Happy Wednesday Bookworms!
One week ago today I was a bundle of butterflies heading off to my first BEA. In case you missed the world’s gushiest post about how cool people from the internet can be, you can check it out HERE. If you already read the schmoop and are like, “but Katie, what did you actually do?” I shall now answer all of your questions. I know what they are, because I can read your minds. If I were you I’d be making a tin foil hat about now, because if there’s one person I don’t want rooting around in my brain, it’s me. (I cannot actually read minds, thank heaven. Wouldn’t that be the worst superpower?!) What follows are the whats and wherefores regarding what actually happens at BEA.
Expo Wandering: Alright, you guys. The majority of BEA is a ginormous expo floor. All the major publishers in the land along with lots and lots of cool less giant publishers have booths showcasing their wares. All the wares are books and book related products. Are you hearing the choir of angels yet? Since BEA is a trade show, most of the publishers are looking to drum up business with influential folks like booksellers and librarians and important Bookternet people. (Luckily “importance” is difficult to quantify when it comes to the internet, so occasionally stooges like me are allowed in. Insert maniacal laugh.) Thus, they give out a lot of free samples in the form of ARCs. ARCs (pronounced like Noah’s Ark, not like the acronym A-R-C, a thing I learned whilst at BEA… I wonder how many times I said that to people?) are early proofs of upcoming books. That’s right. Free Books. It is effing magical. Bloggers tend to get kind of a bad rep for being grabby and entitled when it comes to ARCs, but I assure you, I conducted myself with the utmost professionalism. If squeals of delight and unabashed enthusiasm can be considered professional.
Panels: As cool as the expo floor is, my inner introvert got overwhelmed from time to time. Sensory overload is a thing that happens. Plus, when you’re lugging a tote full of books (or half full even, seriously, three books in a bag get heavy after a while) you start to get kind of tired and sore. Which is why it’s super cool that there are panels. Because panels have chairs. Sometimes a panel is a bunch of people pitching books. Sometimes it’s a bunch of authors discussing a thing. Sometimes Robyn Carr and Susan Elizabeth Phillips tease each other about being old and banter about the ridiculous things they put their characters through. It’s a treat, I’ll tell you what.
Author Signings: If you’re someone who is extraordinarily organized like Julie from JulzReads, you’ve got a game plan and a schedule so you can get all the books signed by all the authors. If you’re someone like me, you walk past a line and tap someone on the shoulder to find out who is doing the signing. I don’t have the best history with author signings, anyway. I mean, there was that time that I scared Jo Baker back across the Atlantic and that time Danielle Fishel was probably offended to find out that people think I look a little bit like her. Stacey from Unruly Reader has serious author signing game. She had heartfelt stories for each author explaining what their work meant to her. I did things like tell Colson Whitehead that I live in Richard Pryor’s hometown. I mean, how can an author respond to that kind of a statement? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, KATIE? (In my defense, he did ask me where I was from and Richard Pryor was the first Peoria factoid that came to mind. Well, second, but I didn’t want to have to explain the Vaudeville joke, so.) Luckily, Jennifer Close had the good grace to compliment my penguin cardigan so I didn’t have to come up with anything to say to her, and Faith Salie neglected to point out that my blog’s title isn’t strictly a pun when I awkwardly tried to explain it. I shouldn’t be allowed out in public.
Speed Dating for Book Groups: I heard about this event through that glorious Facebook group of book bloggers I mentioned in my last post, and it was so much fun. Wandering around and getting free books is great, but the pace is somewhat frantic and you don’t always have a lot of time or desire to slow down long enough to give the back of the book a good long look. The Speed Dating event was like having a friend tell you all about the cool new things they’ve been reading. I landed at a rather sedate table of mostly librarians, so they were all far more dignified than I was. Thankfully, Debra from Algonquin assured me that once one stopped caring about one’s nerdiness one becomes cool by accident. Also, Laura from St. Martin’s Press was really excited to see how jazzed I was about Lev Grossman’s new release (it’s actually a re-release of his first novel, so it’s sort of time capsule-y. Eeep!) I was pretty good about limiting the books I took throughout the conference… Until Speed Dating. Everything sounded really good, you guys!
And now you know what the deal is with BEA. And that I can’t actually read minds. And that I live in Richard Pryor’s hometown. This has been an incredibly informative post, no? Make me feel less weird. Have you ever made a fool of yourself in front of an author?