Book Expo America 2016: Recap, Top Ten Books I’m Psyched About

bea

Ah, BEA.

This year’s BEA was really the first Book Expo I’ve been to as like, a fully grown literary agent. I went last year, but I was just one month in, and didn’t even have proper business cards yet. This time around, I had a few book sales under my belt, actual business cards like an adult, and meetings scheduled with editors at a few publishers.

On the agent side of things, BEA was a delight. I nudged editors at publishing houses I’d yet to meet anyone at, had some great meetings, and met up with three of my brilliant YA authors, Dave Connis, Samira Ahmed, and Lizzie Cooke. I was lucky enough to be able to bring Dave and Samira to a few events, and seriously felt like a proud Dad while watching Dave network at a YA author meetup.

What? It’s not weird.

authors

Me, Samira, and Lizzie, breakfasting for like three hours. It was awesome.

dave danielle

Dragging Dave around to things, hanging with Danielle Paige.

I also managed to squeeze in a bunch of workshops with writers, and attended the Chicago SCBWI’s meeting (with over 40 members!) to talk about agenting and querying on Thursday evening, and on Saturday, the Chicago Writers Workshop, to take queries before jetting back off to The Book Con for a panel.

Saturday night at The Book Con, I got to host an in-discussion panel with Michael DiMartino and Leopoldo Gout. You might know Mike from his work co-creating Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Leo has worked producing numerous James Patterson movies and television shows. It was an absolutely honor, and a HUGE thank you goes out to the Fierce Reads crew for having me out.

Other quick highlights of BEA including getting to see so many of my blogger friends, BookRioters, BookTube pals, and author BFFs. I finally met David Arnold, Danielle PaigePaul Kruger, and Dhonielle Clayton, after being buddies on the Internet forever. I had the pleasure of getting to hangout with the brilliant Anna-Marie McLemore, who promptly prank texted me the entire weekend (seriously check that out here). And I only fanboyed a little bit when I met the hilarious John Corey Whaley.

Okay, maybe a lot. Whatever.

bookmarks

Oh, and did I mention that Bloomsbury was handing out Branded bookmarks? What a thrill! It was really fun to see my lil’ book getting some push at BEA this year, especially when it’s paired up with two other fantastic titles, AND being given out with temporary tattoos for Isaac Fitzgerald’s next book. Super honored. <3

All in all, 10/10, would go again.

Now, as for those books.

I managed to snag a mind-boggling amount of ARCs, and might have been seen leaving a party early just so I could go to a Target and buy a bag to lug them all home. Out of all of them, these are the ten I’m the most excited about… though I should note I’m SUPER psyched to get A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir and History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. Couldn’t snag one at the con. Someone send me those please.

As for what I picked up… here we go! All book links in the list will take you to Goodreads, so please, go add these to your shelves, and join in the excitement.

five books top

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold: I’ll be honest. I wasn’t leaving Chicago without a copy of this book. It was either I’d get this book at BEA, or I would have to wait in Chicago until the book came out, wandering the streets, shouting at the sky outside Barnes & Noble. His debut, Mosquitoland, was one of my favorite books of 2015 (you can see that list here on Paste), and I definitely need his followup. I even got it signed.

Teach Me To Forget by Erica M. Chapman: I ran into Erica while wandering the convention, and was bummed to have missed her signing. But gasp! She said there were still copies at her publisher, Merit Press. So I booked it over there, and promptly held her book to my chest, ever-so-tightly. Rumor has it this one brings the tears. I am ready.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova: I waited in line for this one. Zoraida and I actually went to Mexico last month on a writing retreat together (expect a blog on that soon, btw) and she didn’t have an ARC for me! The vacation was almost canceled. I waited patiently until BEA to get her latest, and I’m psyched to dive into this book full of culture and witchcraft.

