|Kojiki is Keith Yatsuhashi's new novel|
Our guest today, Keith Yatsuhashi, is the author of the fantasy novel Kojiki. In his other life, as a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce publishing team, he has had the pleasure of seeing this inner sanctum twice. Thank you, Keith, for enlightening us! Since most authors will never make the pilgrimage themselves, this may be our only glimpse inside. --Sarah P.
[All photos courtesy of Keith Yatsuhashi.]
By Keith Yatsuhashi
If Book Expo America, the London, Paris, and Frankfurt Book Fairs are the Grand Slam of publishing trade shows, Frankfurt is the Masters. Encompassing a whopping eight halls—most multi-leveled--Frankfurt, or Frankfurter Buchmesse as it’s known locally, is easily the world’s largest publishing trade show. Nearly 7,500 exhibitors from 110 countries participate every year to the delight of the estimated 300,000 annual attendees.
If this is your first time to a major German trade show, you’re in for a shock. The booths are massive--a few have two floors—and opulent. Some even have full bars. The crowds are huge too, and the fairgrounds are roughly the size of a second tier airport. Walking from one end to the other takes a whopping twenty minutes, and that's before the gates open. Once the halls fill up, all bets are off.
Managing a show this big takes planning. Approach it the way you would a vacation to Disney World. Research the show, and make good use of its online tools. The show's website is a great place to start. User-friendly and customizable, it identifies exhibitors by booth number and location. It even lets users search for educational sessions and build an agenda. Check the show map to make sure you give yourself enough time if your appointments are in different halls. Ten to fifteen minutes is usually enough—if you know where you’re going and have figured out some of the shortcuts.
If you get lost, you can always go to one of the information booths prominently placed in high traffic areas, the halls themselves, and at entrances and exits. Most English language publishers are in Hall 8--all the way at the back.
This is where you find the trade publishers. Publishers of technical books—education, medical, digital book providers, etc.—are in Hall 4.3, English technical publishers included. The Rights Center, where agents sit at long tables and meet other agents and publishers, is in Hall 3. Like Book Expo America, (BEA), appointments are required for entry. No walk-ins. No ad-hoc pitching. In most cases, your agent will do that for you.
Those ceremonies are by no means the end of the networking—which can continue longer than you would expect. A show of this magnitude fills hotels, restaurants, and flights. I ran into people I met during the show at the airport, on my flight, and even in line at U.S. Customs. Which brings me to my closing point. As good as your trade show experience is, prompt follow up is the key to success. A short, 'It was a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to sending you more information soon’ will suffice. So long as you do in fact send that information within a few weeks.
Frankfurt is an experience. It’s certainly not for everyone, but those who take the plunge will find it worthwhile. Shows like this are as much an education as a business event. You’ll meet CEOs and publishers you’d never reach otherwise, increase your international profile, and learn about industry trends from its leaders. I highly recommend going—with or without a booth.
Keith Yatsuhashi is a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce Global Publishing Team. He is also an author. His debut YA fantasy, Kojiki, is available from Musa Publishing. For questions about the Frankfurt Book Fair or how the Department of Commerce can help you business, contact him at: keith.yatsuhashi [at] trade [dot] gov. His author profile is on Amazon and Goodreads, and you can follow his author musings on Twitter @keithyatsuhashi.