The Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association just had their big Fall Discovery Show at the Renaissance Hotel in Stapleton. This is their big meeting for their members. CIPA was there with many of our author/members, displaying our books and talking with booksellers, publishers and other publishing professionals. Our goal was to give our members an opportunity to sell copies of their books to indie booksellers attending the show.
Big and small publishers were there, as well as writers groups, distributors, and vendors who sell stuff to bookstores other than books. The ballroom was packed and the energy was terrific.
It’s been a while since I’d been to any trade show and it was my first as CIPA President. Past President Patricia Ross and I “worked the room” on CIPA’s behalf, talking up our meetings and the EVVY Awards. We gave away passes to indie authors to attend a meeting on us, and also got a few volunteers to serve as judges in the 2016 EVVY awards. I’m looking forward to hearing from our volunteers who staffed our table.
A few things I learned about working a trade show:
- Don’t just sit behind your table and wait for people to come to you. Say hi and be friendly. Get up and move to the front of your table. Work the isle too.
- Take the time to check out the other booths and talk to as many people as you can. Even if the conversation has nothing to do with selling your book, it could lead to a great connection or just some good info. I had a nice chat with the rep from the American Booksellers Association. Two things I learned: Indie booksellers are succeeding when they create a gathering place for a community as well as a book store. And I learned that the number of indie bookstores is increasing around the country. Good news for authors!
- If you’re not sure what an exhibitor’s business is all about, ask them. But don’t hog their time. If more people come up, exit gracefully and move on.
- If you get somebody’s card with the idea that you’ll follow up with them for a reason, take a moment right then to write that reason on their card.
- Keep your own business cards handy in a pocket. Carry a big enough purse or a tote bag for brochures and other info you collect. Try not to go crazy collecting swag — do you seriously use any of it later?
- Take breaks. Drink water. Go easy on the junk food. Wear comfortable shoes.
- Follow up with contacts you make within 48 hours after the show. Ever got home after one of these events and never looked at the cards you collected? Don’t waste all of that effort!
We’ll keep you posted about other trade shows in the area and opportunities for promoting your book. Got some info about an event to share? Please send it to us for posting to our blog!
My best to you,
CIPA President 2015-2016