This is a guest post from Alex Hippisley-Cox. Alex is a freelance publicist and Head of PR for the Frankfurt Book Fair in the UK. She also works with many of the top publishing houses, and handles for the PR for book prizes and the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival. You can find her on Twitter at @AHippisleyCox
Book Fairs can seem like daunting places, especially for those who are relative newcomers. All fairs are different, but they all work on similar principles, so ahead of the Book Fair I thought it might be helpful to pass on some friendly, and hopefully useful, tips.
Try and make as many appointments in advance as you can. People’s diaries get very booked up, so grab that slot in plenty of time. Make sure you have a schedule, and confirm every meeting before you arrive. Each half hour slots counts, so prepare exactly what you want to discuss in advance, so you don’t waste time.
2. Be punctual
Always make sure that you are on time for your meetings. Book fair appointments are generally half an hour each, so if you arrive late you will miss some valuable ‘face to face’ time and you could miss out on an important business opportunity. Make sure that you find out where everything is when you first arrive (build some time into your schedule right at the start), get hold of a floor plan on arrival, download an app of the layout if it’s available, and make sure you get your bearings. You don’t want to be running around trying to find a particular stand or hall when you are meant to be at a meeting.
3. Dress appropriately
It goes without saying that business dress is the order of the day at book fairs, but take it from someone who knows – you will either be too hot or too cold! So wear layers that you can take off and put back on again during the day. And a vital tip for the ladies – wear comfortable shoes. There will be lots of walking around during the day, and standing on your feet at receptions, so wear shoes that fit well. No one will really notice what’s on your feet, but they will if you have blisters and can’t walk!
4. Vital things to pack in your handbag/briefcase
Along with all the things you need for your meetings, make sure you pack:
- A mobile phone with a built-in camera (or a small digital camera if you don’t have a smart phone). You never know when you might want to take a photograph.
- A bottle of water. It’s easy to forget to drink and even easier to get dehydrated with too much coffee. Bringing a bottle with you saves on queuing time.
- A handy box of headache tablets. Headaches sneak up on you!
If possible, try and attend at least one talk/discussion/presentation each day. You will get so much more from the book fair if you engage with what’s going on. And accept any invitations you might receive to networking events or receptions. Book fairs are all about meeting people, and these are great opportunities for talking about your business and making good contacts.
I hope these tips might help. Above all, enjoy the Fair!