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NOTABLE! BookCon / Book Expo Experience and Trade Show Scam(s): Warning to Indie Authors

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Vigilante

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Please know that this thread represents my opinion, and isn't necessarily the opinion of everybody in attendance at the event.

Let's unpack it this way. We're fond around here of saying "fail faster" and for me, this show was an opportunity to accelerate directly into the market and let the market respond. To that end, I wouldn't have done it any differently. I got to spend a bit of money to accelerate the curve, and measure the market, and the market responded with a vote of no confidence. I will unpack it here a bit so that you can learn some things about the (failed) strategy. All in all, I call it a win. I got out of it what I needed to, which was market validation (or in this case, lack thereof). However, I also got fleeced by the promoters of the event who didn't deliver what they promised in exchange for the cash. They didn't deliver the buyers, the traffic, or the results they promised.

The show is billed as the largest book industry convention in the country. It has two components... a two day, private industry show, and a two day consumer book fair similar to ComicCon and run by the same people.

From their marketing materials :

"BookExpo is a premium trade event featuring a Show Floor comprised of the world’s most influential publishers and distributors and an attendee base hand-selected from bookstores, retailers, libraries and museums. The Show Floor emphasizes meetings and author interaction with the trade that will deliver tangible results for your business." (emphasis mine)

They promised that some of the largest buyers in the industry would be attending the private show, and that tens of thousands of consumers would attend the book fair.

Here are some facts :

  • No significant buyer came by our booth in the 4 days of the events. Not one buyer that bought for multiple locations. Mostly was just people looking for free shit, teachers who had no budget, librarians who were there to see the big companies, and other vendors trying to sell publishing services and other shit you literally don't want to hear about as they stop by your booth to peddle their wares.
  • They encouraged PR and press releases ahead of time. We offered a $15 giveaway FREE to the first 100 attendees every day. Know how many people asked for them? Zero. Their whole advance PR pitch is a scam. Nobody cares. We were holding the giveaways only for people who asked for them, to know that they were responding to the advertising. Nobody did.
  • Of the people that did come during the industry portion of the show, most were treasure hunters looking for freebies. If you didn't give them mini sized crunch chocolate bars, they moved on with their trash bags to the next booth. They weren't there for the books.
  • During the BookCon show, exhibitors thought there would be dozens of thousands of people in attendance. The reality is attendance was a small fraction of what they "sold" it to be, and of those only a small fraction passed through the aisle we were in. Of those, only a small fraction was interested in any given booth, and of those only a small fraction were "buyers" within the subset of the book or books offered.
Where the event promoters fail is by not recognizing, or not caring to recognize, that there is literally a zero percent chance of a positive ROI by someone who is an indy author in a niche subject (which is about EVERY independent author). Taking their money with large promises and no realistic shot of recovery is dishonest.

The reality is this is NOT a platform for independent authors. There were a few that did a marginal amount of business, but there wasn't anyone who likely came even close to recouping costs. It was a blood bath, to benefit the vendors and promoters at the expense of the hopeful and aspiring authors.

We didn't even go back for the last day of the BookCon. We cut our losses, enjoyed some down time in the city that never sleeps, and paid the onsite Fedex a premium to return our stuff to our home office.


There were a lot of aspiring authors that went all in on making their dreams a reality at the show, and mostly what they received was exorbitant expenses with nominal traffic, nominal interest, and nearly nothing that was promised other than a rented space in the midst of an event that exists despite their attendance, not because of it.

The show is NOT the venue for a self published author. They would take a copy of your book and stick it on a shelf with several hundred other books for $400. You are just hoping someone walks past, picks it up, and happens to be the buyer for Barnes and Noble. You've now paid them $400 for almost nothing.

This show is for big publishers, by big publishers, and catering to big buyers who don't give a shit if you are there. They're not there to see you, not looking for you, and not going to stumble upon your several thousand dollar expenditure. If you took HALF of that money and did Amazon/Keyword/Facebook advertising with it you would have a much better chance at reaching and creating a market than you would paying $10 for a hot dog while you sit in your booth on the periphery of the event hoping that the Walmart buyer makes her rounds and discovers your masterpiece.

Should independent authors invest in BookExpo or BookCon? Absolutely, unequivocally NO in my opinion.
 

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MJ DeMarco

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They would take a copy of your book and stick it on a shelf with several hundred other books for $400.

Yea, that's kind of how I envisioned it where there is no reason on God's green earth that some big buyer would pass by, look at a shelf with 200 books, and pick yours and, "Wow, let me put in an order for this $10K!" You could have the best cover EVER, and it would never happen.
 

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Yea, that's kind of how I envisioned it where there is no reason on God's green earth that some big buyer would pass by, look at a shelf with 200 books, and pick yours and, "Wow, let me put in an order for this $10K!" You could have the best cover EVER, and it would never happen.

In the food business trade shows typically consist of people a couple levels below the merchandiser hitting up every booth for free shit, and co-packers, trucking companies and everybody else trying to sell you shit. You might occasionally see a Whole Foods buyer being levitated through the aisles on the broomstick that's up their a$$, but that's about it.
 