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner: This book has been getting a lot of buzz on the ol’ bookish Twitter, so it was way up at the top of my must-grab list when I was wandering BEA. Out with Candlewick in September, it sounds like a pretty devastating read about loss and grief. More tears! Ya’ll know I like to cry. The ARC has a pretty photo on the front of people swimming, so I think this will be an ARC I keep. <3

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige: While I was really happy to meet Danielle at BEA this year (FINALLY), I was double excited to get the first book in her new series. The crew over at Bloomsbury (who were giving out Branded bookmarks, those sweethearts), hooked me up with an early copy, and I’m excited to see Paige’s take on another fairytale gone wrong.

four books

Spindle by E.K. Johnston: How. Did. This. Happen. I was rushing by the Disney booth when an all-too-familiar cover caught my eye. I LOVED Johnston’s A Thousand Nights, and spotting the companion novel sent my heart racing. This one isn’t even out until December. So excited. They’d just put the ARCs out when I snagged one, and they promptly were devoured by the book hungry hordes. No surprise. Johnston is fantastic.

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles: Man there is a lot of buzz going on for this book. There’s even a blurb on that back of it from Peter Jackson. As in, the guy who directed the Lord of the Rings movies Peter Jackson. There’s a bounty hunter from Hell in it! And romance! Just… just gimme, I need to start this now.

Mice of the Round Table by Julie Leung: So Julie is actually in my writing group here in Philly. Or was. SHE LEFT US FOR NEW YORK. But oh, I am so excited for her middle grade debut. It’s charming, involves adorable mice that run around with swords and shields. It’s like middle grade Mouseguard, which is one of my favorite things in the world. Can’t wait. So proud.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West: I managed to snag this one during an ARC drop over at Holiday House, and focuses on an orphan who finds herself roped into a magical world, inspired by a number of myths and legends, including the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. So… yes. I am here for this.

Resurrecting Sunshine by Lisa A. Koosis: When I ran over to Albert Whitman for a Very Professional Agent Meeting (TM) I managed to stumble on Lisa’s signing. We chatted a bit and she was absolutely delightful, so I’m already way excited for her debut novel. YA contemporary, yes! And it’s about CLONING. Leaving the cover blank on this one, since I don’t think they revealed it yet. I don’t want to mess that up.

So these are the books! Look for them!

Book Blogger Giveaway: Win One of Ten Summer Books

giveaways books

One of the lovely things for writing for a bundle of websites, is that I get sent lots of ARCs. And with summer here, publishers are sending their “summer reading recommendation” bundles on out. And while getting hefty envelopes full of a half dozen books is lovely, when you’ve just come back from BEA (a post on that soon!) with like two dozen books…

Well, I’d like to get these into the hands of some more reviewers, and get these some love! I only have so much time to write.

So! Time for a giveaway, just for book bloggers. Because ya’ll are my people.

I’ve got ten books (seven ARCs, three finished hardcovers) to dish out. You can enter to snag one by entering the Rafflecopter below, which you can do just by leaving a comment about which ones you’re interested in. At the end of next week, I’ll pluck out ten people at random, and send each of you a book you were into. Done and done.

The catch? You have to be a book blogger, and you have to be in the US. Sorry, can’t ship international. It’s too expensive.

Here we go!

RUINED by Amy Tintera (Finished Hardcover): Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped. [More on Goodreads]

QUEEN OF HEARTS by Colleen Oakes (Finished Hardcover): As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life. [More on Goodreads]

THE CAT KING OF HAVANA (ARC, Out in September): Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution! [More on Goodreads]

THE FIXES by Owen Matthews (ARC, Out in August): Gossip Girl meets Heathers in this wicked YA novel about a group of high school A-listers on a mission to root out phoniness in their sun-drenched beachside town. [More on Goodreads]

GIRLS MANS UP by M.E. Girard (ARC, Out in September): All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. [More on Goodreads]

THE DARK ARMY by Joseph Delaney (ARC, Out in September): Newly risen from the dead, Thomas Ward has been tasked with leading an army into battle against the dark, alongside his apprentice, Jenny, and the witch assassin Grimalkin. But their battle goes terribly wrong, and Tom’s situation seems hopeless until Alice—a powerful witch turned to the dark—appears. [More on Goodreads]

