Chicago, IL — As I said before, attending Book Expo America was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as a writer. I learned a great deal of information about all things publishing, including how getting published. If you’ve been following me on the ‘gram, you’re probably already familiar with my daily Chicago adventures, but I’m about to give you a real deal breakdown of everything that happened at this year’s BEA.
Book Expo is intense, to say the least. There’s so much information to absorb, people to meet, and books to check out. One day can feel like three, to be honest! My first day of BEA was jammed packed with sessions, table talks, and seminars.
BEA Bloggers Conference
I’m new to Book Expo, so I’m not sure how long they’ve had this all-day conference but I hope it never ends! This conference is essential for both bloggers and publishers, as they educate both parties on how to build prosperous relationships with each other.
The conference started with a breakfast and a wonderful speech by keynote speaker Erin Loechner. The rest of the day included panel sessions on how to engage and build your audience, and a new series called “Table Talks” — basically a speed date-y version of panel discussions (attendees got a chance to rotate between several tables featuring industry experts discussing different topics).
Day Two started with an exclusive early morning breakfast conference featuring adult book authors. Unlike the day before, my day was more open to the entire BEA experience. After the breakfast, I attended some of the many sessions offered and interviewed children’s book legend Todd Kessler (stay tuned for that Q&A). See some highlights below.
Adult Book & Author Breakfast
Keynote speaker and featured author Faith Salie kept the Adult Book & Author Breakfast very…adult. With her witty one-liners and NSFW jokes, Salie definitely woke up the morning crowd (her bit about Book Expo being Book “Sexpo” back in the 80s was the shot of energy I needed at 8am!) Outside of the jokes, Salie gave a really inspiring speech about her constant need for approval, thus her upcoming book “Approval Junkie: Adventures In Caring Too Much.” Accompanying her on stage were other celebrity authors: Colson Whitehead (“The Underground Railroad: A Novel, Doubleday”), Louise Penny (“A Great Reckoning, Minotaur”), and Sebastian Junger (“Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Twelve”). Each author spoke about their upcoming books and the personal experiences that have led to their creative inspiration.
In Search of a Book Buyer-African American Women Top The List
This panel discussion was incredibly refreshing. Unfortunately, the publishing industry has a huge diversity problem. The panel featured black publishing veterans Troy D Johnson, founder of The African American Literature Book Club; Regina Brooks, author and CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency; Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, CEO of The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants and founder of The African American Children’s Book Project; and Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News. The speakers led a powerful discussion about the very ignored yet very active consumer– black women.
The final day of Book Expo was full of exploring. I took this day to check out all of the publisher exhibitors I haven’t gotten a chance to check out before. My favorite highlights of the day were the sessions that featured author, publisher, industry watcher, and all around brilliant human being Brooke Warner.
Green-light Your Book: Authors as Change-Agents
Presenting her new book “Green-Light Your Book,” Warner explained the current publishing climate and why it’s totally the move for authors to publish independently.
How to Sell Your Book Now that It’s Published
A perfect follow up to the previous session, this one was all about strategic promotion and publicity for independent authors. The panel included Warner; Robin Cutler, director of IngramSpark; Mary Cummings, VP and Director of Business Development Diversion Books/EverAfter; and Dana Kaye, owner of Kaye Publicity.
If you’re a writer, author, or have any interest in the publishing world, I highly recommend attending Book Expo. The event will return to its usual location New York City next year. This was my first Book Expo, and ironically, I had to fly all the way out to Chicago to attend. It was worth the trip though!