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Vigilante

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Yea, that's kind of how I envisioned it where there is no reason on God's green earth that some big buyer would pass by, look at a shelf with 200 books, and pick yours and, "Wow, let me put in an order for this $10K!" You could have the best cover EVER, and it would never happen.

You were 100% right, only more than 200 books. Maybe twice to three times that amount.
 
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Vigilante

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I have given them a direct opportunity to respond via. email, and also they would be welcome to respond here.

We'll see if they intend to have the integrity to compensate us for their unfulfilled promises, or if I will have to engage it on a bigger scale.

This might be one of those fights worth fighting.
 
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Vigilante

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We ordered a table and chairs with a tablecloth and skirt for roughly $500 rental for 4 days.

We arrived the day before the show, and the table was there with no tablecloth, and no chairs.

After a few visits to the promoters contractor, we were told it would be made right before the show.

We arrived the morning of the show. Chairs? Yes. Table cloth? No.

For $500. For 4 days.

So, we paid a few visits to the show management booth for the contractor.

Still nothing.

Their worker came by the booth around the time the show was to open. No table cloth.

Maybe an hour into the show, they finally showed up to finish what we paid for.

Didn't really matter though from the perspective of the fact that there were NO CUSTOMERS THERE ANYWAY.

They could have bowled down the aisle we were exhibiting in.

Maybe they knew I didn't need a table cloth.

www.freemanco.com
 

MJ DeMarco

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When I owned my company, I think we did 3 trade shows despite been in the business for 10 years.

After the 3rd show, I put my foot down. We were only going because we were EXPECTED to go. As for the show itself, we did very little business from it and it was mostly an opportunity to connect with our existing customers face-to-face.

The cost/benefit just wasn't there, not to mention it felt like one gigantic money scam ... from paying a unionized electrician $900 to provide electric to the booth, to having a pallet moved by a union laborer for $400, after forking out $1000s, I ended the BS and stopped going.

I'll never pay to exhibit at another trade show unless I've done a personal, floor-level reconnaissance on the show the prior year.
 

MJ DeMarco

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So @Vigilante 's TLDR is this: The show was nothing but bro-marketing... selling perceived value over actual value.
 
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Vigilante

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When I owned my company, I think we did 3 trade shows despite been in the business for 10 years.

After the 3rd show, I put my foot down. We were only going because we were EXPECTED to go. As for the show itself, we did very little business from it and it was mostly an opportunity to connect with our existing customers face-to-face.

The cost/benefit just wasn't there, not to mention it felt like one gigantic money scam ... from paying a unionized electrician $900 to provide electric to the booth, to having a pallet moved by a union laborer for $400, after forking out $1000s, I ended the BS and stopped going.

I'll never pay to exhibit at another trade show unless I've done a personal, floor-level reconnaissance on the show the prior year.

They charged me $150 to bring 5 boxes (1 two wheel dolly load) from the loading dock to the booth.
 

G-Man

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It was Freeman handling the logistics? LOL. Once had an entire skid arrive at a trade show venue they were running, only to magically disappear once inside the venue. That's right kids, and entire pallet vanished. Probably had Vig's table cloth on it.
 
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Vigilante

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So @Vigilante 's TLDR is this: The show was nothing but bro-marketing... selling perceived value over actual value.

Perceived value :
the world’s most influential publishers and distributors

Actual value :
you're not going to meet any of them

Perceived value :
attendee base hand-selected from bookstores, retailers, libraries and museums

Actual value:
none

Perceived value:
The Show Floor emphasizes meetings and author interaction with the trade

Actual value:
"Got any free shit?"

Perceived value
BookCon (BookExpo’s consumer extension) is a massive fan event for the Publishing industry that brings your brand together with Fans

Actual value
lol

Perceived Value
generate engagement, loyalty, social buzz, media impressions and book sales.

Actual value:
zero social buzz (other than what we create, but we tell the truth), media impressions ZERO and book sales nearly ZERO

Perceived Value
ultimate destination to launch your books to readers and the book industry.

Actual Value
Negative ROI. Straight cost hit with literally no value.

Here's their pitch : Interactive Fan - BookCon 2017

Perceived value :
Media impressions
NYT, USA Today, People, Mashable, eOnline, Entertainment Weekly, CNN, WSJ, NPR

Actual Value:
None

I am not ashamed that we got taken, but what I can tell you is there were dozens of hopeful authors that went ALL IN on this major expenditure. Some will never recover from it. Most expected to get what the promoters promised. Most got nothing in return.

I am glad that I can write this off as a learning experience. We had a great time in NYC absent of this debacle. However, most of the independent authors that were in the same boat would not be able to walk away unscathed.
 

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MJ DeMarco

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but what I can tell you is there were dozens of hopeful authors that went ALL IN

Did you speak with other vendors and they reported the same?

So their business model is basically an appeal to new authors who don't know any better since their repeat business is ZERO... kinda like the Greater Fool Theory's kissing cousin...
 
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Vigilante

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Did you speak with other vendors and they reported the same?

So their business model is basically an appeal to new authors who don't know any better since their repeat business is ZERO... kinda like the Greater Fool Theory's kissing cousin...

The first two days of the show (the trade show portion) were horrific for presumably all of the independent authors. A large section of them were grouped where we were, and all had the same results.

