Networking is a powerful marketing tool – as a matter of fact, it is one of the most powerful tools in a self-published author’s marketing arsenal. An author who is skilled at communicating their ideas to others can very well write their own ticket, not only to increase book sales, but to garner speaking engagements and future publishing contracts. The challenge is that far too many authors don’t know how to “network” their way into more sales.
Attending book fairs and festivals is a good place to start. Local events keep your start-up costs to a minimum and give you a “safe” forum in which to perfect your presentation skills. As you become more comfortable at local events, graduate to state, regional, and then national events. Then start setting your sights on the major international book festivals everyone in the industry knows about, London, BEA, Beijing, and Frankfurt. Attending book fairs overseas can start to put a strain on even the largest marketing budgets, which is why most authors rely upon representation services provided by their publisher.
Let’s take a look at some major book fairs…
- The London Book Fair – This event is recognized as one of the first major publishing events of the year, and one of the most important. There are many opportunities here to capitalize on by attending in person or, alternatively, by exhibiting your book with representatives on your behalf. Key industry professionals (like acquisition directors, editors, agents, and foreign rights editors) are always in attendance.
- The Book Expo of America – The United States is home to the Book Expo of America, which traditionally takes place in New York (although there have been various times in the past it was held elsewhere). Every year the Book Expo welcomes over 100,000 international attendees, authors, publishers, agents, and buyers. While the attendance is international, the focus is distinctly American, with American books, publishers, and authors receiving the main interest. As such, all American authors would be doing their book and their writing careers a service by attending, or exhibiting their book with representation.
- The Beijing International Book Fair – China continues to “open its doors” to the Western world, and in doing so is becoming a major global economic force. The population alone represents a readership opportunity that no other book fair (or publishing event of any kind) can match. It’s literally a feeding frenzy to meet the demand, which presents an exciting opportunity for all publishers and authors.
- The Frankfurt Book Fair – Frankfurt Germany hosts the annual Frankfurt Book Fair which typically claims 50% more international representation than the Book Expo. If foreign rights are your priority, and the potential “culture shock” of Beijing is too daunting, Frankfurt is the book fair to attend, or where to exhibit your book.
- Bologna Children’s Book Fair – This Italian Book Fair caters specifically to children’s authors, illustrators, literary agents, booksellers, and librarians. Here you will find the very best of children’s publishing and multimedia production, make exciting new contacts, discover new opportunities, and learn the latest trends in children’s publishing. As a self-publishing children’s book author trying to launch a successful writing career, you simply cannot afford to miss the Bologna Book Fair, or miss the opportunity to exhibit your book there.
- American Library Association Exhibition – The ALA (American Library Association) annual book fair & conference attracts librarians from all levels of management, from all types of libraries, and from all across the United States. It serves as a meeting place for thought leaders and as a forum to exchange ideas on the multitude of issues affecting libraries. It’s also a great place to capture attention for your book.
- PEN World Voices Festival – More than 1,500 writers and artists from 118 countries have attended the PEN World Voices Festival in New York since its founding. This weeklong series of events traditionally focuses on human rights with the aim of broadening channels of dialogue between the United States and the rest of the world—a mission that, today, has never been more relevant.