What’s in it For You?
Book fairs are great! … but they can also be terrifying, or worse, difficult to access for the average self-publishing author. Combine tens of thousands of highly passionate librarians and booksellers, teeming crowds of readers, not to mention casual browsers and you have an unparalleled opportunity for exposure! The book fair is unequaled by anything else in the reading and writing world, and because it most often reflects the best aspects of the writing and reading and publishing processes, it has plenty of room for you, the self-publishing author.
Many self-publishing platforms and hybrid publishing companies send representatives to book fairs. Many, including Outskirts Press, even sponsor booths in order to feature self-published books at home and abroad–face-out, not spine-out! And more than anything else in terms of presentation, face-out exposure sells books!
What kind of person attends a book fair? Interestingly, the London Book Fair has already answered that question and thoroughly; according to the LBF website, the 2015 event drew 1,591 exhibitors from 60 countries and some 25,000 attendees from 118 countries. In attendance also were around 900 members of the media, also from all over the world. Since Planet Earth only sports around 196 countries at the moment, this means that the London Book Fair manages to represent at least 60% of the world’s population in some way, shape, or form–each year! And the LBF is just one book fair among many.
You belong there.
Your book is wonderful. It needs to be read. You may be a bit of a rebel: you’re already striking out on your own, dispensing with the false and burdensome values of traditional publishing, after all. But you and your book are free to take advantage of scaffolding like book fairs without being shackled to the rest of it, and your book is a bonafide example of an author designing and creating and publishing exactly what he or she envisioned. That kind of artistic integrity creates its own gravity, its own magnetic attraction to readers. Fair-goers will pick up on that authenticity right away!
Your book ought to be the star of the show.
Often a busy or crowded space isn’t the most comfortable environment to spend time talking or browsing for new reading material. Think of Starbucks–and of bookstores like Denver’s the Tattered Cover. Both of these companies use small nooks to great effect, and it’s not by just packing in a lot of stuff and posters and wallpapering the whole area with product information. A book fair is not a bookstore; it doesn’t revolve around books. A book fair revolves around authors and the worlds that they create. People can order whatever they like off of Amazon and have it in their hands with far less expense of time and energy and money than attending a book fair–but people still flock to them! And why? Because they want to participate in the social world of books. They want to meet the people who make books happen. They want to meet you and your book.
So, how do you make your book the star of the show? You winnow down your display and your presence to the absolute essentials–with full face-out exposure–and you focus on building human connections with the people there. All you need is the confidence to go, and perhaps the support of those who have gone before.
You are not alone. ♣︎