Friday, May 15, 2009

BEA

It's nearly my favorite time of year again! The biggest American book conference is Book Expo America, BEA, which is held once a year (usually in May). The location rotates. Last year it was somewhere ridiculous like LA (ridiculous only in the sense that I couldn't go because it was too far, sob); in 2007 it was in New York; in 2006, DC; in 2005, New York. Luckily, it's in New York again this year.

I love BEA. All the industry professionals go and book themselves chock-full of meetings with agents/editors/scouts/packagers/printers, trying to make business connections. That's... not my favorite part. But here are the things I LOVE about BEA:

1) Everyone comes to town with business excuses, so that means old book friends you don't get to see very often because they live far away are suddenly here for a short weekend of lunches/drinks/parties/coffee dates.

2) HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF FREE BOOKS!

It was at BEA in 2007 that I picked up a lovely galley (picked it up largely because of the gold foil on the front) of The Spanish Bow, which went on to become my very favorite book of 2007 and one of my favorites ever. I blogged about it perhaps a little too much, because eventually the author, Andromeda Romano-Lax, started stopping by *here,* and now she has her own blog and has inspired the entire Fill-in-the-Gaps movement. The moral of this story is BEA offers you great books and helps you meet new friends, even ones who live in Alaska. And you might perhaps be inspired to start a club like Fill-in-the-Gaps, which now has 62 people in it. And other side benefits. All because I went to BEA!

I'm not prosletyzing here. There are reasons for everyone that BEA might be both wonderful and horrible and a waste of time and money. But I wanted to let people who might not have heard about it know about it, and give you a run-down of my cost-benefit interpretation.

Check out the website here for a basic FAQ. Also, Yodiwan, the excellent book publicity blogger, has put together a twitter feed for people with BEA questions, #nychelp. Check out her blog post about it here.

Assuming you're a writer:

Things you would gain from coming to BEA:
-Bajillions of galleys, for free, in stacks on the floor. At least, I hope. Everyone's talking about how they're cutting back on galleys this year, but I'm not sure anyone's actually doing it. (We, for example, are, um, not. We had a great plan to cut back, and ended up taking more books than ever. But that's because our books are so awesome.)

-Bajillions of authors will be there. Big, small, children, adult, fiction, nonfiction. I thought about posting the list here, but it turned out to be 40 pages. So I'm afraid you're going to have to download the PDF from the BEA site yourself (come on, BEA-organizing people! Have we learned nothing about how little people like downloading PDFs?!). But *three* of my authors will be there. That means you have a three in a bajillion chance of catching me at a signing!

-Every American publisher and a lot of not-American publishers will be there. You'll have a chance to see us at our ugliest--tired, cranky, and sweaty, with pasted smiles on our plastic faces and our eyes rolling and glazed. But you, bright-eyed and enthusiastic, will get to survey us, put faces to imprints, and learn a lot about our respective lists. (Please see caveat below.*)

-Some booths give out free food. And/or champers. I'm insanely good at sniffing them out.

-Lots of parties, some invite-only, some open, some impromptu.

-Lots and lots of bookish friends in town. I bet if we start making a list of attendees here it will turn out old [blog] friends from this particular blog circle are all going to be in town.

-New York in late May. 'Ain't no better time or place. In my humble opinion. I have suggestions for cheap and alcoholic Sunday brunch, btw.

Things you would lose by coming to BEA:
-$$$. Let's look at the cost. A day pass is $75, a weekend pass $130 (Thanks, Sara, for the update). No one really shows up on Sunday, so you're really only getting two days out of that $130. My suggestion would be, if you're saving money, pick either Friday or Saturday, depending on when your favorite authors are. You'll probably be able to get all your business done in one day. (You will also, frankly, be exhausted.)

-travel to New York

-lodging fees if you don't have a benevolent friend/relative with a couch. Luckily, Yodiwan has offered some cheap alternatives. Also, my cousin came to visit last week and managed to find a hotel in Long Island City for only $50. But maybe like 15 of us blog-friends can pile into a room earthworm-style.

Things you're tempted to think would happen at BEA that probably wouldn't:
-You'd woo an editor into a book deal. It's not going to happen. If you come with that as a goal, you'll be disappointed. Instead, come to learn and collect free goodies. And to meet people.

-Also, it will be really tempting to try to leave your card/proposal/manuscript with people at the booths of your favorite publishers, but I guarantee this will not work out well. Remember that everyone in the booths will be sales, marketing, and publicity people, most of whom have nothing to do with acquisitions/editorial, and whose passed-on materials will not be processed by editorial in prioritized or efficient ways. Also, remember there are many, many reasons you don't want to send your manuscript directly to a publisher without an agent. Schmoozing, however, is ok.

Hope this helps. Thoughts/questions? Shoot me an email if you're thinking of coming or have a specific question/concern.

