Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Expo America

Like thousands of others, I will be heading to Los Angeles this week to attend Book Expo America.

The convention brings together publishers large and small, booksellers, librarians, famous authors, aspiring writers, and thousands of reporters and bloggers.

In other words, it’s a place to go to feel small.

Since I have never been to a convention with 37,000 other people, I sought out advice. Too bad it’s so contradictory I don’t know what to think:

“Every writer should go to BEA at least once, if only to see how the publishing industry works,” I heard numerous times.

“It’s depressing to go and realize that your book has to compete for attention with all the thousands of other books out there,” is another familiar refrain.

“I don’t go to do business; I just go to see my friends,” one book store owner told me.

“Don’t expect anything out of it,” a veteran attendee told me.

“Everyone is so busy that you have to make appointments or you won’t get to talk to anybody.”

“The best meetings are the ones that happen serendipitously,” is another observation.

“If you don’t have galleys, take your business card and an excerpt from your book and give it to anyone who may be interested,” was one piece of advice.

“I go back to my hotel room every night and throw away all the paper and half the galleys I have gotten during the day,” someone else told me.

“As an author, don’t expect to get any attention. Don’t give away postcards with the cover of your book because no one cares.”

“Follow up with an email after the event.”

“Just go and have fun.”

I’m not sure what my plan of attack will be. Am I going there as a blogger, an author, or a voyeur? Will I be invited to any of the parties that count? Or will I be relegated to the sidewalk to massage my aching feet?

Stay tuned.


Harriet Chessman said...

Hello Frances! I shall add my small account of BEA: I've gone once, and had no idea ahead of time (a) what this WAS, (b) how many people would be there, (c) how far away my table would be from the central action, (d) how challenging it would be to engage in actual conversations, more than skin (or book cover) deep, and (e) how much fun I'd have talking to a handful of other authors looking as startled and discomfited (and amused) as I felt.

Have a great time!! I think you're going as a wonderful blogger AND an author, and as an observer of our culture in one of its more fascinating aspects.

Victoria King said...

Hey Frances,

Here's hoping you're not relegated to the sidewalk. But if you're bored, run around to the iUniverse booth and check out the book, Titanic: Relative Fate. (Sadly, I, the author, can't attend.) Thanks!


Peter Richardson said...

Frances, I'm here for BEA, too. Seems unlikely we will bump into each other, but I hope you enjoy the spectacle. Readers and writers might prefer the LA Times Festival of Books, which I attended for the first time this year and enjoyed immensely. It's free, mixes indoor and outdoor activity, has strong panels, and is fun.