Saturday, April 07, 2007

Out of the Vault: BEA Dispatches of Yore (LA)

I'm cleaning up and rearranging my cyberspace. In so doing, I'm moving my BookExpo Dispatches from Book Promotion 101 to here.

Where has the time gone? My copious notes from BEA 2005 are still sitting in a notebook somewhere, I missed BEA '06 due to my equestrian fiasco and now here comes BEA '07. Oh well...

Report from BEA 2003, Los Angeles

Darling, it was just TOO fabulous! Mwah! Mwah! (air kiss noises...)

I met movie stars & famous writers & famous editors & ate at divoon restaurants. Wed. night [May 28], Jeff Goldblum wowed the crowd at a club on lower Wilshire Blvd, where he played piano in a jazz band--and had a string of gorgeous, leggy women glued to him during breaks. At The Grill in Beverly Hills on Friday evening, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian was in the next booth with his "niece" (1/3-1/4 his age) & Larry King walked by. (His jawline is waaay too sharp; he's obviously had some work done. But darling, who hasn't?).

Oh right, I was talking about BookExpo...

The educational sessions on Thursday [May 29] were excellent overall, especially "The Art of Crafting the Perfect Pitch" with book publicist Kim Dower (aka "Kim from L.A.") and actor/media coach Bill Applebaum, who's her partner in Perfect Pitch Productions [now Kim-from-L.A. Literary & Media Services]. What a dynamite pair! They worked with three authors on their pitches, then did a fake morning drive-time radio show with a fourth author that was simply amazing.

LA radio & TV producers were on 2 panels moderated by Kim, which were also stellar. Note: Almost none of them reads Radio & TV Interview Report. They don't need to, as they're inundated with requests from authors & publicists (150+ emails & 50+ phone messages a day). Someone told me later that RTIR is mostly used in the smaller markets.

I left during the TV panel to go to the SRO "Editor & Bookseller Buzz Forum." Don't believe the media reports: It was a real snore. And is it so hard to speak into a microphone? There was one conveniently placed for each of the 6 editors. After the 2nd made her practically inaudible presentation, I yelled out that we couldn't hear. Then Norton's Starling Lawrence sort of got near his mike and went on and on...and ON...about a March '03 book on the heroic dogsled team that brought the diphtheria serum to Nome in the 1920s (BTW, covered in a Fall '02 Walker & Co children's picture book). Great, except the editors were told to talk about books that are coming this fall, not ones that are out already.

Knopf's Sonny Mehta (speaker #5) announced to the crowd of top media and influential booksellers, "I have nothing prepared to say," then proceeded to mumble a laundry list of fall authors: "There is the new Toni Morrison, there is the new Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which is still being translated..." For this we needed to shlep to the LA Convention Center? The same information is in the Knopf fall catalog sitting in a pile on my office shelf. Claire Wachtel of HarperCollins, who came last, was the only one of the pack who: (a) followed instructions, (b) didn't need training by Perfect Pitch AND (c) spoke into the damn mike so everyone could hear without holding their breath.

High point for me was on Sat. morning [May 30], when I got to chat with Carl Reiner for 2 minutes (after standing in line for 30) while he signed his new kid's book at the Little, Brown booth. (I figured the line would be shorter there than for his memoir at I forget which other pub.) I'll treasure it always.

I was at the Saturday & Author Luncheon with Molly Ivins, Bill O'Reilly and Al Franken. Wow! What a show! My stomach is still in knots. Afterwards, I patted Pat Schroeder on the back (a friend who saw it on CSPAN said she had that "deer in the headlights" look) and shook Franken's hand before he was whisked away by his handlers.

MJ Rose and Jacqueline Deval's "Buzz Your Book" program on Sat afternoon was very good and the two ladies were a font of clever ideas and useful advice. However, the audience was larded with many of the same strident, needy and naive self-published authors who had attended the Thursday programs. They raise their hands to speak, but instead of asking a question, launch into a QVC infomercial for their books. After the 3rd one started her pitch I just had to leave. Besides being boring, many of them need stylists as well as therapists. It's hard to take an "expert" seriously when she has streaky orange-red hair and is wearing a blouse to match.

And speaking of style, I would have been SO much happier if the security guards had banned belly buttons instead of wheeled briefcases. OK (in small doses) on Janet Jackson or some other well-toned celebrity at a concert or movie premier. Unappetizing and wildly inappropriate on the flabby woman trudging down the concourse to the West Hall; worse, she was also wearing a sagging halter top. Blech. (And she wonders why she can't get an agent for her book!)

Saturday evening I met some folks (one of whom aptly remarked, "L.A. is the cleavage capital of the world") for drinks at the ultra-retro-moderne Downtown Standard Hotel. Afterwards, three of us went to dinner at the fabulous Il Cielo in Beverly Hills, where--surprise!--Harlequin was having their fabu party. While waiting for our table, had a great time chatting with other publishing types, then watching their faces crumple ("Oh, you mean you weren't...invited?") when they realized that we were on our way IN and not on our way OUT with them to the next fabu soiree.

The Sunday Book & Author Breakfast w/ Michael Moore, Madeleine Albright, Walter Isaacson and Maxine Hong Kingston was just as enthralling as the Infamous Lunch, though much more polite and civilized. Isaacson is a terrific speaker and moderator; funny too. At the end, Albright said that she and Moore might go out on the road as a "tag team," which elicited enthusiastic whoops from the audience, including Your Humble Correspondent.

Most surreal moment: Dr. Ruth, in a flowery mauve dress, signing her memoir at a university press booth on Sunday, when a woman in a sci-fi outfit (black spandex catsuit, black spike heels, 2-foot-high black cylindrical hat, purple face & 2-inch green eyelashes) asks can they have their picture taken together. Seems she's a big fan. I helpfully point out that Ms. Bizarro's face matches Dr. Ruth's frock. Neither takes any notice.

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