My second day at BookExpo America began with a panel discussion called The Real Deal- Update on The African American Literacy. I was excited but cautious of this one since my books aren't geared towards just one race. Despite that, I enjoyed myself. I didn't know there are less websites dedicated to African American Literature now then there were 5 years ago. There aren't many places you can read a review on books by black authors and few places are available for readers to engage with African American authors. I shouldn't be surprised. It makes sense now that I think about it. Talk about an untapped market.
What I really liked was the panelist confirmation that not all black people write urban or erotic fiction. We don't even have to write for a black audience. I felt like cheering. As a kid, I really thought those types of books were all African American writers could publish and I'd have to fight so publishers wouldn't change my book into something I didn't like. A a kid, I was floored being introduced to horror writers Brandon Massey, Tananarive Due and L.A. Banks.
Having been at Jacob Javits Center for other industry events, I expected this one to be big but it really wasn't. The booths only took up one hall. I could spend all day walking around the Auto Show but with the BookExpo, I was done by 1pm. The place wasn't packed- probably because yesterday was the last day. This I liked. I could walk as fast or as slow as I wanted to.
I really liked how the booths were set up. The publishers wanted to create the book experience so each exhibit looked like a coffee shop, a library or a lounge.
Of course, the big guys- Penguin, Random House and Hachette's booths were always packed. I'm guessing because they were giving away the most books. Random House and Penguin had lines of people waiting to get a free book with the author's autograph. Yes, a lot of publishers and authors were giving away free books. Attendees had like bags full of them. I looked at my own half empty bag like what is my problem. But, the publishers didn't have many books I'd want to read so I saw no point in collecting them. If it goes on my bookshelf, it means it's getting read.
I, instead, collected all sorts of promotional materials- from bookmarks, to posters, to coasters- to get an idea of the types of things I could pass out, eventually. Random House had small books with chapter samples. I never thought of doing that. What a brilliant idea. Also, a lot of self-publishing platforms like PubIt by Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace were there. I got Book Baby's information at uPublishU so I didn't visit their booth but they're another eBook publisher and distributor. Since I'm self-publishing, I'm now researching what's out there in terms of eBook formatting, distribution and print-on-demand.
A panelist at Sunday's uPublishU called self-publishing the alternative traditional route because so many people are taking this path. It can no longer be called the non-traditional route. Because of this increase in popularity, a lot of places offer eBook formatting, distribution and printing services. This is gonna be a tough decision. I was also interested in Book Country. It's an online community where genre fiction writers can post their books to get critiques. I also wanted more information on PUBSLUSH the social publisher.
Since I write Dark Fantasy, the fantasy and horror related booths attracted me the most. I hunted down Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, Orbit and Tor Books.
The only reason I left the Expo was because my feet were killing me. I probably saw every booth at least three times. For my first BookExpo, I had a great time.