Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 2, 2012

Book Fairs and Exhibits

With BEA coming up in the beginning of June, I thought this article was appropriate to share. Lionel will be attending BEA and then coming directly from there to the New Jersey SCBWI Conference.  Non-fiction offers a great way to get started in the children’s publishing industry and Lionel brings so much expertise to the subject of getting published. Don’t miss out.

Here’s Lionel:

Go Visit Book Fairs and Book Exhibitions

As a regular visitor to many major book fairs and book exhibitions over some 20 years, I firmly believe that these events are some of the best possible opportunities for children’s book authors and illustrators to learn about their industry, the marketplace, and to network. However, I am aware that many authors and illustrators don’t realize they can attend these events or are dissuaded from going.

You may have heard such statements about book fairs as, “Publishers don’t want to see you”; “You get in the way of the business that is being done”; and “The people you want to meet are not there or are always busy in meetings”. True, at any fair you are unlikely to place your work; be offered any freelance jobs; or get signed up by an agent. But there is a huge amount you can achieve, and the more fairs you visit and are seen at, your chances of success increase greatly.

In the States, there are national and regional book fairs and exhibitions held throughout the year organized by the American Library Association (ALA), International Reading Association (IRA), and education boards. There is also Book Expo and, internationally, Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Attending the major book fairs may be costly for travel and accommodation, but local or regional fairs are easily accessed and affordable—entrance fees are usually less than $50. I do, though, understand that the cost of attending Bologna Book Fair from the States may be no more expensive than attending, say, the annual SCBWI conference in LA from the Midwest or East Coast. So do investigate your situation.

You need to appreciate that you can’t just turn up and expect success. You need to prepare in advance; have a plan of action on the day; and follow up after each fair. Also, you need to respect and acknowledge the business of fairs, and be friendly, polite … but a little pushy and firm! If you decide to visit a book fair, do find out about the format and focus of the fair before you go, and do seek as much advice as you can about how to try and achieve the maximum benefits. I find each and every book fair rewarding and, in one way or another, well worth the time, effort, and expense.

© Bender Richardson White 2012

Lionel Bender is an author, editor, and director of UK book packager Bender Richardson White (see: At SCBWI conferences he gives talks and workshops on various aspects of publishing, and provides professional advice on visiting book fairs. His company also offers personal guidance and advice at book fairs. For more information contact Lionel at

Talk tomorrow,


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