When I was at BEA last year, the first booth I went to (by chance) was the Hatchette Group, specifically the Little, Brown & Co. booth. It quickly became one of my favorite places. They had great signings, a ton of galley drops, and always someone waiting to talk books. I also met Faye, a publicist I had emailed with several times and have continued a relationship with. Faye is fantastic and agree to share some highlights of past BEA's and what you can expect this year.
1.) How many years have you attended BEA?
2013 will be my fourth BEA. Time flies! Back in 2010 I went as a spectator, and in 2011 and 2012 I was with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
2.) How would you compare BEA to other book conferences/events?
Wow. Well, BEA is the biggest trade marketing conference in publishing, and we see a lot of booksellers, librarians, journalists and (of course!) book bloggers. That's a lot of combined enthusiasm for authors and books! The sheer volume of people gives the conference a great energy – librarian conferences are typically more focused (by geographical region, on educators, on school librarians). At BEA there's something for everyone, and we want attendees to learn and get excited about our upcoming books.
3.) Any suggestions for how bloggers/librarians should approach publishers at BEA? (I will admit I just stood around staring at booths until someone approached me because I was shy about it.)
No need to be shy—the best point of entry is to ask a question or comment on one of the books on display. "What are you most excited about this season?" is always a good one, or "I love Jessica Darling, can you tell me more about these new middle grade books?" We're here to talk! Honestly, the best part about BEA for me is getting to chat with other people who love books. If it's an especially busy time (say, during author signings) you can always come back when it quiets down.
4.) How much planning goes into an event like this for you and your staff?
It's the biggest single event that we do, and because so many different people attend BEA, pretty much every person is all hands on deck. Marketing takes care of booth experience—layout of the booth, the furniture, swag, timed ARC giveaways, etc.—along with advertising and promotion. Publicity works on author events, like signings in the autographing area or in the booth, as well any off-site entertaining. We start planning as early as January—and maybe a bit before that!
I'm always excited about books :) Holly Black's THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN is our big YA book this fall (eep, haven't finished it yet), but I'm really excited about A.S. King's REALITY BOY, which is about a boy who spent his early childhood on a reality TV show like Supernanny or Nanny 911. As you might guess, his already dysfunctional family just gets more dysfunctional. And in true A.S. King fashion, she makes you sad and angry and hopeful all at once. Another is ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando, told from the perspectives of two girls who are assigned to be each other's college roommates. They strike up a correspondence over the summer, and change each other's lives before they even meet! It's a brilliant book about friendship and growing up.