In a departure from its usual May time slot at the Javitz Center in NYC, the 2016 edition of Book Expo America took place last week in Chicago and we were once again on hand to enjoy four days celebrating books and authors.
If you’re an author and haven’t yet had the chance to attend BEA, it’s an event you’ll eventually want to put on your schedule. This year’s Expo kicked off with the one-day Bloggers Conference, and we saw a record number of authors there this time, smartly on hand to make connections with book bloggers.
The exhibits, author signings and seminars began Wednesday afternoon, and again, record numbers of new authors were gathering at the UPubU stage to catch twenty minute talks on everything from self-publishing to distribution to promotion.
Packed ballrooms featured more talks about book publicity, social media and book promotion. And all the while, authors were engaged at booths all around the show floor, talking to booksellers and fans, signing books and talking up their newest projects.
In addition, award ceremonies were held for several indie competition winners. We were proud to be on hand when one of WWW’s own, Christopher Leibig, author of the recently released Almost Mortal, was presented the Indie Next Generation award at a special celebration at Chicago’s Newberry Library.
In short, BEA is absolutely the place to be if you’re an author, publisher, bookseller, or even just a huge book fan (Saturday’s BookCon, open to the public, offers thousands more book giveaways!)
Happily, even if you didn’t get to attend this year, there’s something here for you, too, including dozens of onsite interviews with top authors from BEA, and an entire virtual writers conference, all just clicks away…
Indie Author Fringe – Free and Still Available!
A special feature at this year’s BEA was the Alliance of Independent Authors conducting its Indie Author Fringe. Featuring over 30 video, audio and article “sessions” this event is completely FREE to attend for authors around the world, and the sessions stay up for an entire year.
So, even if you weren’t able to attend this year’s event, you can take the time to visit this LINK with the full agenda and check out all the great virtual conference sessions on offer. Sessions include both business and craft-related advice and is definitely worth your time to visit.
Weighing in below on other potential opportunities for authors at BEA is contributing author Carrie Rubin. Have a BEA story of your own? Share with your comment below!
More Author Opportunities at BEA
I attended BEA mostly to receive my medal for Eating Bull at the IPPY Award ceremony which took place the night before, but also to get an idea of what BEA has to offer small-press published authors like myself. Signings with the more popular authors, like Jodi Picoult, shown here, produced long lines for free books.
While this trade-show arrangement lends itself well to traditional publishers, what about independent authors? Well, BEA does have opportunities for small-press or self-published books. However, they don’t come cheap.
New Title Showcase:
The New Title Showcase was created in partnership with the Combined Book Exhibit. It’s a way for non-exhibitors to get a print or e-book title displayed at BEA. This is particularly helpful for indie authors, as it provides an opportunity to have thousands of eyes on your book. At least theoretically.
The cost is $315 to have your book showcased. For a few hundred dollars more, you can purchase a one-hour autograph session in the area. Though pricey, that does get you an exhibitor badge for BEA. You can ship up to 100 books, which they’ll hold until your signing. But these are books to give away, not sell, so that’s another dent in your wallet.
I submitted my novel (published fall, 2015) for display. I did not, however, purchase an autograph session. The price seemed too high for an uncertain return. But if you can swing it, it might be a good way to get your book in the hands of new readers. Providing they actually read it. (Suitcase full of books, remember?)
The second opportunity for indie authors at BEA is the Author Market, a small section of tables designed for non-exhibiting authors to sign their books and get them listed in the BEA Official Show Directory. The cost this past year was $695 for one 30-minute session. Like the New Title Showcase, your payment gets you a badge for the event, and you can ship up to 100 books in advance. But again, you cannot sell your books at BEA. (Note, you can sell books at BookCon, which is a separate registration from BEA. Whereas BEA is a trade show, BookCon is one-day only and open to the public).
Unlike the New Title Showcase, the Author Market was inside with the main exhibits, but it was a bit off by itself, so foot traffic might have been less. No bells or whistles there either. If you want your book to stand out, bring some visually appealing displays and swag. But again, you’re giving away your books, not selling them, so add that to the price tag.
So What’s the Bottom Line?
These are hefty prices for an indie author to pay, especially when there’s no guarantee they’ll result in sales later. Since I only signed up for the New Title Showcase display, I can only speak to that. While I saw no change in my Amazon rankings, my publisher mentioned there was a spike in sales directly from IngramSpark. That suggests purchases by librarians, bookstore owners, or other book vendors. It wasn’t huge, but it was something.
Might I do more in the future? At those prices, it seems doubtful. Indie authors need to be ever vigilant of merchants all too eager to take their money. On the other hand, an indie author with a string of successes and a cushion in his or her promotional budget might enjoy a signing session in the Author Market.
After all, if indie authors never join in the game, they’ll always be left in the bleachers.
Carrie Rubin is the author of Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge. For more information, visit her website at carrierubin.com.