Early morning tomorrow I leave for LA and my first Book Expo (BEA), which according to the program is the "largest publishing event in the United States."
"With more than 2,000 exhibits, 1,000 authors, over 150 conference sessions as well as a special area for rights business, you'll see all the latest titles across genres, uncover hidden gems, network, and meet the industry contacts to put you instantly on top of what you need to know for your business."
With so much offered, how do I find all those "industry contacts," "hidden gems," and "what I need to know?" A friend told me that BEA is more than simply gigantic, it is several football fields in size and packed with information, booths, exhibits, workshops, readings, lectures, and of course, the all important swag. Another prior attendee warned me to pack snacks because food there is overpriced and limited, so I stocked up on trail mix, tiger-milk bars, and bananas. I've also been warned to wear good, comfortable shoes, so a couple of weeks ago I blew a bunch of cash on a new pair of Keens. My feet are now happy and my tummy feels secure, but my head is swimming. Time to make a plan.
My Muse and I spent the morning scanning the BEA website and the program they sent me in the mail. After reading about several hundred exhibitors, talks, and events, we realized we needed a better plan than just meandering. What did I hope to learn in three days?
First, I'm going to Book Expo to just see the sheer magnitude of it. Book Expo IS the Book Industry, and my little press and temperamental Muse are a part of it. Wandering around soaking up the energy will fulfill that want.
Second, I want to network with other small presses and "talk shop." Being a publisher can be just as lonely as being a writer; we both spend too much time alone tied to our laptops. My Muse found the Small Press Section on the Conference map and we're making that our first stop when we arrive.
Third, I'd like to learn more about the business of running a press, and marketing the books. I signed up for a presentation from Google about their Google Books program since I've recently added Laura's book to their list. I also plan to listen to Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com talk about their plans. Perhaps some of the issues around Create Space will be addressed. And then I'm attending the Book Industry Trends 2008 talk, presented by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). There's a talk called "What Librarians Wish Publishers Knew" which looks good, and one called "The Changing Landscape of Book Distribution."
Fourth, I want to have fun. I'm meeting a fellow publisher Friday night for dinner and I may go ahead and splurge on Lewis Black tickets Saturday night. This is my vacation this year and a time to devote ALL my energy to Medusa's Muse. No child, no hubby, no dog. I might even get a full nights sleep for a change! Heaven!
My Muse is now packing. We're driving down with Jane to LA, then flying home because Jane is heading off for a Grand Canyon Adventure. Keeping in mind we have to carry everything home on a plane, and future swag, we'd better pack light.
"Do you think wearing the Medusa's Muse t-shirt is over the top?" I ask her.
"Not at all. And bring the Medusa's Muse bag. Don't be shy! That's me on your shirt, remember?"
Now I have a plan, new shoes, hearty snacks, a digital camera, a bag for swag, eight books to give away and fifty fliers to hand out, 100 business cards, and three days of clothing. I think I'm ready.