Monday, May 22, 2006

Back From BEA!

And all I can say is WOW! What a convention! So many books, so many authors, so many publishers, so little time!

Day One

I arrived in Washington on Friday afternoon and checked into the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA where I hooked up with my roomie, and fellow crime sistah, Gammy Singer. After resting, and gabbing, Gammy and I hopped the convention shuttle and headed over to the Washington Convention Center to check things out. Now, I wasn't sure they'd let me through the door, because my badge was for Saturday only, but Gammy assured me no one would be paying attention to what my badge said. They'd only be checking to see if I had one, and she was right. But I think it may have also been because it was the end of the day and everyone was packing up and getting their booths set up for Saturday. We walked around and got a chance to meet Angela P. Dodson, an editor at Black Issues Book Review magazine, and snagged a copy of the May-June issues of the magazine, which I don't believe is out yet. I was also pleased to see TANGLED ROOTS featured in an ad for my publisher Kimani Press. Then it was back over to the other building to check out more displays. We happened upon the Midnight Ink booth where I grabbed copies of Clyde W. Fords' debut mystery novel THE LONG MILE , and an ARC of the next book in his series, DEUCE'S WILD. Can't wait to get started on them! I also picked up ARC's of books by Kit Frazier, M.J. Zellnick, Richard Greener, Amy Patricia Meade, and Candy Calvert. I was like a kid in a candy store. And did I mention all these books were FREE!

Then it was off in search of Gammy's publisher, the Kensington Books booth. After walking around in circles, and finally asking for directions, we found the Kensington booth. Unlike many of the booths, the Kensington booth still had some staff and some authors present. Gammy introduced me to Jessica McClean, sales and marketing rep for Kensington, and we both met author Wendy Coakley-Thompson, who also writes for Kensington. Then it was off in search of my publisher's booth, Harlequin. When we finally found it, I have to say I was very impressed. Harlequin easily had the best looking booth there. But the only people still around were the sales reps who were just leaving. We chatted with them for a few minutes, or rather Gammy chatted with them, I don't exactly have the gift of conversation. What the heck do you say to sales reps? Then we left ourselves. I know there were numerous parties going on all over town. But I had no idea where they were and we were beat. We had dinner and called it a night.

Day Two

We arrived back at the convention center around 10:30 the next morning. One of the people on the shuttle ride to the convention center recognized Gammy from a series she used to be on back in the day called UP AND COMING. I always think of Gammy as an author. I keep forgetting she's also quite an accomplished actress as well. And speaking of actors, I saw this guy, who also appeared on a popular series wondering around later that day. We found the Sisters in Crime booth and dropped off our jackets and totes. I was thrilled to meet one of my favorite mystery writers, and fellow sister in crime, Cara Black. She was so nice and gracious and I hope I didn't make too big a fool of myself by gushing over her books. After meeting some other fellow sisters in crime, Gammy and I headed off in separate directions to kill time before our 2 pm signing. While I was running around grabbing up all the free books, totes, and other book related swag my greedy hands could carry, Gammy was working it. But I think she'll probably want to tell you about it herself ; ).

By the time 2pm rolled around I was exhausted, my feet hurt from so much walking, and my arms and shoulders ached from carrying around three tote bags full of books. I had so many, I had to ship them home. But there was no rest for the weary because I had a signing to do. One thing I quickly discovered while I was walking around other booths is that you have to have a system in place for attracting people to your booth. Because you are competing with so many other titles, you can't just sit there waiting for people to come up to you. I had a pile of books to give away and an hour to do it. Fortunately for me, a fellow sister in crime, who I will be forever indebted to, helped me flag down passersby and encourage them to take a look at my book. By the time the hour was up, all my books were gone. I also got to meet some booksellers and Willetta L. Heising, author of the Detecting Women and Detecting Men mystery guides. Gammy and I finally said adieu to the Washington Convention Center around 4:30 and left to have dinner. Afterwards, we hopped the metro to Union Station to take a tour of Washington after dark. It was an awesome tour but tiring. We got back to the hotel around midnight and crashed. My plane left the next morning at 10 and Gammy hopped her plane back to New York at noon.

My first Book Expo was overwhelming, tiring, confusing, exhausting, and a bit intimidating. Would I do it again? IN A HEARTBEAT! I had a great time ; )


Anonymous said...

Sounds like BEA was fabulous--and thanks for picking up my book (Dressed to Keel) at the Midnight Ink booth. Hope you enjoy the cruise with "chocolates on your pillow . . . and murder underway."

Candy Calvert

Angela Henry said...

Thanks, Candy! I'm sure I'll enjoy it : ).


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