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?