During the bookCON portion, some of the sellers had some walk by traffic that was better than we did, and so results varied more during the consumer portion of the show than the industry portion. The guy next to us was doing what ever he could (selling bookmarks for a buck... anything) to draw some sales. No way he broke even, but he sold way more during the CON portion than we did.

Every year, I am sure they get a host of new exhibitors. You could walk around the outskirts of the show and see booth after booth with the "new exhibitor" placard. They probably just get to reuse those every year, as there is literally zero chance any newbie author would ever re-up. There is just no ROI.

My single objective when I was there was one big media hit, or one big connection, or one big book buyer. I was fishing for one simple strike, and would have justified the entire rest of the wasted expenditure on that one single hit. Nothing. Worse than nothing... because there wasn't even a CHANCE at it. To land a buyer, you first have to have engaged the buyer. To land a media hit, the media has to be present. To land a connection, the people who visit your booth have to be more impressive than Asian printers who want to outsource your printing to Asia.

We did however see literally every site the big Apple has to see as a tourist. The 911 memorial was haunting, and the Empire State Building was cool. China town, the Statute of Liberty, brooklyn bridge, wall street, broadway, Trump Tower (and several Trump developments)... we took it all in.
 
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This thread and @G-Man's comments are making me very skeptical about doing trade shows for my products. Sorry it was a shit show Vig
 

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What made you think this?
"We have reason to believe that on Friday we will be visited by one of the top cable news networks."
 

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This thread and @G-Man's comments are making me very skeptical about doing trade shows for my products. Sorry it was a shit show Vig
Me too, although I haven't got there yet!
Suspiciously, the best book authors like J.K Rowling or C.S Lewis or whoever else DIDN'T get their hit via book fairs. They got through via the Andy Black diesel and coffee....sending manuscripts the good old fashioned way or racking up enough Amazon indie sales to warrant attention. I was reading up how The Martian by Andy Weir got called up by the publishers themselves after fans' ravings of his book (put up for free at his blog) reached a peak.

I'm sorry that @Vigilante was cheated like crap, for services that could have propelled him well to a higher level. But I'm getting vibes on the Commandment of Control, Entry and the Productocracy here. My fears were confirmed by this:
Yea, that's kind of how I envisioned it where there is no reason on God's green earth that some big buyer would pass by, look at a shelf with 200 books, and pick yours and, "Wow, let me put in an order for this $10K!" You could have the best cover EVER, and it would never happen.

But I have some questions, @Vigilante...
1. Did you inquire and investigate with prior authors who used the bookcon on the returns and actual value? Did you ask them how they did, and the pitfalls and real advantages, etc? If you did, how many did you ask and were they all indie authors or had the backing of big-name publishers?

I think a little poking might have sprung up some red flags. If the thing has been operating for a few years, there must be either a track record of supers or shit. Reminds me of the Fyrie festival fiasco.

2. You mentioned that it was only for big publishers' games. If that is so, then why did you go to a place where the odds were against you? Did you have a something to offer that they don't have, now that both you and them are playing in the same fair?

"BookExpo is a premium trade event featuring a Show Floor comprised of the world’s most influential publishers and distributors and an attendee base hand-selected from bookstores, retailers, libraries and museums. The Show Floor emphasizes meetings and author interaction with the trade that will deliver tangible results for your business." (emphasis mine)

They promised that some of the largest buyers in the industry would be attending the private show, and that tens of thousands of consumers would attend the book fair.

Here are some facts :

  • No significant buyer came by our booth in the 4 days of the events. Not one buyer that bought for multiple locations. Mostly was just people looking for free shit, teachers who had no budget, librarians who were there to see the big companies, and other vendors trying to sell publishing services and other shit you literally don't want to hear about as they stop by your booth to peddle their wares.
Now when I reexamined the case, I am not so sure anymore. I admit, I'm an amateur in this shit. But something doesn't sit well with me, if you excuse me.
The kind of customers you get are pretty undesireable. These are the kinds you don't get money from, or good services, in the case of the vendors.
With this kind of customer base available for the book fair, who is paying to the big-publishers, buying their wares and such, so that they can continue to support the bookcon???

I know I'm talking too much for my taste, but I'm doing this because I want to write a book in the future and I have spent quite a lot of time with books in general to know some inklings as a nerd. For that reason, this thread has hit me quite a bit.
 

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@Vigilante, I went to do more digging. And I found some material, some red flags dating from 2016...October to be exact (for the first blog post below)....when did you start planning to go in to bookcon and bookexpo?
I found this blog post
BookExpo America is No Longer a Place for Book Bloggers • Nose Graze

Which led me to this:
A New Direction for BookExpo America
Notable quotes:
'According to McDonald, the focus will be on drawing more book buyers, including booksellers, librarians, and buyers from a range of specialty retailers. Through a more rigorous application process, Reed will limit the numbers of bloggers, independent authors, and consultants. “We are not trying to be exclusionary,” McDonald said. “We are trying to ensure that we have the people in the aisles that our exhibitors want to meet with.”

