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Promoting at the BEA

General truisms that apply to the BEA or any book convention or show:

  1. Don't have too many expectations.
  2. You're not going to get orders, or at least not that many.
  3. Don't expect to hand out a lot of books.
  4. The biggies aren't interested in you as a small publisher.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes.
  6. Make sure you get sleep and eat.
  7. Be sure to collect as many pens and goodies to last you till next year.

Specific advice for browsing and cruising the BEA:

  1. Take time to look at all of the booths. Be sure to talk to someone at every booth that has a book connected to your book, no matter who they are. If they are worth their salt they love to trade marketing tips, and may offer you some opportunities.
  2. If you see something you like, someone whose work you admire, something creative... stop, tell someone, talk about it, then tell all your friends... it brings you good karma especially if it is a small publisher.
  3. Someone stops you in the aisle promoting their positive thinking book. You chit chat. They say, "Keep doing good work." Take a chance to remember you need those positive reinforcements.
  4. If you see a wholesaler who carries books similar to yours... talk to the salesmen and see if their clients would have an interest in your book. Give them one and one for their buyer if they express interest.
  5. Look for new ideas and emerging technologies... e-books, eBay, i-page, Lightning Press... think about your business model... how do I sell more books, how do I lower costs, how do I reach more people.
  6. Look at the most successful emerging companies... they might not be dummies after all.
  7. Look at the established companies and ask yourself if they are a dinosaur waiting for a meteor... what are they doing.
  8. Keep a mental note of everything... you never know when you will have a need to talk to someone in the future. First impressions count... be nice to everyone, and concentrate on their needs at first, not yours. Their needs are what closes a sale, not yours.
  9. Make sure the name on your badge always shows... I don't know how many opportunities I missed because my badge misbehaved.

Advice for when you have a booth at the BEA:

  1. Don't have a lot of handouts or goodies, you're small and can't afford them.
  2. Bring enough books so that if someone comes up, starts chatting, looks like a good marketing opportunity, then give a sample, don't be too stingy.
  3. Don't turn your back to the crowd. (I couldn't believe how many established companies thought this was a good message to send.)
  4. Make yourself available to everyone. Learn the art of creative chit chat. You're not there to sell... you are there to identify needs... that's sort of the first step in a sale... no need, no sale... you're not going to create a need, don't push a string uphill... it's bad for the back and murderous on the ego.
  5. Pace yourself... most of the booth people looked VERY tired by early afternoon the second day.
  6. Keep the booth open, don't stand in front of the booth, sit on a director's chair to the side... encourage people to come in and browse your booth.
  7. If it's your first time, the only thing you should worry about on the badge is the name.
  8. Remember... this time is a window of opportunities, not a window of threats. If you concentrate on sales and new strategies a lot of other problems go away.
  9. By all means don't wear a suit. My feeling is that people who dressed professionally but casual had more fun and attracted more people to their booth. Just look at the Ingram booth... everyone was in T-shirts... they acted fun and accessible.
  10. Don't leave early. These events are big opportunities. If you have figured everything out after a couple years, I can see where a person can manage their time more effectively. For a first timer... don't spend every minute at the convention, but spend a good amount of time there every day... I know there were a lot things I missed, but next year I will get better.
  11. If you get a booth, do it with a trade group. You get better positioning.

Matt Adams, Publisher

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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