If you've no idea what to expect of the second largest book fair in the world, you will not be alone. Here are some important Dos and Don'ts:
1. Do plan ahead. Look at your BEA catalog on the first day. Page through and fold over each page you want to access quickly in the near future. There is so much to see that you have to be very selective, even if your feet hold out.
2. Do ask yourself: "Why am I here?" Your answer to that question will give you the laser focus you need to get the most out of your experience. The answer will be different for everyone, but if you're an author, you're there to market your book, not stand in line for two hours to meet William Shatner and get his autograph (though that might have been fun).
3. Do arrange ahead of time to sign and give away books. You'll meet the nicest people, and some may actually review your book. Use these brief encounters to get to know youe audience (your demographic, as they say, though that is much too sterile a term for my taste). Stand in front of the booth where you're signing, with, of course, your very large poster behind you, and a sizeable stack of books and other marketing materials on the table. Make eye contact and say hello and smile, smile, smile.
4. Do ask for reviews. I asked each person who got a free book if they would post a review on Amazon.com or B & N.com. Many won't, but it's a numbers game. Some will, bless their hearts, and besides, you never know when you might meet someone who knows someone...
5. Don't walk up to Random House or Penguin Books and say (as I overheard several people do), "I need to meet someone who will publish my book. Who would I speak to about that?" If you want to meet the heavy-hitters, make appointments ahead of time, and practice your pitch first. Think about what they need, then tailor your pitch to supply what they're looking for. Alternatively, talk to folks introduce yourself, get their cards, then follow-up after the show. But give your intended victim time to get over his jet-lag first.
About Mary Lynn
Causes Mary Lynn Archibald Supports
Battered Women's Shelter, SPCA, Healdsburg Animal Shelter, Nature Conservancy