I visited the American Library Conference (ALA) in Washington, DC as an author, with my publisher and as a guest. I wanted to give my perspective from all sides regarding how great of experience this is for an author and a small publisher. This conference had hundreds of vendors, publishers and librarians in attendance and it was extremely fun.
SMALL PUBLISHER PROSPECTIVE
My publisher was represented at this conference by its membership with IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) and several other publishing organizations. IBPA’s booth was large, well manned and maintained. It also had an area for authors to do signings and stack give away items from the publishers. My publisher worked the booth to get a feel for what is done at these conferences since my book will be displayed by IBPA and other collectives at several conferences.
Was it worth being there – yes! My publisher was able to make contacts, talk shop with some of the big name publishers. Even the wonderful, TOR, representative talked shop about advertising with him and gave some pointers. In addition, she also told me about their process of manuscript review and noted that they have ‘readers’ that review their manuscripts and that they review the manuscripts that come from agents first.
Also, he realized that giving away books worked much better than selling them. After talking with some of the librarians he found that they loved the free ARCs and couldn’t wait to review them for their orders for the next season.
I must say that I was in awe. So many publishers (not that I would cheat on mine) that I was able to meet. I saw what they were promoting and how they were promoting it and found that my publisher and I was doing pretty much the same amount of promotion for my books as they were. In fact, more in some cases. I also got to meet several other authors and found that book exchange is a great way to garner reviews and support.
After talking with other authors and some of the librarians I told my publisher to sign me up for a signing at our next big conference event. Definitely time well spent – oh and I wanted him to offer 100 books for free. Why? Because publisher’s that did that was able to collect the names/emails of interested librarians by swiping their cards as well as the librarian left with a free book with a smile. The author was smiling also because there is such a rush when you have a line of people waiting for your signature – even though they are doing it because the book is free.
I had a blast! I came home with over 60 free books. I purchased 10 reduced priced books. My kids lucked out and so did I. I got some awesome books that aren’t even out yet! Not to mention, I got star struck at the many authors that were signing my books. I will also be honest and say – I was really picky about the books I purchased. The books that were free, I just grabbed, got them signed if I could and stuffed them into my bag feeling as though I was a kid trick or treating at Halloween – magnificent!