Navigating BookExpo 2018: A Checklist

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BookExpo logoIt’s no secret that BookExpo can be overwhelming. With the event just one week away, now is a great time to revisit recommendations from booksellers who are accomplished at achieving their key business goals at the show while grabbing galleys, attending events, and making new connections.

Over the years, many ABA member booksellers have offered tips and tricks for making the most of the BookExpo experience, but their number one recommendation is to plan ahead. With time being the most valuable resource, heading to the convention with a detailed plan about whom to see, what to discuss, and your top goals can make this BookExpo your most productive year yet.

Here’s a checklist to help you draft a plan of action for before, during, and after the show.

Plan ahead

  • Choose three of your most important BookExpo goals and make sure to get them done.
  • Decide whom to meet with from the publishing houses present and be sure to schedule appointments ahead of time.
  • Make arrangements to meet face-to-face with phone reps from publishers, wholesalers, and other vendors who are not normally available for in-person meetings.
  • Develop a bulleted list of topics to cover at each meeting. Time is often limited, so be concise.
  • Create a press kit to share with publishers that outlines bookstore highlights.
  • Connect with a veteran bookseller to get tips and advice about navigating BookExpo. Regional association directors can recommend the best person in your area to reach out to.
  • Ask publisher sales reps for recommendations about whom to meet with, the best galleys to grab, and any signings or parties to keep an eye out for.
  • Download the BookExpo Mobile app to use it on the go.
  • Purchase tickets for the Silent Art Auction to Benefit ABFE and Every Child a Reader, featuring the Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards.
  • Remember to pack comfortable shoes and a big stack of business cards.
  • Keep up with the latest BookExpo news in Bookselling This Week, Publishers Weekly, Publishers Lunch, and Shelf Awareness.

At the show

  • Follow the plan: having spent all that time planning ahead, it’s important to stick to your schedule. Attend scheduled events and meetings and use free time to network and visit the show floor.
  • Grab a tote bag right away or, better yet, bring one from home, so there’s a place to put business cards, catalogs, galleys, and swag while traversing the floor.
  • Bring business cards to hand out, and don’t be stingy.
  • Talk to anyone and everyone, and ask for their business cards. For easy reference and recall later, make a note on the card about the person you spoke to and what was discussed.
  • Don’t be shy about talking to publishers or company staff at their booths.
  • Take advantage of the In-Booth Editors’ Hours and In-Booth Publicist Meet-ups coordinated by BookExpo to deliver new value to attendees as part of a reimagining of the event.
  • Check out the non-book offerings and gifts on display, and any other items to augment store inventory.
  • Utilize the BookExpo exhibitor list and floor plan; running back and forth on the floor can be exhausting.
  • Visit the ABA Member Lounge and Galley Room (Booth 721 on the trade show floor) for autographing sessions with some of your favorite authors appearing at the BookExpo breakfasts, to meet one-on-one with IndieCommerce staff, to learn about other ABA programs and services, to relax and have a snack, and to meet with fellow booksellers.
  • Attend a range of ABA and BookExpo programming, including the ABA Annual Meeting and Town Hall.
  • Remember to stay well-hydrated and take breaks for meals and snacks.

After the show

  • Reach out to new connections: pull out those business cards, send a quick e-mail, and keep the lines of communication open.
  • Follow up on any open discussions from meetings with publishers, distributors, or industry professionals.
  • Make plans to attend the next BookExpo: attending each year helps you strengthen relationships from the previous year, make new connections, and better understand the industry.

The countdown has begun; there’s no better time than right now to plan for BookExpo 2018. Learn more about ABA programming at BookExpo here.