SFWA at BEA: A Recap

by Jaym Gates, SFWA PR Liason

This year, SFWA tried a new thing: participation at Book Expo America (BEA). BEA is the largest publishing industry trade show in the country, and internationally is second only to the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany. Hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of industry professionals descend on New York for 3 days to do nothing but talk books.

Our presence this year was an experiment, but a wildly successful one. We were able to inform, educate and engage people from all areas of the publishing world. Dozens of bloggers and librarians stopped by to talk to us and thank us for being there.

Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss spent a good deal of time with us, offering an excellent portrait of how important this effort is to writers and publishers alike. From seasoned pros to a girl just dipping her toes in the writing world, we were able to give people a valuable tool to protect their careers. Many of the people we spoke to about the project were impressed that we were affiliated with and supportive of this effort.

Victoria also had a chance to get away from the table a little more than I did, so for a look at the Expo outside of the table, be sure to read her post.

We were at the SFWA table when we began hearing reports of Ray Bradbury’s passing. For the rest of the event, we had people stopping by to talk about the influence and memory of his work. BookCountry hosted a toast to his memory that afternoon, and SFWA members were there to represent. I was glad we were there to witness influence of one of our own heroes.

We had a number of great signings, too. Malindo Lo went first, signing 40 ARCS in 13 minutes. Yes, we timed it. Our other participants included Jeri Smith-Ready, Sarah Beth Durst, Laura Anne Gilman, Holly Black and Ellen Kushner.Myke Cole and Walter Greatshell finished out with two great signings on Thursday.

We also were there to talk with members, hopeful members, publishers and more. Due to the enthusiasm of the crowd, and feedback gathered during the week, SFWA President John Scalzi has authorized us to begin the process for next year’s participation, as well. We will be sharing space with the Mystery Writers Association and the Horror Writers Association, to create a cohesive and author-centric face on the floor.

This next year, we don’t want to just be good, we want to be great. To do that, we need to start talking about this now. Who will be signing? How can we stand out even more? We’re talking to bloggers and bookstores  to get their participation and promotion. We have lists of contacts and resources. But it’s more work than two or three people can manage, and we need your help.

We would like to hear from authors who are considering attending.  We’ll have a FAQ about the event, but the short pitch is this: SFWA can obtain passes for $65 (single day) or $75 (3 day), which is a significant discount from general admission. We’ll handle the books and promotional materials for you, and you’ll get to meet with the people in charge of making sure that your book goes out to the public. It is also an excellent chance to meet with agents and publishers, who are frequently looking for new clients at BEA.

We are also asking for volunteers for a small number of temporary positions that will  mostly consist of collecting and coordinating information.

If you have any questions, or want to participate next year, please contact me at pr@sfwa.org, and put BEA in the email subject.