My Adventures at BEA

Photo by Diana Pho

I’ve got a couple of minutes before I have to head over to the airport to go back home (hooray!), so I thought I would give a brief recap of my Book Expo America for 2014.

The short form was that it was busy. Tor is (I am pleased to say) very excited about Lock In, and I am happy to talk to people endlessly about it, so basically that’s what I did for two days straight, with meetings and interviews and signings and standing on random New York City street corners, just babbling. Thursday in particular was jam-packed; I got into a car at 9:30 to start my day, and then got out of a car at 9:30 to finish it, and in the 12 hours in between I don’t think I stopped moving even once. It was a lot, but I’d honestly rather be busy all day at BEA than not.

Some highlights of BEA for me:

* Doing the appearance with Douglas Preston (pictured above), whose newest novel, The Kraken Project, is a hell of a page-turner. He and I talked about the future, in that way that people who write about the future so often do. Douglas is a genuinely lovely person and great fun to chat with, and our half hour together was a really excellent conversation. Tor.com has a writeup of our event here.

* The other panel event I did was “The Worst Social Media Advice Ever,” in which I, Maureen Johnson, Bill Barnes and Ron Hogan (who graced the stage as the moderator) did our very best to offer ever single person, yes, the worst social media advice ever. I don’t think it’s any surprise that with crew we succeeded. Someone on Twitter suggested that it was probably the most sarcastic panel that has ever happened at BEA, and I wouldn’t doubt it. I look forward to the writeups. In the meantime, know that on the panel I formulated “The Physics of the Straight White Male,” which I will detail at some later time, here on Whatever.

* I attempted to steal a taxidermied fox for Jenny Lawson.

Somehow this later involved William Shatner tweeting to both me and Jenny. My life is odd.

* Stopped by the SFWA booth and got to see all the folks there in a totally refreshing “I don’t have to be responsible for any of this in any way, shape or form” sort of way. There was a lot of traffic there, which was awesome. Later on also hung out with some SFWA folks and caught up on everything, whilst also have Nutella pizza. Yes, it’s a thing.

* Also got to spend lots of time with all my Tor/Macmillan peeps, who are more fun than I think any other publishing peeps anywhere (sorry, all you other publishing peeps). It’s excellent to be able to actually like the people with whom you are selling and promoting a book, and I’m really happy I get to be one of those people who do.

* Crashed Drinklings and had a fine time of that.

* Made my daughter jealous by meeting Rainbow Rowell, the author of Eleanor & Park. She is a delightful person. Also made the acquaintance of Ben Tripp, who is dryly sarcastic.

* Had dinner with Tor folks one night, and Subterranean Press folks the other, and was delighted that Scott Westerfeld crashed the latter meal; he’s one of my favorite people. And, look at this:

I suspect that banner is larger than many NYC apartments.

Plus the delight of seeing so many friends and publishing folks who I like and admire that if I tried to mention them all I would go one forever and still miss some of them. Suffice to say that no matter how busy I was, the fact I got to see so many people I like means that I was never tired.

In short, a truly excellent BEA. I’m glad I came.

18 thoughts on “My Adventures at BEA

  1. Just curious if you know if Tor will have the ARC of Lock In available on either NetGalley or Edelweiss? Also watching all the BEA craziness on twitter made me sad that I’ve decided to stop going to it even if it is darn expensive.

    PS I should really get around to getting a dedicated sales rep at your publisher instead of just doing general orders. LOL

  2. I hope the “Worst Social Media Advice” included, “Create or edit the Wikipedia article on yourself. Fill it with the smarmiest words from your agent, your blurbs, your publisher’s press releases, etc. Include no sources, no impartial information, and lots of cuddly-cute nonsense that has no place in an encyclopedia. Insert some pictures of yourself with blithe disregard for copyright. Be sure to maintain a belligerent attitude; ignore any helpful advice you’re offered, and demand your right to control everything said about you; threaten legal action, if you don’t get your way.”

