Sunday, February 19, 2017

281. BookExpo, BookCon



         It’s on its way!  Author’s copies of my historical novel Bill Hope: His Story are being shipped to me and will soon be available from the author (meaning me).  I can't now present a life-size copy of the front and back covers in this post, but here is a smaller version that includes the back-cover bio and blurb.  Clicking on the link will take you out of this blog, but do it anyway, since the front cover, designed by my press's director, Anna Faktorovich, is impressive; you can then return to this post and continue.  The first title in the Metropolis series, a series of historical novels set in nineteenth-century New York, is The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), which views the period from a gay male perspective, just as Bill Hope views it from the perspective of a street kid turned pickpocket.  Pleasuring is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  And here, for those of you too unadventurous (or lazy?) to click on the smaller-version link above, is the back-cover blurb of Bill Hope:
Bill Hope: His Story is the second novel in the Metropolis series.  New York City, 1870s: From his cell in the gloomy prison known as the Tombs, young Bill Hope spills out in a torrent of words the story of his career as a pickpocket and shoplifter; his scorn for snitches and bullies; his brutal treatment at Sing Sing and escape from another prison in a coffin; his forays into brownstones and polite society; his brief career on the stage playing himself; his loyalty to a man who has befriended him but may be trying to kill him; and his sojourn among the “loonies” in a madhouse, from which he emerges to face betrayal and death threats, and possible involvement in a murder.  In the course of his adventures he learns how slight the difference is between criminal and law-abiding, insane and sane, vice and virtue -- a lesson that reinforces what he learned on the streets.  Driving him throughout is a fierce desire for better, a yearning to leave the crooked life behind, and a persistent and undying hope.

          I first queried  Anaphora Literary Press, the publisher, on February 3, and the manuscript went to the printer on February 15 – twelve days later!  This is, to put it mildly, unusual.  But if you think this is a slap-dash operation, just look at the front cover: an eye-catcher, if there ever was one, and that’s what front covers are meant to be.  The book’s release date is May 17; anyone who orders online now will get the book after that date, but anyone who orders from me can get it right away.  And now, on to BookExpo and BookCon.

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         The online announcements are impressive, one following another at a dizzying rate:

BOOKEXPO  REGISTRATION  IS  NOW  OPEN!
EMBRACE  THE  FUTURE  OF  PUBLISHING  WITH  US
IN  NEW  YORK  CITY  ON  MAY 31-JUNE 2, 2017

                    BOOKEXPO
LEADING  THE  BOOK  INDUSTRY  INTO
                   THE  FUTURE
       DISOCOVER.  ENGAGE.  LEARN.

INTRODUCING  THE  BOOKEXPO
ADULT  AUTHOR  BREAKFAST
LINEUP  FOR  THURSDAY,  JUNE  1

HOTELS  ARE  NOW  AVAILABLE 
FOR  BOOKEXPO  2017

And there’s a children’s author breakfast as well, including an author with blue hair.  So can there be any doubt that this is the biggest book event of the year in all North America, taking place right here in New York City at the Javits Center in Manhattan next June?

         Who attends this annual event?  Publishers, authors, agents, librarians, booksellers big and small – in short, anyone and everyone in the book trade, with some celebrities thrown in.  This is where the trade convenes to network and make useful contacts, to see what the latest trends in publishing are, to discover emerging authors and the next blockbuster titles, and to get useful info from industry leaders and peers.  Is the public invited?  Absolutely not.  This is for the book trade only, but the media are welcomed with open arms.  And have no doubt about it, with over 600 exhibitors displaying their upcoming books last year in Chicago, BookExpo is BIG, BIG, BIG.  If God reads books – and who’s to  say He doesn’t? – He’ll be there too, in spirit.

         So am I, an author, going?  Am I, as an author, going to fork over $400 to attend this stellar event and rub shins with a seething mass of book trade biggies, snag an autograph or two, and maybe hook an agent or a publisher?  No!

         Why not?  Because BookExpo is the place for bestselling authors, the biggies of the trade, not for small fry like me.  Because I don’t need anyone’s autograph.  Because you don’t go there to connect with agents or publishers, unless it’s been prearranged; to do so is to mark yourself as pushy and uninformed.  And finally, because the event is huge and I’d wear myself out running from booth to booth, trying to cover it all in one day or even two.  So BookExpo will have to do without my modest radiance.

