Birth of a Book Fair Pro:
How I Got Lucky and Smart at My First Convention

November 2003
by Mimi Cummins

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Never having been to a book fair, I didn’t know what to expect when I strolled into the Toronto Metro Convention Center for the ALA (American/Canadian Library Association) conference in June 2003. Nonetheless, I had some preconceived notions of how it would work. With 10 carefully prepared homemade press kits tucked away in my free Barnes & Noble tote bag, I was going to easily find highly placed people who handled some aspect of book selection for large booksellers or distributors. They would ask me about my book, I would present them with one of my press kits, and the orders would start rolling in.

It didn’t take long, wandering among the hundreds of publishers’ booths on the convention show floor, for me to realize that was not the way it was going to happen.

I had come to the conference on the spur of the moment; given my busy schedule, I hadn’t taken the time to find out anything except time and place. I didn’t even understand that the convention’s main purpose was to let publishers introduce librarians to books they could add to their collections in the coming year.

But I absorbed that fact as I continued to roam the aisles, picking up bookmarks, advanced readers, flashing bouncy-balls, and more tote bags to carry everything in. I had one advance copy of my book, and not so much as a single bookmark to give away. Furthermore, the convention rules stated that you were allowed to solicit business only while inside…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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