  3. I take it the gray lines in this post were supposed to be images. (Oh. Just very s l o w loading. Got it.)

    I will never get to a Book Expo, but it’s always lots of fun to read about the good times people have there.

  4. Wow! You got to meet Douglas Preston! I’m reading ‘The Monster of Florence’ right now. This true story is crazier than his ‘Pendergast’ books with Lincoln Child. (Which are pretty wild.) I am jealous.

  5. It’s nice to see you back, John; I, too am looking forward to the ‘Worst social media advice ever’ since I have a nasty suspicion that I may have inadvertently managed to score a full house complying with every single one of them in the last couple of days.

    I never knew just how much I love the Mallet until it went away.

    But the rest looks great as well, and I’m glad that you had fun!

  6. Also, lest I forget, I would like to thank Howard Taylor for preserving my sanity during my recent ‘worst social media advice ever’ horror show; the roof was falling on my head, but as long as I had Seargeant Schlock as a refuge I could pick myself up, dust myself down, and start all over again.

    Also, Schlock has plasma guns, which makes him a wonderful refuge…

  7. I’m pretty sure Mr. Westerfield’s banner is bigger than the ground floor of my house.

    He should ask if he can have it after the Expo is over, since the material they’re made out of makes a truly awesome extra-tough tarp. Assuming, of course, that he needs a tarp big enough to cover a couple of cars.

  8. There’s a place here in Cape May, NJ, where they serve a killer chocolate pizza…so I can just taste a Nuttela one!

  9. Hilde and I went to BEA (it was still called ABA then; yeah, a while ago) a number of times when we had a part-time bookselling business. The bookseller’s experience is somewhat different from an author’s experience, but it was crazy busy almost from waking up to crashing into bed each night. We’d get our membership materials first thing, and I’d go thru the exhibitors list and color-code dozens of the hundreds of booths on the floor-map to be able to hit the publishers we were most interested in. Yes, it was almost like planning a military campaign.

    The one in LA — 1994 I think — was the closest we came to being caught tin a riot. Hyperion Press had just become the new publisher of James Lee Burke’s popular Dave Robicheaux mystery series, and were promoting his newest book by announcing they would be handing out free copies of a signed, slipcased limited edition at their booth at a pre-announced date and time. Hyperion failed to realize that handing out that limited edition was pretty much equivalent to announcing they would be handing out free money. When that date and time came around, literally hundreds of booksellers converged on the Hyperion booth. Booksellers Behaving Badly ensued. Got ugly enough that one of our other bookseller friends was knocked to the floor and almost trampled on. (Hilde and I were towards the outskirts of the mob and didn’t really want to try taking Hilde’s wheelchair any closer, but one of the Hyperion people saw her predicament and was kind enough to bring a copy around for her.)

    Viking, at an earlier ABA, did the high-value book handout thing a lot better. They were giving out special pre-publication copies (the “Zero Edition” ) of Stephan King’s Gerald’s Game. But they realized how big a rush might ensue if they tried to give them all out at once, so they didn’t announce handout times, and instead of one big handout, they put out smaller batches at varying intervals several times a day. No problems ensued (other than some booksellers trying to sneak an extra copy off the stacks).

    Met a lot of writers (Including two Jack Williamson’s who weren’t the SF writer; one wrote and published books about goat-raising, the other a journalist who wrote a novel about the WWII Japanese internment camps from the PoV of the unfit-for-combat soldiers assigned to guard duty there), publishing people (Elsie Wollheim was a sweetheart), and other booksellers. A lot of fun, but exhausting.

    If Hilde and I were still selling books, BEA would still be high-priority to try and get to.

  10. I interviewed Doug a couple years ago and had a great chat with him. He and his writing partner, Lincoln Child, are two of my favorites, together and separately. I’m actually reading An Oral History of Haden’s Project and The Kraken Project and they’re both great reads.

  11. Had a chance to get a signed copy of Locked In while you were there. Going to BEA is a pleasurable part of my job but your event was a huge perk. Sorry to say that I had to miss the Worst Social Media Advice Panel but you know, work. Thanks for the signed copy!

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