Here is an excerpt from the book "Get Your Greeting Cards into Stores."
Tip #5: Visit Trade ShowsTrade shows are a good place to look for reps. These are events where manufacturers (and sales reps) display products to prospective buyers. The primary goal of a wholesale trade show is for manufacturers to sell their products to retail stores.
As an artist, you might feel like an oddball when you visit a tradeshow, since you are not a buyer, seller or exhibitor, but I believe it is good idea to visit at least one show before you start working with reps.
Visiting a tradeshow will help you see where you fit in the industry. You can learn how different publishers and manufacturers present their products. It is very different from going to a craft fair.
All shows have special requirements for entry, and in some cases you might be asked to pay a $50 or $100 fee to get it. Most shows are free, but it is usually worth paying it since there are classes and seminars available at the show.
The most popular show for greeting card designers is the annual National Stationery Show http://nationalstationeryshow.com/ but if you can’t get to New York, it’s still very helpful to visit a gift show near you. There is a list of tradeshows on the Greatrep blog at http://www.greatrep.com/trade_shows.asp
As an artist, there are etiquette guidelines you should be aware of when visiting a show. For example, you should not interrupt a buyer and seller talking in a booth. Make sure the booth is empty before you enter it and keep your conversation brief. Once you determine if the person in the booth is a rep, ask her if she ever looks at new lines, and if she does, ask her if it would be OK for you to send her some samples of your cards. You can request her business card for later contact.
It is helpful to bring greeting card samples to a show and have a one-sentence description of what your line is about. More often than not, she will be helpful and sympathetic. If you meet some potential reps, it’s always good wait a couple of weeks before you contact them since they are often busy processing orders after a show.
If you can’t make it to any shows because you live too far away, go to the tradeshow’s website, and look for the list of exhibitors. Often, there are several names of sales reps in the exhibitor listings.
*Read Tip #6 (of 7) next Wednesday.
If you already make your own greeting cards, this book explains how to get your cards into stores and sell them sell nationwide. Included are guidelines on: how to price your cards for a profit, how to get professional feedback, where to find a sales representative and and what industry standards you should follow. All the information is also applicable to gift items, such as magnets, journals, calendars, collectibles, etc.