Gripping stories capture readers because they are relatable and human. Likewise, putting a human face on publishing and book sales is a vital, but increasingly overlooked way to increase partnerships in the industry and build a dedicated base of loyal readers. Splashy graphics and cutting edge websites can do a lot to signal a publisher’s prowess, but face-to-face conversation will stick with both book buyers and producers interested in film optioning. Best of all, in-person networking generates the word-of-mouth recommendations that help establish solid partnerships and sustain sales.
Trade Shows and Trade Conferences
Trade expos, shows, and conferences provide publishing industry experts the opportunity to discuss book marketing strategies, develop platform partnerships, learn about new technologies, share ideas regarding content distribution, and conduct business around film optioning, rights sales, and more. These events cater to publishers, booksellers, film producers, translators, agents, acquisitions editors, librarians, and others seeking to learn about trends in marketing and bookselling, and to preview seasonal book release lists ahead of time. Trade show highlights for 2019 include:
- BookExpo and New York Rights Fair, May 29-31, NYC. The combination of these trade shows will allow publishers, acquisitions editors, film producers, and other publishing professionals to conduct business and learn more about trends in book marketing and distribution. The consumer show, BookCon, follows this event on June 1-2.
- World Publishing Expo and Digital Content Expo, October 8-9, Berlin. This international show features vendor exhibits and a series of lectures by publishing industry experts focused on best practices. The Expo is interactive and designed to promote networking and idea exchange.
- International Children’s Content Rights Fair, November (dates TBD), Chiang Mai, Thailand. This trade show includes exhibits, conference workshops, and an opportunity for publishing professionals to buy and sell rights to YA and children’s books.
- American Book Association Winter Institute, January 2020 (dates TBD), Albuquerque, NM. While the 2019 Winter Institute has already taken place, it’s a good time to get this event on your calendar for next year. The conference features panels and workshops about bookselling, marketing, book displays, idea exchanges, and more.
Regional trade shows offer networking opportunities for smaller presses and for publishing professionals who want to build location-specific networks. Some of these shows include:
- Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Trade Show, September 13-15, Spartanburg, South Carolina
- New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) Fall Conference, October 2-4, Providence, Rhode Island
- Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) Trade Show, October 6-8, Tacoma, Washington
Like trade events, conferences for writers, editors, magazine publishers, and librarians often feature book fairs where publishers can do business and network, and where publishing experts can share information about book marketing trends and needs. Agents and acquisition editors in search of fresh voices will find conferences to be good places for scouting and for networking with other publishing professionals. Conference panels and workshops also offer opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas between writers, editors, illustrators, filmmakers, librarians, and more.
Conference highlights for 2019 include:
- San Miguel Writers Conference and Literary Festival, February 13-17, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This bilingual international conference attracts high profile authors, publishing experts, teaching professionals, and readers.
- Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference and Book Fair, March 27-30, Portland, Oregon. AWP is one of the largest literary conferences in North America, bringing together writers, publishers, booksellers, teachers, editors, and readers for panels on craft, publishing trends and opportunities, and networking events.
- Independent Book Publishers Association’s Publishing University, April 5-6, Chicago, IL. Offering workshops, informational sessions, and networking opportunities this conference caters to professionals working with small presses.
- Iceland Writers Retreat, April 3-7, Reykjavik, Iceland. This international conference offers workshops and panels focused on writing.
- American Library Association Annual Conference, June 20-25, Washington, D.C. This conference offers librarians an opportunity to network and to learn about emerging book titles, new technologies, and trends in publishing.
- American Booksellers Association Children’s Institute, June 26-28, Pittsburgh, PA. Workshops and presentations at this event provide information about children’s book marketing, trends in children’s book sales, opportunities to network, and more.
- Writer’s Digest Conference, August 23-25, NYC. This is a career- and publication-driven conference for writers looking to perfect pitching, meet publishing professionals, hone craft, and learn about publishing opportunities.
- Surrey International Writers’ Conference, October 25-27, Surrey, BC, Canada. Writers at all stages who want to hone their craft will find a variety of workshops and opportunities to network with publishing experts at this international conference.
Regional conferences, such as the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, and the San Francisco Writers Conference, offer more intimate opportunities for authors, publishers, agents, producers, and other experts to share expertise and build local alliances.
Book Fairs and Festivals
Consumer-facing book events like fairs and festivals offer readers a cultural and educational experience that expands their knowledge of the kinds of books being published. Fairs and festivals are a great way to build branding, market books and products to an expanding reader base, and enhance word-of-mouth endorsements of your publication.
Signature festival events often include author readings and signings, performances, bookselling, and talks, all of which can generate excitement about new titles and spark curiosity about backlists as well. Moving from the crowded, competitive internet space to this connected in-person literary environment can create new, loyal customers—whether its booksellers or individual readers. A sampling of the abundant book fair and book festival offerings occurring in 2019 follows:
- The London Book Fair, March 12-14, London, United Kingdom. Part book fair, part book expo, the London Book Fair offers exhibits and entertainment to consumers and business opportunities for international publishing professionals interested in negotiating rights, sales, and content distribution.
- Bologna Children’s Book Fair, April 1-4, Bologna, Italy. This fair has been running for over fifty years and attracts children’s book publishers, illustrators, graphic designers, agents, authors, translators, mobile developers, licensors and licensees, packagers, printers, distributors, audiobook professionals, booksellers, librarians, and teachers.
- BookCon, June 1-2, NYC. BookCon follows on the heels of BookExpo and is targeted at readers. Exhibitors offer a range of literary events with a pop culture twist.
- Hong Kong Book Fair, July 17-23, Hong Kong. This cultural event and book fair rolled into one boasts over one million readers in attendance.
- Word on the Street: Toronto Book and Magazine Festival, September 21-22, Toronto, Ontario. This free book fair is Canada’s largest bookseller and book buyer event.
- Frankfurter Buchmesse, October 16-20, Frankfurt, Germany. This is one of the largest book fairs in the world with over 7,000 exhibitors and nearly 300,000 visitors annually.
- China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair, November 15-17, Shanghai, China. Both professional book show and book fair, this event focuses exclusively on children’s book content and children’s content rights sales.
- Guadalajara International Book Fair, November 30-December 8, Guadalajara, Mexico. With over 700,000 visitors, this cultural and literary event is one of the largest for Spanish-language books and content.
- Jaipur Literature Festival, January 23-27, 2020, Jaipur, India. This festival draws over a million visitors each year and is focused on the global exchange of big ideas.
Smaller book fairs can be a good way to build branding, target a particular demographic of readers, build a regional following, and connect with book buyers in a more intimate setting. Examples of these fairs in the United States include: