Virtual Trade Shows

Shortly after my book was published, I received a call asking about whether or not I wanted to participate in an upcoming book show where I would be one of several new authors. All I would have to do is register for the event for a mere $1000 USD and arrange my own transportation, hotel room, etc.

I’ve participated in a number of tradeshows over the years through my day job and am very familiar with trying to balance between being the best eye candy I could be in order to draw visitors to my booth and representing myself and my company as an expert in the field in order to keep them there. I’ve helped create large visual displays for the booth, administered contests, sent out targeted invitations, and have done the whole swag give-aways thing – I could go into depth on my opinion about the effectiveness of tradeshow swag, but will save that for another day.

In short, I’ve done as much as I could to differentiate myself and my company, and that was only against a small handful of similar product and service companies also in attendance. At this show I could only imagine the competition is much, much fiercer.

Admittedly my tradeshow experience has been in a completely different industry, but based on my royalty rate, I would have to have massive amounts of foot traffic at a time when most people in the US are visiting family in order to see a return on that investment. Additionally the time spent at the show would keep me from continuing work on my follow-up project, an activity that I now understand is absolutely critical towards establishing myself.

I politely declined this ‘opportunity.’

Still the concept of added visibility from a show is appealing. Luckily there are things known as Virtual Trade Shows, also known as Virtual Book Tours and Blog Tours. Rather than physically being behind a booth and smiling until your cheeks hurt for hours at a day, participants ‘exhibit’ themselves at a number of blog site destinations. I’ve found a number of organizations advertising ‘tours’ which they will arrange for you for fees ranging from as little as $15 to $200 depending on the level of service you need. Heck, you could even arrange one yourself for no cost at all – provided you are friends with a number of book bloggers with high readership counts. You would still have to provide any merchandise for sales, giveaways, swag, etc, but at least you are able to make your sales pitch via podcast from the comfort of your home or office rather than deal with TSA. Plus this method allows you to reach a potentially much greater audience – assuming you do your homework, are selective of your partners, and prepare ahead.

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