What Does A Writer Do at Book Expo America?

Random House booth at BEA 2013

Most publishers are represented at BEA and are showing off the books they will release in the coming season.

The publishing industry could do nothing but talk about Book Expo America for the last week or more, and it will probably continue to be news for a few more days. BEA, as it is affectionately known, is the largest publishing event of the year in the U.S. Book buyers come to see advance copies of what publishers will be selling next season and to meet with the sales and marketing teams at most publishing houses. Also, agents take the opportunity to meet with acquisitions editors who are on site. Not only that, every aspect of the industry is represented in the huge space of the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City. There are educational events, book signings, and free advance copies galore!

Most publishers are represented at BEA

Attend BEA to get a sense of what is really happening in the publishing industry each year.

This year there were indie authors represented in a variety of ways, including in a booth of their own. Several self-publishing organizations have booths as well, as do a variety of self-publishing services.

Writers often attend hoping to meet with a publisher or acquisitions editor by chance. I know of at least one person who has landed a publishing deal for herself this way. I have been quite successful the last two years in “feeling out” interest for several of my book ideas by speaking with sales people, publishers and acquisitions editors at several publishing houses. Some of these are small independents or mid-sized houses that would allow me to pitch them without an agent. I do have an agent, so I can pass this information along to her and she can submit for me.

BEA 2013 party view

The view from a BEA hotel rooftop party hosted by a publishing company.

The convention opens it doors to the general public for one day. Then anyone can come in and grab from the stacks of free books and other swag being offered, such as limited-signed posters for children’s books. You have to know someone, however, to get into the numerous parties held in the evenings at a variety of locations, from fancy hotels to boats to bowling alleys.

If you really want to know what’s going on in the publishing industry, attend BEA one year. Go to some of the conferences or classes and walk the convention floor. Talk to people. Soak it up. This is the publishing industry in all its glory.

BEA 2013

Long line of people waiting for a book signing.

I just returned from the BEA, so I thought today, rather than posting the next part of my blogged book, The Author’s Training Manual, I’d share a bit of my experience.

My BEA 2013

I spent two days walking the convention floor looking for publishers who might be interested in my work. I also examined books similar to mine being released by publishers; this is great information for my competitive analysis. It’s good market and category research as well. I talked to whomever I can about their needs. Sometimes this sparks ideas for new books I could write. I picked up catalogs and business cards. Sometimes publishers even have submission guidelines; if so, I took these home.

You can meet agents, edtiors and publishers at BEA

Book sellers, agents and other publishing professionals have meetings during the BEA.

I try to actually talk to publishers and acquisitions editors if I can. This year I had a few in mind that I had spoken to last year. I managed to meet with all of them but one. I also met with one new publisher by chance, and I had one scheduled meeting with an acquisitions editor. I landed this because she is helping me with my current book. It was not intended as a pitch session, but I did talk to her about some ideas; the publisher was there as well, and I had a nice chat with him, too, as I did the year before.

Dr. Ruth at BEA 2013

I met Dr. Ruth Westheimer at BEA 2013.

Like most of the writers and the general public, as well as the agents and book buyers, I’m interested in the free books–actually the advance reader copies. I look for nonfiction titles mostly, but I search out romances for my mom, fantasy for my daughter and mysteries for my husband. We cover the gamut! Last year they were truly free; I got them all in my suitcase and my husband’s suitcase. This year, I was alone so I shipped some to my mother and some home (two boxes). This means they weren’t totally free, just discounted. Shipping at the Javitz Center is not cheap, by the way. You’ll be amazed at how many books there are for the taking–stacks and stacks on display, on the floor, at book signings, and even offered at contests.

Free books at BEA 2013

Free books being set out at BEA 2013.

And you can meet amazing people. There were many celebrities and authors doing signings. I met Dr. Ruth Westheimer; I just happened by a booth where she was preparing for her signing and got to say hello and shake her hand.

And I ran into bestselling author Guy Kawasaki twice while while walking the floor, but on Saturday we were both speaking at uPubU, one of the BEA conferences. In the speakers’ lounge I managed a picture with him and then another with his co-author of APE, Shawn Welsh, as well as Peg Fitzpatrick, social media marketer and manger of Guy’s APE community on Google Plus.

I met Guy Kawasaki, Shawn Welsh and Peg Fitzpatrick at BEA's uPubU event.

I met bestselling authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welsh and social media marketer extraordinaire Peg Fitzpatrick at BEA’s uPubU event.

I also collected many business cards as I made numerous connections. I hope these will turn out into ways to promote myself, my blogs and my books, learn more about self-publishing and help teach writers how to succeed as authors.

10 Reasons Writers Should Attend BEA

To conclude, there are many reasons for a writer to attend BEA. Here are 10:

  1. To get a feel for what’s happening in the publishing industry
  2. To find out what books will be released in the next six months in your category
  3. To find publishers who might be interested in your book
  4. To meet agents, editors and publishers
  5. To discover cutting edge publishing technologies
  6. To meet your favorite authors
  7. To get a signed copy of your favorite author’s newest release (for free)
  8. To do research for your competitive analysis, market analysis or category analysis
  9. To make connections that might help your career
  10. To have fun

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