American Librarian Association Midwinter Conference–Research
Spent a great day walking through the exhibit hall of the American Librarian Association Midwinter Conference in Atlanta. Getting a chance to talk to other publishers, authors, editors, and librarians—I was in heaven! As I started my rounds, I felt awkward and unsure of what to ask. By my last booth of the day, I had figured out how to get my questions across in the most succinct way. It felt very much like practicing an elevator speech.
I highly recommend authors attend these types of conferences or conventions. Listen to what the publishers are looking for. Talk to the librarians about what they need. It’s a big market, and you need to plan ahead if you want a chance at it.
The Junior Library Guild is a good jumping off point, but you need to get your book to them in manuscript form 3-4 months prior so they will consider your entry for a review. Reviews are VERY important for libraries to pick you up. They are all working on a budget and must be selective to get the best bang for the buck.
All the major publishers attend the conference and even a number of smaller ones. Peruse the books they present and get a feel if you think you’d be a good fit. This is not the time to pitch a book. The people you will be talking to are typically from the sales side, but they may be able to give you insight that will give you a leg up. They know the editors and know the market. They can tell you if an agent is required or not.
You also need to take advantage of the time outside the exhibit hall. There are social events planned, or just impromptu lunches, where you can talk to more people in a relaxed atmosphere. So much to do and so little time!
Take business cards!