I've been going to BEA for the past eight years, and Book Con for every year it's existed... but this year's Book Expo America and Book Con was extra special. I feel like a little recap is required this time around.
So. Here we go.
The great thing about conferences like these, is you're able to sit down and talk to industry people in-real-life. Publishing is a personal business. Books and reading taste, it's all subjective. Being able to talk about what you're reading, what you love... that in-person experience doing that is so valuable. And I'm so thankful for all the editors who wanted to hangout while I was in town.
But the most emotional part of the entire event, was watching one of my authors do a signing at the convention, and get a copy of her book for the first time.
First up, Wednesday.
While wandering the floor on the first day of the convention, Samira Ahmed and I (along with amazing blogging legend Natasha Razi, pictured here) bumped into her rockstar publicist at Soho (hi Abby!), who happened to be carrying a stack of books... including Love, Hate and Other Filters.
There were some gasps and some tears, and it was just amazing. Samira and her book would be reunited a few days later, at her massive signing. But first, Blogbound Con!
I was also lucky enough to participate in Blogbound Con this year, having missed it last year (sorry Nicole!). I spoke with my good friend and legendary YA author Zoraida Cordova about balancing our freelance writing with our professional publishing careers (that's us pictured above, thanks to @Francesca_fr on Twitter), and talked to a bunch of teenagers about our life in books.
Events like these are so important, and I'm so proud of the work Julie, Nicole, and the rest of their awesome team are doing. Because conventions like Book Expo America? Or even the various writing conferences that happen around the country? For all of the awesome panels and events... they are expensive. The average teenager in high school or college who wants to learn about the publishing world can't exactly afford that.
I'm so thrilled Blogbound Con exists, and provides a free, accessible way to get this information from industry folks, and that there are people in publishing who are happy to volunteer their time to these kind of happenings. I was so happy to see author friends like Heidi Heilig and Tristina Wright there, inspiring these kids.
Immediately after Blogbound was the POC in Pub meetup, which was an inspiring get together of people of color working in publishing.
Editors, publicists, sales people, agents, authors... there were people from all over the industry there, including my colleague and BFF Kurestin Armada, a fellow agent at P.S. If you're looking for me in that top photo, I'm all the way in the back on the left, trying to peer over someone.
If you aren't following the POC in Pub Twitter account, fix that. They are organizing meetups and events all over, and you'll want to be in on that.
My first day of the convention and my first day of Book Con was spent meeting with editors and waiting in just a few lines for books. I managed to get a few ARCs of books I'm incredibly excited about, including The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke, Brooding YA Hero by Carrie Ann DiRisio (thanks Alison!), and All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry.
There was no way I was going to miss Katherine Locke's signing for The Girl with the Red Balloon. Katherine has been such a rock when it comes to support, always there with an uplifting Google Chat or, back when I was in Philadelphia, an outing to a coffeeshop for ranting and writing. Katherine is missed something fierce here in the Midwest, and I'm so proud of her.
The Book Con brought with it a lot of excited readers, and there was also so much joy in seeing bookish friends, whether they were authors or bloggers or industry pals, picking up Samira's book and getting excited for it.
And then it was time for the signing.
Samira signed over 200 books with the Soho Press / Soho Teen team on Sunday at Book Con, and her line stretched several aisles. Samira's my first author to have a signing at BEA, my first author to have a signing period (at least, when it comes to a book I've sold), and my goodness, I teared up a bunch of times watching all these excited readers scoop up her book.
From the look on Samira's proud editor face (Daniel, pictured in the signing line above), to readers doing the Maya pose, to bloggers posing with the awesome giant cutout of Maya... everything was just so amazing.
I'm so very proud, and I'm never going to get tired of seeing this happen.
And let's not forget my author babies! So many came out for the day, and it made me so happy seeing their faces.
Dave why are you in every picture? <3
I got to spend some time catching up with not just Samira at her signing and events, but with Dave Connis, Diana Urban, Anna Hecker, Rachel Horwitz, Lindsey Smith, and Sam Slaughter. We had a breakfast meetup on one of the days, and it was just delightful.
I met up with Anna and Lindsey's editors at Sky Pony and St. Martin's Press over the course of the convention, and there was just so much excitement in the air for their books hitting next year, When the Beat Drops and Eat Your Feelings. It kinda blows my mind that I'll be seeing their books on the convention floor in 2018.
Whew. What a convention.
See you next year, BEA and Book Con.