EMBRACE  THE  MADNESS

         Ah, but close on the heels of BookExpo, which rages from Thursday, June 1, to Friday, June 2, comes BookCon on Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4 -- 105 days, 2 hours, 29 minutes, and 29 seconds from now, as their website informed me yesterday, with the seconds and minutes constantly updated.  (They do like to build anticipation.)  And what is BookCon?  The sequel to and culmination of BookExpo that opens its arms wide to the public, cajoles and urges and exhorts them to come, proclaiming that “BookCon Loves You.”  Here publishers big and small, not to mention self-published authors, hope to lure attendees to their booths and sell scads, gobs, reams of books.  At Chicago last year, the one-day event expected 10,000 attendees, and this year, back in New York, the two-day event anticipates 25,000.  So BookCon (“Con” for consumer, though a bit of conning may be involved), like BookExpo, is BIG, BIG, BIG.  How could it not be, now that it’s back in New York, which, it goes without saying (so I’ll say it), is BIG, BIG, BIG.  BookCon, its website informs us, is “the ultimate celebration of books,” a two-day fan event “where storytelling and pop culture collide.”  Yes, not “meet” or “engage,” but “collide"; sparks fly.  And a video of the 2016 event in Chicago bears them out: it’s frantic, it’s jammed, it’s wild.  So will I, a small fry of the trade, be there?  You bet!  I’ve got my booth already.

BE  WICKED  READ  BOOKS

         So who are these 25,000 expected attendees?  BookCon tells us precisely:

1.    She’s a she, and young: a millennial.
2.    She is college-educated.
3.    She is into social media.
4.    She has disposable income.
5.    She is an avid reader.

So what do I conclude?

1.    I have to please Miss Millennial.  But she likes genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, romance, etc.), and I don’t do genre fiction.  Hmm...
2.    Good.  She’s literate.
3.    Social media?  That means reams of free advertising for the books and authors she likes.  Well, I’m on Facebook, though rather limply.
4.    Aha!  Bless her, she can buy books galore.
5.    Maybe I can entice her away from genre fiction into my historical fiction and New York-oriented nonfiction.  At least it’s worth a try.

BOOKS  ARE  SEXY

         By way of preparation, I’ve watched the video of the 2016 BookCon event in Chicago.  And what do I see?  A seething horde of attendees, mostly female and young, crowding in, buying books and having authors sign them, and swaying to the music of some hip-swinging singer on a stage with a microphone; when asked how they like BookCon, they exclaim with fervor, “Awesome!”   But where are the guys – the male millennials?  Not here.  The few men seen in the video are either BookCon staff or authors signing books for their fans.  But male millennials?  Hardly a one.  They must be off in the singles bars, guzzling, or exploring exotic wonders on the Internet.

YOU’RE  AWESOME
so am I

         Since a floor plan is available showing the occupant of every booth on the floor, as well as the booths that are unoccupied and therefore still available, I accessed it to find out who my neighbors will be.  We are off to one side in a section reserved for those who exhibit at BookCon but won’t attend BookExpo.  As you might expect, we are indie authors, meaning independent authors who are self-published or published by small presses, unagented, and unknown to the big trade publishers of the day.  In other words, small fry.  Except that some of the small fry seem to be doing rather well.  I contacted four of my future neighbors, asked their advice for a first-time exhibitor, got gracious answers and lots of tips.

YOU
READ?
I
LOVE  YOU

         Here is their advice, reinforced by BookCon itself, and by a friend who once attended another trade show at the Javits Center:

1.    Make your booth stand out.  Use a catchy banner or poster.
2.    Put out lots of swag (free stuff).
3.    Put out lots of business cards.
4.    Start preparations for the show months in advance.
5.    Get there early to set up your booth.
6.    Be prepared to talk a lot; they’ll ask you what your books are about.

 And so:

1.    I’ll put up signs (what do you think all those centered bold letters in this post are?).
2.    I’ll put out candy: Hershey’s kisses – think of the possible double entendres: (“Would you like a kiss?” etc.), and Dum Dums, little lollipops that my bank puts out (I love the name).
3.    I’ve ordered 100 more business cards, plus a snazzy card holder.
4.   Preparations?  That's what I’m doing right now.
5.    I’ll even get in there the evening before, if they let me in, and start setting up.
6.    I’ll be a walking blurb, have a brilliant spiel prepared. 

