What is BEA?

Book Expo America is the book industry’s largest annual U. S. event where publishers exhibit their next season books to retail book buyers. The event rotates around Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C, and Los Angeles, and occasionally to other major cities. It is held in late May or early June, and attendance is usually more than 30,000, with over 2,000 exhibitors.

If you are already an author, Book Expo America represents an opportunity for you to sign books at the publisher’s exhibit booth and forge essential media connections.

If you are a self-published or aspiring author, it represents the chance to introduce your book to potential established commercial publishers.

While the BEA is the place to make connections to agents and publishers, this event can be quite intimidating. It’s full of over-stimulation, with thousands of people running in all directions, and it goes non-stop every day, including after-show-hours parties and events.

Publishing houses and literary agents are not always easy to approach, as they are primarily interested in promoting the work of their current clients. That being said, here are a few tips to increase your chances of making the connections you want:

1. When walking up to a booth, notice the kinds of books on that publishers’ shelf. Would your book fit in with their line? If it would, then this is a booth worth approaching.

2. The first line of defense you’ll encounter at the booths is the sales staff. These are not the people you need to talk to, however, one of them may give you a lead to the Acquisitions Editor.

3. Be ready to make an impactful 30-second pitch about your project to the Acquisitions Editor. You won’t have a lot of time to get his or her attention. And remember – they are looking as much at you as the author as they are listening to your book idea. You have to have high energy and be a great spokesperson for your ideas – that is what sells books and they know it!

4. Collect business cards from everyone who indicates interest in your work. Make a note on the back of each card so you’ll know what’s needed in order to follow up.

5. Create a one-sheet to remind publishers of you and your book. Don’t hand them a manuscript or a book proposal – they have enough paper to deal with there already. If they want to know more, they will ask you to mail your materials after the show.

6. Expect to talk with other than the major houses, such as Simon and Schuster or Random House. If you have your heart set on having your book published by one of the major houses, focus your BEA efforts on finding a literary agent.

7. Definitely have your book professionally edited, and have a solid book proposal in place and ready to send out. Follow through immediately upon your return. If proposals and manuscripts were requested, send them.

If you want to learn more about the publishing industry, a week of educational classes regarding everything related to publishing takes place immediately prior to the BEA. Information is posted on the Book Expo America web site. There are also special events for authors of books that are spiritual, as well as numerous luncheons and breakfasts in various niches.

Resources: For more information, visit Book Expo America (www.bookexpoamerica.com).

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