Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BEA Breakdown - Networking and Name Dropping

If there is one thing I took away from BEA last year, it's that you need to be extremely organized. Create a networking game plan and STICK TO IT. No matter what happens, stick to your plan. Otherwise you will miss out on all the things that are important to you.

This year I was much more prepared:

*Droid in hand for split second photos, tweets, and texts
*Phone numbers for all of the people I planned to see and spend time with
*Business cards easily accessable
*A print out of my excel schedule spreadsheet listing author signings, books I wanted to get, and publishers I wanted to visit
*A bottle of water (for when the Javits gets too hot for comfort)
*Pre-arranged lunch dates with my two favorite Publishing Girls

The Publishers

When the flood gates opened, I made a bee-line for the Indies - straight through the tunnel and over to the high 4000's. I avoided the crazy crowds of people making mad dashes for the big name galleys and took my time meeting the publishers I have worked with over the past year - finally putting a face to the twitter handles and emails.

Two Dollar Radio: Not only are they one of my most favorite Indie publishing houses, but they were also giving away galleys of Joshua Mohr's upcoming release Damascus. His book was among the top on my "must have" list for BEA. Brothers Brian and Eric were there, all shy and quiet and sweet. I gushed over them and made them promise to never ever stop publishing books. For the entirety of BEA11, I sent everyone I knew or spoke to over to their booth. I could be overheard answering the question "so who is your favorite publisher?" with "Two Dollar Radio. They put out some really great shit!".

Otherpress: I popped over to their booth, asked who tweeted under their handle, and was greeted by Terrie - the Online Publicity and Social Media Manager. It was great to meet her in person and she seemed genuinely thrilled when I asked her what novels she would like me to review for them. Rather than carry a tote full of books around, she agreed to pull a few from the shelves and have them shipped out to me - I have no idea what is coming, but I am really looking forward to it's arrival.

Graywolf Press: I was extremely excited to finally meet one of my favorite publishing people face to face.. Marisa!! After much hugging, we calmed down enough to discuss her flight out to NYC, her first few hours of BEA, and our lunch date with Erica from Harper Perennial later that afternoon. Then Marisa did what she does best and pulled out a couple of Percival Everett novels for me to take home to review. She knows my tastes and I trust her judgement. We would go on to sneak coffee breaks and catch up at her booth throughout all of BEA. Of all the publishing people I met and hung out with, I miss her the most!

Soho Press: This is a new publisher connection for me. I love the look of their lineup, and want to build a closer relationship with them. Quite a few of the author signings found me lined up in front of their booth, and at one point I thought the dude who worked there looked extremely familiar. Trying not to stare, I racked my brain until I remembered where I had seen him. I excused myself for sounding crazy and asked him if he has recently read at Word Brooklyn as part of Blake Butler's reading marathon a few months back. "Hello 444. Hello 444." He confirmed, my memory was validated, and then we exchanged cards. Mark Doten, it was a pleasure to meet you, even if I came off a bit stalker and strange-ish.

Picador: I was introduced to Nicholas Richardson, their Digital Marketing Manager, among other cool Picador peeps, Monday evening. We had some pretty cool conversations about weirdo bus people, his I-Can't-Believe-I-Actually-Survived-Getting-Lost-on-the-Bus story, and the pros and cons of the indie and self-published crowds. I bumped into him at the MacMillian booth a few times and set up a meeting between him and my buddy Tara of BookSexyReview. He introduced me to his fiance Rachel, who works for St. Martin's, and was an overall, all around nice guy.

Harper Perennial: No bookish event would be complete without hanging out with Erica of HP. Not only does she and her publisher throw kick-ass blogger parties, as evidenced on Monday with their blogger lunch (where I met Greg Olear face to face after almost a year of communication over books) and Wednesday night at Bill's Gay 90's (where I hung with Greg, Andrew Shaffer, and Levi Asher), but she also hooks me up with some awesome places to eat. During BEA week, she led a few starving bloggers to Chipolte's for lunch. It was my very first time and it was yummy! We also enjoyed a small lunch with Marisa the first afternoon of BEA, and suffered through the Book Blogger Convention's Author Speed Dating together - *cringes at the memories* - but that's a whole other blog post!!

