One more about BEA (Kind of)

Since no one has written about BEA yet, I thought I would be the trailblazer on this one.

My favorite thing about BEA (Besides, obviously the free totebags and galleys, oh, and also chocolate. There’s so much chocolate.), are the author signings. Some are celebrities, yes, and others are big name authors who already have a huge fan base, but there are also a large percentage of first time authors on the schedule, sitting at their respective booths with a  big stack of galleys, a pen and a line of eager readers waiting for their copy.

Both the publishing industry and the readers it caters to are still excited about new talent—a good story and great writing can still beat out the name on the cover. What other chance will a reader have to chat, however briefly, with an author whose work they love, or whose story they identify with? Having that personal connection with the author of a book can enrich the reading experience, even if your conversation consisted solely of a discussion of your mutual love of glitter nail polish, which you both happened to be wearing. Yes, this was an actual conversation I had with an author at a book signing. And yes, it was great and yes, I enjoyed her book more for it.

Where in normal circumstances, you have to go out of your way to one bookstore to see one author and get one book signed, at BEA there are dozens of authors and dozens of books and everyone is equally as excited (if not more, in some cases—I’m looking at you, Chris Colfer fans) about the prospect of meeting multiple authors as you are.

What’s your greatest book signing/author meeting story? Did you find it changed your perception of the book at all? How great is glitter nail polish?

4 Responses to One more about BEA (Kind of)

  1. Tamara says:

    The only time I wish I smoked is when I hear those great stories about running into great authors out the back door lighting up!

  2. I love book signings, and was fortunate enough to go to a bunch at BEA once! The coolest story I have is that while waiting in line for Neal Stephenson, I was behind another major fantasy author who had recently taken over a series and was talking about it in detail to a colleague. I got a total inside scoop because there was no way to avoid eavesdropping.

    There was also the time I went to a George R.R. Martin signing with a bunch of friends. One friend has a background in graphic design and had made us really creative t-shirts, which ended up plastered all over the Internet. We got to hang out with GRRM and a bunch of the HBO execs for a while. It was awesome.

  3. I stood in line at the LA Times Festival of Books last year to get books signed by Patti Smith. Although I was interested in her book these books weren’t mine, I was doing a favor for a friend. The line was long. I waited a while. She was pleasant enough.

    She shared a signing table with Dave Eggers. No one, and I mean NO ONE, waited in line for him. It was embarrassing and he looked angry. I wished I had one of his books. I wonder what kind of conversation I might have had with him.

    As it was, I didn’t go out and buy Smith’s book but I did by Eggers’.

  4. Rachel, can you compare or contrast the AWP experience vs. BEA? I went to AWP in chicago this year and loved it for the same reason (had a close, hugging! encounter with Rebecca Skloot). Is there are reason to go to one over the other?

    Also, enquiring minds want to know: how come Jane D signed up for Twitter but never tweets? Lots of agents are using Twitter so tell Jane she can’t use the excuse of being too busy.

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