What Authors Should Know About the Frankfurt Book Fair

The 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair will be held October 11 – 15. “The Frankfurter Buchmesse,” as it’s known in Germany, is the most important international trade fair for content, the center of the international media world and a major cultural event. Nowhere else in the world does the publishing and media industry show itself from a more diverse, innovative and international side than during these five days in October.

The fair is a meeting place for the industry’s experts and the most important marketplace for books, media, rights and licenses worldwide. From publishers, booksellers, and agents, to film producers or authors – each year in October, they all come together.

For authors, Frankfurt can be a good way to expand networks, enhance book promotion plans, build bridges for future efforts, grow professional skills, and make new discoveries. You can make it an important component of your author promotion plan. Key meetings for authors can include distributors, various book industry vendors, publishers, literary agents, ebook marketing experts, foreign rights agents or even an author publicist.

Here are a few important things you should know if you’re attending for the first time:

  • The Frankfurt Book Fair is huge! If you’re used to venues like BookExpo America, be prepared to be overwhelmed at the sheer size of the Frankfurt fair. The entire fair usually includes over ten full size exhibition halls spanning several average city blocks. It can take over 20 minutes to walk from one hall to another! However, some halls are specific to certain languages or global regions, so most of your time will likely be spent in two or three halls.
  • The fair is appointment driven! Unlike BookExpo America, where “drop-by” visits and impromptu meetings are not uncommon, almost everything in Frankfurt is a scheduled meeting, and usually scheduled well in advance of the event.
  • Meetings are usually shorter than what you may be used to. Most pre-arranged meetings are 15 minutes. Frankfurt is a highly scheduled affair, with many exhibitors having 50 or more meetings scheduled throughout.
  • Follow-up is key. Because exhibitors have so many meetings, it is important to follow up within a week or so with people you met with, so they are reminded of the meeting and can continue discussions with you.
  • The last day of the fair, Sunday October 15, is open to the public and publishers are allowed to sell their books. Many non-publishing exhibitors close up, or leave their stands un-staffed prior to Sunday. Be prepared for overwhelming crowds of non-industry people.
  • Consider a shorter visit. As mentioned above, Sunday is probably a day you want to skip. As a visitor, you should try to schedule your meetings with a two or three day period, usually Wednesday through Friday. To save your time and lodging expenses, leaving on Friday night or Saturday is something to consider.