Unbridled: At The Book Blogger Convention I sat in on a panel that featured small Indie Press's who discussed partnerships with bloggers. Libby represented Unbridled and caught my attention right away. You all know how I feel about indies, the "underdogs" of the literary community, and how unfair I think it is that they need to reach out to bloggers for support, rather than having bloggers reach out to them. She made me want to work harder to spread the word about Independent publishing. We had a great conversation about the books they were releasing that they were afraid would go unnoticed but that they felt very strongly towards. I look forward to working more closely with her in the future.

Publishers I wish were at BEA: Atticus Books, Leapfrog Press

The Authors

Throughout all of BEA, I found myself rubbing elbows with some great authors. I have a deep appreciation for what they do, and how they do it. Getting a novel published is not an easy feat, and getting your novel read by the world is even harder.

Greg Olear: First introduced myself to him on Goodreads when I discovered his novel Totally Killer. Immediately began communicating via email and twitter and sharing our love of authors and great literature - I got him to read Ben Tanzer, and he got me to read Jessica Anya Blau. Met him face to face at the Harper Perennial Blogger lunch, was first in line to snag a signed copy of his upcoming release Fathermucker, and hung out with him a few more times throughout BEA week - chatting about all sorts of things. I got all fan girl when I had an opportunity to introduce him to Kit, Rachel, and Tara. "I'm a sucker for the author of Fathermucker!"

Andrew Shaffer: BEA ain't BEA without a run in with Andrew Shaffer! We met last year at the Book Blogger Reception. This year I had every intention of hitting his table for a signed copy of his newest release, but it overlapped with one of my lunch dates. Luckily I saw him wandering the floor of BEA later that afternoon, and stopped him to chat. Introductions to Kit and Tara (2/3rd's of my BEA posse) were had, and so were signed copies of his book with cute little doo-dads to boot! We also ended up hanging out at a party or two. Andrew is the king of sarcasm, and even though I am certain that half the time he is pulling my leg, he is always great company to be in.

Margaret Atwood: A literary icon. I was with my BEA posse and just happened to walk past the IdolVine stage as Margaret was introducing the breakthrough software. We stopped and gawked as she handpicked both Tara and Kit to approach the stage and interact with the author. Once IdolVine was over, we snagged a shot with her and her agent Phoebe, and I bravely asked her if she would like to participate in TNBBC's goodreads group discussion of her novel The Handmaid's Tale. I'm still keeping those fingers crossed!!

Diana Spechler: We met at Harper Perennial's Blogger lunch. She and I have a mutual author friend, Teddy Wayne (well, ok, he's more my acquaintance, and HER friend...). We also have a little of history between us - her recently released novel Skinny was supposed to be the center of a cool little blog series I had thought up last year, back when I was an overwhelmed and under-organized new blogger. She didn't let my faux pax come between us though. We chatted about the book and brainstormed other ways that we can work together. Her book will be featured as part of TNBBC's author/reader group discussions this summer, so be sure to snag a giveaway copy and join us when the time comes! I am really excited about introducing her to all of you!

Chuck Palahniuk : The elusive and twisted Chuckie P. (inside joke: if you know me, you understand) appeared at BEA. Hard core Palahniuk fans were lining up an hour before his signing creating pre-lines that Random House, god bless them, were trying their hardest to disperse. I was terrified of getting trampled when the real line went into effect so I initially backed off and backed out. Tara talked me into getting back in line, since I love so many of his novels, and I am glad she did. Even though it was a long wait, it was all worth it when we approached the table and met Chuck in person. He was an absolute sweetheart, all smiles and willing to converse as he personalized our novels with tidbits of our conversation. For someone who writes such fucked up shit, he is really quite normal :)

Other notable authors at BEA: Talia Carner, Alta Ifland, Bill Torgerson, Kristine Gasbarre, Gayle Weiswasser, Raymond Rose, Sandra Brannan.
Authors I wish were at/could have met at BEA: Joshua Mohr, Rob Kroese

The Bloggers

What is BEA if not a networking space for bloggers to meet other bloggers while they trip over each other to get their hands on galleys, their faces in front of the publishers, and they're crushes on the authors, right?

Rachel from A Home Between Pages: Rachel was my anchor at The 2010 Book Blogger Convention. I knew no one there and she happened to sit near me and we struck up a conversation. It's been blogger buddy-dom ever since. I was really looking forward to teaming up with her again and taking BEA and all it's parties by storm. She is an excellent NYC navigator, she has mastered the Art of Snark, and can talk books like nobody's bid'ness. We spent a lot of time together walking the floor, attending events, and being goofy and gabby girls.

