Saturday, June 14, 2008
BEA for Booklovers
I had the best opportunity in the world for a bibliophile like me: FREE BOOKS! I spent a day in Los Angeles the end of May, meeting with agents, editors, booksellers and hundreds of authors who were at this annual trade show, ready and willing to give away and autograph copies of their books. You’ll be hearing more about some of these authors and books in the coming weeks, but I wanted to give you an overview that might make some of you salivate to attend the one scheduled next year in New York City.
BEA stands for Booksellers Expo America, and it is the place to be if you have anything to do with the book industry. In addition to the open trade show and author autographing areas there are workshop sessions, special breakfast and luncheon presentations, in-booth one-on-ones with authors, illustrators, editors, agents, book publishers, and others involved in the industry. Some of these opportunities are geared toward specific audience members such as librarians, educators, book buyers, booksellers, and those who are building and renewing contacts with others in the industry.
You’ll have the opportunity to meet just about anyone and everyone at BEA. While standing the line to meet Peter Walsh (Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?), I chatted with an agent who handles Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, one of the many things I write. She handed me her card so I could send her sample chapters. Walking from the trade show to the autographing area, I ran into T.A. Barron (Merlin’s Dragon) who I had met several times at conferences in Utah. We talked about doing an interview for one of my blogs. Back at the autograph tables, I met George Hamilton (Don’t Mind if I Do) most recently of Dancing with the Stars fame, who was just as good-looking, tanned, and suave as ever.
Sometimes the encounters I had there were almost comical, like when I tried to find the end of the line to meet Slash, a member of the heavy metal group Guns and Roses who was there giving out copies of his forthcoming autobiography. The line wound out of the autograph area, and halfway around the building, yet I still hadn’t found the end! Then there was meeting Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn) and realizing as we talked that I had taught his wife at Payson Jr. High School. And I loved the moment when a publicist chased me through the line to get my card so she could add me onto her list of advance copy reviewers.
It’s easy to forget these people are famous or critical to my writing career when I have authors like R. A. Salvatore (The Orc King) stop in the middle of autographing my book to introduce me to Heather Graham (The Death Dealer) whom I had actually met last fall at the WriteWise conference in Salt Lake; the head of Roaring Press Books take a minute to introduce me to one of her favorite agents while we were discussing my review of one of their recent publications; And New York Times best-selling authors like Richard Paul Evans and Robert G. Allen giving me advice on how to pitch to an agent or editor while at the conference.
All in all, going to BEA was a great experience for me, as I’m sure it was for the rest of those who went from here in Utah. And it’s one I plan to have again, only this time I hope it’s me sitting at the table autographing copies of my book. Target date: Las Vegas 2010.