Friday, May 27, 2011

I Survived BookExpo America

I now feel as though I'm ready for Comic-Con or a Star Trek convention. I don't read comic books and I've never watched a full episode of Star Trek. But on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I attended BookExpo America at the Javits Convention Center.

Yeah, it's like that.

It was my first time going to the event. And I was very overwhelmed. I've always loved books. Hell, I'm a writer. But most of the attendees of the BookExpo took things to a whole 'nother level.

What I noticed: There are the authors who are very friendly and genuine in their interaction with their fans, then there are others who need to go back to their mother's basements or the ones who aren't writers at all--the celebrity face plastered over the words to sell a few million copies.

There's also an inner circle, the Head Counsel, if you will, containing publishing execs and the marketing, publicists and PR reps. From what I witnessed, you're either in or out and it's hit or miss if you'll stumble upon one who's friendly and social... in PR and publicity...? (leave it alone, Abigail).

I was introduced to BookExpo America by my long-time friend, Glendaliz (she works in publishing and has her writing and editor stripes). I registered and received press credentials as a writer and photojournalist to cover the event. I had about 2 or 3 booths/events that I really wanted to check out. Everything else I ran across while walking around or I tagged along with my friend. She had certain books she wanted to pick up and literary giants to meet. I'm always game for new things.

The last time I visited Javits was for the car show with my brother. Cars are his thing (I'll touch on that later). But I've realized the only time I go to Javitz is because of someone else. What event could they host at Javits that I'd go to on my own? Anyway...

My upper trap knotted up on me, I had to use a foot roller all week and had moments of extreme hunger and thirst but I made it. Here are my highlights from BookExpo America. These are in no particular order. And how much you wanna bet I'm gonna remember something after I hit "publish"?

Craig Thompson author of "Habibi"

This was the first line I stood on with my friend to get a book signed. I slipped off the line to snap a few photos of him. I actually wanted to know what was taking so long. Turns out he was personalizing each excerpt of his graphic novel and sketching a photo! We finally made it to the front of the line. While taking a few more photos of him, he remarked that he hopes I got a few good shots of him since I seemed to only catch him when he was taking a sip of water. I assured him I did and offered to send some of the photos to him via his publicist who was also very pleasant. 

Craig Thompson signs galleys of his upcoming graphic novel,  "Habibi"

I love your hair

Yup, I heard that quite a few times at the event. Compliments come when they're most needed. Thank you all.

Esmeralda Santiago author of "Conquistadora"

"I wanna look like her when I get older." My friend was quite starstruck when she saw Santiago signing books (who started a few minutes earlier that her scheduled time). Down to her eyeglass chains, my friend couldn't stop gushing. I took the most photos of her with Santiago than with other authors we met. When I was getting my book signed, she asked what I do. I rattled off the list of writer, pub'd author, blogger, photographer. "We have to do everything, don't we?" Ah, she understands the struggle. The rep who assisted her asked if I was visiting NY for the expo. Nope, born and raised. "No wonder she's so bubbly and cheerful!" Santiago said. I do have a love of NY, but I'm sure my friend's enthusiasm rubbed off on me as well.

Esmeralda Santiago signs galleys of "Conquistadora"

Lori Bryant-Woolridge author of "The Power of Wow"

Who thinks I need a guide to unleash my confident, sexy self? This was one of the pleasant surprises. I didn't have this down in my phone and my friend didn't have it on her list. Bryant-Woolridge is definitely the type of woman to coach you on being confident; she oozed it. Very personable. I also met Brenda Knight of Cleis Press. The three of us spoke briefly about her book and erotica. She showed me her book, Can't Help the Way That I Feel, her first foray into erotica and I gave her a copy of my book, The Darker Side of Lust. Looking forward to comparing notes.

