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Planning to Exhibit at a Book Fair? 15 Tips!

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Large book fairs in the U.S. and worldwide are geared toward booksellers and librarians. These shows offer big trade publishers, as well as smaller ones and author-publishers a chance to promote their books to bookstore buyers and librarians. See how authors can participate on a budget at small regional or national and even at major publishing industry trade shows.

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Major International Book Shows
Frankfurt Book Fair, London Book Fair, Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Abu Dhabi and Leipzig Book Fair, not to forget the book show in Edinburgh, focus mainly on international book sales and the sale of foreign and translation rights of books. Non-fiction books might often have a higher chance of success at these fairs. National or state-wide book fairs, such as the BEA in New York City, or the Texas Library Show  are attended by both, librarians and bookstore owners.

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How to Learn About Book Shows
First of all, find as much information about these shows as possible on their websites. Study their list of exhibitors and the genres of books displayed. Learn which audience is usually attending these shows. Check out the website of the American Library Association ALA where the library conferences are taking place throughout the year. Ideally attend book fairs first as a visitor and talk to as many people as you can – visitors and exhibitors alike, before you decide to rent a booth. It will be a great learning experience. Notice what other presenters are doing. Bring a notepad and paper, taking notes on what you appreciated in certain booths and what you thought other booths could have done better.

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How to Save Expenses
A great way to share expenses is to get together with other independent publisher/authors you know, and rent a table or a booth together. If you divide the cost for a booth through three or four, your partizipation is suddenly not prohibitive anymore. Beware of companies that offer to show your books at International Fairs, such as the one in Frankfurt. Their fees run often from well over $200 to $500 and they will claim that hundred-thousands of visitors will see your book and you might even get a foreign language contract. Truth is, your book will sit with hundreds of others in a shelf, and no one will promote it to potential publishers. Save the money! There are millions of books displayed at these fairs and the chance that a foreign publisher discovers your book is smaller than to win the lottery.
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What to Prepare
It is never too early, but often too late, to organize such a complex venue, especially for out-of-town shows. Here are just a few ideas for your checklist:

  • Sign up early. Apply and pay any fees ahead of time, too.
  • Contact event organizers with any special requests.
  • Need lighting or electricity in your booth? Request it well in advance.
  • Choose a booth location on a high-traffic spot.
  • Calculate expenses, such as booth rental, electricity, travel, hotel, giveaways etc.
  • Make reservations for hotel, flight and rental car if necessary.
  • If you are the sole exhibitor, organize at least one more person to help.
  • Order your displays and signs, flyers & business cards for your booth well in advance.
  • Check out all equipment that they work properly: laptop, overhead projector, displays, cables, lamps, spotlights, charger…
  • Giveaways such as book marks, peppermints, stickers, pens, even totes with your books title or cover image (if you want to splurge) should be ordered well in advance.
  • Folding chairs, a step ladder and a cart or dolly are useful items that you will be glad you brought.

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How to Attract Visitors

  • Display and let your book trailer run throughout the day. All you need is a laptop and projector and a white display for the background. It draws for sure more people to your booth.
  • To stay in contact with interested visitors, bring a fish bowl to collect business cards and email addresses / contact information. Offer a really attractive prize for this sweepstake and you can be sure to get lots of cards.
  • Offer interested visitors to sit down for a moment, to have a cool drink while talking with you. They will be happy to rest their burning feet …
  • Have a well-lit booth to attract visitors, dress professionally and never, ever! eat at your exhibition booth.

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Partizipating in a book fair means a lot of organizing, and it should be done well in advance, especially when the show is in another state or country.  These are just a couple of tips, check out these three sites for comprehensive checklists:
http://avee-angel18.hubpages.com/hub/8-Guidelines-to-Attract-Visitors-to-Your-Exhibition-Booth
http://www.julienrio.com/marketing/english/checklist-perfect-trade-show-consumer-fair
http://www.toptenwholesale.com/blog/tips-organize-trade-show-booth.htm

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If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars  Or visit http://www.e-book-pr.com/book-promo/  to advertise your new book, specials, your KDP Select Free Days or the new Kindle Countdown Deals.

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Book Fairs: The Do’s and Don’ts

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During these last days of the old year, equipped with brand new calendars, you might be sitting down to plan the marketing for your book(s) in 2014. Which Book Fairs or other Literary Events will you attend in the coming months to present your work?
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Carefully Check Out the Fair Organizer
Before you sign up and spend any money, let the organizers show you how they promote this book fair in detail. Don’t settle for general statements, such as: “We advertise everywhere in the area” or “Our clients post it all over the Internet and on Social Media”. Rather inquire and ask detailed questions:

