Secrets of BookExpo America 2006

Secrets of BookExpo America 2006

by Sophfronia Scott

Here's what I've discovered in perusing the coverage of this year's BookExpo America: all is NOT doom and gloom in the publishing industry! If anything people are just as excited about books as they ever were and that means lots of opportunity for people like us who are interested in putting more books out there in the world. But success doesn't happen by accident. There are still obstacles to overcome and the more you know about the publishing process, the easier your journey will be. So let me share with you a few of the tips I gleaned from this year's Expo that can inform--and hopefully inspire--your process.

Making the Leap from the Unknown is Still Possible

The New York Times highlighted the story of author Kathleen McGowan and how she was present at both last year's and this year's BookExpo. Last year, though, Ms. McGowan and her husband had gone into debt to travel to the Expo and struggled to get anyone to pay attention to her self-published novel, The Expected One. The whole experience brought her to tears. "I was, like, is there any point for us to be here?" she told the Times.

Apparently there was because months later Ms. McGowan managed to sell her book to Touchstone Fireside, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, for a reported seven-figure advance! This year she is being toasted at numerous parties and people are lining up for her to sign her book.

She's a great example because she perservered when she could have easily given up in frustration. It's also good to know that those rags to riches stories can still happen. One note, though: Ms. McGowan's book was not necessarily sold on its own merits alone. The author either knew or soon learned that...

It Helps to Be Tied in to a Big Trend

Ms. McGowan's book, The Expected One, is described as a thriller about a descendant of Mary Magdalene and Jesus. Mmm....Does that ring a bell? I'm sure it's no mistake that Ms. McGowan's publishers are promoting her at the Expo at the same time that The Da Vinci Code movie is out there ringing up the big box office bucks!

This doesn't necessarily mean that McGowan was looking to ride the coattails of Da Vinci when she wrote her book, but when marketing time comes around and you can connect your book to a previous success and hop on that bandwagon as she's doing, by all means, get on board!
Not All Stars Get All the Attention.

I thought it was interesting that, as the Times reports, less than half the seats (in a 400-seat conference room) were filled for author Mitch Albom's presentation at the Expo. Here's someone with a proven track record: Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, so it's not as though he's someone whose selling power has dried up. I'm wondering if the book reps at the Expo are more focused on finding the next hot thing instead of spending time with the tried and true, which they're going to stock anyway. If that's the case then...

It's Worth Your While to Attend--If You're Clear About What You Want!

If the reps are looking for the totally new, you could be the writer they're looking for. So consider making the investment for next year, BUT only if you have thoroughly prepared your material and know what you want to get out of the event and who you want to meet. I'd say going to such a big convention would justify also spending the money to get the help you need to complete your book or whip it into shape. You want to make your first impression the best. I'm sure the McGowan's didn't make the decision lightly to attend last year at such great expense. It looks like she brought her A-material and her A-game. I'd say her return on investment has been excellent!

© 2005 Sophfronia Scott

Author and Writing Coach Sophfronia Scott is "The Book Sistah" TM. Get her FREE REPORT, "The 5 Big Mistakes Most Writers Make When Trying to Get Published" and her FREE online writing and book publishing tips at

Sophfonia is also author of the bestselling novel, All I Need to Get By. If you liked today's issue, stay tuned for more because The Book Sistah also offers FREE audio classes, FREE articles, workshops, and other resources to help aspiring authors get published and market their books successfully.

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