If you can attend the event in person, you can go directly to the Literary Agents & Scouts Centre to talk business with people there to buy print-related rights. Or you can go over to the StoryDrive Business Centre where the focus is film and media rights. Each year there are about 500 agents on hand, representing some 300 agencies. Want to talk about and learn about the digital book business? There’s a place for that too. Or you can simply wander through the thousands of book exhibits, featuring publishers, books, and authors from all over the world.
Going out there and selling your rights so that your work can be available in foreign and translated editions isn't easy though. It requires time, effort, and capital--and this commitment is one of the reasons I'm telling you about the Frankfurt Bookfair. Because, if you're not attending this year's fair, you may want to start planning for next year's fair right now.
Start now because there's a lot of work to do beforehand and not preparing well in advance is like throwing money out the window. To get ready for the fair, you need to:
- Decide on a budget and marketing plan. As you will have to pay for each book or work you exhibit, you want to be sure you exhibit your very best work. For example, if you've been wanting to get professional covers and additional editing or proofreading, the time to do it is now before you pay to exhibit your work. In other words, start getting your ducks in a row so you can put your best foot forward.
- Select the books or works that you want to exhibit, with your budget and your marketing goals in mind. Then tailor your marketing for these books or works. Some vendors will include your books or works in their exhibit catalogue, along with related marketing materials. You want to do your research and get the right information in the catalogue, as it's something visitors to the show may keep and bring home with them for review.
- Select a vendor / exhibitor partner, and that means vetting the available vendors to see which one is the best fit for your needs, your budget and your marketing goals. There are many vendors / exhibitor partners. Some of these have resellers who will resell you (at a markup) to the same vendors / exhibitor partners you could reach on your own directly (and cheaper).
You'll want to finalize your materials and get everything lined up months in advance. One of the reasons for this is that it can take weeks to ship boxes of books to the vendor / exhibitor partner you've chosen and they in turn may need to receive your books weeks in advance so that they can ship the books to the fair. To reduce overhead, vendors often ship by freight/book rate, which can be very slow. So if the vendor needs to ship boxes 8 weeks before the fair to ensure everything gets to the fair on time, you may need to get your box of books to the vendor a few weeks before this.
Got the time and believe in yourself? Then give book fairs a try and when you eventually land a rights or licensing contract, I hope you'll give me a shout out.
More tips and advice on book fairs in future posts. Got questions? Ask.