From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. In this piece, Adam D. York, author of “Meet Penny Nickels,” shares his experiences from the 2015 International Christian Retail Show which took place June 28 – July 1 in Orlando, Florida. For more information and to receive a free publishing guide please visit www.westbowpress.com.
There’s nothing more important to first-time authors than opportunities to introduce your book or platform to the masses, especially when it involves the retail market. Exposure is key, and every moment to be face to face with buyers and retail suppliers is a must. Even more, for self-published authors, opportunities to network with other authors and publishers can be of great value when it comes to professional growth.
All of these reasons are what led me to become a member of the Christian Bookseller’s Association (CBA) and register for CBA’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). My goal in attending the show was precisely to learn about various retail organizations and what they are looking for, to network with retailers, publishers, and authors, and to gain wisdom from leaders within the CBA.
I was pleasantly surprised by the conversations I was able to have with retail exhibitors, publishing companies, and breakout session leaders. For a first-time, self-published author, those moments were priceless. On top of that, getting a face to face interaction with WestBow staff helped give some relational personality to their highly organized publishing process.
As an encouragement for first-time and self-published authors, here are three takeaways from ICRS that are sure to help along the publishing journey:
Be a Human Sponge
Before you even set foot into the convention center doors, study and prepare for whom you want to see
and what you want to learn. Take note of key names, speakers, and organizations that you’d like to visit and learn from. (The official ICRS app is very helpful for pre-planning your conference experience). Upon entering the conference exhibit hall, take mental notes of what seems to be trending throughout. Take photos of retail displays to get ideas for what you might be able to pitch or offer a retailer for your own product. Ultimately, don’t pass up opportunities to soak in wisdom from specific breakout sessions that relate or correlate to your own book or message.
Make Yourself Known
Especially in the conference-style setting, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to other authors, publishers, and retailers. Keep on hand your business card, informational brochure, or book to be able to leave a lasting impression. You’ll never know where those conversations or moments can lead. If applicable, invest in WestBow’s author book signing opportunities to have your books on hand for conference attendees or pay for display space on WestBow’s exhibit bookshelf. As a step further, study the pre-conference guide to find out if there are any specific, face-to-face appointments you might want to make ahead of time.
Look Beyond Your Book
While your book is ultimately the first priority, there’s much value in dreaming beyond the book and building a brand. For a children’s book, are there characters that can be brought to life as toys? Maybe you can create a correlating coloring book to sell alongside the book? For fiction books or novels, are there opportunities for sequels or spin-offs? For self-help books, is there a product or message that can be expanded upon in addition to the book? Since we live in a digital world, WestBow’s e-Reader cards are valuable tools to invest in for shows like ICRS, as it gives conference attendees a fast way to view and experience your book. These are the types of ideas you can gain inspiration for at ICRS. It sure can’t hurt to dream big.
Above all, the very fitting 2015 ICRS theme “EXPECT” says it all. God is always faithful, and when He gives us a message to proclaim to the world around us, we should expect Him to do great things as we do our part to share that message. Make the most of your opportunities, and watch God use you to make a difference in this world.
Adam D. York is the author of “Meet Penny Nickels”, a children’s book published and released by WestBow Press in June 2015. He currently serves as Director of Alumni Communication & Young Alumni at Belmont University. Adam and his wife, Kathryn, reside in Franklin, Tenn. Keep up with Adam via his personal blog, Dream. Write. Lead.
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us@WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.