THE KING SLAYER by Virginia Boecker (ARC, Out in June, I LOVE THIS BOOK YOU GUYS): Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. [More on Goodreads]

TRUE LETTERS FROM A FICTIONAL LIFE by Ken Logan (ARC, Out in June): If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy. [More on Goodreads]

THE HAWKWEED PROPHECY by Irena Brignull (ARC, Out in June): The babies were born as the clock struck twelve. A bat fell from the air mid-flight. A silver salmon floated dead to the surface of the river. Snails withered in their shells, moths turned to dust on the night breeze and an owl ate its young. The spell had been cast. [More on Goodreads]

THE OUTLIERS by Kimberly McCreight (Finished Hardcover): Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself. [More on Goodreads]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BRANDED: Inked 2 Gets a Cover, Title, & Publication Date!

branded cover

 

Oh.

Oh my.

It’s happening.

Last week, while I was on my lil’ writing retreat with Adi Alsaid and Zoraida Cordova (more on that in a future blog post soon, you guys), YA Interrobang unveiled the title and cover for Inked 2. BRANDED will hit eReaders everywhere on September 8th via Bloomsbury’s digital imprint, Bloomsbury Spark.

Jenny Zemanek designed the cover, and she also works on covers by a number of other lovely Bloomsbury Spark authors, including Actual BFF ® Ashley Poston, who writes YA books I adore. Definitely check out Jenny’s portfolio here. She’s a rockstar.

BRANDED is available for pre-order via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other e-retailers now, and you can add it on Goodreads. Please do!

I’ll launch a fun pre-order campaign soon, so keep an eye out for that. Folks who pre-order will get a signed poster pack from Inked, Branded, and a really lovely quote illustration that Ashley Poston drew a while back. You can see that here. If you pre-order it, drop me an email at ericsmithrocks at gmail dot com, and I’ll make sure you’re on that mailing list.

bunny posters

Look how cute those posters are! Please note, bunny will NOT be included.

And speaking of mailing lists!

If you’re a book blogger that’s interested in a review copy of Branded, let me know! As ya’ll know from my days at the Quirk Books HQ, I LOVE BOOK BLOGGERS TERRIBLY. If you want a review copy of Branded, email me, and I’ll make sure there’s one in your inbox.

Huge thank you to Nicole at YA Interrobang for doing the reveal! And of course, to Dawn Frederick for her tireless work as my agent, Meredith Rich for her patience with my frequent ellipsis use, and my dear Kristina for the continued push. Can’t wait for September.

So I Favorited Your Tweet in a Twitter Pitch Event [Updated]

turn chair

Oh, hello #PitMad / #PitchMatch / etc. participants! I didn’t see you there. Come on in, have a seat.

Did I favorite your tweet during a pitch event on the ol’ Twitter? Awesome. That means I want to read your stuff. Gimme. Here’s what to do to make sure I get your query and partial manuscript:

1. Start composing that email! You’re going to want to send your query on over to query@psliterary.com. Please don’t use my personal email here on this blog. When you send an email to the query box, all the agents at P.S. get to see it. That way, if it isn’t for me, someone else might scoop it up. We like to share!

2. In your Subject, put Twitter Request for Eric and the title of your book. There are almost always a few P.S. Literary agents participating in Twitter pitch events, so you want to make sure yours gets to me.

3. In your email, include your Twitter handle, your Twitter pitch, your full query letter, and attach the first 50 pages of your manuscript. Attaching those pages is important. If you paste that much, it’ll probably get cut off.

4. Click send!

If I’m interested, you’ll certainly hear back from me in a few weeks.

Note, this blog post idea was gleefully stolen from Maria, another agent at P.S. Literary who is awesome. Be sure to follow her on Twitter and follow her blog on Tumblr.

