Tuesday, June 3, 2008


by Sue Ann Jaffarian

That was the first and only word that escaped my lips when I stepped into the main exhibit hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center to experience my first Book Expo America.

Spread out in front of me was a smorgasbord of nearly every publisher and distributor of every type of item possible. Random House. Simon and Schuster. Ingram. Various university presses. Big publishing houses. Small independents. And everything in between. Amazon was even there demonstrating the Kindle. And sandwiched between the elegant Baker and Taylor booth and the Barron’s booth was Llewellyn, the parent of Midnight Ink.

Llewellyn’s booth was large, modern and classy. As soon as I stepped within its boundaries, I was warmly greeted by its staff as a long-lost favorite family member. It was wonderful to meet many of the folks who play such an important part in the production, sales and promotion of my work. They were friendly, fun and professional. I spent two days in and out of the Llewellyn booth and was sad to say goodbye at the end of the day on Saturday.

On Friday, after wandering the huge South Hall of the Convention Center (itself a wonder), I returned to Llewellyn to rest my weary bones. Even though Llewellyn had not scheduled any author signings in its booth, they had brought a box of Thugs and Kisses for me to sign and give away at the Mystery Writers of America booth on Saturday afternoon. I suggested that they put a few in front of me at one of their tables. Soon folks were flocking to the table to see what we had and to talk to “the author.” However, we couldn’t giveaway many because they were reserved for my signing time at MWA. Then I remembered that Llewellyn had sent me some of my earlier books earmarked for the American Library Association Conference in California the end of June.

On Saturday, armed with half my ALA stash and dressed in overalls covered with moons and stars (seems appropriate for Llewellyn, doesn’t it?), I returned to BEA ready to work. They set me up in front of the Midnight Ink display and for two hours I signed and gave away books, and schmoozed with folks filtering in and out of the booth about my series, Midnight Ink and Llewellyn. With the Llewellyn booth being so centrally located, I was able to connect with so many people, many of whom had already heard of my Odelia Grey series. My book stash exhausted, I met up with friends for a well-earned beer.

Late in the afternoon, I headed to the smaller West Hall and the MWA booth, where I signed and gave away books with pals Kathryn Lilley, Les Klinger and others. At the MWA booth there was actually a line waiting for my books. Okay. Okay. So it wasn't the same type of line enjoyed by Lee Child, William Shatner and Michael Connelly, but it was still a line.

Sounds like fun, huh? It was fun, but I gotta say, any author with any doubt about writing being a serious business, that author should attend BEA.

BEA is not a fan-based conference. Nor is it a writers’ conference. This is an industry convention. Almost every booth was professionally staffed by serious folks in suits. And those folks were busy with meetings, one after another. They met with distributors, foreign publishers, editors, agents and authors. Even the folks dropping by the booths to grab a signed copy of one of my books were book retailers, librarians or reviewers.

It was fun, but make no mistake, it was exhausting work.

And I was THRILLED to be working last weekend.


Felicia Donovan said...

Great report, Sue Ann. You done us proud! Love the "moons and stars" theme, too. Glad to hear the expo was a big success.

G.M. Malliet said...

Great report, Sue Anne. I went a couple of years ago and it was HUGE and exhausting, as you describe.

p.s. Congratulations to our own Felicia Donovan on her Barry nomination!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Thanks for the great report, Sue Ann.

Jess Lourey said...

Fascinating. I could never be a business person. It's more fun to sign the books and wear the overalls, isn't it?

And yes, great BIG congrats to Felicia Donovan!

Felicia Donovan said...

Thanks, for the congrats, everyone. I keep good company...