Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How Did it Go - BEA/BookCon edition

I have had a lot of people ask how this event went. It was, a big deal after all. I have to say, unabashedly, that this event was amazing from start to finish. I think that the big difference is that we came into this event thoroughly knowing what to expect. his time Martha and I felt like the pros. It is nearly impossible to walk into an event knowing what it is really going to be like. I'm not sure why this is an issue; surely the planners know we, as small business owners, need to know the facts about what we can expect on returns before we decide to commit, right? And yet, every event is the Premier Whatever Event in the Wherever. Attendance is always a) hugely inflated (Vegas Valley, I'm looking at you), b) growing (read, we have no idea), or c) they will not mention that 95% of attendees are other authors (read, broke and wanting to sell their books). Some event planners will tell you anything to get you there. I've found that "networking" is the word that lets me know I need to avoid an event at all costs; I know enough people by now, I think. But, having attended ALA, we were ready.

 We walked into the room at the Expo Center and got ourselves set up back in Small Press Land (Patent Pending). We had been working with a publicist and as such had pitch sheets, catalogs, and other promotional materials on hand. We had come in with a list of professionals to whom we wanted to speak and things we wanted to learn. Also, we came in with the correct expectations, that the first three days were not for ready sales.
And they weren't. They were for meeting people. Martha and I worked hard. We met reviewers, we discovered companies that can link us with vetted authors, with movie and television producers, and that can automate some of our processes. We found printers who can print better books for cheaper. And, in the evenings, we saw New York. Guys, it was heady. It was amazing to be recognized as professionals and to be told over and over again that we were one of the best put together and most impressive groups there. It was amazing to eat dinner at the Algonquin Round Table, to see a show on Broadway.

Days four and five were for sales. That's where we did, what we do. I am discovering that we need to get back into our niche markets to take care of the genre authors we represent, and I have discovered some holes in our line. Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans are rabid and hungry for more, but they don't always show up at literary based events. I feel like the same can be said for Romance, there appears to be a stigma there. I am, as always, surprised at the number of people who read non-fiction. But, I sold out of several titles, including my own, and made a total of about 2K.  People were walking by Neil Patrick Harris and R.L. Stine to come to OUR table, and we could have made more if we had brought more of our bestsellers. That was pretty awesome. It felt so good to get back to our direct sales with people who were excited to see us.

Next year, BEA is in Chicago, and I'm already planning our attendance!

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