Pan Macmillan’s international sales star—and the Shooting Star among this year’s The Bookseller Rising Stars tranche—on her love for the Messe, learning from Ms Martini, and not drinking too many martinis...
My first Frankfurt Book Fair was a few years ago, when I was a receptionist on the Hachette stand when I worked for Headline. I was on my feet, meeting and talking to people all day long; it reminded me of being a waitress and I loved it immediately. I remember distinctly a sales manager on one desk who had customer meetings from dawn till dusk, and never waned in her boundless energy and sunny warmth—this was (and still is) saleswoman extraordinaire Anna Martini. I remember thinking: "I want to be an international sales manager and have a family of customers like that."
The beauty of FBF is the timing. You’re smack bang into the autumn of the big publications, so it’s a great chance to remind customers of those, as well as to give them the first taste of next year’s books. We have some brilliant publications on the Pan Mac and Macmillan US lists to showcase.
This FBF starts the day after publication of Me, Elton John’s autobiography, the book of the year (the decade, even!) and a global publication for us across the Macmillan group. I am very excited for the Elton extravaganza that will be the Macmillan stand.
My favourite thing about FBF is the whole busy, buzzy caboodle. Anyone who has ever worked with me knows that the last day in the office pre-fair I start the chant "when I say Frank, you say Furt... Frank...!" (I admit it gets varying degrees of participation). I love the relentlessness of the meetings. I love spending more time with colleagues and getting to know them better. I love bumping into old faces, and I love the palpable energy around the books that everyone is excited about. I am a number one book fair fan.
The drinks parties on the Tuesday when everyone is fresh faced, are always fun. However, do they come with their dangers...
...my main tip to survive the fair is don’t party too hard on the first day, unless you’re superhuman (which admittedly a good few publishing people seem to be during fair week). Also, turn up to the stand as early as possible to organise yourself. It’s a free-for-all for that good desk near the plug sockets and the best book displays.
I most look forward to seeing our customers. I love the chance to catch up with booksellers and distributors from all over the world, particularly the ones in territories I no longer directly manage, and so do not see regularly on sales trips. I always make a kilo of biscotti to take to the fair, and customers are welcome to pitch up any time for a catch up and a snack.
The best place to eat in Frankfurt? The Macmillan stand, for some Ricchetti biscotti.