LET’S  BE
AWESOME
TOGETHER

         And these future neighbors of mine are well worth listening to, since one has successfully published a series of dark fantasy and horror novels and proclaims himself proudly self-published, while in one day at Chicago another who does fantasy fiction targeting readers age 16 to 30 sold 180 books.  I do dark neither fantasy and horror nor fantasy fiction, so I don’t expect to sell like they do, but I wish them well and hope that I can attract some of their multitudinous followers into my own little booth, where I shall try to be as “with it” and “in” as I can.  Indeed, I plan on being the oldest exhibitor on the floor and will play it for all it's worth, proclaiming

GEEZERS
ROCK



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          BROWDERPOMES:  For two new poems of mine, on ninny serene versus deep, and proverbs for the wicked, click here and scroll down to pp. 34 and 35.

For my short poem “I Crackle” and a stunning photo of me, go here

For five acceptable poems, click here and scroll down.  

To avoid five terrible poems, don't click here.  

For my poem "The Other," inspired by the Orlando massacre, click here.  


          BROWDERBOOKS:  No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World, my selection of posts from this blog, has received these awards: the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction; first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards; and Honorable Mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for 2016.  For the Reader Views review by Sheri Hoyte, go here.  As always, the book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World

The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), my historical novel about a young male prostitute in the late 1860s in New York who falls in love with his most difficult client, is likewise available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.





         Coming soon:  Who knows?


         ©   2017   Clifford Browder

Sunday, February 12, 2017

280. Big and Small Presses and the Flux of Publishing


         Yay!  The manuscript of my historical novel Bill Hope His Story has been accepted by a small press, Anaphora Literary Press, for publication, and speedy publication at that, since hopefully it will appear by early June, in time for a near cosmic event to be described hereafter.  Which brings me to the subject of small presses.

           Small presses are a world of their own, filling the vacuum left by the big presses, when the biggies stopped publishing and promoting new authors in hopes that they would one day produce bestsellers or otherwise repay the investment involved.  And who, by the way, are the big U.S. trade publishers, the publishers who sell to the general public?  In New York there are five: HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette Book Group, this last a division of a French publisher based (logically enough) in France.  One might ask what happened to Houghton Mifflin?  A respected and venerable firm, it is based in Boston, far removed from the New York brouhaha; after a bewildering number of corporate metamorphoses, it emerged in 2007 as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 

         Harcourt?  Ah, that rings a bell.  But what is the descendant of the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich of yore, a major New York publisher, doing up in bean town?  Years ago I did editing on a freelance basis for it (Harcourt, not bean town), even working for a while as a researcher/flunky for the great Jovanovich himself, a giant of the trade, being on call 24/7 should he need some information posthaste.  (Ah, there are tales to tell.)  No question, Mr. Jovanovich was a dynamo of a CEO who through a dizzying series of acquisitions turned his company into a major player in the book trade.  And this from a son of immigrants who started out as a Harcourt textbook salesman and within seven years, at age 34, became CEO of the company, which tacked his last name on in 1970.  What mix of luck and fate, what ruthless ambition and superlative ability, what conniving and cajoling, and what demolishing of rivals fueled this meteoric rise, I don’t profess to know, but I suspect they all played their part.

         That William Jovanovich had more in mind than books became apparent when he acquired insurance companies and not one, but two, three, then four Sea World marine parks, thus making Harcourt a conglomerate.  These activities I became aware of when he asked me to fax him a map of Central Park, an imitation of which he was planning to install in one of the parks.  The map was duly faxed, but I and the employee faxing it wondered at his plan to view Central Park from a helicopter, rather than traipsing it on foot.  Strange are the ways of the mighty. 

         In 1982 Mr. Jovanovich took the company out of New York, a move that occasioned much confusion and dismay among the modest toilers in the vineyard, the college textbook editors I worked with, many of whom declined to be relocated to Texas.  But worse was in store.  In 1987 a hostile takeover bid compelled Jovanovich to plan a recapitalization that left the company mired in debt; the stock plummeted, mass terminations of employees and sales of assets followed, and in 1990 Jovanovich resigned as CEO, a sad ending of what had been a stellar career.  Harcourt (soon stripped of “Jovanovich” – sic transit gloria mundi) succumbed to a merger thereafter, and in 2007 it was gobbled up by Houghton Mifflin, which explains how “Harcourt” got tacked on to “Houghton Mifflin.”  If I have lingered a bit on the ups and downs of Harcourt and Mr. Jovanovich, it is to show how the world of big publishing has changed, with more emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, and less on such a stodgy old product as books.  Which is why small presses exist, being still preoccupied with books.

