Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Belly of The Beast

by Jon Egan

I just got back from attending the Book Expo America convention in New York and WOW! What an eye opening experience.

It was completely overwhelming walking through the doors of the Javits Center and into the bowels of the business. Overwhelming and scary, when you see all these authors, publishers, agents, publicists, sellers, buyers, and wow, like I said it’s overwhelming.

How will I ever get to be on the inside looking out when there are so many insiders? Why would anyone ever be interested in reading what I have to write when there are so many proven authors out there already? It was almost like a punch in the gut walking through the halls, and yet at the same time it was pure adrenalin. Intense excitement and extreme hope. Because while I wondered how or who would ever want to publish my stuff, I kept reminding myself that every one of the authors here must have gone through the same wonderment at some stage.

It was great to be able to meander through the publishers’ booths picking up ARC’s at random and having  the publishers almost beg you to take it, and read it, and blog about it, or spread the word about what a great novel it was. Talk about a surreal turn around. So I did just that: I idly stood at some booths and perused their offerings as I would in a bookstore. When I placed some back on the pile, I was asked, “Is there something wrong with it?” “What’s not appealing about it?” Others were immediately stuffed into my backpack and then squirrelled away into the box that Fed-Ex was packing for me on the upper level.

There were over six hundred author signings this year from John Green, Jerry Spinelli, and Spencer Quinn (Patty’s favorite author who she got to meet and chat at length with) to obscure Russian and Middle Eastern authors. Here's what really intrigued me: with all these wonderful authors mingling with the general public, touting their latest greatest tome, the longest lines were for the dude from HGTV’s Holmes on Homes. Yep, the big guy Mike Holmes was there signing. Talk about a war for the ages. It seemed like the biggest WWF tag team match in decades as the Librarians body slammed the Educators while the Agents snuck in the back door to be first in line for his autograph. His line literally snaked around about fifteen booths, which was great because I was able to get in a line of about ten people for a handshake and signed copy of Will Schwalbe’s ARC The End of Your Life Book Club.
Mike Holmes
Will Schwalbe
Patty Egan with author Spencer Quinn
 I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that celebrity for the most part trumps non-celebrity but, actually I am, it kinda stinks but oh well, such is life.

I probably won’t attend another B.E.A. until I’m sitting on the other side of the table, pen in hand, smiling and thanking the eager attendee who’s holding a copy of my latest novel for reading my stuff. (One can dream right?) But if you get the chance to attend, no matter if you are a reader or a writer, you should. It’s definitely an eye opener and a glimpse into the belly of the beast.


  1. I am sooooo jealous, & I have a ton of questions. Were the authors' booths set up in an organized way by genre? Or alphabetically? With that many, was it hard to find the ones you wanted? And were children's authors well represented? Were there speakers & presentations? Tell me everything.

  2. BEA actually did a really good job of organizing the whole kit n kaboodle... including a very useful app for the iphone that allowed me to enter author signings or event into a scheduler, and then it gave me an overview so I could choose who I wanted to see in case there was overlaps.
    They had an area set aside which was strictly author signings, it had 26 or 28 different roped off lanes leading to tables where authors signed for 30 minutes (or maybe an hour for some?) and they kept those rotating throughout the day.
    Pretty much every publishing house had author signings on the hour, they were just randomly spread through the main hall. Lots of children's authors, Lots and Lots and Lots of giveaway ARCs There were ticketed events Author breakfasts but they were all sold out before we committed to going, but at the same time they had a few stages set around the floor for interviews and presentations. All in all it really was very well done.

  3. We're having an abbreviated one in Lake Arrowahead in November this year :)

    1. Except that instead of signing copies of my books I'm desperately seeking beta readers...

  4. I have always wanted to try something like this to push me out of my comfort zone. Thanks for letting me try it vicariously through you, Jon :)