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.

London Book Fair

Networking is essential in any career, and publishing is no different. Networking can help self-published authors  make contacts that help move their careers forward. The London Book Fair is the ideal place to make a connection with industry professionals, including those who are interested in international rights.

The London Book Fair is regarded by many as the most important spring publishing event and welcomes tens of thousands of attendees from all over the globe. Capitalize by exposing your book to key industry contacts like acquisitions agents, editors, and translation rights agents.

The London Book Fair takes place Tuesday, April 8, 2014 through Thursday, April 10, 2014. This year’s event features a great group of big names from the world of publishing and Film and TV as well as a wide range of exhibitors, conferences, seminars, and events.

The London Book Fair is a great opportunity to network, find inspiration, learn about the industry, and promote your book. To learn more, visit http://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/en/Home/.

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.

5 Ways to Promote Your Book in April

Today’s post is by book marketing industry expert, Kelly Schuknecht.

Book marketing is an ongoing effort.  Here are five ways to promote your book in April:

  1. April is National Poetry Month.  If you have published a book of poetry, this is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of National Poetry Month events.  Visit Poetry.org to find a full list of Poetry Month events.
  2. April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day.  If you are a Children’s book author, call your local library and elementary school(s).  Volunteer to read your book during storytime.
  3. Speaking of libraries, National Library Week is April 10-16.  Contact your local library, offer to donate a free copy of your book.
  4. The London Book Fair takes place April 11-13.  If you have not already made arrangements for your book to be represented this year, consider this opportunity for next year.
  5. April 22nd is Earth Day. If your book is about environment issues (or even if it’s not), contact your local schools and environmental agencies and ask about Earth Day events you can get involved with.  Even if you are not directly promoting your book, you will be doing something to help the environment and networking with individuals who have similar interests.

DISCUSSION: How are you planning to promote YOUR book this month?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT:
Kelly Schuknecht works as the Director of Author Support for 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.