         Though there have always been small presses, and some of them quite prestigious, new ones have appeared in record numbers recently, like phallic mushrooms after a heavy rain.  So don’t say that publishing is dying in the U.S.; in spite of Facebook and twittering tweets, and television and the Internet, people – some people -- do read, and there are books for them from a hundred presses (no, I can’t name a hundred, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist), not to mention self-published books.  Yes, there are books from the Big 5 too – all the best sellers you’ve heard of, and countless more – usually presented with hoopla and hype.  But there are far more self-published titles – more than 700,000 in 2015, versus some 300,000 traditionally published books.  And maybe there are too many books: book sales are falling fast, competition is intense, and publishers both big and small now expect authors to carry the burden of marketing.  Yes, authors – those quiet, reclusive, pen- or key-pushing sensitives addicted to the written word, are supposed to get out there and sell, sell, SELL their books; not by wish but by publishers’ fiat, the hermit has become a huckster. 

         If you consider the situation of small publishers, this isn’t so surprising.  Their situation is precarious, for small presses run as much on hope and aspiration as on financial stability; in other words, many are flirting with failure, perennially risk going bust.  So what are they to do?  The out-and-out vanity press publishes your book for a hefty fee, does little to promote it, and keeps on teasing you with offers of publicity and marketing for further hefty fees.  Other presses survive by demanding a stipulated amount of sales from the authors.  Anaphora Literary Press, my newfound publisher, requires that I buy 50 copies at a 25% discount from the list price ($15 for a $20 book), after which further sales to the author are at the standard author’s discount of 40% ($12 for a $20 book).  And those 50 copies must be sold; they can’t be sent out for reviews.

         Does that sound exorbitant?  Not in the world of small presses.  A small press that was eager to publish a volume of my poetry required 75 pre-publication sales before printing the book.  That meant rounding up 75 friends and acquaintances – most of whom are probably less than ardent readers of poetry – and asking them to buy a pig in a poke.  When I consulted a friend, a published poet who does readings all over the country, he admitted that, even with all his contacts, he couldn’t come up with 75 such victims.  So I said no to the publisher, who, unconvinced by my e-mail rejection (or maybe unaware of it), sent the nicest little note by snail mail, repeating the offer, only to be rejected again.  But what was that, compared to another small press that requires each of its authors to buy 200 (that’s what I said – 200) copies of their book.  I have dark fantasies of their authors sitting at home surrounded by towering stacks of unsold books, coaxing and cajoling their friends to buy just one little book at a bargain price – a terrible test of friendship.  (Indeed, it’s perilous having an author as a friend: “Oh my God, he’s published another book.  I suppose we’ll have to buy it.”)

         So there is my brief glance at the publishing world of today – a world in constant flux.  Which anticipates my next post, on Book Expo and BookCon, stellar events that will take place right here in New York next June.  Never heard of them?  All will soon be explained, plus an account of the most exciting adventure – or the grossest folly – that I have ever perpetrated.

         P.S.  I only have to sell 48 books from Anaphora, since two friends -- uncoerced by me, I swear! -- have promised to buy a copy.



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          BROWDERPOMES:  For two new poems of mine, on ninny serene versus deep, and proverbs for the wicked, click here and scroll down to pp. 34 and 35.


For my short poem “I Crackle” and a stunning photo of me, go here

For five acceptable poems, click here and scroll down.  

To avoid five terrible poems, don't click here.  

For my poem "The Other," inspired by the Orlando massacre, click here.  


          BROWDERBOOKS:  No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World, my selection of posts from this blog, has received these awards: the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction; first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards; and Honorable Mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for 2016.  For the Reader Views review by Sheri Hoyte, go here.  As always, the book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World

The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), my historical novel about a young male prostitute in the late 1860s in New York who falls in love with his most difficult client, is likewise available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.






         Coming soon:  As just announced, Book Expo and BookCon 2017, with me  avoiding the one and hitching myself to the other.


         ©   2017   Clifford Browder