June 08, 2004

What to wear to a Book Expo

Julie Czerneda wrote this at her newsgroup on sff.net in a thread titled "Dressing for a Pro Event like Book Expo." I thought this was really useful info, so I asked Julie if I could repost it here.

I've had a few inquiries ... so I thought I'd best post something.

If you are attending to see the booths etc., anything goes. Most will be
wearing casual summer/casual office stuff. Khaki pants, shirts, sweaters.
The wandering crowd is mainly booksellers, bookbuyers, and librarians in
vacation mode. Most know to expect extremes of airconditioning.

Those working at the booths are usually either in costume, company t-shirts,
or office casual to dressy. Costumes? From teddy bears to flapper dresses,
depending on the titles they are promoting that day. You will find senior
management from the various publishing houses showing up in "just left the
office" suits. Or "just left the house" casual.

Authors, especially those with titles being promoted? My own observation
from past years is that you want to stand out from the wandering crowd. They
are trying to spot you, after all. So are publishers. Wear something that
shows your personality, but will let you mingle without worrying about who
might step on your feet. Don't be afraid to be dressier or unusual. Be a
walking billboard -- so long as you do it in a way that permits someone to
stand with you and talk without feeling the need for distance ;-) You are
royalty at this event. (or visiting zoo beasts, your call) The key is
to believe it yourself. Then anything will work for you.

Laura Anne Gilman - author and ex-Executive Editor of Roc - added:

Wear comfortable shoes!

Really.

Not just shoes that feel good when you put them on, or shoes that feel good
an hour later, but shoes that will support you for hours upon hours of slow-walking,
standing, strolling, etc. On, mind you (unless Canada's different from
the American version) thinly carpeted concrete underfoot.

Other than that, what Julie said. Mind your grooming. Keep a packet of
breath mints handy, just in case. Make sure you have up-to-date business
cards with you. And have fun! Expos are the best source of neat freebie
books in the world. *grin*

Julie notes:

Watch your time. I'd rather be talking to folks at booths than
standing for 30 minutes in a lineup for a signed bestseller -- not to
mention the booths are thus likely less busy.

Julie then added:

I almost forgot. Another aspect. Authorial conduct. No big deal, but some
hints.

Have business cards. Bring covers/bookmarks. That sort of thing. (just not
manuscripts!) While the focus of those at the booths is to promote existing
books, editors are typically there as well. Thus, you have access in one
place to pretty well everyone who looks for authors, and those editors will
expect to be approached. (Trust me, they couldn't stop it if they wanted to,
and they don't.)

Be professional. Don't hesitate to find out who is an editor and talk to
that person, particularly if the books at the booth are like yours. Pick
times when they aren't busy. Back off if there is someone attending the show
waiting for that editor's attention. The wandering crowd comes first. That
doesn't mean you can't circle back and pounce. Make an appointment for later
that day, if the conversation turns promising. There's a great deal of
business goes on at those silly little tables over tea. How serious? I've
sold books at every Book Expo I've attended. I'm not saying that's what
happens to everyone, but I am saying that decision makers are there.

Think in terms of a job fair, where you want to make a first impression that
shows you know at least something of the business, you have something to
offer, and you'll be that reliable "here next year" kind of author.

Get names.

Get names.

Get names.

I'm not kidding. If there's anything you can take away with you, it's the
right contact person's name and info. Even if the editor you should talk to
isn't coming, there should be someone at the booth who knows that person.

It's not a convention, as we know it in the genre. The people walking around
are the ones who can bring your work to the attention of readers. The people
standing around are the ones who can publish your work. It's fun, don't get
me wrong. There are parties and giveaways galore. But it's "game face" time
for pretty well everyone there. Don't be shy.

Enjoy!

Julie

(Who once put posters for her publisher in the various men's rooms
because an event wasn't listed in the program.)

Posted by wen at June 8, 2004 07:33 AM
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