Chip MacGregor

September 19, 2016

The most overlooked marketing opportunity…


I try not to always blog about book marketing, since I don’t want this blog to sound like Johnny-One-Note (though I would say between 60 and 70% of the questions I’m sent have to do with marketing and publicity), but sometimes there are topics that are just screaming to be talked about. Recently I’ve seen a TON of blog posts on various writer sites about marketing opportunities, and many of them say the same things (get into Pinterest, learn to maximize Google ads, etc). I’ve yet to see a single blog post on what I think is one of the great under-utilized marketing opportunities…

Did you know that every fall, all the bookstores in your part of the country get together for a book show? The bookstore owners show up, and there are author interviews, publisher displays, book-and-retail educational classes, and all sorts of exhibits aimed at helping people get to know (and sell) more books. It’s the series of regional bookseller trade shows, and you’ve got one coming to your area sometime in the next two months.

Hey, print book sales have made a comeback, so publishers have renewed their commitments to regional shows. And the movement to support local artists has boosted the interest in the fall regionals. These are unlike BEA, where you have to travel to Manhattan, spend $300 per night on a hotel room, and wander through the massive Javits Center for days on end. There are fewer people, a lot of smaller presses, and an emphasis on authors and publishers in your part of the country. And as an author, you’ll be face to face with local bookstore owners, so you can talk to them about their customers, hand-sell your book, and maybe arrange for an in-store event. Some of the regionals even have smaller wine-and-cheese gatherings (at least one of the conferences is doing meetings in author homes), so that there’s potential for great face-time with the people selling your book. Besides, the cost is generally pretty low, and the organizations putting these on are non-profits just trying to foster books sales in your area.

Here are some of the details (and you can research each of the regional gatherings to get more details)…

SIBA is the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and their regional event is going on in Savannah, Georgia, right now. I’ve been to the SIBA regional, and it’s great — a ton of smaller events, all sorts of authors and books, and basically everyone participates. It’s probably the biggest of the regionals, so it may not feel quite as homey as some of the others.

PNBA is the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, the one closest to me, and is in Tacoma at the end of September. This one feels like a small group, with lots of classes on social media, a focus on kids books, and a great local beer fest.

NEIBA is the New England Independent Booksellers Association has their conference this week in Rhode Island. This one always feels the most like a writer’s conference, with workshops and keynotes, and they’ve planned a last-day open forum for everyone to just get together and schmooze.

The Heartland Fall Forum is a collaboration of the Great Lakes booksellers group and the Midwest Independent Booksellers, happening in the Twin Cities the first week of October. I’ve never been to this one, but it appears the leadership has re-thought the regional, and they’re trying to get a bunch of people together talking, so the schedule says they are doing a tour of bookstores, events with more than 100 midwest authors, and a free flowing session where bookstore owners can talk books and best practices.

Mountains and Plains is doing their annual show in Denver at the same time as the Fall Forum, the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers has their regional in mid-October in Baltimore, the Southern California Independent Booksellers are meeting at a hotel in Hollywood later in the month, and the Northern California Indie Booksellers gathering is at a conference center by the San Francisco airport at the end of October. In other words, there is a regional book show going on somewhere close to you in the next month or two, and it’s a different audience than you normally are meeting on your blog or Facebook page or at a writing conference. I think it’s one of the great marketing opportunities for authors, and it’s perhaps the most overlooked. Check it out!

Share :


  • Chip, this is a fabulous idea. I agree, it is an overlooked promotion opportunities for authors. I briefly checked out the website for the New England one, and I can’t find that they list what it costs to attend. These are not free events, I wouldn’t imagine.

    This is something I will be considering for next year. Perhaps I will have my third book placed with a publisher by then.

    Thanks, Chip. Your blog continues to be an excellent resource for authors.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Not free, but not terribly expensive, Saloma. The PNW conference is $139, I think, plus your travel and room cost. Some regionals have separate ticket prices for each event (classes, meetings with authors, etc). Worth checking out.

  • Great information, Chip! I just got back from my trip to England where I attended the Christian Resources Together, which is an event similar to ICRS. I would love to attend PNBA this year – guess I’ll have to start planning to go next year!! Thanks for the good article!

  • carlagade says:

    This sounds like a great opportunity that I have never before considered. Than you.

  • I did some quick Googling, and Australia has similar events. Do u happen to know if they work the same way? Worth travelling to (once published )? 🙂

  • Karen says:

    Is there much of a CBA presence at these gatherings? I just glanced over the exhibitors for the Tacoma event, and I don’t see any familiar Christian publishers.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.