Lessons from BEA 2012

Book Expo America 2012, the largest book convention in North America was concluded this thursday. Though I had the pass for 4 days, I ended up attending only one day. And that day I realized, how much did I miss.

To say BEA was huge would be an understatement. I had one full day there and yet covered only about half the floor. Not to mention the fact that I wasn't able to attend any of the educational sessions that I so wanted to. It was enormous and was sheer madness. Never had I seen so many books and authors together at one place. 

Sharing here are some of the lessons that I learnt as both a publisher and an author:

  • BEA is huge. Look before you leap.
          BEA might look very attractive to set up a booth for publishers (and for multi-published authors. See, I am specifically pointing out to multi-published. A booth is not for a single book author.) but it is a monster. Having a booth at BEA is not just about reserving the space. It is about location of the booth, display strategy, ARC distribution, catalogs, flyers, bookmarks and other promotional materials. It is about a huge amount of money too. It is about military preparedness. 

For every vendor seeking a booth at BEA, there are three questions to be answered before taking the leap: 
    • Why do you want a booth at BEA? What is your goal?
    • Who is your target audience?
    • Do you have enough budget to prepare your booth? 
  • You can never be too prepared.
I walked, jumped around, and over books at BEA. Yes, there were that many books displayed. And an equal number of interested people walking around with suitcases(I am not kidding) filled with books. They were dedicated readers, librarians, booksellers - all looking for that sparkly book that will appease their senses and business. And amidst hundreds of books, your book has to stand out. And that needs preparation. 

One question to ask yourself before planning - How will you entice your target audience to come and spend time at your booth? 

The more focussed your goal, the more targeted your audience would be. Once you are clear on that front, prepare like there is no tomorrow. Be over-prepared, than under-prepared. Get more bookmarks than you think you need. Get more ARCs than you anticipate needing. Take back up for back up resources. Plug every gap you can think of before stepping in to the convention because once in there, there is no excuse. You run out of stock, you lose a customer. 
  • Be nice to people. Network.
Never would you attend a conference where you find librarians, booksellers, publishers, authors, bloggers, reviewers, and readers rubbing shoulders (literally, sometimes!) and look interested in YOU all the time! Keep those premium business card of yours handy and network your way. Talk to people, learn their business, and strike up interest in your business. In short, be nice to people and they will be nice to you. After all, we all love books and there is no stronger bond at BEA than that.

  • Have a good time
Yes, I needed to remind myself of it couple of times when I started getting over-whelmed. Not because it was huge but because the sheer amount of opportunity present there was mind-boggling. I caught myself wishing several times that I could have attended all the four days but that wasn't to be. The moment I stopped lamenting and looked around, I felt blessed. So many books, so many authors, so many readers. This was the paradise that we all dream about. Seeing your favorite authors in flesh and getting your hands on the ARCs of the novels you are dying to read is an unparalleled privilege. So, have a good time there. Enjoy the books. Enjoy the views. 

Here's hoping next BEA would be much more eventful than this one for Inkspell Publishing! 



  1. These events can be overwhelming to say the least. I have begun to find the smaller venues to be more productive and I come away with great contacts and useful knowledge. Having said that, it would be good to attend just once.

  2. I agree Darlene. Smaller conferences can be great learning experiences. BEA was the hugest but you also get to know whats the difference. I hope you are having succes with the smaller ones!

  3. A nice post.
    I have been organizing some writers carnivals in Hyderabad, India.
    Right now on a break.

    I came to your blog through bibliofreak.
    Nice to read this post.


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