Are book fairs an effective way to promote books? 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. For more information about upcoming book events visit the author's web site.
Here is a list of 20 book fairs and events that are worthy of your attendance
- BookExpo America, June 4-7, 2012, Javits Center, NYC, the ‘Big Daddy’ of all book events. It worth a trip just to see what the book business is all about. There are plenty of great seminars to attend, book signings and events. I highly recommend all authors attend.
- Printers Row Lit Fest, June 9-10, 2012 Chicago, Illinois on and around the area of Dearborn Street, from Congress to Polk. A large book fair attended by more than 125,000 book lovers.
- Millbrook Literary Festival, June 16, 2012, Millbrook Free Library on Franklin Street presents dozens of thought provoking authors.
- American Library Association Annual Conference June 21-26, 2012, Anaheim, CA some 25,000 experts in the market who will help you advance your career.
- International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) July 15-18, 2012, Orlando, FL Considered the best show for Christian authors according to Sara Bolme, author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.
- Harlem Book Festival, July 22, 2012, Harlem, NYC
- Belfast Bound Book Festival, July 27-29, 2012, in Maine will offer 25,000 books and will celebrate reading, writing and publishing.
- Decatur Book Festival, Aug. 31- Sep. 2, 2012, Decatur, GA, largest independent book festival in the country. Since its launch, more than 900 authors and 260,000 attendees have attended this event in downtown Decatur.
- Brooklyn Book Festival, September 20-23, 2012 Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, NY is the largest free literary event in New York City.
- Sonoma County Book Festival, September 22, 2012, Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa, CA. attended by thousands of book lovers.
- Fall For the Book Festival, Sept. 26-30, 2012, George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus, Fairfax, VA., sponsored by George Mason University, Fairfax County Public Library and Barnes & Noble. Attended by more than 150 authors.
- Baltimore Book Festival, Sept. 28-30, 2012, located at Mt. Vernon Place, The event attracts more than 100 authors.
- South Dakota Festival of Books, September 28-30, 2012, Sioux Falls, attracts over 40 nationally well-known authors.
- West Hollywood Book Fair, September 30, 2012, at West Hollywood Park, more than 130 exhibitors expected!
- West Virginia Book Festival, October 13-14, 2012 is destination for over 7,000 people whom go to network and hear from various authors in West Virginia.
- Frankfurt Book Fair, October 10-14, 2012 in Frankfort, Germany. Considered the biggest book show in the world.
- Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word October 14-16, 2012, Tennessee Legislative Plaza, Nashville, TN, attracts more than 200 authors from throughout the U.S.
- Texas Book Fair, October 27-28, 2012, State Capitol Building, Austin, TX, established in 1995 by First Lady Laura Bush, a former librarian, more than 45,000 attend.
- Kentucky Book Fair, Saturday, November 9-10, 2012, Frankfurt, Kentucky, attended by up to 5,000 people including 150 authors.
- Miami Book Fair International, November 11-18, 2012, hosts over 350 authors to discuss their work and 250 publishers.