To encourage more booksellers to attend BookExpo, which is back at New York City’s Javits Center in 2017, Reed is subsidizing rooms at New York’s Row Hotel, so that ABA members will pay only $200 per night. The organizer will also continue past programs that it has offered for librarians and other retailers. The goal, McDonald emphasized, is to create a show floor that provides publishers more opportunities to interact with book buyers and to give publishers more time to arrange for book buyers to meet with authors.

In other efforts to better focus the show, Reed has decided to not hold the conferences that had run in conjunction with BEA, such as the Book Bloggers and IDPF events, and it will not hold UPublishU, BEA’s conference for self-published authors. Reed will still offer the Authors Market for self-published authors as well as some other programs, McDonald said.'


IMO, judging from the intent of the blogs, I think that there's a strong readership for indies and bloggers, which contribute to both book fairs significantly. And since there looks like unfavourable pivots for the sake of B2B and profits rather than allowing access to more good books in the readers' favour, I think there's the lack of people coming settled for you. If indie authors are restricted, so will be the attendance of their audience. I think they aren't indie friendly anymore.

IMO, it's not a scam, but yeah, as I have said, the odds aren't in your favour.
 
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Vigilante

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Hindsight is always 20/20. "The odds aren't in your favor" in life. Are you waiting for a scenario in which the odds are in your favor?

None of what you posted would have substantiated a reason to invest the money, or not. The fact that JK Rowling went through a gauntlet over twenty years ago has very little relevance to this experience. People trying to replicate MJ DeMarco's lead referral business today often meet the same challenges when they try and replicate something that worked in another decade. Do you know how many unsolicited manuscripts publishers receive in an era where anyone with a computer can spew their thoughts out on paper? JK Rowling wrote the manuscript for Harry Potter on a typewriter. The window in which she finally broke through was the end of an era. Times have changed, and the likelihood of you following her model is about the same as building a lead referral company to sell limo referrals to local companies.

There is no formula for how to write the next big seller. If you read through the early material I wrote, I indicated our research determined we need(ed) to create an explosive, non-traditional, unscripted event to get non-traditional results. You're simply not going to follow the same footprints JK Rowling left twenty years ago. Our launch decision was based on 40 hours of research, but I appreciate your synopsis and expert conclusions from your ten minutes of Google. I should have hired you.

Read reviews from any restaurant you go to. If the food sucked, I can show you reviews that people left before you that said the food sucked, and then question why you ever went there. You could probably could show me reviews from people that actually liked the food, but would that change the fact that when you went there the food didn't match what was on the menu?

We gambled. We lost. That's OK. The reason for my recording this loss for you was to be transparent and honest for those who followed the journey, and those come behind me about what we planned, what we executed, and how it went. Also to save others from repeating the same mistakes. I could have just as easily written a bullshit piece about how successful we were, and you would have not known any differently. Welcome to the internet, where reality gets dissected and bullshit gets validated.

You seem to want to indicate that it is OK for the promoters of the show to fleece people from their money. Since you have no first hand experience in any aspect of this, your after-the-fact dissection of this as an internet detective wanting to demonstrate that we should have known better is of zero interest to me.

We took a shot. It didn't pan out, because the venue did not create the interactions that were indicated by the promoters of the engagement.

I am sure when you launch your book, you will find a much easier path towards success than we did. I look forward to your progress thread. Your advanced research and superior intelligence is sure to produce an easy path to fame and fortune. I wish you well with that.

There are two types of people in the world and on the forum. Those who do things, and those who critique people who do things. A lion spends very little time worrying about the opinion of the sheep. I will always go to places where the odds are against me, and I will always venture back into the colosseum.
 
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ExaltedLife

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Sounds like a big case of all hype and no substance. On that note, I've never actually been to a trade show of any kind. I didn't even know trade shows for books even existed.

@Vigilante do these things usually provide a good ROI or was this a first time thing for you?
 
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Vigilante

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Sounds like a big case of all hype and no substance. On that note, I've never actually been to a trade show of any kind. I didn't even know trade shows for books even existed.

@Vigilante do these things usually provide a good ROI or was this a first time thing for you?

All of my experience is in consumer electronics, and have probably done 20 trade shows in that industry with explosive ROI from the consumer electronics show.

There is a whole circuit of these smaller industry shows out there. In any industry, you can find similar. I am speaking at a trade show in October for law enforcement agencies. So they exist in just about every industry. The key is matching a low investment to low results, or a high investment to big results.

What happened at this show was a high investment with low results.

At the show I am speaking at in October, we will have a trade show booth there also, but the cost is throw away so if it doesn't click, it doesn't matter. I think the booth at that show is $500... and we were going to be there anyway for the speaking engagement.
 

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Hindsight is always 20/20. "The odds aren't in your favor" in life. Are you waiting for a scenario in which the odds are in your favor?

None of what you posted would have substantiated a reason to invest the money, or not. The fact that JK Rowling went through a gauntlet over twenty years ago has very little relevance to this experience. People trying to replicate MJ DeMarco's lead referral business today often meet the same challenges when they try and replicate something that worked in another decade. Do you know how many unsolicited manuscripts publishers receive in an era where anyone with a computer can spew their thoughts out on paper? JK Rowling wrote the manuscript for Harry Potter on a typewriter. The window in which she finally broke through was the end of an era. Times have changed, and the likelihood of you following her model is about the same as building a lead referral company to sell limo referrals to local companies.

