I love this business.

July 17, 2007

That’s entertainment–Levy Home Entertainment: I attended the Levy National Meeting last month. Outside of publishing, people might not be familiar with this firm, but it is one of the biggest players in the industry. And once a year, they have a meeting at a great resort. [Note: This year, the locusts were out in their 17-year cycle, which I’d never seen (or heard) before. These bugs are so huge and fly in such impressive force that they look like alien invaders. In fact, at the airport, they would periodically explain the phenomenon over the PA system, so people wouldn’t look out the window and panic that something very Old-Testament was taking place.]

Back to business–My publisher arranged for me to attend the Levy meeting. Think about it. A week of meetings completely dedicated to getting books into readers’ hands. Meetings attended by people at the highest level of publishing and book distribution, like Louise Burke of Simon & Schuster and Donna Hayes, president of Harlequin–every major publisher sent their top people. The workshops and seminars were designed to maximize the exposure of our book to readers. That’s what Levy Home Entertainment, based in Illinois, is all about. If you bought a paperback at a big discount store, chances are, it was placed there by Levy. Their main warehouse, in the appropriately-named Romeoville, is the size of an airplane hangar and staffed by the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. I know. I was lucky to meet them when I went to the warehouse to sign 6000 books. What 6000 books looks like

That’s not a typo. I signed 6000 books. Levy is going to distribute them to their accounts so 6000 readers can have a signed book. Then I rushed back to the hotel for–wait for it–a booksigning.Yes, I seriously signed 6000 books.

I didn’t know whether or not I could survive signing so many books. On my best day, I’ve written maybe 5000 words in longhand. But the Levy people made it easy. They had us set up assembly-line style so helpers would open the carton, sticker the book, open it to the title page and put it in front of me for my hasty–but legible–signature. Picture the candy-factory scene in “I Love Lucy,” and you get the idea. To make the time pass, we took breaks to dance to the incredibly cheesy disco music being piped into the room. We played with my screaming monkey slingshots. We guzzled bottled water. Tamar Kipper of Levy showed me some chiropractic exercises for hands and I am none the worse for the wear. There is something so special about meeting people whose entire job involves getting my books to readers. Also about attending a banquet with fellow authors Dave Barry, Carol Higgins Clark, Mary Jane Clark, Joanne Fluke, Laura Lippman, Ridley Pearson, Deanna Rayburn, JR Ward. We were all privileged to hang out with the Levy people.

God, I love this business.

| 5 Comments
  • Camp Rude was the high light of my year! …and I have no idea why it was named that.

    My wife obviously thought it wasn’t an appropriate name. Every year the new freshmen at Aurora College would start with a retreat/party at the camp. The year she was a freshman, she and a girl friend went out a day early …and changed the sign to Camp Nude!

    When I heard that, I knew I was gonna love that girl!

    I remember the locusts at camp quite vividly… The noise at night was deafening, but at the same time it was soothing – white noise that muted any distracting jolts of sound. I don’t know if it was the locusts or all that fresh air and activity…but sleep came quickly… unless we had work to do – like pushing the counselors VW down to the concrete pier and hanging the front wheels over the edge so the car was high dead center on the edge of the pier!

  • EEK!!! REALLY? AN SMS? I am SO looking forward to it! I’ll email you later on. I’m going through “Holly withdrawal” – she’s camping with her family – no cell phone no internet. won’t be back until the 23 rd.
    We will be at Maui together tho – doing a presentation at the conference!
    You still want me to guest blog?
    What do you want me to bring from HAWAII???

  • FatherRay, you nailed the character of the midwest. Incredibly friendly and accommodating, even when you’re dodging locusts. “Camp Rude” – I bet it’s prettier than its name.

    To Patricia – I get to see you soon when you swing through Seattle! Yay! Bringing you a SMS (screaming monkey slingshot). Airport security adores them.

  • God, I Love that Part of Illinois!

    I was born in Aurora where my dad went to college. When I was young I spent many summers at Camp Rude, just north of St Charles – that was my Willow Lake… and where I first dated my wife. My wife lived there all of her life until I moved her all over the states. For two years I worked 2 blocks east of Oak Brook Mall.

    Sounds like you enjoyed your stay…can’t believe you didn’t come home with major Carpal Tunnel – I guess being a popular author isn’t all fun and games!

    Where ever I go – I discover people who I just feel comfortable to be around…and invariably, I find they come from the midwest. I don’t know if that says more aboput me or about them!

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