I have them sectioned out, so feel free to skim or skip entire topics. I know my life is not all that exciting to everyone. It's going to be a long one!
The Book Expo of America (BEA)
My personal experience
This event was held May 26 - May 28. I did not attend the BEA on Tuesday for the conferences. I was working overtime to pay myself back for the expense of driving back and forth and parking all day in NYC. And mentally preparing myself for my first solo trip into the city. Not only had I never been to the city alone, I hadn't ever even driven there. My husband is the designated driver whenever we take a trip out there. So I was a big old ball of nerves.
Turns out I really didn't need to be. After getting advice from some friends at work, who have lived in the city and visit quite often, and borrowing my mother's GPS, and bringing written directions to boot, I felt I was well prepared. And I most certainly was!
I was out the door Wednesday morning by 5am, in order to beat the rush hour traffic, which I did. The trip was wonderfully simple and painless.
I parked at Port Authority, an easy on/easy off location whose perk is self-parking.. which means I have access to my car at all times. I hate those garages that park your car on those lifts, so you have no way of getting anything out of them, or putting anything into them without having the parking attendant maneuver cars around.
I hightailed my butt out of the station, hooked a right, and marched myself all the way down to the Javits Center - which was roughly a 20 minute walk. I walked through it's doors at 7:30am, registered, and since I paid through the Book Blogger Con, I got a press pass and was allowed to walk the BEA showroom floor before all of the other people. I must have walked the entire floor 5 times that morning, casing it out, seeing which ARC's and Galleys the publishers were laying out for us. I wasn't allowed to take anything yet, but I was making mental notes of the booths I wanted to hit first.
At 9am, the doors were opened to everyone, and it was a mad rush to the booths. I swear, it was like these people have never seen a book before! There was pushing and shoving and people knocking other people out of their way. I had an older man shove me backwards to get to a stack of books on the floor. I was flabbergasted. I wanted to punch him in his beer belly and ask what happened to the manners I know his momma taught him. Geesh!
Once the madness died down, and that inital rush into the showroom passed, the crowd became less violent, and a little more human. Perusing the isles, you were handed canvas bags, pins, posters, tshirts, as well as books from the publishing companies.
At first, I took just about every book I saw or was handed. By 10am, my back was breaking under the weight of the books in the bags on my shoulders. I think it was around this time that I met up with Bridgit.
Bridgit is a long-time member of TNBBC on goodreads, and has been sooo wonderful to me the last few months by answering all my thousands of questions about BEA. She is a seasoned BEA attendee. I found her back by the author autographing booths. She had an excel schedule printed out of all the publishers and authors, complete with times and locations, to guide her through her day. She was a woman on a mission. Since I was underprepared, I asked if I could follow her for a bit till I got my bearings. It was amazing watching her move through the crowd and bounce from line to line.
At 11:30am, Bridgit and I parted ways, and I attempted to walk back out into the city to drop off my two bags at the car. It was stifling hot outside, and I couldn't make it more than two blocks before hailing cab. My shoulders thanked me!
I walked back down to BEA, stopping at a subway for a quick tuna sandwich. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking up and down all the aisles, picking up the galley copies that were laid out at the booths, waiting for author signatures (I had books signed by James Patterson and Jonathan Lethem), and introducing myself to the publishers who have been suppling me with review copies for my blog.
The women of Graywolf Press were so friendly. Marisa, the woman who supplies me with my galleys, was not able to attend, but her co-workers were prepared for me. We chatted about the publishing industry and preparations for the BEA.
Then I met Erica from HarperCollins. She is so cute and bubbly! I absolutely LOVE her. We dished on books, our husbands, and the new HarperCollins releases.
The remainder of my afternoon was spent lugging books around until I thought I was going to pass out. I called it quits at 4pm, and took a cab back to my car, homeward bound.
Day two I was determined not to go. My whole body was in shock and I was exhausted. But once I got the kids on the bus, and showered, I felt revived. Plus there was a Book Blogger Con pre-meetup that night and I didn't want to miss it. So I hopped in the car and arrived in the city by noon. The afternoon was basically a repeat of the day before, packing my bags full of books, and hob-knobbing with the publishing people. But with more new books!!
Publishers and Books
There were an uncountable amount of publishers with booths at the BEA. Here are the ones that I was most impressed with - based on their catalog, galleys, and/or staff:
HarperCollins - always putting something new out for us to take away, great titles, and of course, Erica works there!
GrayWolf Press - I like their catalog, alot! And they are wonderful people.
Random House - They had in booth signings and galleys the entire time, like clockwork. Fabulous!
New York Review Books - They didnt have any galleys, but I looked over their catalog, and I want EVERYTHING in it!
Akashic Books - They are publishing Arthur Nersesian's new novel. 'Nuff said.
Consortium - They cover a HUGE array of smaller publishing companies, with books covering just about every genre.
SoftSkull Press - They are sort of a niche seller, but look good. No galleys here, sadly.
