A visit to NYC is always good for several blog posts, but Julie Farrar of Traveling Through asked me to share my experiences at Book Expo America (BEA), so that seems like the place to start.
My much-beloved editor, Jill Bailin, met me at BEA on its last day, Thursday, June 7. Jill and I met via Elance for The Foreign Language of Friends, and she’s now shepherding me through Blood and Loam, showing great kindness and compassion as I work through this challenging novel. She’s also a BEA veteran, having been a few times before, so she showed me the ropes.
BEA, for those not familiar, is a trade show that connects publishers to booksellers. Attendees can hobnob both with emerging and well known authors, and I was just a few feet away from Dan Rather himself as he chatted with those in a long queue to meet him. Dan looks pretty good, even better than on television, I think. Even at my age, I can get a bit starstruck at times.
Before Jill came along I had about an hour to myself, so I explored the electronic publishing booths. I’ve learned a few things from e-publishing The Foreign Language of Friends (which I’ll probably blog about at some point), so I had LOTS of questions for potential future vendors. Of course, I made my way over to the Amazon booth, where they were presenting their Kindle Direct Publishing program. We heard from Diane Darcy, a successful e-book author who has made more than a million bucks in the past few years through the program. Darcy is a prolific writer of romance with “a touch of magic”. Although I don’t see it emphasized on her website, I heard “vampires” when she was introduced. It seems as though the book-buying public still can’t get enough of vampires and zombies. Darcy has slapped up something like 27 books onto Amazon in the past few years. I don’t know how many of them she had already written, but e-publishing seems to work in favor of volume producers. I can’t say I learned anything from the talk, but it’s always inspiring to see an author in person who is doing well.
And, of course, sex sells. If you have any questions, just look at the 50 Shades of Gray trilogy. At one point Jill and I meandered over to a booth with a huge banner of a man and woman in a steamy embrace. The guys working the booth had shaved heads, bulging muscles, and tight t-shirts that said, “Got Sex?” You know, I’m not a prude, but I am…private…about certain things. We chatted politely with the guys in the booth and then slipped away.
Jane Friedman wrote about self-published authors walking up and down the aisles trying to get reviews or other exposure. One guy was handing out bookmarks saying, “I’ve decided that I’m going to change my title. I’d love to hear from you about what you think would be a better one.” I kind of thought that was clever. Besides, I’m sympathetic to authors and know that it’s hard to get heard above the noise.
It’s clear that publishing continues to change, and even BEA doesn’t know exactly what to do with those changes. This year, for the first time, they let readers in, so they’re aware of the need to appeal directly to book buyers who may not go into bookstores anymore. In the meantime, we walked aisle after aisle of beautiful books, many still lovingly crafted. I ran across a gardening book filled with gorgeous, four-color illustrations, and drooled (not on the book, mind you). There will always be a market for vampires and sex, but the good book still exists. The reader still exists. Those who love to hold hardback or paperback books still exist. In this crazy e-book world, a world which I have embraced, a crowd still comes out to celebrate books, and that’s a good thing.
I”m sure I’ll be sharing more about NYC, but for now, I”ll leave you with a few pics: