Sunday, June 13, 2010

Never Too Early to Plan: Michelle Dunn Tells Top Five Things Learned at BEA

Top 5 things I learned at the Book Expo of America 2010

By Michelle Dunn

There was so much talk about how this years BEA was going to be
smaller, less attended by industry vendors and visitors and so much
less of a networking experience than previous years because of the
smaller size. It is true that there was only one floor of the Javits
Center this year and fewer people but I found that to be to my
advantage. Fewer booths to visit, so more time talking to the folks I
wanted to talk to, fewer crowds to get through and a much more relaxed
atmosphere.

According to the Book Expo of America Web site there were 21,919 people who attended the book expo this year, and there were over 29,000
industry professionals in attendance in 2009 and 20,000 in 2008,
though the 2009 and 2008 numbers include vendors.

I came prepared to meet publishers I had been published by, those I had
met at other networking events, and to speak to publishers who might be
interested in my book ideas. I brought business cards I had made up
especially for the BEA with pertinent information that publishers
would be interested in (how many on my mailing lists, my platform
information etc) and a few media kits. I did very well meeting and
talking with publishers all day on Wednesday and found 4 publishers
interested in my work. I have already had 2 publishers calling me about my book idea since I have been back! I landed my first book deal by attending the BEA so that was my goal this year as well.

I really enjoyed the book expo being smaller. There were fewer crowds, less waiting to talk to people you want to meet and talk to and less
walking! I received a newsletter that had a review of this years BEA
and they called it ?boring? and said ?that it was not a venue for
doing business and that if you hear differently it is simply
propaganda from the BEA folks?.

I am not affiliated with the BEA and in my opinion it WAS a venue for
doing business and that is not at all propaganda for the BEA. I
definitely found some publishers interested in my work and am sure I
will get another book deal out of the contacts I made there. In my
opinion if you go to the BEA with a clear goal, set up appointments
and present yourself in a professional way you can make good contacts
and do business attending the BEA. I have attended for the last 6
years and have always had good luck in gaining work and meeting and
networking with people that I keep in touch with in the industry.

Some things I noticed at the expo this year was that some of the
vendors were late in setting up their booths and when I tried to talk
to them, they were ?busy? setting up and asked me to come back
later. Others were so busy talking among themselves they would
literally just ignore you while chatting or texting or just walk away
from the booth leaving it unmanned. This is fine, I take that to mean
they are not serious and if that is how they approach their business,
I am not interested in working with them anyway. So by doing this
they really did me a favor and saved me from wasting time with them.

I was looking to talk to publishers of business books since that is
what I write and in some cases the representatives that I approached
at a publishers booth didn't know who was in charge of the business
books, or just didn't know where they were but they weren't worried
about it. They would ask me to come back later or would just tell me
that someone was there that was in charge of the business books but
they didn't know where they were and would walk away. I am still
trying to figure out why they were there, maybe to get a day out of
the office, or to network with other publishers, but certainly not to
meet new authors or look for new talent.

This surprised me since the economy is still in the toilet and the
publishing industry seems to be suffering but maybe not enough for
them to focus and really try to get the most out of the Expo. On the
other hand, the folks in the digital publishing sector were outgoing,
friendly, and helpful. Maybe because they know their formats are the wave of the future.

So, what did I learn from attending my 6th year at the Book Expo?

1. It works! It is important to go to the expo with a clear purpose in
mind and to be prepared. If you are going to look for a publisher
(like I did) make sure you research BEFORE you go, bring relevant
business cards and a few press kits. Know what your talking about and
present yourself in a professional manner. You have to stand out and
have a relevant book idea, as well as information about how you
market, your platform and your previous writing experience.

2. No matter what the size of the expo, it can be worthwhile. It was
for me, the publishers that did not attend did not affect my purpose.
I focused on business publishers, made sure I visited their booths,
asked relevant questions and spoke to the editors and people that
could help me get published.

3. Do your research! Check out the publishers Web sites before the
expo, be familiar with how they work. When they are talking with you
make sure to mention that you have researched their company, talked to
other authors that have worked with them, and know their background.
This is impressive and extremely helpful. The publishers and editors I
spoke with were much more receptive to me, knowing that I had done my
research.

4. Stop in to say hello to anyone who is there that you know.
Networking with these folks and just saying hello goes a long way.
Especially if you have only corresponded by e-mail; putting a face to
the e-mail is key in networking. For example, If you are a member of a
writers association or subscribe to Writers Digest magazine, you would want to stop by and introduce yourself. I like meeting the folks that put out the magazines I read, and meeting the folks that run the
writing associations I belong to and they do as well. Make an effort
and it will come back to you in a positive way.

5. Bring a helper. I have always brought an assistant with me to
the book expo, I have this person carry extra business cards, my press
kits and approach the next person I am going to speak with while I am
finishing up with my current conversations. Having someone give an
introduction about you, what you write and how successful you have
been is a very professional way to present yourself and you have help
carrying your materials and any books you pick up!

In closing I want to say that the publishers I did speak with were
very open and friendly, spent time talking with me to see if I was
worth their time and could be an author that would write a book that
was relevant to their company, and asking about my platform, other
writing and marketing experience.

Attending the Book Expo was once again, a rewarding experience for me.

~Michelle Dunn is the author of the award winning book "Starting a Collection Agency, how to make
money collecting money" and many other titles in her "Collecting Money
Series".
Join her on LinkedIn.
Also network with her at American Credit & Collections Association social networking site!

-----
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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