There is no formula for how to write the next big seller. If you read through the early material I wrote, I indicated our research determined we need(ed) to create an explosive, non-traditional, unscripted event to get non-traditional results. You're simply not going to follow the same footprints JK Rowling left twenty years ago. Our launch decision was based on 40 hours of research, but I appreciate your synopsis and expert conclusions from your ten minutes of Google. I should have hired you.

Read reviews from any restaurant you go to. If the food sucked, I can show you reviews that people left before you that said the food sucked, and then question why you ever went there. You could probably could show me reviews from people that actually liked the food, but would that change the fact that when you went there the food didn't match what was on the menu?

We gambled. We lost. That's OK. The reason for my recording this loss for you was to be transparent and honest for those who followed the journey, and those come behind me about what we planned, what we executed, and how it went. Also to save others from repeating the same mistakes. I could have just as easily written a bullshit piece about how successful we were, and you would have not known any differently. Welcome to the internet, where reality gets dissected and bullshit gets validated.

You seem to want to indicate that it is OK for the promoters of the show to fleece people from their money. Since you have no first hand experience in any aspect of this, your after-the-fact dissection of this as an internet detective wanting to demonstrate that we should have known better is of zero interest to me.

We took a shot. It didn't pan out, because the venue did not create the interactions that were indicated by the promoters of the engagement.

I am sure when you launch your book, you will find a much easier path towards success than we did. I look forward to your progress thread. Your advanced research and superior intelligence is sure to produce an easy path to fame and fortune. I wish you well with that.

There are two types of people in the world and on the forum. Those who do things, and those who critique people who do things. A lion spends very little time worrying about the opinion of the sheep. I will always go to places where the odds are against me, and I will always venture back into the colosseum.
Very well, if you are confident if you did what seemed right.
I am going to admit...it is not going to be easy distributing a book. I don't plan to write now, which means I might be facing a more saturated market albeit with more money chasers and scammers later on...human greed. You did well by working to go bigger despite this.
I am not criticising...I want to see the story behind the story. But if I sound like it, I am sorry.
That way, we might have a more deeper lesson on fall outs like this.
I never said it was ok for them to ditch you. It's not. But their focus was more on the other big names rather than you. That's what happened.

And there is no detective work behind it. It just came out on the first page of searches. I thought there could be red flags. But well, again, red flags might just be flags in reality.

I agree that there is no true formula for a big hit. But it was the power of word of mouth that brought in the buyers. The publisher's daughter liked Rowling's book so the publisher took her in. This mechanism of a producticracy is replicated everywhere between buyer and seller. Although we desire to be unscripted, we tend to find some universality in our techniques.

But I think you did the right thing by opting out quickly before making further losses. And if you put in the work, alright. No flame.

EDIT: I am just gonna eat the humble pie and apologise for angering you. I understand you are not in the best mood. But please don't let it ruin learning for the younger Forum members,regardless of their innocence or whatever. This is a forum, not a place to advertise corporate grievances.

But cut this event out, and you do have a remarkable execution! You got a team, products ready, 40 hours of research....it's good. I have nothing against you really. Please continue your good efforts in publishing. We need more books and authors that aren't scams.
 
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PaulRobert

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@Vigilante Another reason why this was a flop, (not saying that BookCon is innocent) is that imo the trade show industry is dying.

As some many know on this forum, I am in the mens fashion business. There are some big players in this trade show sector of the market. I have walked many trade shows in the past few years and my gut instinct after every single time is to not to do one. My first trade show walk through was in the summer of 2013 in NYC when my business just launched. I spent 2 days there, walking, networking, figuring out what this business is all about. There were established companies like Vineyard Vines, mid-small size companies, and fashion start ups.
The attendance was pretty high with buyers and press walking all around.
From my observations: Large Companies received repeat POs from buyers that they've done business with before.

Mid-Size > Small Businesses- Would attract some buyers, but mostly had meetings with the buyers that they had made earlier appointments with.

Start Ups with new products or new to the industry- Would receive interest from buyers or press but were not taken seriously or just seen as too "small."

Your standard size booth is 10 x 10 for most fashion trade shows.

The cost for the booth alone starts out at around $4,000. (That is not including decorating the booth, transportation, marketing materials, hotels, etc.)

Back in 2013, I was in no position to afford a trade show. I was only a couple months in biz and didn't even know what direction my product/company was headed.

My conclusion at the end of walking this trade show, grow your business a bit more and then come back to do a booth.

(2014-early 2016)- Walked a few more trade shows in my industry and gift industry.

Fast forward to 2016: Have grown the business to a point where I can take on the cost of a trade show. I reach out to the company that run the trade shows. Turns out the 2 biggest players in mens fashion trade shows have merged. Something in my gut tells me to investigate instead of pulling the trigger and getting a booth. I decided to walk the NYC Trade show again last summer, when I walked in, I was shocked. "Where is everyone?" The entire floor of the Jacob Javits Center in NYC basically felt empty. There were booths, but a lot less. And one more frightening thing I noticed was that the booth owners were just standing around. (Not selling or talking to buyers.)

I began approaching some of the companies, asking about their business, and that I am interested in doing a trade show. Is it worth it? Are you meeting buyers or press?

