As a book publicist and book marketing specialist, I am the first to impress on authors the new and powerful marketing avenues open to all authors on the Internet – from book websites to book trailers to social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. While these are fantastic tools when used properly, authors should never overlook opportunities to meet the reading public face-to-face where they can easily be found – at book fairs, book festivals, trade shows, book conferences and conventions.
Any book event, regardless of size and name recognition, is worth attending by an author who is serious about promoting their book. This requires personal effort and time by the author in person. People don’t want to meet the author’s assistant or friend; no they want to talk to the author.
Book fairs provide an excellent chance to learn more about the publishing industry, about booksellers, publishers, distributors and marketers. The attending author will also learn a great deal about what readers want and how to reach readers. And while acquiring a vast amount of knowledge about the book industry, the author can also take advantage of the chance to expose their book and name to a new audience – leaders in the book industry who are interested in meeting new authors. While you may not walk away with a book deal you’ll make yourself known to the movers and shakers and that has long-lasting benefits. Remember, word of mouth is one of the strongest promotional tools available and authors need to be where the mouths are – the mouths of book publishers, distributors, promoters, agents and readers – at book fairs, conventions and conferences.
Book fairs provide an excellent opportunity to encounter media reps in search of a story. Producers of TV and radio programs, editors of newspapers, magazines, book reviewers and online media outlets attend these events in search of stories that otherwise would be under their radar. Never, never pass up on the opportunity to meet the media. Keep an eye out for small I-phone sized video cameras too as they shoot broadcast quality footage in natural light. If you see somebody using one, invite them over and give them a pitch. They could be shooting for C-SPAN, CNN, a book review blog or the local cable show; you won’t know unless you ask.
The major book conferences and conventions involve travel expenses such as airlines and hotel lodging, and a week’s investment of your time. But book fairs can be found close to home, easily accessed by car and often are only one or two days. A typical regional book fair will have 1,000 or more attendees and 100 or more exhibitors, providing a realistic exposure of 300 visitors a day. Why would an author not want to spend a Saturday and a Sunday within 100 miles of home to meet 600 readers or a reporter, editor or book reviewer?
At a book fair, just as at a book signing event, the author will want to bring promotional literature to pass out. Passing out promotional bookmarks or book covers is a great way to generate future sales for months and months after the book fair ends. The give-away should contain the author’s contact information, the book’s name, the front cover artwork, author’s website address, and where the book can be purchased online.
I also remind my author clients that book fairs often need speakers. By volunteering to speak, the author not only gains great exposure but can also add that appearance to their resume and press releases. But plan ahead; dates for panel participants, speakers and autograph sessions are arranged months in advance.
Book fairs are often attended by best-selling authors who will be willing to spend time with you sharing tips on writing, on how to be successful, and advice on where to find the help you need.
In summary, book fairs are wonderful places to interact with fellow authors, publishers, network with book industry leaders, locate the help you need such as a publicist or book editor, and learn what’s new in the marketplace.
Here is a list of 25 book fairs and events that are worthy of your attendance (courtesy of Noel Griese, Editor of Southern Review of Books,
1. Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival
2. Frankfurt Book Fair, biggest book show in the world, October 6-10, 2010 in Frankfurt, Germany
3. Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge,
4. Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, a big festival attracting 150,000 readers, April 24-25, 2010
5. BookExpo America, May 25-27, 2010, Jacob Javits Center, NYC, the premier North American publishing event of the year
6. Ann Arbor Book Festival, Ann Arbor MI
7. National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress on the Mall in Washington, DC,
8. Self-Publishing Book Expo,
9. Miami Book Fair International, draws hundreds of thousands of people, conducted by the Congress of Writers
10. Vegas Valley Book Festival, Las Vegas
11. London Book Fair, April 19-21, 2010, global marketplace for sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels
12. American Library Association Annual Conference, June 24-29, 2010, Washington, DC, some 2,000 seminars and events plus a huge trade show
13. International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) Considered the best show for Christian authors according to Sara Bolme author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace
14. CAMEX/National Association of College Stores, attracts more than 7,000 people, including booksellers from more than 1,000 stores
15. Philadelphia Book Festival, attended by 35,000 and more than 50 authors, performers. Third weekend in April 2010
16. Printers Row Book Fair, a large book fair attended by more than 100,000 book lovers in 2009
17. Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word, Nashville, TN, attracts more than 200