Smart Quill Editorial About the Editor

From Bologna to London

Posted on April 29th, 2012

Thank god the Spring book fairs are done for another year. The big children’s fair in is Bologna, and then barely a week later we move straight to London for a bigger fair on fiction and non-fiction generally.

Pre-fair, editors are awash with submissions. Pretty much every major agent goes out with their “book of the fair” and it is up to editors whether they jump to pre-empt. I bought not one but two books in the run-up this year, which was all rather thrilling. Both are extremely different in terms of narrative and provenance; one is by a US author and one by a UK author.

Though the choice at this point in the year is rich, there is always a degree of repetition. It fascinates me the way that publishing trends come in unconscious waves, where disparate authors write the same thing at the same time. And the result is that you get a sort of groundswell movement of popularity for a certain theme. Editors can most definitely take the hint when it happens.

So this season there were references on the kids/YA side to talking animals, ninjas, selkies, old-school mythology and young crime. For adults there was an emphasis on the 1920s, book club fiction, pop non-fiction and the whoppingly successful fifty-shades-of-grey ebook. Kindle and their direct publishing programme is starting to have real impact.