4 Ways Agents Work for Clients at a Book Trade Show
Blogger: Mary Keeley
The International Christian Retailers Show (ICRS) is fast approaching (July 16-18), and those agents who are attending are planning their approach and mapping their course to optimize their time at this annual event. This year the convention takes place in Orlando.
Usually held in July, at this show publishers converge to exhibit their products to retailers, who come to peruse what’s new, get free product, and place orders.
Occasionally, I’ve heard first-time attendees compare this scene to those who were buying and selling in the temple in that it offends the creative sensibilities—the ministerial passion associated with Christian publishing. Admittedly, I was one of them years ago at my first CBA convention. But this is the necessary business side. And the reality is that important transactions do take place here, resulting in quality products with a Christian message.
But the exhibit floor isn’t the only hive of activity. Some of the most productive business takes place in agent-publisher meetings. Almost all the Christian publishing houses—large, mid- and small-size—send publishing executives and editors as well as sales reps. ICRS provides a cost-effective means for agents to have multiple in-person meetings for the cost of one round trip. Another reason to have an agent representing you.
Here are a few of the ways agents work for clients and future clients at this convention.
- We walk the exhibit floor to take note of new product—and in recent years, new technologies as well. We look for competing titles for our clients’ books, striking new trends in cover and interior design, artwork treatment, use of innovative technology for e-books. We look for what might enhance our own clients’ book marketability with the hope of conveying suggestions to their publisher’s acquisitions and marketing teams.
- One objective in meetings with editors is to hear their assessment of the industry, how their publishing house plans to respond, and to learn what they are looking to acquire in the next year or two. The information we bring back from those meetings gives insight into the direction of the industry in the near future and helps us to know which publishers are the best fit to shop clients’ proposals.
- We also offer feedback to editors from authors’ perspectives. In the new age of publishing options for authors, we feel this is an important contribution we can offer to publishers in an attitude of partnership to safeguard the vitality of Christian publishing.
- Our agency always hosts a brunch for any of our clients attending the show; this gives us a chance to talk about industry trends and to have face-to-face time with “our” authors.
- And of course, we present clients’ projects and make deals. The air is filled with hopeful electricity because one-to-one time with editors is always helpful to this end. Several agents (four from Books & Such) from most literary agencies serving Christian publishing will be at ICRS to shop their clients’ projects. I can’t begin to estimate the total number that will be presented during the four days of the convention.
Scheduling appointments with editors is well underway. We’ll be investing many hours in the next weeks preparing presentations for each of the editors we meet with and preparing points of discussion for publishing executive meetings. Understand that if we’re extra slow to respond to emails, queries, and proposal submissions, this is the reason.
Here are a couple ways you can help us:
- If you’re already agented and your agent has been shopping your proposal, send an email with updates on new social media, marketing, and promotion efforts you are undertaking. Put “Marketing Updates” in the subject line so your agent will promptly check that email. Agents can use this information in follow-ups with editors. If you aren’t agented yet, thanks for being patient as you wait for a response to your query. We aren’t ignoring you; we know your proposal is important.
- Pray for the industry as a whole and for agents, publishing executives, editors, and sales reps—all who will be working long, busy hours there. It’s an exhilarating time of connection, relationship building, and sales opportunity. But it’s also exhausting. Walking miles a day, we’re on the go from early morning until late night meetings after evening events. Prayers for endurance and health would be appreciated.
What didn’t you know about ICRS and the ways agents work there? If you’ve attended this convention in the past, in what ways did you participate?