Best of London Book Fair 2018: we pick some of the highlights

A beginner's guide to London Book Fair

Whether you're a writer, publisher or reader, we break down what you need to know to navigate this year's event

Every year the great and the good of the literary world descend upon London for three intensive days of author talks, panel discussions and seminars on the most pressing issues facing publishing today. With nearly 200 events taking place, the LBF's behemoth programme is daunting to even the most seasoned of industry professionals. But this year, we've got your back. Whether you're an aspiring scribbler or simply an ardent bookworm, our guide will help you make the most out of the LBF.

If you're a writer…

Wondering why your manuscript continues languish – unread and unloved – in your desk drawer? In Why We Commissioned These Debuts, the head editors of HarperCollins, Flame Tree and Harvill Seckler will shed light on what catches their eye, and How to Find, and Work With, a Literary Agent will discuss the vital nuances of seeking out representation. But for those looking to strike it out on their own, Successful PR and Marketing will be a useful primer on how to market both yourself and your book to readers.

A heartening amount of attention is being paid to issues of writing inclusion at LBF this year. Writing Inclusively and Mind the Gap tackle the importance of authentically representing LGBT+ and disable characters in fiction, rather than as mere sentimental tokens. Meanwhile, Wales and Scotland: Indigenous Languages of the UK in Contemporary Literature explores both the challenges and the opportunities of writing in the many non-English voices of the British Isles, such as Gaelic, Welsh and Scots.

If you're a publisher…

Three years ago, author Khamila Shamsie declared that 2018 should be the Year of Publishing Women. A moratorium ought to be placed on publishing writing by men for the year, she argued, as a means of redressing the prejudice women writers face in both the publication and the reception of their work.

Though Shamsie's call to action has not been taken up to quite that extent, the publishing world is slowly opening itself to real change, as evidenced by the number of seminars dedicated to the topic of diversity at all levels of the industry. The Inclusivity Toolbox will revolve around five practical steps that any publishing house can take to create a truly inclusive and diverse workplace, while #MeToo: Passion, Politics and Poetry will discuss the role of that indie presses and literary networks played in the publication of the #MeToo womens-only poetry anthology.

For those still needing to get their foot in the door, How to Get into Publishing will do exactly what it says on the tin, with a panel of young publishers to shed light on the recruitment process and what skills employers currently looking for in entry-level candidates. Speaking of the future, Taking the Fear Out of AI hopes to make a compelling case for artificial intelligence as not simply robots out to take our jobs, but as a useful tool to help us better share and publish knowledge.

If you're a reader…

… and you've got a hankering for kilted detectives and feminist thrillers, then you're in for a real treat. Tartan Noir convenes a fascinating panel of authors, agents and publishers to reflect on the current appetite for Scottish crime writing, while Sex & the Country considers the difficulty of writing good sex – whether due to cliché or cultural differences.

As usual, the LBF is also boasting an impressive lineup of author talks, featuring luminaries such as Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism project; acclaimed children's writer Dame Jacqueline Wilson, author of the Tracy Beaker series; and Adam Kay, whose memoir about his years as a junior doctor, titled This is Going to Hurt, shot to the top of the bestseller list this winter.

London Book Fair takes place from 10–12 April at Olympia London.

Tartan Noir

A panel of writers, publishers and directors discuss Scottish crime writing. Featuring Doug Johnstone, Jenny Brown, Denise Mina and Sara Hunt.

Why We Commissioned These Debuts

A talk on how publishers are discovering new talent and what they're looking for.

Mind The Gap: Celebrating Authentic Inclusion

A seminar featuring young disabled people in conversation with authors about the representation of disability in books.

Memoirs That Matter: Adam Kay This Is Going To Hurt

A discussion about Adam Kay's memoir of life as a junior doctor in the NHS.

The Inclusivity Toolbox

A seminar focusing on five simple, actionable steps that any publishing house can take towards becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Includes a discussion on two case studies.

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