As we all know, Trade Fairs are wonderful places for networking and lucrative business deals. But that’s not all. As an extra bonus they offer ample opportunity to experience romance, persecution and paranoia.
The Frankfurt Book Fair took place last week. I went from Tuesday to Saturday. Four full days and very long evenings with colleagues and competitors from around the globe.
I skipped the affair. Instead I opted straight away for persecution and paranoia. And for good reason.
It happened on day two, in a meeting with an American publisher. I arrived at his stand, ready to impress. I showed him the books and told him how well they are doing in the UK. He took one of them, opened it, stopped, looked, looked again and pointed out a typing mistake so obvious that for a split second I was convinced I must have accidently given him the wrong book. I of course never noticed it before but it’s actually hard to miss. I managed to hold myself together during the meeting and we finished on good terms. But as I walked away I just wanted a hole to open up in the ground. Needless to say for the rest of the day I was convinced that the entire publishing world is judging Peirene on that typo. Each time I showed anybody the books I had to bite my tongue to not point out the mistake myself. Truth to tell, I don’t know if anyone else noticed. But even though, I woke up the next morning in cold sweat with the wrong letter standing large and forbidding in front of my closed eyes. I made a note to myself to improve the Peirene proofreading process and that decision finally got me out of bed.
As I walked to my first meeting, I passed a man with a big basket on his lap. The basket was full of little paper rolls, held together by colourful wool ribbons. A sign announced: A poem for a smile. I smiled at him and received one of the rolls with a poem. I unrolled the scroll. “As you stumble, a sudden reawakening as if you have wings growing.” I felt like turning around and giving the man not only another smile but a kiss too. The tiny poem brought the voice of reason back into my head: No one ever said setting up a business or running one means perfection from the start. When I stumble over the short comings, I must recognize them and improve. And with that newly found conviction the next meetings went swimmingly.
Having said that, there is I am afraid a limit to my ability – and indeed my willingness – to learn from past mistakes. If you are a conscientious follower of my blog you will know about my shoe debacle at Frankfurt last year. I was determined not to repeat history. To my credit, I even took an afternoon off to buy some flat shoes a few days prior to going. But I just couldn’t find a suitable pair, and bought a new handbag instead. So this year had to be high heels again. Luckily I wore the most comfortable rather than the most elegant. Yes, my feet hurt and I’ve got a couple of blisters too, but I didn’t cry. I bore my pain as a proud tall woman.