Monday, June 01, 2009

When Work and Fun Coincide - BEA 2009

I attended BookExpo America (BEA) over the weekend representing Baker & Taylor, the company for which I work. It was a great show for the company and a terrific show from a business opportunity standpoint. I’ll leave the business end of the show out of this post since I try to keep that end a little more behind the o’ Stuff curtain. One of the great things about attending conferences like this is connecting the e-mail/phone voice with the face (both for my company and outside the company).

Aside from that, I was lucky enough to meet Neil Gaiman (for about 1 minute) and have him sign a copy of The Graveyard Book. I hadn’t realized he was going to be at the show until I heard he was signing in one section of the building, then moments later he walked right past me. I was pulled out of line since I work for Baker & Taylor (the US's largest wholesaler of books) because the press wanted Mr. Gaiman to have a photo with a wholesaler. Alas, by the time I got up to him, the photo was already taken. Nonetheless, I got the book signed with a nice little gravestone showing my name, so I was a happy geek. Essentially, I felt like Brodie Bruce in Mallrats when he realizes Stan Lee is in his mall and he didn’t know about it: To say I was a little star struck was an understatement. The folks running this signing at HarperCollins booth were absolutely terrific.

As my “lunch break” on Saturday, I stood in on the Science Fiction and Fantasy panel, which included John Ringo, China Miéville, and Kelly Link. It was an interesting panel – John Ringo wore a kilt and played to the audience while China and Kelly were both a bit more reserved. I stuck around and met Mr. Miéville while he signed a copy of The City and the City for me.

I also snagged a signed ARC-copy of Soulless by Gail Carriger, which sounds like a cool mix of vampires, werewolves, and steampunk.

Over the course of the two days, I met the fine folks at Orbit Books (Alex Lencicki, Devi Pillai, and Tim Holman) and had some good conversation with them; Dot Lin, Tor publicist extraordinaire; Jill Maxick, super-duper Pyr publicist; Vida Engstrom, Overlook Press’s (R. Scott Bakker’s US Publisher) superb publicist, Ellen Datlow, anthologist extraordinaire; Andrew Wheeler, blogger extraordinaire; and last but certainly not least Colleen Lindsay, all-around cool literary agent and genre-PR guru.

What made the event so great is that I was able to mix my work in the publishing industry with the fun I have in it by reading and reviewing in many ways.

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