So I went to the Book Expo America in Manhattan. Everything was big, including Manhattan itself (and it smells funky). The show was huge, and immediately I felt myself kind of lost. The Independent Book Publishers’ Association, which was hosting my book, seemed to get a lot of traffic. Not sure if anyone took any of my postcards from among the throng, though. Most of the small publishers’ tables were abandoned and lonely. I wandered around and met various people–the folks from NetGalley and some of our distributors. The Author badge doesn’t get you into some of the best presentations, so that was disappointing.
All in all? I think the best approach would be to set up meetings with key people before going to an event like this. Otherwise you’re just lost in the madding, zoo-like crowd. For smaller publishers, I think smaller events are generally better. Something like BEA might also be great for an author signing. I felt a bit lame saying my book wouldn’t be out until November–nothing to show off, really.
But it was an interesting experience to be sure, seeing all of the activity and hype and the various levels of the publishing industry, from authors to printers to distributors, etc. I’d never really thought about all of those different levels, but there they were. It’s a complex business. I’d go again next year to see if it makes a difference to have a book out… if i can bear the noise & stench of Manhattan. Seriously, I’d prefer Iqaluit.