7 Simple Steps to Succeed at Book Fairs

London Book Fair

Selling books at book fairs can be an exciting event for newly published authors (or any authors, actually). Book fairs, author signings, and other live events offer your chance to meet readers face-to-face, mingle with other writers, and most importantly, sell some books!  Book fairs take place year around all around the country and the world. Your local library most likely has a calendar of upcoming book fairs, or you can always conduct a search online. Once you schedule your appearance and reserve your space at a book fair or author event, it is time to consider what your “space” is going to look like.  Typically, you will be provided a 10-foot x 10-foot space with a 6 foot long table and two chairs. The rest is up to you. But it’s what you do with this “blank canvas” that often separates a successful event (where every attendee stops to check out your book) from an unsuccessful one (where you watch in misery as the crowd passes you by to check out other authors and other books).

So how do you make sure your author space is unskippable? By following these seven simple steps.

  1. Dress to impress. That doesn’t always mean dressing professionally. It means dressing in a way that is related to your book or to your author brand.  Have you written a series of children’s books? Dress as the main character. Do you write spy novels? Dress like James Bond. Westerns? Wear your sharpest cowboy attire, spiffiest cowboy boots, and shotguniest cowboy hat. You get the idea.  

  2. Act the part.  Don’t just stop with the outfit.   If you’re dressing as one of your characters, introduce yourself as the protagonist (or antagonist) of the books on your table. Does your character have an accent? Use it.

  3. Be approachable. Even if the character you are playing is a gruff sour puss, you certainly don’t want to be.  Put on your friendliest face and your biggest smile for this event and stand at the side of your table rather than sitting behind it.  Greet everyone who approaches with a friendly nod, a bright smile, or a chipper “Hello!”

  4. Dress your space.  Now that we have you covered, let’s discuss your space.  Certainly having a lot of copies of your book(s) on the table is important, but that’s not enough to attract the kind of attention you want. This is where posters come in.  Two large posters of your book cover are worth their weight in gold (and are reusable from book fair to book fair). Hang one from the front of the table and one on the wall (or divider curtain) behind you.  This is just another reason why a stellar cover is so important. Make sure your cover is an eye pleaser and a crowd pleaser.

  5. Dress your table.  Depending upon the event, your table may or may not come with a table cloth.  Which is why you want to bring one. Be sure the color contrasts with the cover of your book so your books “pop” while on display.   Another way to make sure the books “pop” is to display them artistically or creatively. Rather than just placing a stack of them on the corner of the table, arrange them face out and at different heights by resting them on and against various sized props or boxes.

  6. Prop your table.  Books aren’t the only thing that should grace your table.  If you have any book awards, be sure to display them. If you don’t have a physical award, print out the certificate or award image and display that instead.  If you have received a glowing review or endorsement, print that and bring it, as well. Or better yet, select the best blurb and incorporate that into your poster.  It’s also not a bad idea to have a dish of candy or some sort of edible “treat” (and if it ties in with your book, all the better!).

  7. Bring business cards and pens.  Another item for the table is a stack of business cards (ideally, they’re also branded with your book cover and include ordering information).  Many of the people you talk with may not buy your book right then and there, but they’ll always take a business card and that may turn into a sale down the road. The pens aren’t to give away (unless you have branded pens with your website on it, which is a good idea); the pens are to sign copies of all the book you’ll be selling, because you’ve followed these seven simple steps to succeed at book fairs. Way to go! 

    brent sampson
    In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
    In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list

International Book Fairs as a Networking, Marketing, and Sales Tool

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

London Book Fair

 


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

In Your Corner: What’s in it for you at the book fair?

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!

Audience Matters.

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. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path

In Your Corner : Celebrate National Reading Month With These Marketing Tips! (part four)

Exactly three weeks ago, I started us off on a month-long exploration of what I revealed to be one of my favorite subjects–the intersection of reading with writing and publishing–in light of the fact that the month of March is National Reading Awareness Month here in the United States.  I continued my series two weeks ago and last week with a number of additional ways in which you, the indie or self-publishing author, can take advantages of the resources on offer to bolster both your existing writing methods and your book sales.  This week, I would like to invite you to continue in joining me in making reading a focus all month long, here in our Thursday blog post slot.  We may have one more week left in the month of March, but I’m holding nothing back–you get only the best of the best, my absolute top tips, here today! 

TIP TWELVE : Give your blog or website a face lift

If you already have a blog or website where you have been promoting your book in advance of its release, there’s no better time than the present to refresh the look and feel or add content.  And by “refresh,” I don’t just mean a couple of small tweaks or optimizations here and there–I mean a complete overhaul.  As in all things, the self-publishing author must demonstrate full willingness to meet readers where they live, rather than expecting them to stumble across one’s book by happenstance.  There are no (or at least, very very few) happenstances in the publishing industry, since everyone and their lawyer is out to make a profit off of gaming the system.  You don’t want to play your readers–in fact, you want to be wholly honest and authentic at all times–but you do want to show them that you care enough about them to design a website or a blog that meets their needs and outperforms their expectations.  Think big, not small, and make sure your site is inviting and reflects who you are as a writer.  

facelift

TIP THIRTEEN : Play well with others

It should come as no surprise that I’m an advocate for sharing.  After all, I didn’t ignore every single admonition to play well with others when I was a child–some of that well-intentioned parental advice rubbed off.  But in the world of self-publishing, there’s nothing more powerful than sharing!  It’s not just a “good idea”–it’s a vital and impactful way of reaching new readers.  The first step to sharing promotions with other indie authors is one of logistics and networking: I recommend getting started by connecting with other independent authors whose work compliments yours or who live nearby.  Local writers’ groups are a fantastic resource for this!  From there, you can discuss how best to share advertising in your local media to promote your books and events.  Sharing an event with another writer is an excellent way to generate more interest among venues and readers.

sharing

TIP FOURTEEN : Take the Grand Tour

In years gone by–that is, from the mid 1600s to the mid 1800s–it was the custom of the European and American elite to send their children on the Grand Tour of the European continent and parts of Asia Minor and Northern Africa.  The point of the Tour was to expose people of taste to the primary object of their taste–the cultural legacy of the West.  But there’s a far better Grand Tour which you can partake in as an indie author!  There are dozens upon dozens of prime opportunities for promoting your book throughout the year outside of your homeland, including the London Book Fair, BookExpo America, Beijing Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair.  But who, you may ask, has the time or money to do that?  Self-publishing may be a recourse for those of humble budgets, but it is also a haven for ingenuity and creative thinking.  You don’t need to stress if you don’t have the time (or money) to travel the world this year: a number of self-publishing companies, including the one I work for (Outskirts Press) offer the opportunity to represent your book at any (or all) of these events throughout the year.  There is usually still some sort of cost associated with this project, of course, but it is a dramatic reduction on what you might pay individually to travel to these places, register for display space and lodging, and for marketing materials.  Just a thought: you can be a world travel vicariously through your book!

That’s it for this week, but I’ll be back next Wednesday with some final tips and ways forward!  And …

… always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner : What You Need to Know About Book Fairs

Book fairs are wonderful.  They are also terrifying.  Where else can you find tens of thousands of highly passionate literary fiends massing together to further the art form that is the book?  Where else can you find teeming crowds of people determined to find their next bit of reading material, and eager to simply browse among hundreds of tables of books and authors on display in order to find it?  Simply put: nowhere.  The book fair is an experience unparalleled 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 quickly evolved to make room for you, the self-publishing author.  Many self-publishing platforms and hybrid publishing companies send representatives to book fairs.  Many, like Outskirts Press, will even sponsor booths in order to feature self-published books at home and abroad.

London Book Fair
 

Case in point, the 2014 London Book Fair is world-renowned & well-attended.

 

So, what do you need to know about book fairs?

First, you need to know your audience. 

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 exhibitors from 60 countries and some 25,000 attendees from 124 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 managed to represent at least 60% of the world’s population in some way, shape, or form!  Not every book fair can lay claim to such a draw, of course, but it serves as a good example of the power of books to bring people together.

There is no one-size-fits-all description for who attends a book fair.  The LBF welcomes “anyone who is involved with the creation, distribution, sale or treatment of content.  Authors, talent scouts, editors, designers, digital gurus, all walk the floor, meeting, talking, observing, discovering.”  I’d like to re-emphasize the digital gurus part of that sentence, since the LBF had 400 delegates at the Publishing for Digital Minds Conference.  If you’re a self-publishing author who’s looking to make a break into digital formats–or perhaps digital formats are your only or preferred option–there is still room for you at a book fair!  Whether you go as an attendee, a vendor, or wholly solo, the conversations you begin and the display zone in which your book is featured will reflect your digital-friendly nature.  Often, fair-goers will pause, snap a picture of a QR code, and queue new ebooks for immediate or future download–on the spot!  That’s the power of the digital-friendly book fair.

London Book Fair

Second, you need to know you belong there.

I know that it’s easy to think of book fairs as the stomping ground of the New York Times bestseller list and not for midlist authors–much less self-starting indie authors!  But making the leap to recognizing the value and worthiness of your book to keep those Big Names company at a book fair is an important one to make.  I can’t necessarily teleport to your location and give you a pep talk, but I can use this space to encourage you, I hope.  Your book is wonderful.  It needs to be read.  Critical acclaim and a blurb in notoriously biased magazines or ranking in notoriously rigged bestseller lists  doesn’t make a book better or more inherently deserving.  It just means someone with the right access to people and time and resources put out a book perfectly timed to fit into the publishing machine.

But you’re already a rebel.  You’re already striking out on your own, dispensing with the false and burdensome values of traditional publishing.  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!

Third, you need to make your book the star of the show.

What’s the trick to making sure fair-goers notice your book?  Creating intimacy in a warehouse-like environment.  If this sounds like an impossible task, let me be the first to assure you that it’s not.  Take a look around you whenever you next step foot in a mall or retail space, public library, or family-friendly health clinic.  How do those professionals section off space and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere?  Take note of what you personally respond to–because your ideal readers will most likely respond to the same.

London Book Fair

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.

So, how do you make your book the star of the show?  You winnow down your display and your presence to the absolute essentials, and you focus on building human connections with the people there.  And the London Book Fair is just the beginning–your book could just as easily find new readers in Beijing or Frankfurt!  All you need is the confidence to go, and perhaps the support of those who have gone before.

Always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Beijing Book Fair 2014

Book fairs are an excellent way for self-published authors to promote their books and network with industry professionals. The Beijing Book Fair 2014 will take place August 27th through 31st, so now is the time to consider registering your book.

The Beijing International Book Fair is the largest publishing industry event in the Asian Market. This is a huge opportunity for self-published authors, considering China is the most populous country in the world. This market is interested in books translated into their local language as well as the rights to distribute English Language content. English language titles are at the forefront of the market growth in China.

Children’s books authors can be especially lucrative in this market, since the government mandates that all Chinese children learn English at an early age. STM, academic areas, sports, sports medicine, and military history are also areas that have been in high demand.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors attend the show annually to see the books from 56 different countries. Your book could be there!

To learn more, visit http://www.chinaexhibition.com/Official_Site/11-2822-BIBF_2013_-_The_20th_Beijing_International_Book_Fair.html

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair 201

Book fairs are a great way for self-publishing authors to promote their work, connect with other professionals in the industry, and to learn about the publishing industry. If you are a children’s authors, Bologna Children’s Book Fair is an event you don’t want to miss.

This year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair will be held Monday, March 24th through Thursday, March 27th.

The Bologna Children’s Book fair is one of the most important international events dedicated to the children’s publishing and multimedia industry. It is a wonderful opportunity for authors, illustrators, literary agents, licensors and licensees, packagers, distributors, printers, booksellers, and librarians to sell and buy copyright, find the very best of children’s publishing and multimedia production, generate and gather new contacts while strengthening professional relationships, discover new business opportunities, and discuss and debate the latest sector trends. It really is  the “place-to-be” for selling rights.

For more information, visit  www.bolognachildrensbookfair.com.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.