Be A Good NAIBA
Benefits of an Author Booth
at a Booksellers Tradeshow
How does a one-book novelist gain entry to bookstores for signing
events? One approach is by getting to know bookstore owners. There
are lots of ways to do that, but Bill could think of none loopier
than going to a bookseller tradeshow and renting a booth. And so
Bill and Jill found themselves at the glitzy new Borgata casino
hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the New Atlantic Independent
Booksellers Association (NAIBA) annual tradeshow.
The opulent, cacophonous Borgata has 2002 rooms and 3,650 slot
machines, and during its first month of operation took in $47 million.
To offset the hotel's $1.1 billion cost, Bill and Jill generously
donated $40 to the idiot machines, which no longer have levers or
disgorge tokens, because those artifacts slow the betting process.
Instead, suckers punch buttons and are sucker-punched by lopsided
odds. On the other hand, casino people-watching proved a great spectator
sport. But that's not what this story is about.
Borgata hotel and casino
Some gold mines are golden
Bill at booth
Okay, practice that confident smile
A booksellers tradeshow is where publishers
go to advertise their new offerings to bookstores, in hopes the
stores will stock the books. This objective is mainly achieved by
the publishers giving booksellers free books. Also, publishers entice
many of their authors to come and sign the books. A booksellers
tradeshow is not the place where a new author sets up a booth and
sells his book at a wonderful discount. Bill and Jill figured this
out as time went on, but adopted the technique of smiling a lot
and acting extremely successful. That technique might actually have
worked to some degree. A week later, Bill received an email note
from the co-owner of a small publishing company:
“We met at the tradeshow, talked briefly, you allowed us
to take your picture, and we bought your book. [We] thought you
had a strong book and a strong presentation.”
Amazing. So, really, how did it go? Bill and Jill wound up giving away
nine books, including five to booksellers who responded favorably to the
idea of Bill doing an event at their stores. Other copies went to the
NAIBA president, the president of the Romance Writers of America (who
shared a wealth of ideas on book promotion), a library, and the tradeshow
raffle. Those investments actually made sense. Most incredibly, Bill sold
four books, one to the publisher who wrote the above note, and three to
people who just wanted the book, including a university professor (one
of the book-signing authors) who offered to host Bill for a speech.
But how do those justify maybe $1,000 for the show, booth, hotel, fancy
author dinner, and NAIBA membership? That’s harder. It comes down
Whoa, your mental cash register is
thinking, this does not add up to $1,000. Maybe, but it’s
also true that some of the tradeshow benefits were of the more tangible
sort. After all, booksellers were not the only ones authorized freebies.
Bill and Jill returned with over $1,000 worth of free books, all
signed by authors, several of whom Bill and Jill got to know. Those
books will give rise to many hours of reading pleasure, after which
they will be donated to schools or libraries and, for tax purposes,
logged as a charitable donation.
Ideas for Author Booths and Book-Signing Events
The tradeshow booth also gave an opportunity to test-run a range
of bookstore signing and marketing ideas. Because Bill and Jill
had so little to sell (basically one book and three models of a
T-shirt), their booth was uncluttered and visually appealing, whereas
most booths were jammed with books. On the other hand, the things
Bill and Jill had for sale were not the things people had come to
The TaleCatcher™ Booth
What’s that author booth doing here?
Lessons learned from the booth
Free saltwater taffy proved
popular. A few dozen people perused the booth for an extra five
to ten seconds because of the candy. Bill and Jill had brought a
three-pound box of Shriver’s
taffies (made in Ocean City since 1898) and kept restocking their
candy dish as passers-by gobbled up about half of the stash.
in Cyberspace T-shirts drew attention, with guys taking note
of the Naked Gal and gals taking note of the Naked Guy, but neither
human could compete for attention with the Naked Cat. Bill and Jill
realized they need a Naked Dog.
chocolate dollars spilling from a cloth pouch pulled visitors
to the booth. A dozen people showed particular interest, lifting
the golden coins and turning them over to admire the handiwork of
Bill awarded TaleCatcher™
chocolate cigars to several folks such as Betsy from Otto Bookstore
in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. All gift-cigar recipients were impressed
and pleased. These cigars are great as rewards or bribes.
No media people paid heed to the sign
that read, “Media, We Have A Story For You.” Bill and
Jill gave copies of the related press release to several folks,
but nothing came of it. Maybe there were no media people in attendance.
Posters had no apparent effect. Bill’s
greatest disappointment was a sign he’d placed as his main
hook, which read, “Blackouts,
Worms, the Novel.” Hardly anyone noticed the thing.
Ideas from other booths
Other booth tactics Bill and Jill are developing
Bill's Life-sized Cutout
Here Today Only!
Author Bill Neugent
Was the tradeshow worth it? There are quiet weekends at home and there
are weekends filled with experiences, sights, and stories. Life is in