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."