Book Expo America 2010 was my first Book Expo, other than a pre-Expo writers’ conference last year, so I’ve nothing to compare it to, in terms of the volumes of volumes represented at this annual event, the largest book fair in the world.  If it was bigger and more extensive in the past, I wouldn’t know.  But, the place was packed; if you’ve ever been to a convention or other expo at the Javits Center in New York City, you know that it’s cavernous, seemingly miles, definitely many Manhattan blocks.  There were more than 2000 exhibitors, reportedly 500 authors, conferences, speakers, and Barbra Streisand (yes, she has a new book coming out–on design) the opening act of Expo special events (we opted for Broadway that night).

The biggest exhibitors are the major publishers–the MacMillans, Random Houses, Knopf–of this world, despite their b…… and moaning about how tough the business is.  These exhibit areas are lavish, with video, state-of-the-art signage, giant logo-ed carpeting. Not surprisingly, Google was there too, and Amazon and Barnes & Noble–as well as major distributors to independent bookstores, including Ingram and Baker & Taylor.    There were whole aisles–several of them–of displays by university presses, as well as hundreds on lesser known small publishers.  Plus, the e-book and audio book people.  And printing companies, collective promotion companies, foreign publishers (from Belgium to Israel to Saudi Arabia), and the San Francisco Writers Conference, the only entity like it I saw with a booth.  Attendee categories range from exhibitor to agents to booksellers to librarians author to book club member (how Eli registered: husband of published author was not a category!)

Since I’d self-published, so to speak, I didn’t have a publisher’s site to feature me at a signing.  Those that did included some big names, such as best-selling mystery writer  Michael Connelly, who was actually there signing books for a line of devotées that even Eli, a fan, thought was too long.  His patience, or lack of same, didn’t even respond to the free book  which came with the signing.  There were also huge lines for signings at Harlequin (romance) publishers.

Ah, the free books–that was an amazing phenomenon that I hadn’t expected.  (And we succumbed to a few more than we should have, considering that we’re schlepping them back to San Francisco this weekend, despite our limited luggage space for this Denver-New York-Chicago-Milwaukee odyssey of friends’, book, business, family, and reunion events strung one after another.) I’ll let you know what I like when I read the few I picked up.  Just like at the Jewish Book Network event–so many interesting books (so little time to read).

AFTER THE AUCTION did get some visibility at Book Expo.  I had signed up for a spot on a new titles showcase that was prominently positioned in the Javits lobby outside the exhibit areas–well placed near food, restrooms, newsstands, and seating (a much appreciated commodity after traipsing through the Expo).  And, networker/worker of a room (even a giant one like Javits) that I am, I met quite a few “relevant” people.

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Like other self-publishing companies, Lightning Source the resource I used, was represented–as part of the massive Ingram exhibit (Ingram owns Lightning Source, one reason I chose it, as Ingram is a major book distributor). Sadly, I had no advance clue that some of their self-published products would be on display at that exhibit.  I asked the rep, who said, “Who’s your Lightning Source sales rep?”  So, I know now, if this happens again, that this is one more area of self-promotion–my self-publishing company sales rep!!  The key to a shot at exposure at the company’s exhibit.

So, I had my moment (or days) in the sun at Book Expo.  But for me, it was a learning experience, part of the totality of the learning experience that is publishing a book.

But maybe the next book will be displayed at one of the biggie publisher’s sites, with a queue for my signing.  It would be nice for Eli to have the patience to stick around for that one!

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