Four Reasons to Use Social Media as an Author That Has Nothing to Do With Selling Books

social media tom

This semester, I had a great time teaching my first graduate-level publishing class at Rosemont College. It was a real thrill, spending so much time with students eager to get into the industry, and exploring different ways to venture in. Some were aspiring editors, others wanted to get into publicity. The class? A marketing course.

A lot of the course touched on social media, as well as discussing ways to utilize various publishing-industry-specific tools when working on publicity and marketing campaigns.

I loved it so much, I thought maybe I should start blogging about some of the stuff I dished out. Maybe take some lessons from my pals and colleagues Carly and Maria over at P.S. Literary, and start doing advice-type-things on the ol’ blog.

So, this is the first of what I hope will be many.

There are a lot of reasons why I’m on social media. I use it to network with people in the publishing world, keep track of news both locally in Philadelphia, nationally in, you know, the world, and keep an eye on what’s going on in the book industry. I meet new authors, both as a fan and as potential clients. I tweet out links to things I find interesting and hope others will too.

But I don’t think of it as a place to sell books. Because social media seldom does that well.

Now, there are certainly a few exceptions to the “social media doesn’t sell books” claim. When an eBook deal hits for a book that plenty of people love and an author is able to rally their friends around it… well, that can do wonders. But that’s a $1.99 eBook we’re talking about, not your $17.99+ novel.

“Then why am I even on here?!” You scream to the heavens, your finger hovering over the ‘delete account’ button in your Twitter’s settings.

Calm down. This is why.

What social media will do, is make you part of a community. It’ll endear you to readers. It’ll serve as buy-in for someone thinking about covering you and your book. And later on down the line… maybe the result of that will sell a book. Maybe.

But again. That’s not why you’re on there. For sales. You should be on there for other perks. Let’s dig in.

baymax hugging

Sometimes you just wanna hug your favorite authors.

1. ENDEARMENT & WHY I’VE BOUGHT THE SAME BOOK EIGHT TIMES: Like every book lover ever, I spend way too much time fussing over my personal library. Moving this book here or there, buying a new box set so I have to shift an entire shelf. Maybe I’m having a rough day, so I just decide to go all High Fidelity on the collection, reorganize it autobiographically or some such silliness.

It happens.

Whenever I do this, there are a few books that always stay in place. Two dozen or so. Written by authors that I’ve become pals with on the ol’ social media. Some I’ve never even met, some I’ve only seen once or twice at a convention. But these are the books I talk about with people the most. And this is a huge takeaway for authors and social media that people don’t consider enough.

Social media has the power to endear you to your followers and fans.

See, social media has endeared the authors and their books to me. And this, in my opinion, is the number one reason to be on social media as a writer.

Publishing is always trying to figure out how to get consumers to know about their books. “Discoverability” is a fancy buzzword that gets tossed around a lot. And the most powerful method of discoverability isn’t big ol’ ads, book trailers, microsites, marketing campaigns, etc.

It’s word of mouth from passionate fans and book lovers.

Those two dozen or so books? They’re the books I giveaway the most to friends who come over. The books I rebuy constantly. For example. Recently while looking over my expenses, I noticed I purchased Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard SIX TIMES last year. Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland? EIGHT times. The list goes on.

Following people that love your work, booksellers you admire, communicating with other authors. They’ll keep those special books on their shelves, and tell their friends about them.

It’s an emotional connection. That’s something no amount of ad money can buy.

pay attention to meeee

Dude.

2. COMMUNITY & NOT BEING “THAT GUY” AT THE PARTY: When I have a bit of book news, there are a handful of authors I tend to send a big ol’ BCC email to, or bug on gchat, or hit up via DM on Twitter. If we weren’t friends and in the same community, chances are this would result in an irritated email back or a subtweet, and then zero results.

But when you’re part of a community, the result is wonderful.

