Friday, January 30, 2009

Christian Book Expo: Fact or Fiction for Authors

By now, you've probably heard about the upcoming Christian Book Expo in Dallas, TX on March 20 – 22nd. This event is being billed by some as the “world’s largest Christian conference,” because it is expected to attract around 200 Christian authors and 20,000 attendees.

Lately, I’ve received a lot of questions from authors who are confused about this event and how to prepare for it. So, I’ve put together a short fact-or-fiction section below to help provide answers. If you have other questions, you’re welcome to contact me at:

CBE is just another version of the ICRS annual trade show.
Fiction: CBE is a completely different animal from ICRS. It’s the first show geared strictly to connect Christian book readers with their favorite authors. In contrast, ICRS is a show that connects retail bookstores with publishers. CBE represents a great opportunity for Christian authors to build new relationships with readers from the Dallas / Fort Worth area, which some call the buckle of the Bible-belt.

My publisher will give away my books for free like they do at ICRS.
Fiction: Publishers will NOT be giving away free books. All books must be purchased by an attendee before the author signs them. In addition, there is a daily entrance fee of around $19 for each attendee. So, people must pay just to show up and buy your book. With our tough economy, consumers will be fairly discriminating about how many books they choose to buy.

I have to be invited to participate as an author at CBE.
Fact: The only authors allowed to participate at CBE must be selected by their participating publisher or writer's organization, such as ACFW, etc. Random authors are not allowed to show up and schedule a book-signing. If you have not been invited, ask your publisher if there is still space available in their booth. You will need to be prepared to cover all expenses on your own.

The big-name authors will get most of the attention at CBE.
Fact: Just like most consumer-based shows, the big names will draw the largest crowds at CBE. There will be evening worship events and panelist discussions with famous authors that will attract thousands of attendees. Don’t get jealous, though. Big-time authors serve the purpose of making sure the overall attendance is large enough to sustain the event. Smaller authors benefit from the bigger numbers attracted by the A-level names.

If you’re an unknown author, your key to success must be using creative ways to draw attendees to your book-signings or workshop sessions. For example, you can give away free items, such as quizzes, articles, resource guides, or takeaway objects that connect to the message of your book. These tools help keep your book in an attendee’s mind even if they don’t buy during the Expo.

In addition, you could create a contest with an attractive prize that relates to your book. Use the prize to get people to register for your monthly newsletter. Acquiring 100 – 500 new subscribers to your newsletter may be more profitable in the long run than selling books during the show. The benefit is that you create a larger group of fans who can help spread word-of-mouth and buy more books in the future.

Each author must handle the details of their book-signing or speaking event.
Fact: The publisher is just bringing their book inventory and reserving booth space for authors to sign books or give a speech. However, it is the author’s responsibility to draw attendees to their signing, give a compelling message, offer immediate value that impresses readers, and gather contact information for a newsletter. The author must be prepared to handle all of these functions on their own.

Make the Most of Your CBE Author Event: If you’re an author who is participating at CBE, WildFire Marketing is offering custom, one-on-one, brainstorming sessions. We've helped numerous authors get incredible results at conferences and major events.

Just ask our client, Kathi Lipp, who recently attracted over 650 leaders to her booth at the International MOPS Convention. Her efforts generated many new speaking engagements and kick-started sales of her new book, The Husband Project.

Likewise, we can help you plan an effective strategy to draw attendees to your booth. Plus, we’ll help you develop creative ideas to spread word-of-mouth and capture more contact information to help grow your author platform. To get started, call 1-800-267-2045 or email:

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