21 comments:

Christa said...

Great info!

My budget allowed for one major conference/convention this year and I opted for Worldcon. First, my genre is fantasy. Second, it's in Montreal this year -- so I get to speak some french!

This will be only my 2nd writer's conference. The first was a local one last fall.

However, BEA is on my list for next year.

Montreal isn't too far from NYC, Moonrat. Would you be attending that one too? (pretty please)

eluper said...

I'll be wandering around BEA on Saturday. If I stumble over you, Moonrat, just give a wink and a nod.

moonrat said...

You'll know me. I'll be the only gymnora/"primitive tropical hedgehog" feeding off of sushi under a pile of books.

Kim Kasch said...

Oh it sounds like fun. But ridiculously far away for me. Maybe next year it could be in some natural wonderland like . . . Oregon

;)

Kat said...

*Drools* Free books...

Amanda said...

I wish wish wish I could go!! I love NYC and haven't been in 2 years. I'm way overdue. Plus, I've never been to a conference like this and it sounds wonderful. I hope you have a great time.

Sara J. Henry said...

Hey, Moonie, did I miss something? I'm looking at registration prices:

Authors, publishing personnel: 1-day pass $75; 3-day pass $130 (if purchased by 5/23)

moonrat said...

oh no! thanks, Sara. prices have gone WAY up. i'm a bad journalist, because i didn't look for the price on the site, just asked my marketing manager. :( that's really sad. my false advertising.

re: "publishing professionals"--we're all publishing professionals. and i earnestly believe everyone interested should be encouraged to attend (some people want to discourage "trade" attendees).

Sara J. Henry said...

To qualify for badge as Publishing Personnel/Editorial you just fill in "Title and company name" - Publishing Consultants and Agencies need the name of one client - for Author you need ISBN and publisher name - I can squeak in that way - I KNEW those health and fitness books I wrote would come in handy someday !

WendyCinNYC said...

I really have no excuse not to go. So I'll be there! Friday, for sure, and maybe part of Saturday as well.

moonrat said...

Sara--I hope you don't think this is dishonorable of me to say, but... I wouldn't hold it against any interested writer/reader who fudged that application. This should be a trade show, and open to everyone. (Plus, I promise you from having attended previous BEAs, there are a-plenty of fudgers.) (LOTS.)

Sarah Laurenson said...

I think it's the Algonquin that has a year long writer discount going on. No time this morning, but I'll see if I can find that info.

Katiek patrianoceu said...

I'm halfway around the world so it's really not an option for me, but I thought I'd throw in a multi-cultural comment...

Last year I went to the Bienal do Livro in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It's the Latin American equivalent of BEA. I loved it, loved seeing in one glance what's being published and who's publishing it. And I got myself a great book. And I met people in sales who could give me a sense of what they are selling, although of course they couldn't do anything to help me get published. The world of Publishing in Latin American is much smaller than in North America, of course, and that may be why people were very friendly and happy to give a baby writer a bit of friendly advice.

Anyway, just thought I'd share and say that I can see why you love this event so much.

Anonymous said...

So Moonie, pardon my ignorance, but do agents go and do editors go and do agents pitch books? Or is this not the place for that.

Have fun!

Richard Lewis said...

Since I'm waaay over here in Bali (where I suppose many editors would love to be after conferences), keep on eye out for a YA title called MONSTER'S PROOF,could ya please? I'd be interested to know if and where it's spotted...

Mike Lindgren said...

Hello Moonrat, I'll be there for sure, hope to see / meet you, although maybe you are trying to protect your anonymity? Anyway, love your blog.

Sara J. Henry said...

Moonie - No, I don't think it's dishonorable - it's not as if someone is sneaking in for free! Note my careful phrasing: "Just fill in" - I clicked through the application and there seems to be no verification process or demand for business cards or letterhead (although that's easy to come up with as well!)

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Sounds like an absolutely amazing event!

Both my agent and my editor plan on attending. I had hoped to make it this year, but since my contract JUST got signed, there's really no money for it this time. And since my first book probably won't be released until fall 2010... But the lure of free books...

Maybe next year I'll convince a gang of us from Upstate to venture into the city... ;-)

Have a fabulous time!

Susan Adrian said...

Aw...I used to get to go to BEA when I was a bookstore manager. I miss them!! There's nothing like meeting James Earl Jones in the morning and listening to Stephen King rock the house that night. While carting 5 kajillion free books around behind you!

*misses BEA*

Lisa said...

This will be my first BEA and I'm stoked, although a little intimidated. Then again I'm a) press and b) already in NYC, so I guess I don't have much to lose. Still, it's kind of exciting.

Erica B said...

I'll be there! And the publisher I work for is doing something hugely different with galleys this year. They're giving out symtio cards instead for downloadable e-galleys.