Signal boosting cover reveals, eBook sales, new deals, etc. Blog posts listing books, including maybe yours. Reviews on Goodreads. Group blogs for debut authors (lookin’ at you, Swanky Seventeens). No matter your genre, there’s a community out there for you, full of writers, booksellers, bloggers, librarians, and readers that will bolster you up.

And now, for a quick lesson.

One question I get a lot regarding joining a community, is figuring out how to actively participate IN said community. How do you build a following? Make friends? It’s easy.

I want you to think back to every house party or college bash you’ve ever been to.

When you walk in, and people start talking to you… do you want to talk to the person who won’t shut up about themselves, or to the person who asks you questions? Who inquires about your projects, wants to know you, wants to talk about you to other people? Who takes the time to introduce you around?

Think about social media and joining the online community like a party. Chances are, you’ll make more friends and more connections by being genuine, by being curious, and by taking a vested interest in others. If you’re just at the party to talk about YOU, no one will want to hangout with you.

Don’t. Be. That. Guy.

There are a lot of reasons why writers write. To tell a story, maybe educate. But one thing you probably don’t think about going into all of it, is the community that you’ll inevitably discover. And finding your people, like minded folks… that’s another reason to put pen to page.

When I announced WELCOME HOME back in February, I didn’t expect to hear from several dozen authors and book lovers that were adopted. My entire life, I maybe knew a handful of adopted kids, who moved in and out of my life. Once that announcement hit, I suddenly knew close to a hundred. I might have cried a bit. Or a lot. It was probably a lot.

Joining a community makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger. You discover a support system you didn’t know you had. Social media is the perfect way to find your bookish people.

believe

Don’t let this happen to you!

3. BUY-IN BUT NOT SALES, DON’T GET EXCITED: When I say ‘buy-in’ I don’t mean purchasing.

When you have a book ready to hit the market, having an online presence is an important way to encourage people to learn more about you not just as a writer, but as a person. The books I love the most and talk about the most aren’t just written by talented writers. They’re written by good people I admire.

If you’ve ever been to a conference ever, you’ve likely been talked to death about platform.

Someone can check out your social media profile, your website that lists your writing, the articles you’ve posted on your site… and know a few things right away. Are you the kind of author who might draw people to their bookstore, if you’re say, plotting an event? Are you someone that might be good on a panel? If you’re unagented, and querying around, are you part of the community? If they are a person in the media, a book blogger or an editor at a magazine, can they learn about you quickly to help with potential pieces?

There are a ton of things that having an established online presence helps with, and this is a big one.

hashtags

They can be fun!

4. #HASHTAG: THE AUTHOR-CENTRIC ONLINE EVENTS: Still querying? Don’t have a book out just yet? Besides all the other reasons I just listed (which yes, you should still be active on social media in the book community even if you don’t have a book on its way), the author-centric hashtag events are a must reason to be on social media.

Since becoming an agent, I’ve requested manuscripts from SO MANY authors via social media, and signed quite a few as a result of events like #PitMad. I’ve offered to rep authors I’ve found on there, only to find numerous agents clamoring for that particular manuscript, which always fills my heart with joy.

Want to check out a success story? Check out Samira Ahmed’s post about us connecting in #PitMatch, here!

If you’re unfamiliar with #PitMad, you can learn more about it via Brenda Drake’s website. It’s an online pitch event, where editors and agents alike scour for projects they might be interested in. And there are many of these.

#DVPit is a new one that I’m excited to check out, specifically for marginalized authors.

#PitMatch was a Valentine’s Day themed one, with editors, agents, and authors playing along. I hope they do it again.

There are also excellent resources like #MSWL, or Manuscript Wishlist, which allows you to read through book ideas agents and editors are excited about potentially finding. It’s an absolutely incredible resource, and it all pools into this great website.

And then of course, some authors run them on their own. Dahlia Adler’s Instagram hashtag campaign was FANTASTIC (I presented it in my class!), and helped scores of authors and readers connect. Learn more about it here.

And there you have it!

Hope you liked this, you guys. I’ll do more. Promise.