Tara from Book Sexy Review: Of all the things that happened and of all the people I met, being reunited with Tara is by far my favorite experience of BEA. You can read how it all happened here. She and I were practically inseparable that week, and I share some of the most awesome BEA memories with her. We met Margaret Atwood and Chuckie P. together, we suffered through the god-awful Author Speed Dating event together, and we killed an hour with fantastic and I'm-not-going-to-lie-somewhat-over-my-head conversation with Greg Olear when we were all experiencing a bit of downtime! Even though BEA is over, Tara and Lori Take On The World time is not! We live extremely close to one another and plan on getting together on a regular basis to celebrate our love for the written word!

Kit from Books Are My Boyfriends: One of my favorite "discovery" moments was when Kit walked by me on the BEA floor. After calling out her name and gushing over how much I love her newbie blog and vlogs, we spent the better part of the day hanging out. She became part of my BEA Posse (see the girls above) and we networked the hell out of ourselves. She was there when Andrew Shaffer signed over his books to us, when we chatted up Greg Olear, and when we met Margaret Atwood. She is EXACTLY like her blog, full of spunk and energy, and an absolute riot to be around.

Heather from Age 30 Books: Heather and I met last year at the Book Blogger Reception. She was a Lost fan like me, and I'd followed her blog. This year, we spent some time together at Lolita's during the Bookrageous Bash, and I discovered we have one other thing in common - our inability to navigate the city OR a map! Ha! She made me feel so much less of a loser as we shared stories about how we could both get lost in a paper bag and need to position a map to reflect the angle at which we are physically standing in order to limit our chances of walking in the wrong direction. Ahhhhh....

Other notable bloggers of BEA: Colleen of Books in the City, Ra(y)chel of Books I Done Read, Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness, Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelves, Candace of Beth Fish Reads, Cassandra of Indie Reader Houston, and the elusive Reading Ape.
Bloggers I wish I had met: Melissa of The Sunday Book Review

Notable industry professionals that I had the immense pleasure of meeting

Otis Chandler of Goodreads: This was a huge deal for me. Otis founded Goodreads, which is the social networking site that stirred the sleepy reading gene in me. It's the site where I got my start in all things bookish, and meeting him was like meeting the president (at least, that's how I imagine it...shut up!). He was on the BBC panel for Technology and then sat at a roundtable with a bunch of bloggers brainstorming and sharing upcoming projects and tools for the site. I was just flattered that he was asking for my opinion on things, and recognized TNBBC as the largest group on his site. My little heart went pitter-patter!!

Levi Asher of Literary Kicks: Probably the oldest running literary blog out there, Levi is quite the book blogging idol. Very well versed in literature, very picky about what he reads and promotes, very low key but oh so powerful when he speaks. We met through Tara at the HP reception and conversed on favorite authors, our love of the indies, and building a blog people respect. It was really cool to meet him and pick his brain a bit. I believe there will be more conversations like that one in the future!

I believe that about does it for me kids! Phew! Who'da thunk BEA would be such hard and rewarding work?? I am thankful to everyone who spent time meeting me, chatting with me, and being harassed by me. I had a blast at BEA and BBC and cannot wait to do it all over again next year. Will I see you there?


  1. Wow, Otis is kind of a big deal! And yay that's so cool that he recognized TNBBC, but then again that's the group I credit with getting me back on the reading bandwagon.

    Awesome pics and I'm glad you had a fantastic BEA :-D

  2. Aw thanks for the shout out! I had a great time with you and it's always nice to know I'll have a buddy for pretty much every thing :)

  3. Anything, everything, you name it and I will bust my ass to be there :)

  4. Lori, you're the greatest! Thanks so much for the sugar, Sugar!

  5. It IS comforting to know that I'm not the only one who is "directionally challenged" ... :)

  6. I learned a lot reading about you and your relationships with the indie presses. You reaffirm my thought that when it comes to writing and having an audience, I need to just hang in there and talk to people. You certainly peaked my interest in those indie presses and the writers who work with them.



  7. Thanks Bill. It takes a while to build up an audience and ignite passion in people - especially when it comes to indie publishers and authors. The best advice, be patient. The audience will come. Talking to people certainly helps :)

  8. Had to weigh in to confirm Libby's awesomeness. She used to work at Harper and when I first started I worked on a catalog for her imprint. I loved working with her--she was always clear about what she wanted and always fun.

  9. Erica, thanks for weighing in! I hadn't known you guys worked together... I really enjoyed talking with her at BEA. She's got such a passion for literature!