Have you heard of Book Expo America? BEA is North America’s largest gathering of book trade professionals, typically attracting between 20,000–30,000 people. A range of book industry business is conducted at this global event by an international audience. BEA is known as a preeminent venue for launching books and creating buzz about current and new titles just hitting the marketplace. However, it’s also a place where authors–and aspiring authors–gather to meet the people who publish, sell and market books. (Get all the details here.)
The BEA begins next week, May 25-27, so I thought I’d start Write Nonfiction Now! off with a BEA bang, I asked veteran BEA attendee, author, marketing consultant, and copywriter Shel Horowitz to provide me with a guest blog post about why nonfiction writers should attend BEA. I have to admit, I have not attended. I know lots of people who have and rave about the opportunities there. I planned on going this year, but it didn’t work out. I hope to be there with Shel next year.
Here’s what Shel has to say about why you should attend the BEA along with me next year. Or, if you live in the New York area or have the time to get there next week, it’s not too late to attend this year.
Why Attend Book Expo America?
By Shel Horowitz
Book Expo America (BEA) is the largest book-industry gathering in the United States (though Europe has a far larger one, in Frankfort). Hundreds of exhibitors, thousands of authors, numerous educational events, chances to rub elbows with authors you admire (and perhaps make a contact that could lead to an endorsement).
By attending BEA and the events around it (this will be my 14th straight), and sometimes having a book at one of the co-op exhibits, I’ve been able to leapfrog my publishing career. Among other things:
- Initiated a book deal by having a conversation with a publisher in his booth! Yes, Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World was actually sold because I walked the floor of BEA
- Sold rights to one of my books for India and Mexico
- Made direct contact with agents and editors who expressed interest in books by my wife, my clients, and/or myself
- Met people who later became clients or vendors (or both)
- Been offered speaking gigs
- Developed in-person friendships with industry gurus such as Dan Poynter, Fern Reiss, and John Kremer (who have all since endorsed at least one of my books)
- Gotten autographed copies of cool new books (Studs Terkel’s publicist actually traded me Studs’ latest forone of mine, when we were autographing in neighboring booths several years ago)–however, this alonewould not be a reason to attend; it’s just a fringe benefit that you should not let dominate your precious time on the show floor
- Learned an awful lot about the publishing business
BEA has changed over the years. When I first started attending, it was mostly a chance for bookstore owners and staff to get acquainted with and purchase new titles. These days, bookstore folks have other ways of picking their inventory, and you see a lot more private deal-making meetings, but a lot less order writing. This year will be a new format: instead of Friday through Sunday, it’s just Wednesday and Thursday—which means I will have to really hustle to get through the whole show in just two days; it usually takes me all three days, even skipping the massive sections of remainder dealers and such.
I’ve attended most years as a journalist, and all my reports are online here.
Incidentally, I’ve never taken a booth, though I’ve often exhibited my self-published titles at a cooperative display stand. For the traditionally published ones, it’s up to my publisher to display. I walk the floor, and attend both educational events and parties.
If you’re planning to attend BEA, (an extremely good idea), you should definitely attend at least one of the seminars. I published my first book over 25 years ago, and I still get good stuff. This year, I’ll be attending Fred Gleeck’s seminar on Monday, May 24.
I believe that a good live seminar is especially helpful to people starting out, but still useful (in different ways) to those with experience. I live my whole life in learning mode: books, teleseminars, and a least a few live events every year. If you attend the Gleeck seminar, definitely come up and introduce yourself.
About the Author
Marketing consultant and copywriter Shel Horowitz works with authors, publishers, and small business owners to develop affordable, effective, and ethical marketing strategies and materials. His two most recent books are Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson, John Wiley & Sons) and Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers (AWM Books).