BookExpo America was not what I expected. From years of reading tweets and blog posts about the event, I expected to see book bloggers fighting to the death over ARCs. I anticipated roving gangs of stalker-fans, ready to riot if a book signing ended too early for their liking. I just knew I’d see librarians posing as on-site food vendors, slipping deadly nightshade into $5 bottled water for book bloggers. Or wild-eyed aspiring writers lying in wait for agents, armed with a stack of business cards and copies of their manuscripts. Yes, sort of a literary cabal of strangeness, a real Lord of the Flies for the publishing set.
Yeah, it was none of that.
I attended BEA for the first time this year, sent to New York by the publisher of THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS, Bitingduck Press, for a book signing event. Considering my expectations, nothing could have prepared me to walk into the Javits Center on Friday morning. True, I was a little slap happy for lack of sleep–I’d rolled out of bed at 4:20am in order to catch a 6am train to New York, but everything seemed so . . . sedate. The crowds were orderly. Everyone was friendly. No one tried to stab me for my rolling suitcase full of books (and rubber duckies) for my signing.
In all seriousness, I had the best time at BEA. I tried not go in with much of a plan. Yeah, I read up about which authors would be there for signings, and which ARCs would be available. I looked over the exhibitor list. But for the most part I just went into BEA with the expectation that I would leisurely futz around the show randomly. Because of that, I had an incredibly stress-free experience, and I still got a lot of out the show.
There was one book I desperately wanted to pick up: Maile Meloy’s sequel to The Apothecary. She was signing copies of The Apprentices at 11am, and I was first in line. Maile is incredibly nice, and I’m super grateful to have an opportunity to pick up an early copy of her novel.
I also had the opportunity to meet the Bloom folks! I’ve been working with Sonya Chung and Lisa Peet since January, so it was lovely to get together with them in-person. If you’re not reading Bloom, what are you waiting for?
My own signing event was a 4pm at the Independent Book Publisher’s Association booth. So much fun! I met some truly amazing people (including the IBPA booth staff, who are wonderful). The fabulous Lisa Amowitz stopped by for a book, among many others. One of the really neat things about BEA was meandering around the IBPA booth and seeing my novel sitting on the display shelf . . . and watching several people take photographs of it, presumably to order later. When you have a novel out with a small press, with limited distribution and marketing efforts, the kind of exposure you get at BEA is just . . . well, insert your own superlative here.
My one regret: I did not get to see Grumpy Cat. I hear he was a bit of a diva.