For a peek at the lovely new books I brought home with me - both signed, and not, check out my goodreads splurge thread posts #8624 and 8629. 65 books overall. Not bad, methinks!
The Book Blogger Con Pre-Meetup
This was FUN! The meet-up was for authors, publishers, and bloggers to hang out, network, and just have an all around good time. It ran from 4pm - 6pm, and I met so many great people.
Erica from HarperCollins introduced me to her co-worker Kyle, who works in Hardcover. I enjoyed talking to him, he entirely crushed my image of what it's like working in a publishing house, but still managed to make it sound fascinating.
I met Rachel from TNBBC goodreads - who ended up being my Book Blogger Con partner in crime. She blogs at A Home Between the Pages. She is a total sweetheart, and struggles with the same things I do when it comes to blogging, and followers, and whatnot. She loves to read the award winning books, while I tend to stick to the indies, so I plan on stalking her blog all the time now!
There were two awesomely awesome first time authors there who I completely loved talking to. The first was Teddy Wayne. He wrote Kapitoil, of which I hope to get a galley of! We hung with the HarperCollins crew for a bit, chatting about "following" people in the room and how this is acceptable behavior, where, 5 years ago if you said you were "following" someone it would be construed as "stalking". Oh how times they are a'changing.
I also met Justin Kramon, who wrote Finny, which releases in July. He was neat to talk to as well. We discussed his writing process and which authors he likes to read. We had a few in common, and he is a huge fan of John Irving.
April from TNBBC goodreads was there as well. We bumped into each other accidently in the meet-up. I love being able to put names to faces.
Then the night came to an end, and it was back to the car, and the long drive home.
The 1st Annual Book Blogger Convention (BBC)
The event was created and hosted by Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin', Rebecca from The Book Lady's Blog, and Michelle from GalleySmith, and Natasha from Maw Books. I thought they did an awesome job!
We had Swag Bags filled with Galley's, gifts, and goodies; A tasty breakfast; and informative panel interviews on blogging.
Maureen Johnson, a YA author, was the Keynote Speaker, and she was fabulous. Very funny, very chatty.
Then Ron Hogan, formerly of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, led the convention by discussing Professionalism and Ethics in Blogging. He asked us to think about the following things:
What binds you to your readers?
What is your focus?
Where are you pointing your readers?
What new perspective do you bring your readers?
Do you know the territory?
What do your readers do next?
After a yummy lunch of deli sandwich's and meeting more really cool people, we listened to discussions on Writing and Building Content:
How do we find a voice, as bloggers, and remain true to it?
Using regular features or a blog series to keep the readers coming back?
During the Marketing Hour (my favorite), we covered:
Building and reaching out to the Blogging Community
Making our blog into a Brand
Using the RSS feed for accessibility
And whether STATS are important to us
I liked this one best because it covered the things I feel I struggle most with. I don't like following or blogging those viral meme's that everyone seems to be pushing (not that there is anything wrong with them, mind you), and I haven't yet had any regular series or theme to my blog, which worried me a bit. So I felt the panel gave me lots of things to think about, which I greatly appreciated.
The next panel was on Blogging with Social Responsibility - using your blog to raise awareness, fund raise, or just plain old vent with people who share your ideas. They covered Platforming and Community, and one topic drew alot of conversation from the group - Racism in Publishing: from people of color to gay and lesbian struggles. It was wonderful to hear how people use their blogs to advocate for equal rights when it comes to publishing and being represented fairly.
The final panel discussion covered the Impact of the Relationship Between Authors and Bloggers. It was refreshing to hear the panel talk about how they felt authors were unreachable, like movie stars, when they all first began blogging. Because I had felt the same way many years ago, when I first started TNBBC on Goodreads. I enjoyed listening to their experiences.
They also discussed the differences between positive and negative reviews, and having to write a negative review for authors that you know personally. While this is not something that I struggle with myself, it seemed there were many bloggers who did. So I thought it was great of them to talk about it.
I had to bite my tongue at the end however, when the topic veered over to self published authors. There seemed to be this unfair stigma where some bloggers would rather not read self published works without proof of references and reviews, and even sample chapters. I adore many self published authors, and don't view their work any differently than mass produced best sellers.
Please don't misunderstand me, the conversation was not bashing self published authors, by any means. I just got the feeling that the bloggers on the panel just had not had enough experience with that type of publishing to speak well on the topic.
I met Avis, who very recently won one of my blog giveaways for The Map of True Places. That was really exciting. She blogs at she reads and reads.
To Sum It All Up
Ahhhh.. sorry for being so long winded. That is not usually like me.
It was such an exciting time for me, hanging out with people who love and obsess over the same things I do. Being around people who's first question to you after your introduce yourself is "Who do you like to read?". I was in heaven and I am very sad to see it all come to an end. Now it's back to real life. Laundry, dishes, bills, work... they are all sitting here waiting for me.
But at least I have my new friends, and their business cards, as well as all these new shiny galleys waiting to be read!!!!
Until next year.....