Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oh BEA...How I Wish I Were at You Right Now...

The Book Expo of America--BEA--is one of the largest annual events in the book publishing industry. Booksellers, buyers, authors, agents, in-house publishing folk, and even consumers come from all over the country to convene at the Javits Center in NYC every summer.

Lectures, lunches, booths, panels, and signings, BEA has it all. (This year, it even has Rick Springfield! :-o.) And while every attendee leaves with a massive number of free books and galleys, it's not all rainbows and butterflies.

After attending the opening day of BEA yesterday, agent Janet Reid (love her!) has some interesting things to say about her love-hate relationship with the expo on her hilarious blog:

BEA is the both a revival meeting and trade show for the publishing industry. We come from all corners of the country, the globe really, and talk to each other about the terrible dire straits publishing is in, how it was so much better way back when, and how we really can't see ourselves doing anything else. Honest, it's kinda fun in a Eeyore kind of way.Today was the first real day even though the actual show doesn't open till tomorrow.

Today was the chance for seminars and panels, the chance to remember where the Javits Center is and that water costs $3.00 a bottle so bring some from the corner bodega tomorrow.

The first presentation I attended was "Bringing Your Authors to the Social Media Party...and Getting Them to Stay." Frankly I'm not sure if the presenters didn't know what the title was or didn't have a clue how to actually do what the title said. It was worse than useless as a panel because it made social media sound corporate, difficult and not much fun. None of those are true.

It was all I could do not to leap up, grab the mic and say "ok, who here understands that Twitter is simply about making friends?" and then talk about how to make friends. Because honestly that really IS what Twitter is about. The reason that's important: marketing studies tell us (and have for YEARS) that word of mouth is the most effective form of book publicity.

Let me say that again:
Word of mouth is the most effective form of book publicity.

How do you get people to talk about your book?
You meet them and befriend them.

How do you do that?
(And a myriad of other ways.)

It's not rocket science. And it's fun.

I think what annoyed me most about the panel is that it was clear they weren't even familiar with what authors in trade publishing need to do, or the barriers they face. The panelists described themselves as publishers, but their company is a software company, and what they publish looked and sounded like books for established customers.

This is apples and oranges with trade publishing.

Unfortunately I was trapped on the inside row, and it was too early in the morning to levitate out of my seat and leapfrog over the assembled multitude, so I just suffered. As did most of the people around me when the session (finally!) ended and we rolled our eyes at each other.

Read the rest of her post HERE

Personally, I love BEA. I've only gotten to attend once though when I was in the sales department, and I didn't really have to participate in quite the same way Janet did. I'd definitely be interested in checking it out again though with my editorial position in mind!

Oh well. Maybe next year.


  1. I wish I were at BEA too. I used to volunteer in order to get a badge, but they foolishly held it in the middle of the week this year! ARGH.

    I think you need to time share someone else's badge. Surely it'd be good for you to go and experience the floor. Maybe you'll get great editorial ideas! ... Contracts is never invited.

    -Emily K.

  2. I didn't even know it existed. Because I am lame. Maybe next year. *sigh*