What opportunities do self-published authors have to grow their author brand and platform? One such opportunity is attending a national and/or international book (trade) fair.

If you’re a new author or self-published, you might be wondering how to attract more readers, sell more books, and make a difference with your work. Joining a reputable book fair or book festival might be the next push you’re looking for in your writing and publishing journey.

What are book fairs?

Joining book fairs is a must for self-published authors because these free and public events are attended by the “who’s who” of the book publishing industry. Attendees include not only famous authors and booklovers but also publishers, literary agents, librarians, booksellers, artists, multimedia specialists, journalists, and other people that matter in the book industry.

By signing up for book event marketing services through ReadersMagnet, self-published authors like you can attend one or two of the many well-attended book fairs across the U.S. and the world. These include:

  • L.A. Times Festival of Books, organized by the Los Angeles Times, in partnership with the University of Southern California (USC), and attended by over 150,000 people every year;
  • Tucson Festival of Books, held every year at the University of Arizona Campus, Tucson, AZ and features a wide range of activities, aside from exhibits and author events;
  • BookExpo New Title Showcase, the largest annual book trade fair in the U.S. and focuses on highlighting new titles and authors;
  • London Book Fair (LBF) New Title Showcase, also focuses on highlighting new titles and authors and attended by 25,000 publishing professionals from over 135 countries;
  • Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the world’s leading professional fair for children’s content;
  • Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF), the world’s second largest book fair and organized by a state-owned enterprise;
  • Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse), the world’s largest book trade fair in terms of both the publishing companies represented and the number of visitors and attended by over 300,000 people;
  • and Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL, Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara), the largest book fair in the Americas and the most important publishing event in the Spanish-speaking world

Book fairs can also be part of larger events, usually conferences or meetings, which are nonetheless major book events. Your book could even be exhibited in any of the following conferences and meetings:

  • Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Conference and Exhibits, which takes place once every two years and represents over 10,000 academic and research librarians;
  • American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference and Exhibition, attended by over 25,000 librarians, library staff, educators, trustees, friends of libraries, special guests, and many others;
  • and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention, one of the oldest and most respected book events in the U.S. and attended by more than 7,000 educators in the fields of English and language arts every year

Join book fairs to enjoy the many benefits

Book fairs are one of the few venues open for a new and self-published author to get exposure for their book and brand. Joining a book fair is a great way to sell not only your books but also yourself and your author brand to potential readers, as well as the entire book industry.

It’s important for self-published authors to know that joining a book fair won’t guarantee that they will land a literary agent or publishing deal. They are, however, worth attending because they give a glimpse into what the book publishing industry is all about, and for the skills and training opportunities self-published authors need to turn their writing into a profitable venture.

Joining the right book fair could help boost your presentation, networking, and sales skills. There you’ll learn how to market your book, develop your platform, grow your brand, manage distribution channels, and track revenue and sales. If you’re building a career as an author, you need to learn the business side of things, and joining a book fair will expose you to the business aspects of writing and publishing.

Book fairs are also wonderful learning opportunities. They are a great place to share ideas, gather market intelligence, explore new trends, and tap the tools and technologies that could help you succeed in the changing publishing industry. You could attend seminars, workshops, presentations, and panel discussions given by leaders in your literary niche, as well as witness demonstrations of new products and services.

Above all, book fairs allow for tremendous networking opportunities. You will meet your fellow writers, authors, and artists. You might find new friends and potential collaborators who could provide feedback, insights, recommendations, and strategies.

Other than potential readers and publishers, probably the most important person you’ll ever meet at the book fairs is the literary agent. You can ask them questions about the book industry, what genre they represent, etc. You could also pitch your book idea to them face-to-face. Again, you might not land a contract with a literary agent but you’ll at least get feedback on your book idea or manuscript.

The key to getting the most out of book fairs is to work with a reliable and experienced book event marketing service provider that will go beyond just exhibiting your book. They can also arrange a book signing session during a book fair so you can meet potential readers and book industry professionals. This is an excellent way to get the feel of the book industry and an effective way of building credibility and trust.