The AUSA annual meeting and expo is a military-focused, specialized trade show and conference. As such, one might think that a university press might not benefit from attending or exhibiting at it. Because UNG Press publishes books in partnership with the AUSA Book Program, however, it proved an ideal event to reach our target readers, sell our books, and gain exposure.
This year is the first year we’ve exhibited and sold our books there. So we learned what worked for us, what didn’t, and what we might improve next year. And we will exhibit at next year’s meeting because our regular presence will let our target readers (and authors) know how serious we are about acquiring, publishing, and selling AUSA Book Partnership titles.
The AUSA Book Program provided us with a booth at which to advertise our presence and sell our books. Other booths exhibited ammunition, body armor, communications, tanks, and helicopters. The exhibit venue was filled to the brim with attendees from all over the world and buzzed with activity. UNGP’s Director and Managing Editor greeted passersby, offered sell sheets for UNGP titles, met other vendors, and sold books (sold almost every copy we brought with us). Next year, we will do the same; however, we hope to draw even more people to our booth by bringing “swag” like pens and offering book giveaways. We will bring more copies of each of our AUSA titles, since we could have sold even more this year. And we will tie selling particular titles more closely with their attending authors.
The AUSA Book Program holds an authors’ forum to which they invite authors of AUSA Book Partner titles. This year’s UNGP author invitees were R.D. Hooker (Beyond Vom Kriege: The Character and Conduct of Modern War) and Russell W. Glenn (ed., Trust and Leadership: The Australian Army Approach to Mission Command). At the forum, they both gave PowerPoint presentations on their respective books and answered audience questions. They stayed every day of the conference and sat at an authors’ table where they met with attendees and autographed their books. They both engaged with their readers with remarkable energy and goodwill.
We plan to add to these strengths by giving away signed copies of next year’s author attendees and hosting timed author readings and book signings (probably as close to the author forum as possible). We will video record our own interviews with them and highlight them in pre-meeting and post-meeting social media posts. The best part of the meeting was talking with these authors; meeting their friends, families, and colleagues; learning what worked in the author-editor relationship and what might be improved; and hearing about their future writing projects.
The next best part was networking: meeting and strategizing with Joseph Craig, the book program director; authors; bloggers; army museum curators; and fellow publishers. We gathered many business cards, email addresses, and newsletters, and will follow up with them now through next year. That follow up will include exhibiting at other conferences with shared interests, especially the Society for Military History conference and other AUSA events like next year’s AUSA LANPAC Symposium and Exposition in Honolulu, HI. Who can resist exhibiting books in Honolulu?