How to Prepare for Trade Shows

Whether you’re attending the London Book Fair, Book Expo America or visiting a regional trade show, preparing for the event ahead of time will ensure a smooth (and fruitful) event experience.

1) Establish Your Goals for Attending—Are you just looking to network? Exploring publishing options? Do you need a graphic designer? Researching distributors? Contemplating foreign rights options? Or are you just interested in the awesome giveaways?! Establishing your reasons for attending prior to the event is important. This will help you develop the list of questions you’re hoping to answer. You’ll also know what you need to bring and what you can leave at home. Ultimately, knowing your goals ahead of time will help you navigate the trade show and maximize your visit.

2) Know What to Bring—The number one thing to bring? Business cards! Don’t have any? Make them. There are plenty of online sites where you can design and print business cards for a very low cost. You don’t know where you’ll meet someone – we’ve met prospects in line for the bathroom! – and having business cards on hand will allow you to easily exchange information. If possible, bring copies of your book to leave with those whom you’re interested in forging relationships (staple your card inside). Be selective when giving them out to and make sure you make note of who you give a copy! This brings up another good point—make sure you bring a small notebook and pen.

3) Review the List of Exhibitors Ahead of Time—Reviewing the list of exhibitors before you attend the show will not only give you the ‘lay of the land’ but will help you prioritize the exhibitors you want to see. Break your list down into groups of those you definitely want to see, those you want to try to see, and those who you will try to see if time allows.

4) Master Your ‘Elevator Pitch’—OK, so you’re not technically selling your book to each exhibitor, but knowing what makes you and your book unique from others in its genre – and quickly sharing the facts – is important. Trade shows are crowded and exhibitors may not be able to devote a lot of time to discussing your project. If you can walk up to a publisher or distributor and quickly spout out the most important facts about you and your book, you’ll give the exhibitor more time to provide his/her feedback. Isn’t that why you’re there in the first place?

5) Leave the High Heels at Home and Wear Your Walking Shoes!—Although footwear and books don’t go hand-in-hand, anyone who has attended a trade show will tell you to wear comfortable shoes. Trade show days are long and you’ll be on your feet the whole time, walking from booth to booth, standing in book signing lines, food and bathroom lines and cleaning up the ‘freebie’ tables. Believe us, you’ll want to maximize your time at each event and comfortable shoes will help you go the distance…so to speak.

by Corinne Liccketto