  • How many shows did they previously organize and how was the outcome?
  • Which advertisements did they purchase for this upcoming book fair?
  • To which audience (in follower numbers) and how often do they announce it on Social Media?
  • Which articles did they prepare and where will it be published, and to how many readers?
  • What is the percentage of recurring exhibitors?
  • Can they give you names of exhibitors / authors you might contact about their experience?
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Make sure that organizing a book fair is not an attempt for this company to make a fast buck, but rather to promote authors and their books, considering that you have the cost of buying a table, transportation / parking costs, promoting, maybe accommodation and restaurant bills or even expenses to have a helper at your booth.
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These tips might help you to evaluate if it is worth to attend the book fair.  I visited lots of great organized and promoted exhibitions – but here is an example how the event organizers and even authors can spoil the experience for visitors:
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Can it Get Any Worse?
Last Fall I attended a Book Fair, organized by a large group of author-publishers. My expectations were pretty low, as I feared, it was not sufficiently advertised, such as in their earlier book events.  And it was in fact even worse…
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Barely Advertised:
Instead of writing articles about the show, listing the authors that were present and rave about their books – and distribute these articles at least through all the local papers for free – there was nothing publicized…. Not even on Google+ nor on Goodreads’ free event sites was this book fair advertised, which would have cost them not a dime.
Only one promotional article about one of the fair’s organizers was published, also not directly about the show, but rather about his achievements in writing a huge number of books (which averaged exactly 72 copies sold per title…).
The book fair was neither advertised at local online magazines nor in print (for a very low fee) in newspaper event pages. Even their own website did not show a proper invitation for the public – instead an announcement for members to purchase a table at the show.  Members were encouraged to send out tweets to the public to purchase a table!  Did they mean instead of visiting a book fair to rent their tables? A promotional disaster!
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Inconvenient Layout:
The book fair was set up on the second floor of a recreational facility. The room itself was very long and narrow, a wheel chair could barely roll through between the tables, without touching books and throwing them to the floor. I watched as visitors were polite and stepped back or sidewards to let wheel chairs pass. When looking at the books or purchase something, the people in wheelchairs felt embarrassed as they blocked inadvertenly the whole aisle.

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Self-Published-Looking Book Covers
Only two of about 150 books showed a professional cover – all others screamed: “self-published”. OK, some of the covers could work for a print book, potential customers in bookstores could read all the details on the front and back cover, but they were mostly available as e-books too, and I imagined them on Internet retailer sites, among many other books with professional covers displayed … where they would be difficult to read due to the small print.

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Lack of Displays
Most of the books were laid out flat on the tables and visitors had to lean over in order to read the title. There are so many inexpensive Acryl presentations available to show books upright!  Just visit a trade book fair, such as Book Expo NY, Frankfurt Book Fair and see how professional publishing houses present their books. Or get a video from these fairs on YouTube to see how a book presentation should look like.

Only one of the authors at the show had a background display – a real attention-grabber – showcasing the cover of one of his titles. It was one of these roll-out display posters that one can carry very easily, being not much bigger than a golf umbrella when dissembled Roll Up Banner Stand.
Other book exhibitors did not invest a single dollar in display and had in the best case a copy of their book cover or a 8×11′ black & white computer print-out “poster” with the book title on it, pinned to the wall behind them.

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No Credit Cards
Everybody knows how easy it is to spend money when you don’t have to pay with cash. I overheard several times that patrons said: “I have to leave it with this one book, as I don’t have enough cash with me”. Another said: “I just found out by chance about this book exhibition, but I don’t have any money with me”.
So, why not making it easy for customers and accept credit cards or any of the new ways of paying digitally? Nothing easier than this: use one of these “Square Cards” or bring your smart phone of iPad with you and let people pay, using their PayPal account – or even better, sending you the money by email / online banking (available at Canadian bank accounts, not sure if available in other countries) – right at your exhibition booth! Make it as easy as possible for people to buy your books!

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Approachable or Unfriendly?
For a couple of hours I watched authors how they approached potential patrons, at their book tables. I asked everyone of the authors, why they wrote this book (lots of memoirs there!), what’s the background of their novel, or how long it took them to write it, how they were promoting it. It was a mixed bag: Some where cheerful talking about their writing process, the background story etc., while others only asked which one of their books I wanted to buy, and when I was not taking out my purse right away, they turned around and talked with their neighbors. Wow, I was pretty astonished – and guess who’s books I bought?

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One Book Seller Stood Out
Her book, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride was available in print and digital form. She bundled both, similar to the book bundles that Amazon offers now.  And almost everyone of her print book customers bought a digital version too, which she offered for only $1 at a promotional price, either for themselves or as a gift. How she did it?  She brought two tools to the fair:  an iPad and a small poster. As soon as someone declared to buy the paperback, she pointed to her poster and showed them her Amazon page on her iPad.  When readers saw the official book price on Amazon and compared it to her offer at the book show, they could not resist to get the e-book too.
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Conclusion:
Why make all the effort to write and spend the money to publish a book?  I know that some of these authors at the book show had paid thousands of dollars to a Vanity book company to get their book(s) “published”.  Why then not invest a couple of dollars in presenting their work properly?
Again: Writing is an art – Publishing is a business! I hope these examples give you food for thought and encourage you to present your books professional at this year’s book shows. And a word to book show organizers: Don’t just fleece authors and sell tables, but offer them value in promoting the book event professionally. You can do it even for free, using all these new media possibilities out there!

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If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars

Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 1,100 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.
Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing
http://www.111publishing.com
http://www.e-Book-PR.com/
http://www.international-ebooks.com/
http://bit.ly/VmtVAS 111Publishing @ Google+

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“Old School” Comment on BEA

BEA Review from a Different Angle:

Here are some almost amusing excerpts from an article about the last BEA (my inner comments in brackets)

… to witness the digital revolution turn yesterday’s “gentleman’s business” of publishing into everyman’s global printing press. (Now we have to deal with the plebs)

The lines are blurring between what used to be called “gray publishing” (nowadays e-books and self-publishing) and traditional publishing such as trade, academic, scholarly and professional books.

Software companies, suppliers and distributors held prominent booth space near doors and at the end of aisles.  Many larger publishers either didn’t attend, or had private curtained rooms at the side of the show floor.  I hadn’t seen that hideaway routine at earlier shows. (Are they hiding from their customers, writers or from the digital progress?)

Well, I liked the expression “gentleman’s business” best, it sounds so wonderful old-fashioned arrogant.

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