Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trade Shows

Posted by Lynne Griffin

I had the privilege of attending the New England Independent Booksellers Association trade show last week. My publisher sent me there to sign advance copies of Life Without Summer. The event, held in Boston's Hynes Convention Center, buzzed with publishers, booksellers, authors, and other vendors all passionate about books.

Sales representatives, who cover the region, man booths showcasing the next season's books. Galleys and finished books are everywhere. Author receptions, signings, educational programming, and general schmoozing make up the agenda.

My expectations were to go and do my best to represent my novel to booksellers. I had my two minute pitch down, along with my backstory on how I came to write it. Armed with gorgeous new book/business cards, I'd expected to go there and be generous with my energy. I ended up walking away with so much more than I offered.

Spending two days with the sales representatives who will bring my book all over New England was invaluable. They had the chance to ask me questions about the novel, thankfully because they'd already read it. Each wanted to know more about my background, including my connections with my writers' group and to Grub Street. On my second day there, they set me up to sign advance copies in the booth, in addition to my formal signing to take place later that afternoon. This gave them a chance to see my ability to speak to my story and to demonstrate the way I would represent my work and our publisher.

Another unforeseen benefit of attending the trade show was that I got to see first hand how booksellers and avid readers would respond to my title, my cover, my blurbs, and my pitch. All of this was reassuring, and all of this provided valuable information for fine-tuning my press materials and talking points.

I'm grateful to have attended NEIBA, and urge other writers to discuss attending regional trade shows with their editor and/or publicist. Getting out there early builds buzz and allows an author the chance to add the personal touch. Two things debut authors very much need to do.

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