What authors can gain from trade shows

Cartoon of a guy at a bookstore. He says to a clerk, "I'll take the economy sized bookmark."

At the end of this week, I’ll be heading to the International Christian Retail Show in Saint Louis, Missouri.

I am looking forward to this event because it has been several years since I have been to this show and mingled with customers that use my products every day. While you may not be in my industry, there are several trade shows throughout the book industry that you would find interesting. There are events such as Book Expo AmericaSCBWI sponsored children’s book conferences, and  various writers’ conferences and Comic-cons.

Now I am as introverted as the next guy, but I’ve always found these events to benefit me. Here are a few of the reasons I would encourage authors and illustrators to go to a conference.

  • You can see what the current trends are in an industry.
    • That doesn’t mean you should copy them. After all, by the time you bring that “trendy” book to a publisher, the market will be tired of that topic. Still, it is good to see what the market is focused on now.
    • It may give you some insight on what is popular now and could lend itself to future topics. If you’re good at predicting the future, who knows, you may introduce the next big trend.
    • You will be able to see the technical innovations that are going on. The markets are changing and even expanding. You may discover your idea will work as well, or even better as an app, or e-book.
  • You meet people who know what it’s like to write and illustrate.
    • This is a solitary business. The Internet has made it easier to connect with others that share your interest, but there is nothing like talking one-on-one with someone who shares your passions and struggles with the same issues you face.
    • You can learn from your peers. It continues to amaze me how authors and illustrators are willing to share some of their tricks. A little suggestion here and a tip there can do wonders to keep you motivated.
  • You can see there is still a great market for great books.
    • The doomsayers may say print is dead, and it may be a different publishing world than the one that existed even five years ago. But print isn’t dead. There is a market for print and digital publishing.
    • You can get a feel for the direction publishers are going. Perhaps that will lead you to connect with a publisher that shares your passion and love the way you tell a story.

I’ll be writing on what I’ve learned at ICRS. One thing I am sure of, it will be a ton of information. I’m sharpening my pencil and ensuring I have plenty of blank pages in my sketchbook!


Author: Kevin Spear

I am a marketing professional with a design flair, based in Clayton, Ohio. I specialize in digital and content marketing that increases brand awareness for small businesses and nonprofits.