Like many others, I dream of attending the BEA. To be able to step into the same building with all those writers, agents, editors. (Insert your own version of heaven here). Besides ComicCon, BEA is on the Bucket List. Anyway, today's Guest Post comes from a writer that I've had the pleasure of interviewing for his novel Bella. He, like the lucky few, actually was a part of BEA. And this post is about his experience.
Judging the Value of the NY Book Expo
by Steve Piacente
The pain and pleasure of writing does not exist in the same way when it comes to promoting and selling a work of fiction. That is why many authors find it painful to make the switch from creative writing to creative marketing.
There are many firms and individuals who will do the work for you, but of course there is a price, and there are no guarantees. Paid advertising is expensive and as alluring to the self-published author as Eve was to Adam. We would do well to remember how that turned out.
Self-publishers who are not independently wealthy must be strategic in how they spend their promotional dollars. I made one of the largest investments in my book recently by renting a booth at Book Expo America.
For two grand, I got a tiny piece of real estate in the enormous Javits Convention Center, through which 25,000 people passed over three days. I met librarians, bookstore owners, agents, publishers and a slew of others in town for the largest conference of its kind in North America.
Was it worth it? The answer’s not so simple. My story in Bella centers on an anguished widow in search of the truth about her husband’s death overseas. She drags a reporter into the investigation, and the two of them learn a lot about the power of temptation and the futility of revenge.
Bella left New York in the hands of some 200 individuals who will ostensibly take the book home to Kansas, Canada and dozens of other places around the globe, and make a decision about whether it’s right for the store, book club or reader list. That will take time; so again, it’s hard to say if the investment was worthwhile.
What I did learn – or re-learn – is that technology is not the be-all, end-all promotional tool for self-publishers. It’s just as important to look people in the eye, explain your story in person, and press your custom bookmark into their palms as you shake hands.
Peter Drucker said the most important thing in communication “is to hear what isn’t being said.” To hear what’s not being said, you need to be present.
As for the wisdom of investing in the NY Book Expo, we wait and see.
Steve Piacente is the self-published author of Bella (www.getbella.com), a communications official at the U.S. General Services Administration, and an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, D.C.