMOTING YOUR BOOKS

  1. Work with your country pavilion/booth. If you have a book or two to promote, find out from them on how to get your books displayed at the booth.
  2. Do a book launching. Invite neighbouring exhibiting publishers to join in the fun. The possibility of publishers in finding out more about your book is there.
  3. Do a simple poster to be stuck at the Illustrators’ Wall. Since it is called Illustrators’ Wall, you can take advantage of it by printing your book cover/a page from the book with the excerpt, country booth number, and/or your e-mail address. Stick it on the Illustrators’ Wall. This way it will be easier if they want to meet you personally at the bookfair or e-mail you later. Maybe you can buy the local sim card, and add your local number on the poster. An interested publisher might want to get in touch with you fast and decide to give you a call. Who knows.
  4. Join the Bologna Ragazzi Awards. The Bologna Ragazzi Award it offers a big opportunity for the sale of copyrights on the international market. It also means you will gain special mention or visibility in the publishing world, leading to the sale of rights in many new countries.There are 4 main categories: FICTION, NON FICTION, NEW HORIZONS, and OPERA PRIMA Awards. The NON FICTION section is dedicated to informational literature in any area of knowledge, science, history, art, music, biography and current events that contribute to a child’s learning experience. The NEW HORIZONS Award is designed to acknowledge publishing houses from the Arab countries, Latin America, Asia and Africa that show great innovative talent by promoting local resources, culture and illustration. The OPERA PRIMA section is reserved for works by authors or illustrators being published for the first time. The award is given for excellence in research and implementation of an innovative publishing product.The Books & Seeds category is now back and as a permanent category – launched in 2015 for the Milan EXPO to recognise and award works that touch on the topics of agriculture, organic farming, biodiversity, nutrition, food safety and cooking.If you win, your winning work will be displayed in a glass display as well as on as many displays as possible.
  5. Visit Authors’ Cafe. BCBF organised tons of programs for 4 days, you just have to browse the schedule of talks and workshops prior to your visit. Schedules can be found online on their website.
  6. Donate your books after the fair. Sometimes a librarian will come and ask for free books. I donated some of my books to a librarian from Istituto Comprensivo Casalbuttano – Cremona, Italy, for their inter-culture program at the institute.

PROMOTING YOUR ARTWORKS/ILLUSTRATIONS

  1. Join Bologna Illustrators’ Exhibition. Th exhibition is curated by the Children’s Book Fair since 1967 offering artists from all over the world a unique opportunity to showcase their talent to a public.For participants aged under 35 are also entered in to the competition for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair – Fundación SM International Illustration Award, which offers the winner the significant prize of 30 thousand dollars, the publication of a book and the organization of a solo exhibition at the Fair in the following year’s edition.
    For participants under age 30, ARS IN FABULA – Grant Award, which is awarded annually to an artist aged under 30 at the Illustrators’ Exhibition.The Grant is awarded by a jury made up of the Master course lecturers meeting in Bologna during the Book Fair.The winner is given a free place on the ARS IN FABULA – Master Degree Course in Illustration for Publishing, during which s/he will work on a book project assigned by one of the Master course publisher partners.
  2. Illustrators’ Wall. One of the first things you’ll see is the Illustrator’s Wall. Everyone passes the Illustrator’s Wall. It’s a long sea of ‘Look at me!’ artwork. Illustrators stick on postcards, posters and business cards.Go ahead, stick something on the wall. Heck, stick a few things on the wall. You’ll get a buzz from doing it. Just make sure your email address is on whatever you stick to the wall. You never know, your work might just catch a publisher’s eye.
  3. Promotional items. You can leave some small items at your country booth (they normally welcome this effort) like mini notebooks, postcards, name cards, portfolio brochures, or anything you can think of for giveaway or you can have the option to sell as well as cheap as 1 euro or two.
  4. Visit Illustrators’ Cafe. BCBF organised tons of programs for 4 days, you just have to browse the schedule of talks and workshops prior to your visit. Schedules can be found online on their website. Who knows you might get to mingle with Oliver Jeffers or Isabelle Arsenault or Satoe Tone!

 

MEETING PUBLISHERS

  1. Meet people. A simple hello will lead to more conversation. You might meet a publisher, famous author, famous illustrator, literary agency and the list goes on. Just be sure to carry some of your name cards with you.

  2. Get in the queue. Some publishers set aside half an hour or so to meet with illustrators and authors. Just be alert for these opportunities.
  3. Walk-in. You can also walk-in and introduce yourself. If the publisher is not free to talk to you, ask them who to contact. Leave your name card and portfolio brochure/artwork prints.
  4. Choose the right publisher. Check the publisher’s house style. Do they publish fiction, non-fiction? Do they publish rhyming books? Do they publish picture books? Chapter books? Board books? Comic books? Illustrated story books? You match them with your style.
  5. To-bring list.
    . Take your business cards.
    . Put your favourite pieces in your portfolio.
    . Bring your good drawings.
    . Bring your sketchbook.
    . Smart tablet. Put some in the smart tablet if you have many artworks you want to show.

OTHERS

  1. Explore the book fair. There is so much to take in. There are talks and demonstrations and galleries. Try and make the most of what’s on offer, and be sure to look at the fair’s programmes. One of the things I really love about the fair is exploring all of the different countries’ stalls. It’s fascinating and inspiring to see so many different types of picture books. Just bear in mind that most of the action happens in the first three days. The fourth day, things are much quieter and some publishers are already packing up. And don’t forget to visit all the illustration exhibitions.
  2. Meet illustrators and authors. And buy their books! When you walk in the book fair area, just open your eyes, some publishers put up posters, some don’t. You just have to look closer, see if anybody is autographing books.
  3. You cannot get enough of books and your luggage cannot fit them all! No worries, you can buy luggage at the Sunday market where they sell luggage as cheap as 12 Euro.
  4. Reward yourself! Last but not least, after the hard work promoting your books and artworks, don’t forget to treat yourself a gelato! There are many shops serving gelato near Bologna Centrale.

And for a Malaysian who likes to go, here is a rough budget that you might want to look into:

BCBF TRIP
Cost for one person for one week*:
Flight: RM3000 (cheapest with +1 day travel trip and layover)
Dorm/cheap hotel: RM600
Food: RM700
Ground transportation: RM140
Book fair pass: RM350
TOTAL RM4790

Please take note that this is excluding your pocket money to buy your own stuff. Booking has to be made a few months earlier because the price will go up (huge difference) when it is made few days prior to your departure.

*I suggest one week because BCBF will be 4 days. Since you are already in Bologna, take 3 days more to explore Bologna city. In case you are interested, BCBF 2018 will be from 26-29 March 2018.

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