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The Do's and Don'ts of Trade Shows

Trade shows. They exist in almost every industry, from food to mechanics to wedding planning. While they provide an enjoyable break from our daily schedules, they can also be very helpful for authors to promote their books. We know that this may be a daunting step for some, so we’ve got some tips to boost your confidence and set you on a path to success.

Do your research before you arrive at the trade show. Read through everything you have been given and make sure you understand the procedures and your role as an author at the show. Once you arrive you won’t have time to figure everything out, so being prepared will help everything go a lot more smoothly.

Don’t force yourself on others. Yes, you are at the trade show to promote yourself and your works, but you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. As potential connections walk past your booth, feel free to strike up a conversation and tell them a little about yourself. If they seem genuinely interested, this is the chance to continue building a relationship; if not, don’t force them to stay.

Do use this as an opportunity to make connections. Building strong connections is an important part of any industry. It provides a community for you to fall back on when you need business advice or when you simply need someone to talk to who understands the publishing process. Talk to as many people as you can and ask for their information. You never know when it could be useful!

Don’t compare yourself to others. No matter which trade show you attend, there will be a range of people and businesses. For some it will be their first time; they may have a small budget and are just testing the waters. For others, this may be a large yearly event that they put a lot of time, effort, and money into to get their setup just right. Be proud of what you have accomplished and you will be a success.

Do take time to explore the show. While it’s important to not get overwhelmed by the various booths around you, it is a good idea to take a break and see what the show has to offer. By giving yourself time to walk around, you’ll make connections, discover new books and businesses, and get ideas for your own booth in the future.

Don’t forget to have fun! After all you’ve done to write and promote your book, you deserve to have a little fun. Enjoy what the different booths have to offer, see if any of your new connections would like to join you for dinner, attend a talk given by an author. Book shows have so much to offer, so make the most of your ticket.

There is a variety of trade shows each year that are held within the United States and overseas. One of the largest is BookExpo where authors are given the chance to promote their books and make connections in the book community. A few others include the ALA Annual Conference, ABA Winter Institute, and the World Publishing Expo. There are also smaller regional trade shows held across the United States that promote local authors and publishers.

Though you may have never thought about attending a trade show until today, we hope we’ve given you something to think about. They are a great way to meet fellow authors and give your book an even wider audience. Start small and see what they’re all about!

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