I spoke to startups, small, and mid-sized businesses. These were some of the remarks:

"This trade show is dead."
"We just got a booth because we just have to show that we are still in business."
"This is a PR expense, not a way to grow additional business."
"In all my years doing this trade show, this is the slowest and worst turn out ever, and I thought last year was the worst."
"You should see other trade show (also men's fashion) that is happening a few blocks away.. completely dead."


My suspicions were correct, another industry is dying due to the internet. Traditional retailers that used to flood the show as buyers are either cutting costs and not attending or don't even exist anymore. Over the past 4 years, we've seen a huge growth in e-commerce and a huge dive in retail.

Some sectors of the trade show industry have also become the victims due to this. Attendance has shrunk and even booth purchasing has declined as well.

Is a small business or start up going to spend $6,000+ on a booth for a few days to hopefully get some big buyers? Or will they take $2,000 of that, invest it in internet marketing, and receive priceless data and sales about their customers and potential customers?

It just doesn't make sense anymore to do trade shows. You have every company's phone and buyer list located on the internet. All I have to do is pick up the phone and call.
You can invest a fraction of the cost into marketing on the internet, grow the business, and test out different results.

Trade shows have become cash cows for the owners of the show. $4,000 min for a booth x 100 booths x twice a year or more leads to a nice business.

But for the actual businesses joining the trade show it's just one expensive a$$ PR move.




We were only going because we were EXPECTED to go.

I asked this one girl at a booth and said just give it to me straight. (She was an employee about my age so I'm sure she didn't give a shit about her job.)

Me: "Are you moving any product, getting POs, or interest from press?"

Her: "Not at all, my company does this every year and it is labeled as PR. The only interest I've gotten is from these a**hole influencers who just want free shit."

Damn, I should have asked for her number. XD
 

Scot

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@Vigilante Another reason why this was a flop, (not saying that BookCon is innocent) is that imo the trade show industry is dying.

As some many know on this forum, I am in the mens fashion business. There are some big players in this trade show sector of the market. I have walked many trade shows in the past few years and my gut instinct after every single time is to not to do one. My first trade show walk through was in the summer of 2013 in NYC when my business just launched. I spent 2 days there, walking, networking, figuring out what this business is all about. There were established companies like Vineyard Vines, mid-small size companies, and fashion start ups.
The attendance was pretty high with buyers and press walking all around.
From my observations: Large Companies received repeat POs from buyers that they've done business with before.

Mid-Size > Small Businesses- Would attract some buyers, but mostly had meetings with the buyers that they had made earlier appointments with.

Start Ups with new products or new to the industry- Would receive interest from buyers or press but were not taken seriously or just seen as too "small."

Your standard size booth is 10 x 10 for most fashion trade shows.

The cost for the booth alone starts out at around $4,000. (That is not including decorating the booth, transportation, marketing materials, hotels, etc.)

Back in 2013, I was in no position to afford a trade show. I was only a couple months in biz and didn't even know what direction my product/company was headed.

My conclusion at the end of walking this trade show, grow your business a bit more and then come back to do a booth.

(2014-early 2016)- Walked a few more trade shows in my industry and gift industry.

Fast forward to 2016: Have grown the business to a point where I can take on the cost of a trade show. I reach out to the company that run the trade shows. Turns out the 2 biggest players in mens fashion trade shows have merged. Something in my gut tells me to investigate instead of pulling the trigger and getting a booth. I decided to walk the NYC Trade show again last summer, when I walked in, I was shocked. "Where is everyone?" The entire floor of the Jacob Javits Center in NYC basically felt empty. There were booths, but a lot less. And one more frightening thing I noticed was that the booth owners were just standing around. (Not selling or talking to buyers.)

I began approaching some of the companies, asking about their business, and that I am interested in doing a trade show. Is it worth it? Are you meeting buyers or press?

I spoke to startups, small, and mid-sized businesses. These were some of the remarks:

"This trade show is dead."
"We just got a booth because we just have to show that we are still in business."
"This is a PR expense, not a way to grow additional business."
"In all my years doing this trade show, this is the slowest and worst turn out ever, and I thought last year was the worst."
"You should see other trade show (also men's fashion) that is happening a few blocks away.. completely dead."


My suspicions were correct, another industry is dying due to the internet. Traditional retailers that used to flood the show as buyers are either cutting costs and not attending or don't even exist anymore. Over the past 4 years, we've seen a huge growth in e-commerce and a huge dive in retail.

Some sectors of the trade show industry have also become the victims due to this. Attendance has shrunk and even booth purchasing has declined as well.

Is a small business or start up going to spend $6,000+ on a booth for a few days to hopefully get some big buyers? Or will they take $2,000 of that, invest it in internet marketing, and receive priceless data and sales about their customers and potential customers?

It just doesn't make sense anymore to do trade shows. You have every company's phone and buyer list located on the internet. All I have to do is pick up the phone and call.
You can invest a fraction of the cost into marketing on the internet, grow the business, and test out different results.

Trade shows have become cash cows for the owners of the show. $4,000 min for a booth x 100 booths x twice a year or more leads to a nice business.

But for the actual businesses joining the trade show it's just one expensive a$$ PR move.






