Book Expo America

May 28, 2007

I can’t go this year. I am chained to the computer, working on the Book That Will Not End. Here is an entry I wrote about the book show last year. I put it up on another blog site where it languished in unread obscurity. Maybe there’s a reason for that, who knows. But this is a post about BEA 2006:

BEA (Book Expo, held this year in Washington DC) was fabulous–three days of frenetic conventioneering. Stayed at the Mayflower where, 22 years ago, I got pregnant, so Jay was not allowed to come this time. I hadn’t been to DC since I was the national speaker for RWA in 2000, and the whole atmosphere is different, thanks to 9/11. There were barricades, security & political protests everywhere. Impeach Bush logos everywhere you look (including in the Washington Post). You can be walking down the street, and suddenly they’ll close it and make you go somewhere else. I saw a motorcade of a dozen black SUVs, Mary Cheney & Newt at the show and that was the extent of politics for me. Loved the international spy museum. “Embassy Row” — a neighborhood — is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

I had a booth signing and a chute signing. Giving away books is the ONLY way to have a booksigning. I wish it could be that way every time. I gave away ARCs of SUMMER AT WILLOW LAKE with friendship bracelets (summer camp theme) to hundreds of appreciative librarians and booksellers. [NOTE: This year my publisher is giving away Dockside.] Attendees are all so earnest and supportive–gives you hope for the book industry. Note: who knew people coveted friendship bracelets? I ran out quickly. Publicist was clever at matching the bracelets with people’s outfits.

Familiar faces–Some of my favorite people–Kathy Carmichael! Shirley Hailstock, Heather Graham & her husband, Carla Neggers, Christina Skye, Sandra Kitt, MJ Rose, Susan Grant, Gayle Wilson, Jill Limber, Hope Tarr, Linda Seger, Alfie Thompson, Bruce Wilder, Nora Roberts…all people I love and never get to see. Dinner at the Westchester at Grove Park. It’s a 1920s luxury residence, and the restaurant used to be the dining room for the residents. You can get escargots and a grilled cheese sandwich, anything you want. We had an impromptu home tour of Katherine Neville’s incredible vintage apartment, which was unforgettable. This is thanks to my agent, who is so friendly and lovable that everyone just wants to hang out with her. I had a lunch with the president & vp of Harlequin. We went to a Turkish restaurant so exotic I can’t even spell the name of it. I adore these women, love their smarts, their focus and their taste in shoes. I got to share news of the feature film option & we toasted iced tea. There was a Harlequin party at Maclean Gardens for industry people–a different crowd from the usual romance event. Many more boys. PW staff. Lots more drinking, less dancing. I was impressed that, with so many parties to choose from, people picked this one. The party dessert was cupcakes that are world famous. I never thought a cupcake could bring me to ecstasy. I was wrong.

Booths & ARCs:

  • I got the new Sally Beauman (I’ve always loved her books) from Warner.
  • Golden Country by Jennifer Gilmore (S&S) — they are so enthusiastic about this book–a saga. Lovely folks in a friendly booth.
  • a new Donna van Liere (sp?) from SMP (she does the wildly popular Christmas books). People at SMP are very warm & welcoming.
  • Losing our Democracy by Mark Green (political books were EVERYwhere)
  • the new Lisa Tucker from S&S — love her books. LOVE THEM so I’m excited about this one.
  • Lights! Camera! Fiction! by Alfie Thompson (a writing book with an intro by Michael Hauge)
  • Jesus Rode a Donkey: Why Republicans Don’t Have the Corner on Christ by Linda Seger
  • Bertelsman booth was gigundo. I visited with a couple of editors, realizing that if you stick around long enough in this business, you meet everyone.
  • I think S&S seemed to be giving away the most books and ARCs, my impression, anyway.
  • The big book of the show seemed to be THRILLER, the anthology from MIRA.
  • Recorded Books – my audio publisher. I was glad to meet them and effuse about THE OCEAN BETWEEN US reader  who did such a good reading. There are lots of innovations in audio, including a disposable listening book.
  • I met Elizabeth Flock, who is as nice as she is adorable, but we were signing next to each other and barely had a chance to talk.
  • The RWA booth was adorable, set up like an Italian cafe. I didn’t love where it was located but people seemed to be finding it. They were giving away members’ books and info.
  • I bought a book (memoir) from a Holocaust survivor, Jack Ratz. It was an incredible moment.

On the down side–I did not bring the good camera (too bulky).

People at the show looked exhausted on Sunday. I went to a museum with a writer friend from Maui, had lunch with some people from Mira, then flew home and made the 9pm ferry. Streak cried like a baby. Jay had cleaned the house, Jay-style. I have a very intimidating e-mail queue but I’m slowing getting through it.

  • Susan, back to hardcover in 2008. . .That is very exciting! 🙂

    Will you have the opportunity to go on a book tour or is it
    still too early to tell? I hope theres a chance you’ll be down
    Southern California way sometime as I would love to see you.


  • Hi there, Susan! I signed up for that Google Alert thing where it e-mails you if someone mentions your name or book…and that’s how I found my way here! (Whatta concept: It alleviates the need for publicity-happy serial killer tendancies we authors have, trolling the ‘net to see if you’re mentioned, something I do NOT have time for, so this is very efficient!) It was fun to read your blog and it’s a lovely one at that! It reminds me how much I miss you. Say hi to everyone for me there at home! (I still laugh thinking of wheeling our suitcases across the bridge!)


  • I too would love to go to BEA if nothing else just to say I’d been. This year Putnam is giving away my ARCs and I won’t even be there — I’ll STILL be in Norway and STILL cold.
    I’m home in a week Susan (and slated to do booksignings in Seattle the second week of August!) and then Maui!!! Yeah!!!

  • BEA is pretty overwhelming even if you’ve been more than once. It’s kind of like a Disneyland for books. You walk through aisle after aisle and it’s books, books, books. What’s better than that?

    It’s not the kind of thing you just sign up and go to, like a conference. It seems you need to be affiliated with some organization–your publisher, usually. One year I was on the board of RWA, so I went under their auspices but made sure my publisher knew, so they could invite me to their events. 🙂

    Bummed about this year–I really do like this convention and love NYC! Also, I had to turn down several fabulous invitations and opportunities. My audio publisher was going to film an interview with me, for example. I just hate missing that opportunity. I hope the door is still open for 2008. That will be an important year for me because it’s back to hardcover.

  • The one time I went to BEA I was the sore thumb Holly described LOL! I was too overwhelmed to do much but stare. Next time I’ll have a plan and that plan would probably involve more drinking ha ha.

  • I hope your book is going well, Susan.
    I love the pictures and the post. I’ve never been to the BEA, but would like to. Maybe next year *crossing fingers & toes *

    If so, and if you go as well, we’ll have to connect for dinner — my treat.

    I’ll need to pick your brain to learn all of the ins and outs and so I don’t stand out like a sore thumb 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *