I participated in the Combined Book Exhibit New Title Showcase at Book Expo America for 2015, and before I shoved my money over to them, I had no clue what to expect out of it because I couldn’t find ONE PERSON who’d participated before reviewing the service.
There were many other people on forums ASKING about it, and their questions would either go unanswered, or people would answer who’d never used the service, saying how would one know that their book(s) were there if they didn’t attend, how it’s a waste of money, how people have better things to do there than peruse the New Title Showcase, what if somebody there stole the book, how they don’t market YOUR particular book but simply put it on a shelf, etc., essentially talking the poster out of trying it. And that’s not fair, is it? These people who’ve NEVER tried it, don’t know people who’ve tried, or anything else about it aren’t giving the service a chance before shitting all over it and talking people who are interested out of trying because they know these people are on the fence.
So, here is the review of my experience:
What the Showcase’s About/How It Works
Combined Book is a book marketing company; what they do (at the biggest book events in the country) is setup New Title Showcases, and obtain books from authors or publishing companies to display in the showcases for a fee, then put your or your publishing company’s contact information in a catalogue. Each book is assigned a number, and anybody (from book buyers to individuals to publishers) can search the catalogue, which is available online, for the book or author, then use the contact information to place orders for the book(s) or whatever business they may have with the author or publishing company.
It is TRUE that your book is not being shoved into anybody’s face; it is on display, though, and people at the book expo may wander up to the books, if they’re interested.
So, here’s what the process was like for me:
I went online,
registered my book,
emailed my cover,
sent my book,
and that’s it.
What happened BEFORE the expo?
I found it to be very difficult to get people to email me from Combined Book, to be perfectly honest; I wound up having to call them, and I spoke with Chris, who was not only super helpful, but fantastically sweet. He invited me to call him directly if I ever needed anything, or email him directly, I accepted his offer. As a matter of fact, he was the only one I worked with throughout the process.
When I registered, my cover didn’t exist; he said it wasn’t an issue, and to email him if it was completed, which I did. Later, they sent me an email with a link to their online catalogue, so I looked up ‘The Black Swan Company,’ only to find a completely different cover that was definitely NOT my book; I emailed Chris, and he fixed the issue, along with making a few changes to my contact details. Didn’t bitch about it, even once to me, haha.
The thing that Chris did for me, though, that was the most helpful, was tell me that if my book arrived to their office late, it was fine, and that he’d check the office before he went to the city the morning of the expo; I didn’t need him to do that for me, as I received my book from the printers way ahead of time, but it was not lost on me how great that level of customer service was, and he scored major points for it.
So, even though the others could be a bit unresponsive, Chris was above and beyond.
What happened DURING the expo?
It was frustrating, in a way.
I was desperately tweeting, trying to get some kind soul to take a picture with my book, because I honestly didn’t know if it made it there, and NOBODY responded. I even offered to give them a free ebook if they tweeted the picture: NOTHING.
So, I tweeted the Combined Book’s account, AND sent them a message on Facebook, asking to PLEASE take a picture of my book…and they didn’t respond.
But the morning after, this was tweeted AND messaged back:
It was there, and that’s what I cared about.
And there were a few hits on my website, though, that could be from Twitter, Facebook, or whatever. No books were being sold from my printer, either.
What happened AFTER the expo?
I have had nothing: No emails, no hits on my website, no books sold, nothing.
Was it worth it?
This is going to sound strange, but I think it was.
$299 plus the base price of my book (which I doubt I’ll get back) plus the cost of shipping IS a lot of money to me; I don’t wipe my ass with $100 bills, I’m not rich, and I don’t go around spending money like whoa. But this was something that I’d budgeted for; I can only get ripped-off ONCE…all subsequent times, I’m flushing money down the toilet.
The thing is, if I hadn’t done it, I would’ve wondered if I should’ve done it, and THAT was worth the cost of everything I paid. It was in the same space as publishers, authors, and (most importantly) people who’re just wanting a good book to discover, whereas, it wouldn’t’ve been had I not signed up for the showcase; that was worth it, too.
Would you do it again?
Me, personally? No. I did it, and I’m satisfied that I gave myself the chance, and that’s all that I set out to accomplish.
Would you recommend that I do it?
Why the hell not?
Putting your book in the showcase may open a door for you; it might need that one right person to find it, whether that be a publisher or agent, or a consumer who needs your message, your story, and what you have to offer…and that’s worth a shot, isn’t it?
What did you learn?
That they have one sweet, easy fucking business plan. Jesus christ…$299 per book…a thousand or so books…and all they need to do is haul it to the city once a year, enter some data into a catalogue, put them on the bookshelves, then take them down again?