Lory Bryant-Woolridge signs "The Power of Wow"

Tasty Treats

I love cake and cookies. They were giving away Red Velvet whoopie pies at this "book treat" truck to promote Sarah Dessen. It was dee-lish. A guy asked if he could get a bite when I walked past him. That's your pick-up line? It tasted really good otherwise I would've spit it at him. I had more interactions with men over the giant cupcakes Wiley was giving out to celebrate 20 years of the "For Dummies" guides. Those men were much more respectful.

Free treats to promote the release of 
"What Happened to Goodbye" by Sarah Dessen

The Garter Brides authors of  "Love for Grown-ups"

I got a tweet about their galley signing. I checked out their page, saw it was a book about finding love for women over 35 and I was sold. I didn't realize it was a Harlequin book till I arrived. I met them briefly before I was ushered back to the line. I ended up getting copies of The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, C.N. and Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny at the same booth. I made it back over to Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl and Tish Rabe (The Garter Brides) and was greeted warmly; my book was signed by all three. I also met their Social Media Manager; great freckled face behind the tweets. When we went outside for a break, I skimmed through the book; it's written in a relatable tone. "Like your best girlfriends, they tell it like it is: woman-to-woman, heart-to-heart." It reminded me of How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do by Candida Royalle.

The Garter Brides: Tish Rabe, Ann Blumenthal Jacobs and Patricia Ryan Lampl 
signcopies of "Love for Grown-ups" at Book Expo America

Kimberly Snyder, C.N. greets fans and 
signs "The Beauty Detox Solution"

Sarah Matheny signs "Peas and Thank You"

DK Publishing

They sucked me in with the poster for Evolution: The Human Story. Then I spotted The Pregnant Body Book and audibly gasped when I saw The Complete Human Body. The books were so vibrant and big. I was transported back to elementary school, sitting on the floor reading oversized reference books. GAH! I'm getting excited just writing about it! After I went through the pages of the book, I closed it slowly, stood it upright to slide the book jacket back into place and lightly placed it on the display case. I did this all in silence, as if my voice would ruin the pages. I walked slowly to the other side of the DK Publishing booth and saw more books. Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile caught my eye. Also on display was The UFC Encyclopedia (October 2011 release). I looked through Car and knew my brother would love that one. Mindy Fichter (Publicity Manager) gave me her card and said she'd be glad to send a review copy.

Joe Pantoliano author of Asylum

A celebrity who didn't act as though anyone was "bothering" him while he signed books. He writes: "Maybe you're reading this book because you read my first one, or maybe you've seen me in the movies and you're curious. Good. My celebrity has enabled me to go places any other Joe couldn't get into." His memoir is about his battle with clinical depression; a topic that really needs to be discussed. It's brushed aside way too often. Joe Pantoliano is president of No Kidding, Me Too! a public charity with the purpose of removing the stigma of brain dis-ease through education and the breakdown of societal barriers. After he signed a copy of the first chapter to me, he gave me his business card and asked me to let him know my thoughts once I was done reading the book. Once I receive a review copy, will do, Joey Pants.

Joe Pantoliano signs chapter excerpts of "Asylum" at Book Expo America

Overall, it Book Expo America was a great experience for this first-timer. I'll certainly be back with a plan next time and a rolling suitcase to carry all those books! There are more photos posted on my flickr photostream featuring David Baldacci, Tom Clancy, Duff McKagan and Chuck Palahniuk. Next year, I'll also be more prepared to promote my own book (or books by then).

The lesson I took away from BookExpo America: Always so much to learn. So much to read.

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  1. So nice to have met you! And you do have cool hair.

    It was my first signing and you've definitely inspired me as to how to handle the next! Thanks for coming out and saying hi.

  2. Mama Pea! Congratulations on your first book signing! Much success~ Keep smiling--don't be afraid to express the passion for your project and readers/fans will connect with you. I'm not vegan and I'm still sold on the book!

  3. We loved meeting you! And we had a blast. It was our very first signing. So happy to share it with you!
    -The Garter Brides

  4. You've got the hang of it! Very engaging and friendly!


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