Being the son of a book salesman who specializes in books for school libraries, I became very familiar with a certain type of book fair. However, now that I have books of my own, I have become very interested in events like the Book Expo/Book Con in Manhattan. Someday I hope to attend...
When my friend O'Brien Browne told me that he was going to New York, I ignored my jealousy and asked him to share his experiences. I learned a lot from the following and hope you will too. Michael also attended the American Library Association book convention in May 2015 in San Francisco, California, where he discussed and autographed his novel, My Back Pages. With his publisher he is currently exploring attending the world's largest book event, the Frankfurt Book Fair this October in Frankfurt, Germany. Stay tuned..
1.Background/background as a writer.
Born and raised on the California Central Coast, I blog for the Huffington Post (latest) and am a Contributing Editor at the premier MHQ: the Quarterly Journal of Military History. My award-winning pieces on history, fiction, culture and self-development have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Air & Space Smithsonian and elsewhere. An international seminar leader and personal and career coach as well as writer, I have lived and worked throughout Europe and the Middle East. My website is: www.michaelobrowne.com.
2. Description of the book you were introducing or promoting at Book Expo.
This is the blurb to my novel, My Back Pages:
Have you ever wished for the summer to end?
This was the summer that broke America's back, a time of passion, promise and destruction: the summer of 1968. My Back Pages is the story of Del Turner and his family as they live through this hot summer of change in Central California. Against the backdrop of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, student riots and deadly fighting in Vietnam, Del's world is blown apart. As he discovers rock music, LSD and sex, his innocence vanishes. Simultaneously, his life is shattered as he deals with racism against his Afro-American girlfriend while his mother abandons the family. After ’68, nothing will ever be the same again.
My Back Pages is a dramatic tale of youth, rebellion, and transformation.
3. Regarding the Expo, what were your goals?
To network with book industry people, readers and other writers and to return home with no copies of my novel. Also, to effectively, boldly and unabashedly market my book, realizing that if I don’t do this, nobody will do it for me. I was successful on all counts. The idea is to get your book out there to readers, reviewers and “influencers”: those with some reputation or position in the industry who will read your work, and hopefully tell others about it via print media, TV/radio or a blog.
My other target was to enjoy myself and the energy of the event, and to go into it with an open mind and to learn from it.
4. Please describe what you did and, if applicable, what you wish you had done, before the Expo.
I dressed well and professionally, as befits such a major event in a major city. I had the staff take pictures of me signing my book for later marketing use. I was polite, open and friendly to all staff members, who are there to help writers and are excellent and willing door-openers. And I warmly talked to industry people, readers and writers, and generously gave them signed copies of my book. This creates great good will and makes you unforgettable. At all times I appeared professional, not like a neophyte whom nobody is interested in, nor arrogant, which simply repels people from you.
Another key thing I did was to make two large posters of my novel, which I stood up on a stand to advertise the book more effectively. Also, I spread colorful flowers and two LED blinking lights in flower-pattern “candleholders” (all bought from a $1 shop) and a .50 caliber machine- gun bullet (emptied of powder, from an army surplus store!) to symbolize the 1960’s and the Vietnam War. Indeed, one Vietnam veteran came up to me and exclaimed, “I fought in that war. I have to read this book!”
Finally, I had bookmarks made using the book jacket and blurb, which I freely distributed.
What I wished I had done before the convention was to clearly locate the IBPA booth! The Javits Convention Center, where the BookExpo was held, is huge and I lost valuable time and energy running about trying to locate my booth and signing table – very silly of me.
None, really. My publisher, Black Rose Writing, covered everything except the flight, which was covered by my Miles and More program. And I stayed with a friend in Brooklyn, so had no need of a hotel.
6.The Expo staff were helpful?
Yes, especially the staff at my booth, the Independent Book Publishers Association. They energetically fed people to the signing table and pitched the novel aggressively. I was extremely delighted with them.
7. What exactly did you do at Expo?
High quality networking, making valuable contacts, proactive listening, and passing out copies of my novel and the bookmarks. Before and after my signing slot, I walked around to other booths, talking to staff, press people, industry professionals, readers and writers. Everybody I spoke with got my business card, which was also on my signing table in copious amounts.
I made many valuable contacts in the industry, most of whom I have networked with via LinkedIn, etc. I learned of the Indie Book and the Mother’s Choice book awards by meeting the organizer who, at the end of our talk, had a copy of my novel in her hands, which she is now considering for the awards. In a business sense, more people are now reading, talking about and buying My Back Pages.
I powerfully saw the value and vital importance of marketing one’s novel – writing it is the easy part! The event also strongly reconfirmed my feeling that there is a large and growing audience of readers who are hungry for authentic works, and are sick of being bombarded with thrillers and vapid books on how to get rich or some celebrity’s sex life.
Actively attending such events is also important to add to your “story” of your book and marketing it successfully. It produces a positive “wow!” effect and makes you look professional, serious and dynamic. And, it creates a wonderful wave of positive joyful energy, which is shared and produced by all.
O'Brien Brown and other authors on a signboard of the Independent Book Publishers Association, at the 2015 ALA in San Francisco.
My Back Pages on Amazon.
My Back Pages at Barnes and Noble.