essay: Book Expo America, NYC, June 2007
A first time novelist’s first time at the show
I went to BEA (and took my wife and son) for many reasons:
- My first book (Dusk Before the Dawn) was up for a 2006 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Magazine;
- I love books;
- I wanted to meet a few of the friends I’d made in the book business;
- It was in New York City and we like to visit;
- Did I mention we like books?
I’ve visited and exhibitted at many software and technology conferences, but few had the excitement and sheer hectic nature of BEA. It was a three-day conference preceeded by meetings and seminars; we only attended the first day (Friday), and we were worn out, my son especially for playing sherpa and carrying the books!
Now, let me emphasize that we did not go to BEA with the intention of grabbing every book in sight. It just felt like that is what we did! We ended up with forty books, some ARC/AREs (Advanced Reading Copies/Editions), some unedited, some fully released. I have almost one hundred reviews on this site, with more coming, so hopefully the authors and publishing houses will feel some benefit from the publicity. My wife and son are going to contribute some reviews as well.
Some of the books we got (that we will be posting reviews for) were:
- The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks (the book after Traveler); my review
- The Orc King by R. A. Salvatore (the next Drizzt novel);
- The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson (the book after the Army at Dawn, about the liberation of Europe in WWII);
- The Almost Moon by Alice Seybold (author of The Lovely Bones); my review
- The Crocodile and the Crane by Authur Rosenfield (from YMAA books, publisher of some of the best martial arts books available);
- Exit Ghost by Philip Roth;
- The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax (story summary reminds me of The Shadow and the Wind);
- How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov
- The Human, The Orchid and The Octopus by Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schiefelbein
- Dragons of the Highlord Skies by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (The Lost Chronicles Vol. 2)
I also got to meet in person several author friends, including:
- my friend Paul Levinson, who I met through MySpace and some other online encounters. Paul is a science fiction and non-fiction writer, a blogger and a past president of the Science Fiction Writers Association. It was fantastic to meet him in person at his office at Fordham University, and to find one more person who’s desk was slightly more cluttered than mine;
- Richard Ridley, who was also up for a ForeWord Book of the Year Award;
- I was looking forward to meeting Bob Salvatore, but he was coming to sign on Saturday after we were gone; I left one of my signed copies in the Wizards of the Coast booth so hopefully it will make it’s way to him;
- I was hoping to meet with John Scalzi, as we had emailed about exchanging signed copies; no such luck.
I got to see my friend Michael Tucker, owner of Books, Inc., one of the very best book store chains I know of. Books, Inc. has several stores up and down California (inluding the one at SFO) and they are incredibly supportive of authors. Support your indepentent bookstores, they support us authors.
And I met in person with Dave Hanley from shelfari, a very cool social book site, where you can share your shelves and opinions on books.
Made a lot of contacts, saw some friends, got a lot of books….what more can you ask for? I would have liked to have seen some great plays, but we saw the decent Moon for Misbegotten (it was about 30 mins too long, loved Colm Meaney in it) and the poor Perfect Crime (but learned that the definition of “off Broadway” is simply a theater with less than 500 seats!).
Neither I or my friend Richard won the Book of the Year Awards, but being named a Finalist was high praise enough. The folks at ForeWord picked Sojourn by Jana Oliver for their Editor’s Choice Award in Fiction, and I have heard many great things about this novel. Congrats to Jana!
BEA is a tough place to go as an author without a major publisher putting forth some serious marketing dollars for you. And it is difficult to justify the $1800 for a booth for one author. But we made enough contacts at this show to make it worth our while, and plan on attending future BEAs.