Friday, May 04, 2007

To BEA or Not to BEA

A recent Book Promotion 101 workshop attendee quoted her agent as saying that "coming to BookExpo and thinking it would help at all was an urban myth."

I answered that I
respectfully disagree. I think every author should go to BEA at least once--whether or not they're at their publisher's booth--to get a sense of the publishing world and how it works. They will (or should, anyway) gain a humbling perspective on how they and their book fit into that world: as a speck of dust on a tiny cog on a massive wheel.

"If you don't go," I wrote, "it certainly won't be a career breaker, but I think it would help get visibility for you and your book, and be an extremely educational experience for you. And you might make some good contacts."

That said, I added, "
BEA is a madhouse and publishers don't want their authors aimlessly hanging about the booth and getting in the way of paying customers. So you'll have to finesse this."

The author is paying her way to New York, her publisher is giving her a show badge and she's going to have lunch with her editor and publicist, and possibly some other key people. (I told her to be sure she sees her agent too, and to bring little gifts for everyone and send handwritten thank-you notes when she gets home.)

The author's inhouse pub arranged for her to do a BEA podcast, since she's (ahem!) "going to be there anyway."


pardonmysaliva said...

Bella, my book is with an agent and out for submission. Can a newcomer learn from attending BEA? And is it impossible to get a badge unless your publisher gets you one? I'd just borrow Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility and roam the aisles soaking up the bookish info. That's a lie - I'd be dying to run into St. Martin's booth waving my MS screaming "Here's your next best seller folks! Follow me to pre-empt'ville, whip out that contract, look I brought a pen! Yeah, I think I'll stay home and read about BEA....

Bella Stander said...

Yes, a newcomer can learn at BEA. There are many educational sessions, especially on Thursday, the day before. Easy to buy a one-day badge; see You get a hefty discount if you're a member of Authors Guild.

DO NOT wave your MS around. In fact, don't bring it with you. BEA is for selling, not buying. There are very few editorial folks in the booths, and no way do they want to talk with writers looking to get published. Just walk around, look, listen and learn.