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I spent the last two days at BEA. A few people have written me going, “What now? What is this BEA thing?”
BEA is the biggest publishing trade show in the US of A. It’s basically a giant hall full of publishers showing off their Fall (Autumn) books and trying to get booksellers and librarians to order lots and sell them in vast quantities to their customers. BEA allows booksellers to meet publishers and authors all in the one place and find out as much as they can about upcoming books all in the one place.
The first time I went to BEA I was completely overwhelmed. I hadn’t realised how many publishers there were in the US. Each had giant piles of ARCs to give away as well as fancy lanyards and bags and whistles and bubble gum and all sorts of other promotional stuff. This year there were way less of everything. Fewer publishers on the floor, fewer ARCs, fewer knick-knacks, fewer people. Not once did I feel claustrophobic. Many of the publishers had no piles of ARCs at all and were only giving them away at signings. I must admit it felt weird to see all the booths that were just shiny wall displays and no books. They looked naked.
There was much talk of the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) and how it was affecting publishing. Many predict a future of fewer publishers and fewer books, which sounds grim, but a surprising number of people thought that was a good thing. They argue that there’s been a glut of books for too long. Way too many publishers put out books that they don’t support, that disappear without a trace, make no money for anyone, and wind up being pulped. Surely, fewer books properly supported is a much better business model. The counter argument is that many publishers will opt to publish only what they consider to be commercial, which is a huge shame because many of the biggest selling books have been totally unexpected hits that were not deemed commercial.
This was my third BEA but the first time I’ve been there officially with a badge that has my name on it. W00t! I even had a signing down in the official autographing area1 I was worried that there would be no one in my line. There is no sadder sight than an author surrounded by free copies of their books that no one wants.
In case you think I’m being silly worrying about no one wanting ARCs of Liar: trust me, it happens. There are HEAPS of books being given away at BEA—all at the same time—you have to pick and choose what books you want. A tiny line can and does happen to authors much better known than I am. A few years ago a friend was witness to a very well-known author having with an empty line for free paperback copies of their excellent prize-winning and best-selling book. These weird things happen. One day an author has a line around the block, next day there’s no one. Depends on timing and location and how well the signing was publicised and etc.
So my fears of no one wanting my book were entirely rational. Though fortunately on this occasion not realised. A healthy number of people showed up for Liar. Many of them I didn’t even know! Quite a few had read my other books.2 They all promised not to spoil Liar. Bless them all.
So a huge phew on this occasion: signing a success!
In my corner of the publishing world, Young Adult, the hottest galley to get hold of by far was Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire, which is the sequel to Hunger Games. I hear her signing was nuts. Scott’s Leviathan was also in big demand. His line was so long that when his hour was up they had to shift him to the overflow area where he kept signing for another half hour. I think Leviathan is Scott’s best book so far. Can’t wait to hear what other people think.
How was you BEA?
Posted by Justine at 11:20, 31 May 2009 under New York City/USA, Publishing business | 14 Comments »
Chris S. Says:
My Simon & Schuster rep gave me an ARC of LEVIATHAN earlier this week. I swore to wait as long as possible to read it. Which turned out to be about 18 minutes (as long as it took me to get home and comfy).
Now, although I’m annoyed at myself for having no willpower (and sad that the book is over), I’m also thoroughly charged up and can’t wait to start pushing the actual book into customers’ hands. Brilliant! Smart, moving, and immensely exciting.
May 31st, 2009 at 12:42 PM
2. Justine Says:
Chris S.: You have will power like my will power!
So pleased you liked it. Derryn is my favourite character of all time and “barking spiders” my favourite exclamation.
May 31st, 2009 at 1:47 PM
I wish I could have gone, but not being published, in publishing, or an educator, I just joined Laurie Halse Anderson’s Pout-a-Thon.
May 31st, 2009 at 2:27 PM
Those are the two ARCs I covet the most. Would also love to get my hands on Liar.
Oh well, they say all good things come to those who wait, right?
The n is missing in Hunger Games above. Huger Games is a book about the shenanigans two competing coliseums get up to while trying to get more customers.
Let’s hope we don’t see a major reduction in the number of books published. My favorite books are generally not the ones that show up on the bestsellers lists.
May 31st, 2009 at 4:03 PM
5. Justine Says:
Q: It’s not as fab as people make out. They’re just exaggerating to annoy you.
Georgiana: Fixed. Thank you!
The speculation was just about the major houses. The number of books being published by them is already down. This happened in the Depression too. Things will turn around. Also small presses will continue to publish cool and interesting books.
May 31st, 2009 at 4:08 PM
Hey Justine — when I grabbed my LIAR arc today, there were only two left! And the woman who gave it too me was all gushy about the book!
May 31st, 2009 at 7:50 PM
I wish they could’ve pushed it back just a teeny-weeny bit. I would’ve LOVED to go, but we JUST got done with school. Add me to the List of Jealous!
Congrats on Liar doing so well!
May 31st, 2009 at 9:13 PM
Heather Z. Says:
Call me silly, but I am very glad you had people going for your ARCs. I’ve been very excited about it ever since you started mentioning it on your blog.
And to think this was smaller than last year?! I’ve seen a few pictures and it looked positively gargantuan. I certainly hope the trend will wing back around, and that it won’t be all bare tables next year (but yes, I am all for the breathing room).
May 31st, 2009 at 9:58 PM
Justine: I’m so glad you had people! I was at ALA last summer and Jacqueline Woodson (the amazing!) was sitting at a table with no one paying any attention to her. I couldn’t believe it. I had a nice conversation with her, but still felt awful seeing her there with her great books and no people. On another note, my friend Karen picked up a copy of Liar to send to me b/c I was so excited to read it and couldn’t be at BEA. Can’t wait!
May 31st, 2009 at 10:45 PM
I’ve been reading that both YA and romance are selling in greater numbers. Some articles are claiming romance is selling better because of the bad economy, much as box offices boomed during the Great Depression. Do you know if fewer books in these two genres are also being published?
Speaking of small presses – I took advantage of Small Beer Press’ recent sale and bought a ridiculous number of books, 17 I think, and not all of them were on sale. Just doing my bit to support the small press…
May 31st, 2009 at 10:54 PM
Jen Barnes Says:
It was nice to see you this weekend! Glad you finally got some food on Friday- hopefully it was not as hard to come by the rest of the weekend.
After I recover from BEA, I intend to spend some time revving up for my mean lessons…
E. Kristin Anderson Says:
I really really really hope my boss comes back with an ARC for Liar! I’m glad BEA was good for you!
May 31st, 2009 at 11:04 PM
13. Justine Says:
Meghan: Hope you like it!
Heather Z.: I actually think the smallness and the scarcity of ARCs meant for bigger lines at the signings cause that was the only sure way to get a galley.
Laura: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Jacqueline Woodson without a big line?! That’s nuts.
Georgiana: Those are definitely the two strongest categories right now. I’m very glad I’m not an adult lit writer, that’s for sure.
Jen: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am all sweetness & light, me.
E. Kristin Anderson: I’m pretty sure the Book People person I talked to had a copy. But if not I believe yours is an important account and my publicist will send you one. Do not despair!
June 1st, 2009 at 8:14 AM
It was lovely to meet you. I’ve got LIAR and LEVIATHAN right next to each other in my stack and I can’t wait to dig in.
June 4th, 2009 at 1:56 AM
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