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.
Sounds like you had a great time–wish I could have been there! How cool to have your own fans lining up to meet you while you’re lining up to meet your own favorite authors in turn. It must be surreal.
I did have a fantastic time! I hope I never get the point where BEA is just another show…it’s really fun!
I am published with small presses too and wish one of them would’ve sent me…*cries* I so want to do BEA one of these years but not as a reader as an author signing copies….*sighs* So great you had a good experience!
It was a definite perk! I did see a few writers who bought their own booths, which is always an option if your publisher doesn’t opt for that kind of marketing. The culture at BEA is giveaways rather than sales, so I suppose the writers wrote it off as one giant promotional expense.
I got to meet you briefly as I was leaving BEA. I remember I had to say no to a signed book because the bag I had for travel was already packed but you came prepared with a free digital copy! Smart thinking and I really, really appreciated it.
Those digital copies really came in handy! Hope you’re having fun working your way through all the great books from BEA. I’ve barely made a dent in my pile. It was great to meet you there!