I asked this one girl at a booth and said just give it to me straight. (She was an employee about my age so I'm sure she didn't give a shit about her job.)

Me: "Are you moving any product, getting POs, or interest from press?"

Her: "Not at all, my company does this every year and it is labeled as PR. The only interest I've gotten is from these a**hole influencers who just want free shit."

Damn, I should have asked for her number. XD

This pretty much sums up every medical conference I've ever worked.

I feel like my company only invest the money as PR. We are only there because our competitors are there.

Spend $10,000 to put big labels on the stairs? Well if we didn't, Pfizer would.

Half the guests attending are from out of country, they can't use our products. The other half just stop by the booth to grab coffee or whatever free treat we're offering. If anyone asks a question is usually off-label and we can't answer it anyway.

I don't think we actually sell anything at these conferences.
 

ZF Lee

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@Vigilante Another reason why this was a flop, (not saying that BookCon is innocent) is that imo the trade show industry is dying.

As some many know on this forum, I am in the mens fashion business. There are some big players in this trade show sector of the market. I have walked many trade shows in the past few years and my gut instinct after every single time is to not to do one. My first trade show walk through was in the summer of 2013 in NYC when my business just launched. I spent 2 days there, walking, networking, figuring out what this business is all about. There were established companies like Vineyard Vines, mid-small size companies, and fashion start ups.
The attendance was pretty high with buyers and press walking all around.
From my observations: Large Companies received repeat POs from buyers that they've done business with before.

Mid-Size > Small Businesses- Would attract some buyers, but mostly had meetings with the buyers that they had made earlier appointments with.

Start Ups with new products or new to the industry- Would receive interest from buyers or press but were not taken seriously or just seen as too "small."

Your standard size booth is 10 x 10 for most fashion trade shows.

The cost for the booth alone starts out at around $4,000. (That is not including decorating the booth, transportation, marketing materials, hotels, etc.)

Back in 2013, I was in no position to afford a trade show. I was only a couple months in biz and didn't even know what direction my product/company was headed.

My conclusion at the end of walking this trade show, grow your business a bit more and then come back to do a booth.

(2014-early 2016)- Walked a few more trade shows in my industry and gift industry.

Fast forward to 2016: Have grown the business to a point where I can take on the cost of a trade show. I reach out to the company that run the trade shows. Turns out the 2 biggest players in mens fashion trade shows have merged. Something in my gut tells me to investigate instead of pulling the trigger and getting a booth. I decided to walk the NYC Trade show again last summer, when I walked in, I was shocked. "Where is everyone?" The entire floor of the Jacob Javits Center in NYC basically felt empty. There were booths, but a lot less. And one more frightening thing I noticed was that the booth owners were just standing around. (Not selling or talking to buyers.)

I began approaching some of the companies, asking about their business, and that I am interested in doing a trade show. Is it worth it? Are you meeting buyers or press?

I spoke to startups, small, and mid-sized businesses. These were some of the remarks:

"This trade show is dead."
"We just got a booth because we just have to show that we are still in business."
"This is a PR expense, not a way to grow additional business."
"In all my years doing this trade show, this is the slowest and worst turn out ever, and I thought last year was the worst."
"You should see other trade show (also men's fashion) that is happening a few blocks away.. completely dead."


My suspicions were correct, another industry is dying due to the internet. Traditional retailers that used to flood the show as buyers are either cutting costs and not attending or don't even exist anymore. Over the past 4 years, we've seen a huge growth in e-commerce and a huge dive in retail.

Some sectors of the trade show industry have also become the victims due to this. Attendance has shrunk and even booth purchasing has declined as well.

Is a small business or start up going to spend $6,000+ on a booth for a few days to hopefully get some big buyers? Or will they take $2,000 of that, invest it in internet marketing, and receive priceless data and sales about their customers and potential customers?

It just doesn't make sense anymore to do trade shows. You have every company's phone and buyer list located on the internet. All I have to do is pick up the phone and call.
You can invest a fraction of the cost into marketing on the internet, grow the business, and test out different results.

Trade shows have become cash cows for the owners of the show. $4,000 min for a booth x 100 booths x twice a year or more leads to a nice business.

But for the actual businesses joining the trade show it's just one expensive a$$ PR move.






I asked this one girl at a booth and said just give it to me straight. (She was an employee about my age so I'm sure she didn't give a shit about her job.)

Me: "Are you moving any product, getting POs, or interest from press?"

Her: "Not at all, my company does this every year and it is labeled as PR. The only interest I've gotten is from these a**hole influencers who just want free shit."

Damn, I should have asked for her number. XD

This pretty much sums up every medical conference I've ever worked.

I feel like my company only invest the money as PR. We are only there because our competitors are there.

Spend $10,000 to put big labels on the stairs? Well if we didn't, Pfizer would.

Half the guests attending are from out of country, they can't use our products. The other half just stop by the booth to grab coffee or whatever free treat we're offering. If anyone asks a question is usually off-label and we can't answer it anyway.

I don't think we actually sell anything at these conferences.
See, these are the informations I wanted to see. I was asking (silly?) questions and finding (silly?) information because I wondered if there were such insights as these.

