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:

IN  NEW  YORK  CITY  ON  MAY 31-JUNE 2, 2017

                   THE  FUTURE



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.


         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.


         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.


         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.

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.


         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. 


         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


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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