Monday, 7 March 2011

Focus On Opportunities.

While you're reading this, I shall be battling my way through crowds similar to those in this picture. In fact, I could even be in this picture here, because it was taken at last year's Focus On Imaging Show at the NEC in Birmingham.  (If you think you've spotted me, I should be standing next to a (shorter) bloke with little hair - also known as my Dad.)

Anyway, assuming the drivers of Arriva Trains Wales have done as they've promised and finished their strike action on Sunday night, I should be shuffling my way between stands at Europe's largest photographic trade show. But what has this got to do with writing? The answer is - Opportunities. Trade shows and exhibitions offer a wealth of opportunities, whatever the specialist trade or subject matter.

Firstly, look out for magazines. At the Focus On Imaging Show, many of the photographic magazines will be there. Not the editorial team, but the subscriptions department, looking to sign up new subscribers. What this means though, is that you may come across magazines that you don't see on your local newsagents shelf. That could be because your newsagents simply can't carry a wide range of magazines, or perhaps the magazine is aimed at a specific trade or professional body, and therefore, is not available in the shops.

These subscription stands appreciate that people may not want to take a subscription at the show (although there may be a tempting 'show offer') but what they also do is sell back copies cheaply. I've bought back copies of magazines for £1 at trade shows like this. Whereas the current copy may cost £4, I'll pick up the previous three issue for £3. That's great value for market analysis!

Alternatively, you can often buy the current issue at normal price, useful in itself if the publication isn't available in your local newsagents.

 Of course, these shows are a great place to get to know a target publication's readership! You're standing right next to them!

Publishers sometimes attend these shows - especially niche publishers. It was whilst I was at the Outdoors Show one year, that I came across a stand selling outdoor books. It wasn't a book retailer, but a publisher, and they also had copies of their latest catalogue available, which I took. Flicking through it at home a few days later, I had an idea for a book and after a bit more research, put forward a proposal, which became my fifth book, Best Walks in the Welsh Borders.

It goes without saying that, with so many people at events like this, the opportunities for eavesdropping are great! At last year's show, I overheard one woman say to a gentleman, "Here, yours doesn't extend that far!" They were looking at the equipment on a tripod stand, but I may find use for that in an article or short story one day!

So, next time you go to a trade show with friends or family, enjoy your day out, but keep wearing that writer's hat of yours. You never know what writing opportunities may arise from it!

Good luck!

(PS - if you want to know what I did on the day of World Book Night, visit my new personal blog, on my recently revamped website at )


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  2. I hope it was a productive day! Next time I go too an expo I'll go with my writer's head on!

    Also worth entering any competitions they sometimes have running. My OH has won a Wii and an ipod at computer events just by taking part.