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Countdown to Frankfurt part two: Preparing for meetings
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In the second of a three-part series of blogs, Ruth Tellis and Clare Hodder of Rights2, partners on our Frankfurt Rights Showcase, offer advice for successful appointments
The Frankfurt Book Fair is now just six weeks away! In this, the second of our three-part series of blogs on preparing for the Fair, we will be looking at the things you should be focusing on this month.
You should by now have flights, accommodation and entrance tickets sorted, but if not, get them booked up as soon as possible. You should also know what titles you want to pitch at the Fair, and who you want to pitch them to. If you still need to address any of this, see our first blog.
September’s work is all about preparing for your appointments, and falls into two areas: title preparation and customer preparation.

1 Title preparation

Rights Guides

Having decided which titles you want to promote, the next stage is to collate information about them to show to prospective rights buyers. Larger companies develop specific rights catalogues known as Rights Guides, but you can also collate a selection of AIs or ANs, or use a general sales catalogue.
Whichever option you choose, each title should include details of the author, publication date, pagination, blurb and the rights available to be sold. It is also nice to include information on format, illustrations, author biography and USPs. A table of contents can be useful depending on the type of book, and a cover image, even a draft, makes a book more memorable.
Your Rights Guide or alternative should be available in print form—which is easier to work through with buyers than a tablet or laptop—and in digital form so that you can send it out to those not attending, to anyone who wants to review your content ahead of the fair, or as part of your follow-up.

Pitching

You have a very limited amount of time in book fair meetings, so you need to be able to get across the most relevant information succinctly. Remember that for many of your customers English will not be their first language, which makes it even more important to speak clearly and not try to convey too much information all at once. It is therefore worth reviewing each title and practicing your pitch.
For each title you plan to promote, make a list of the key selling points, remembering to put yourselves in the shoes of an acquiring editor. They will want to understand why the book is important, unique or special. What marks it out from similar books? They will want to know who the book is aimed at, and anything that makes it relevant to their market. They will also want to know about the author, their background and whether they have any local connections.
Practice delivering your USPs so that you can confidently present the most useful information about your titles to prospective rights buyers. Make a crib sheet to refer to if you need.

Other material

If you have your own stand you will have some display space, but even if you don’t you might be able to squeeze in a couple of books to carry around to meetings. It is worth having at least one or two sample books with you so that you can demonstrate the quality of your publications and the look and feel of your brand.
Very often prospective buyers will ask if you have a title on a specific subject, or want more information on a series or an author’s previous work. For that reason, it can be helpful to have ready access to a printed full title catalogue or list, so that you don’t have to rely on wi fi connections to look things up.

Files

Hopefully when you return home you will have a nice list of people interested in your publications. You therefore need to know what material you will have available to send, so that you can advise the prospective buyer accordingly in your meeting, and account for their preferences (eg to see early material or wait for a final version). Collating proofs or final PDFs for the titles you are pitching, so that you can access them easily when you are doing your follow-up, will save you time later on.

2 Customer preparation

Once you know who you are meeting, it is worth doing a little bit of work to make sure you maximize the limited amount of time you have with them.
If an appointment is with a contact or business that you have not met before, spend some time looking at their website and trying to understand more about them. What markets do they aim at, and which subject areas are they strongest in? Who are their key authors? What’s the size of their list? Is there anything specific that you would like to know more about, or areas where you think there may be good synergies? You can use this knowledge as a basis to start your conversations with them.
If an appointment is with someone you have had previous contact with, it can still be worth checking out their website to see if anything seems to have changed. You should also remind yourself of your previous interactions. If they already have content under review, the meeting will be an opportunity to find out how they are getting on. If they have acquired books from you previously, check whether they are up to date with any contractual obligations and note anything you need to chase up, like final copies, advance payments or royalties.
We usually make a brief agenda for each appointment, with notes of things we would like to discuss as well as ideas for titles that might be suitable for them. We often include contact details we have on file for them and their data protection status so that we can check those are up to date too.
Time spent preparing for your appointments thoroughly will really help ensure you get the maximum benefit from your short meetings. In our final post in early October we will look at what to pack, how to conduct meetings effectively and managing the dreaded follow-up!
Clare Hodder and Ruth Tellis are co-founders of Rights2, an agency specializing in helping people to get started on their rights selling journey. They are hosting a special ‘Selling Rights at Frankfurt’ online workshop from 10am to 12pm on Friday 27 September, providing more tips for preparation, conducting appointments and follow-up, and with opportunities to hone practical skills and ask for guidance on specific issues. IPG members can get a special discounted rate of £60 (normal price £75) by registering here. For any more information, email Ruth.
Read Clare and Ruth’s first blog about preparing for the Frankfurt Book Fair here

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