Thanks you two. I will leave you two more experienced guys for your opinions on the topic. He'll accept your words better because he will need it.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Some great info here with respect to tradeshows and their investment and ROI, or lack thereof.

Marked notable, thanks @PaulRobert for taking it over the edge.

Doing one of these could be the death-knell of a small company vs being a launch point.
 
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Vigilante

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@Vigilante Another reason why this was a flop, (not saying that BookCon is innocent) is that imo the trade show industry is dying.

As some many know on this forum, I am in the mens fashion business. There are some big players in this trade show sector of the market. I have walked many trade shows in the past few years and my gut instinct after every single time is to not to do one. My first trade show walk through was in the summer of 2013 in NYC when my business just launched. I spent 2 days there, walking, networking, figuring out what this business is all about. There were established companies like Vineyard Vines, mid-small size companies, and fashion start ups.
The attendance was pretty high with buyers and press walking all around.
From my observations: Large Companies received repeat POs from buyers that they've done business with before.

Mid-Size > Small Businesses- Would attract some buyers, but mostly had meetings with the buyers that they had made earlier appointments with.

Start Ups with new products or new to the industry- Would receive interest from buyers or press but were not taken seriously or just seen as too "small."

Your standard size booth is 10 x 10 for most fashion trade shows.

The cost for the booth alone starts out at around $4,000. (That is not including decorating the booth, transportation, marketing materials, hotels, etc.)

Back in 2013, I was in no position to afford a trade show. I was only a couple months in biz and didn't even know what direction my product/company was headed.

My conclusion at the end of walking this trade show, grow your business a bit more and then come back to do a booth.

(2014-early 2016)- Walked a few more trade shows in my industry and gift industry.

Fast forward to 2016: Have grown the business to a point where I can take on the cost of a trade show. I reach out to the company that run the trade shows. Turns out the 2 biggest players in mens fashion trade shows have merged. Something in my gut tells me to investigate instead of pulling the trigger and getting a booth. I decided to walk the NYC Trade show again last summer, when I walked in, I was shocked. "Where is everyone?" The entire floor of the Jacob Javits Center in NYC basically felt empty. There were booths, but a lot less. And one more frightening thing I noticed was that the booth owners were just standing around. (Not selling or talking to buyers.)

I began approaching some of the companies, asking about their business, and that I am interested in doing a trade show. Is it worth it? Are you meeting buyers or press?

I spoke to startups, small, and mid-sized businesses. These were some of the remarks:

"This trade show is dead."
"We just got a booth because we just have to show that we are still in business."
"This is a PR expense, not a way to grow additional business."
"In all my years doing this trade show, this is the slowest and worst turn out ever, and I thought last year was the worst."
"You should see other trade show (also men's fashion) that is happening a few blocks away.. completely dead."


My suspicions were correct, another industry is dying due to the internet. Traditional retailers that used to flood the show as buyers are either cutting costs and not attending or don't even exist anymore. Over the past 4 years, we've seen a huge growth in e-commerce and a huge dive in retail.

Some sectors of the trade show industry have also become the victims due to this. Attendance has shrunk and even booth purchasing has declined as well.

Is a small business or start up going to spend $6,000+ on a booth for a few days to hopefully get some big buyers? Or will they take $2,000 of that, invest it in internet marketing, and receive priceless data and sales about their customers and potential customers?

It just doesn't make sense anymore to do trade shows. You have every company's phone and buyer list located on the internet. All I have to do is pick up the phone and call.
You can invest a fraction of the cost into marketing on the internet, grow the business, and test out different results.

Trade shows have become cash cows for the owners of the show. $4,000 min for a booth x 100 booths x twice a year or more leads to a nice business.

But for the actual businesses joining the trade show it's just one expensive a$$ PR move.






I asked this one girl at a booth and said just give it to me straight. (She was an employee about my age so I'm sure she didn't give a shit about her job.)

Me: "Are you moving any product, getting POs, or interest from press?"

Her: "Not at all, my company does this every year and it is labeled as PR. The only interest I've gotten is from these a**hole influencers who just want free shit."

Damn, I should have asked for her number. XD

Excellent post.
 

Hate Scams

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I have given them a direct opportunity to respond via. email, and also they would be welcome to respond here.

We'll see if they intend to have the integrity to compensate us for their unfulfilled promises, or if I will have to engage it on a bigger scale.

This might be one of those fights worth fighting.

Count me in! I have participated in this year's show and I had very few sales. The issue here is that new writers are not aware of this, that's the reason why in the author market everyone was a new exhibitor.
I have lost a lot of money. If you were a participant, how could you resist to take 30 free books instead of buying one from a non established author.
We need some compensation, I have lost almost $4000 for registration, ordering products, shipping, hotel, transportation etc.
I have a list of all the participants in the author table (which also didn't have much sales) in case we need to start something big.
 

theag

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We need some compensation, I have lost almost $4000 for registration, ordering products, shipping, hotel, transportation etc.
I have a list of all the participants in the author table (which also didn't have much sales) in case we need to start something big.
Why should you get compensation? You did a marketing experiment and it failed. Now do the next one.

Guess what, I don't get refunds from Facebook or Google if one of my campaigns goes to shit (or if they change the algorithm again) and I lose a few k.
 

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