Sell, Socialise and Survive at the Frankfurt Book Fair

In Frankfurt Tips by Hannah Johnson

By Tony Mulliken, Chairman, Midas PR

The whole essence of Frankfurt is selling, followed by socialising and, in close third, eating. End result: exhaustion. Here are a few of my tips on how to survive the rigours, especially as you get older!

Stay Close

Make sure your hotel, flat or B&B is within walking distance of the Fair, or at least one of the Fair entrances. This allows you a later start and saves on taxis and trains. It also means that you don’t have to stand in those frustrating taxi queues at either the Marriott or the Maritime in the freezing cold or soaking wet weather — often beside someone that you have been trying to avoid during the day.

Make your first meeting a breakfast meeting — at the hotel or in the Fair. Start with some carbs early in the day. Chances are, you will not have a proper meal until late in the evening – I recommend two wonderful ice-creams during the day from Mövenpick stalls as a pick-me-up.

Come Prepared

Good comfortable shoes are a must for the miles of walking — actually in the case of Frankfurt Book Fair a compass or “Book Fair Nav” could help.

Choose and book your restaurants early. Make that last meeting of the day productive and entertaining. If you are going to plan a party, make it stand out from the crowd. Make it a “should be there gig.”

Be Social (Or At Least Pretend to Be)

But the most important tip is to know how to sell the final fib of the day! There is still a culture of late nights, lots of booze, final slurry meetings that finish in the early hours of the morning and the realisation that you have to be back selling at the Fair at 9 o’clock in the morning.

This is where the little white lies come in handy:

  • When asked if will you be at the Park for a drink later tonight, the answer is YES.
  • When asked is it a good idea to meet back at the hotel at 11.30pm or 12.00pm for a drink, the answer is YES.
  • Are you going to the “such & such” party late that night, the answer is YES.

The real answer is NO, but those late night die-hards will never know! And if they say they did not see you, just say that you saw them! Oh, for the comfort of that bed and my bloody feet hurt!

Help the Newcomers

This is a bit of advice for Fair veterans and people who know their way around. Show someone around who is at Frankfurt for the first time and maybe does not have the security blanket or entertainment budget of the major publishing houses and stands that are like small islands or cities. Help them, make them feel welcome, guide them and importantly, include them in your social life. Someone did that for me at my first Frankfurt and I have never forgotten that kindness.

Tony Mulliken is Chairman at Midas PR, a progressive communications agency based in London, UK. Midas represents a variety of high profile brands, including Disney, The British Council, Private Eye and The Galaxy British Book Awards. In addition, they work with many of the world’s leading publishing houses, such as Harper Collins, Penguin, and Harlequin Mills & Boon.

If you would like to get in touch with Tony Mulliken, you may contact him via email.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.