Aloha from Karen,
A few weeks ago I attended the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). I’ve been going for more than a decade. One convention hall fills with authors, publishers, sales reps, agents, and store owners, and all the newest Christian books and products. It’s an exciting place for anyone who loves books. Many authors sign free copies of their books. I didn’t sign this year but Faithwords gave away a huge stack of my books as I stood and watched them disappear in a few minutes.
A lot happens at this show.
The main focus is to entice store owners to order books and products. But it’s also the place where professionals in the industry meet.
As the economy dipped many small independent stores have closed and attendance shrank for a while. This year the atmosphere seemed much more positive and attendance increased over the past few years. Hope permeated many meetings. Agents met with editors and came away with hope for more contracts for clients. Sales reps I spoke enjoyed good sales orders.
To get a taste of what can happen, I’ll share some of my experiences this year:
I met a couple who opened a store two months ago. THey only came for one day and I spent quite a bit of time helping them. The wife went to the children’s trends with me to hear the latest in what’s happening with books for children and youth as well as to get samples of new children’s products. They felt overwhelmed but had a great time. As they shared what they needed most my daughter and I guided them to the booths to meet the sales reps they wanted to find. They placed quite a few orders but stayed within their budget. They plan to attend next year for the whole show.
I met with an editor excited about one of my proposals. She asked questions that would be asked by marketing when she took the proposal to committee and told me she planned to present it the next week. She did and I already have the initial verbal offer. I’ll have the written contract within a month. She also looked at some ideas I have for a future book and liked a few.
On the floor I happened to meet sales reps from Canada from a publishing house that published one of my books last year (102 Wiggly Bible Rhymes and Rhythms). They mentioned that stores really like the book and it sells well. I offered to put up a free pdf file on my website for them to tell stores about to use with the book and gave them my card. Once home I put the file on the page that showcases the book.
I spoke with marketing people at a publishing house where I’ve written a few books and mentioned a new idea. The marketing director liked the idea and gave me some feedback of what he’d like to see in the book. I made notes to add that to the proposal when I write it.
As I walked around to see products one store with new games asked me to enter a contest. I explained I’m an author but he said the contest was open to everyone. I entered since they planned to draw within a few minutes, and the winner had to be present. They drew five winners and I won one of the games and applauded other winners, mostly stores.
I stood in lines to get copies of books written by friends and other books too. I kept seeing other friends and chatted with them. I also spoke with publicists and other industry people. I met Fred and Nora St. Laurent who run a book club website and since joined that site and set up a group for CAN and friends at bookfun.org
I walked along a corridor of the convention center where many of the media set up and did interviews. I walked into a room with that taped a radio show for home schoolers since they were not taping at the time. I introduced myself and said I have a book releasing next spring that might interest them and handed the host my card. She chatted a few minutes about books pictured on the card and asked to interview me the next morning about my God’s Girls books. I accepted and then went to that publisher’s booth where I asked to borrow two books for the host to review. I dropped those off to the host. That evening at the hotel I printed sample questions and the next morning we taped the interview. Once home, I sent a thank you note and a copy of one of my other books.
You can attend ICRS if you own a store, go with a store, are in media, or a publisher agrees to sponsor you. I went with AMG, one of my publishers.
It’s the Disney world of books for an author, full of possibilities.