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Books & Comics

BookExpo America 2010 Round-Up – Elena’s Day

May 29

I thought I’d play sweeper with our BEA 2010 coverage and leave my report for last, in case either Damon or B.T. missed something.  They didn’t, so instead of the triumph of recalling an appointment they forgot, I’ve left myself with a challenge:  how to tell you about the things we did in a new and interesting way (dare I make it a competition and say “more interesting way”?).

First, let me set the scene:  Javits Center, NYC–the picture kind of says it all.  It’s big, it’s glass, it’s big, it’s modern, it’s two levels deep and a ridiculous number of blocks long (which is another way of saying it’s big).  BookExpo America is the biggest trade show for the book and publishing industry in North America, and with the volcanic skies over Europe limiting access to the London Book Fair, probably the best-attended trade event for Western countries this year.  It is not open to the general public, but neither is it quite as exclusive as E3; book sellers, book buyers, and librarians were all there, along with book publishers and their chosen cadres of authors, publicists, and in some cases editors.  This year’s event was actually smaller than it has been in years past; everything was on the main floor this year in terms of booths, stages, and official author signings, where in years past the downstairs was used to siphon off some of the congestion caused by signings and the children’s librarians lingering over books to inspire young readers.  The BSC empire was represented as strongly as befits our stature–five of us attended, though the official Krewe of Awesome consisted of Damon Cap, one of the site owners; B.T. Robertson, our gaming editor and a fantasy author himself; and myself, imperial editrix.

My day was split into essentially two halves:  the morning rounds of meet-and-greets with our various publicity contacts with Damon and B.T., and the frenetic afternoon of conducting interviews with four very different authors.  We were in some ways a dull group for those of you vicariously, if also retrospectively, enjoying our day:  we didn’t make a point to see any of the author panels, nor did we stand in any lines to gush over anyone.  We were there to make new and reiterate old business contacts, and while there is a certain amount of frivolity in the social schmoozing that is strengthening personal connections to business acquaintances, it’s not for the most part the kind that generates fun stories to tell later.  No one made any social gaffs, and no one told us to STFU, and so all I can really say about everyone I met is that they were nice, gracious, and helpful.

We had a meeting with Boom! Studios to help us transition to a new publicity handler and pitch some collaborative ideas to them, of which some will hopefully work out.  We dropped by booths for Orbit (Hachette), the Black Library  (present in force, including their head of publicity and Nick Kyme, one of their authors), Marvel (who showed me some fabulous Jane Austen comic books!), Penguin, Random House (who were extremely helpful to me later in the day when I appeared to be stood up by one of their authors), Harlequin (hopefully we actually made a contact with them this time; they’ve coyly resisted our charms in the past), Pyr (Jill Maxick, their head of publicity, suggested an interview with editorial director Lou Anders about the imprint’s first five years, and I’ve already gotten him on board with it, so stay tuned for that), Paizo (who gave us a sneak peek at their next line of books–so sneak, in fact, that we have to hold it for a bit longer before we can post their videoed enthusiasm!), and Little, Brown (who pointed us to what they think are the Next Big Things in both children’s and YA reading).  There might have been others, but those were the groups we already work with or noteably don’t and would like to.

I was back at Penguin after lunch with Dot Lin from Tor (and sadness is mine to report, as she is leaving her publicity post; Damon and B.T. got to meet Justin, the man with the unenviable task of filling her shoes, but I had to run to meet my interview…I also missed meeting Cory Doctorow).  Anton Strout,  who both works at Penguin and is the author of the Simon Canderous series, sat down and chatted with me about his take on urban fantasy, how to keep a series interesting, and what might be up next for Simon.  Then it was off to Random House, where I got to talk to the lovely Anne Fortier about her novel Juliet (to be reviewed at some point over the summer–it’s due out in August), and Justin Cronin about his book The Passage, which appears set to be on everyone’s mind within the next few weeks.  And I wasn’t at all nervous to talk to the guy who had a banner hanging in the entry hall of the Javits about his book.  Promise.  My last spot of the day was fantasy author Karen Miller, and with the utmost respect to my other interviewees, she was my favorite.  We ended up chatting for a good fifteen minutes after I turned off the camera, and I can only imagine how much longer that would have gone on with a few pints and unlimited time.  Damon assured me he used the time well with Orbit publicist Alex Lencicki, so the extra time was not a problem.  Keep your eyes out for the videos of all of those interviews to post in the next week or so.  Another interview opportunity that will hopefully pan out is Adam Rex, children and now YA author, whom I met while Damon was catching up with Eric Wight and who was absolutely hilarious. If I’d been sharper I’d have turned my camera on him right then, but, alas, I didn’t, so we’ll all have to settle for a written exchange instead.

After that my feet were done, but it had been a busy and productive day all around, so I felt no guilt in finding a quiet corner to put my feet up and people watch until it was time to meet the whole group to drive out.  BEA is definitely an Event, and it was an absolute pleasure to attend.

On a personal note for the trip, New York and New Jersey were also very nice to me.  I accomplished my mission to pretend to be on Project Runway and procure the perfect fabrics for a costume project at Mood.  My hosts in Jersey were wonderful, and I adored my BSC family–Lexie, B.T., Damon, and Kelly (plus various accompaniments).  Hopefully we can make dinner beforehand a tradition when we have big conventions to attend!


  1. Video Interviews were key, I think that it made a big difference in how I approached the show.

  2. Oh, god yes. I can’t even imagine (1) having to take notes during such a frantic sort of interview schedule or (2) audio-recording everything and having to type it all up later. no thanks! cameras are the way to go. 🙂

  3. I have to say, it’s even more entertaining to read your writing now that I can hear your voice behind it. Sounds like a great experience at BEA..I think I’ll have to tag along next year. ;D

  4. Kelly, now you’ve got me curious…is it that I sound less pompous when you’ve heard me intersperse and alternate words like…intersperse…with f-bombs? lol

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