Kim Weiss Publishing Services

Fly on the wall: Book Expo (BEA) time – in the middle of the week? What?

February 23, 2010 at 7:31 am


BEA means BookExpo America. You’ve read about it before on this blog. It happens every year, once a  year, and it’s the big deal trade show for everything books. Take all the components of book publishing and shake them up in a gigantic salad spinner, throw them on the floor of the Jacob Javitz Center in NY, and, voila, you’ve got BEA.

A massive publishing salad made of people, paper and lots of new, invisible (electronic) ingredients.

Since chain stores began sucking the life out of the mom and pop book business, nobody really knows what good BEA is anymore save for the few foreign deals made and the educational part of the pre-convention that is dedicated to  providing lectures and seminars. For a few days before the festivities begin the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association formerly known as PMA) sets up shop to teach. There are workshops about branding yourself and your book(s),  classes devoted to the new digital media in all of its perplexities, sessions where editors from publishers talk about what goes on in their department and sometimes media panels assemble to tell you what to and what not do when you pitch your book to them.

I spoke last year on what it’s like and how an in-house publicity department can successfully work in tandem with outside pr contractors. My conclusion: it’s possible. (In my shrinking department – vital)

Much buzzing around goes on at BEA. Everyone’s on the lookout for free books and lots of authors are on deck to sign and give away theirs. Some are first timers and others warrant paid tickets to see them because of their celebrity.

I’m forever cruising the area behind the autographing tables making bargains with fellow publicists for signed copies of their authors’ wares. It’s dizzying and it’s a lot of fun. The “star struck” part of me that runs in my family is especially ignited when I sniff out somebody famous.

A lot of the show’s novelty has worn off for me over the years but I still get a kick out of the frenetic ambiance of this gathering of publishers, booksellers, authors, journalists, agents, and just plain plain book lovers of the old booky wook. And, any reason I get to be in NY, an old friend of mine itself, is a good one.

Which leads me to my role in putting together the puzzle that is my group of HCI authors. Who to invite, what to do with them while they’re there and how to elevate my role as author babysitter into something respectable and satisfying.

We bring a combination of authors with books just recently brought to market and others with books on the way. Those with good sales numbers and those with attention grabbing titles and potential for sales. And, those with the perfect tri-state residential geography who don’t require lodging while attending the show.

I’m working on BEA now and have just gotten back my invitation letters from the authors. The next task is creating a schedule of autographing events so that everyone has their shot and most can be moved in and out of the show in a day.

I’ve  done this 15 times before and it still seems daunting at this stage of the game. And, the show is happening in the middle of the week instead of the long custom of weekends. What’s up with that?

I can’t decide if I like the idea or not but whatever I prefer, it really doesn’t much matter. I am the author tender from Tuesday through Thursday. With any luck, I’ll rendezvous with some producer and editor colleagues while there. Maybe some old friends who I see but once a year.

Everyone leaves a cloud of dust behind them as they circle the show again and again getting to the layers that they missed the first time around the aisles. We’re all in perpetual motion with darting eyes and aching arches. I offer a disclaimer that I really should put on a t-shirt or a button or something that exclaims: “don’t even try to have a normal conversation with me.”  You can hug me, tell me about your family, let me know what you’re up to in a few sound bytes, and that’ll be the most I can handle. If you need a discussion that goes deeper than that, call me after the show.

My ADD is happily inflamed for the entire three days at BEA. My attention span is abbreviated to an even scarier level than is normal for me. Keep that in mind if I bump into you. I offer  my apology now.

I wanted to set the seasonal mood for what’s coming in May and promise to give you more details about which authors will be with us, how things are panning out along the way,  and a great report from the show.

We’ve got the VOWS series to publicly launch, a Sarah Palin impersonator to support our Going Rouge book, a book about the “Tiger Woods syndrome” to show off, sex for grownups,  a crappy little kitchen book, and much more.

Until then…

Comments (1)

1 Comment »

    Now, let me tell you the REAL STORY about Kim at BookExpo America! See, I manage that Autographing Program that she references, so I have to deal and coordinate with Kim every year!

    First, let me tell you that Kim is but one of several hundred publicists that I deal with at BEA. Our autographing programs usually have between 400 – 500 authors signing books in a 2-3 day period. Take my word for it when I say that it takes a lot of work to organize this so that it works smoothly for all. With publicists like Kim, we do make it all work smoothly. She is a pleasure to work with!

    I have delt with Kim for about the past 12 years…and can tell you without any reservation that she is ONE OF THE BEST publicists in the business! She gets the information to me that I need on time and her organizational skills with her authors are superb.

    That’s the business side of Kim….now for the personal side. For someone whom I only see once a year, I still consider her a very close friend. She is a doll! I know that I can count on her; and I think that she knows that she can count on me!

    Let Kim talk about the hectic pace that BEA brings for the few days in New York, but don’t let her fool you into thinking that she is lost in it all. Kim is always on the ball and knows exactly what she is doing. She is a PRO!

    I just wish that I had a couple hundred more like her! It would make my life so much easier at BEA!

    So, know that while BEA is a lot of work for a lot of people, it is people like Kim that make it all worthwhile!


    Comment by Dave HoltonFebruary 24, 2010 @ 12:17 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

About this Blog