Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What is Book Expo America? by Patricia Keeler

Yay! My picture book, LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, Sky Pony Press, has just been published. Yep! I'm going to show at Book Expo America to promote it.

Book Expo America, BEA, is the largest annual book trade fair held in the United States. This year, it takes place at the Jacob Javits Convention Center May 31st through June 3rd. Jacob Javits Center is so big it goes from 34th street to 40th street along 11th Avenue in Manhattan.  

Anyone can go to BEA. Last year, in Chicago, about 10,000 librarians, bookstore people, book bloggers, teachers, museum people and people who just love books paid $100.00 or more to attend for three days. People came from every state in the US, plus nearly 70 countries.  

There are large displays by the big publishing houses like HarperCollins and Wiley. The booths are run by the editors and salepeople. It's a monster big show!

HarperCollins Publishers has an entire aisle.
But I find it a most confusing show from the get-go. BEA's website is hard to navigate. It's slow to load, hard to read, and in black and white. The show is so big, I can never find the booth I'm looking for, and the concrete floors are hard to walk on all day. You can't buy any books, although on the afternoon of the last day publishing houses may give away their books so they don't have to pay to ship them back. It can be frowned upon to show editors artwork or a book dummy, as the houses are there to sell books, not buy them.

The worst section at BEA is near the back wall, where a row of lonely home-made authors pay over $1,000 to sit behind a card table with their slight pile of books. I've been to BEA a couple of times and avoided this row of the hoi polloi.  
A tiny section of Book Expo America floor
But this year I'm Hoi Polloi Booth AM34

Actually, I'm 'Spot' AM34, because it's 4 feet x 4 feet. Do you realize how small that is?

Why would I do this? Let's go back to the top of this blog where I say 10,000 book buyers! I couldn't go to ten thousand libraries and bookstores in my lifetime if I went every day! And they are all going to be right there, for three days, walking around looking for books for their libraries and bookstores.

I know, I know. They will be looking for major publishing house booths, not mine. So I'm going to set up my easel and sketch librarians and book sellers as children's book characters.

Here's a card I made.
I have earring and necklace giveaways. Also, BEA has something I think that is new, and it's really helpful. Guests sign up for your booth on your own BEA site before the show. So far I've had over 50 people signed up, including folks from New York Public Library and Barnes and Noble. One man emailed and said he was looking to buy 5,000 books -- I think he got me mixed up with the real Sky Pony Press booth -- but he's really looking forward to meeting me!

So I'm excited to get the opportunity to present at the same show as the major houses! I could make amazing contacts! I could do amazing sales! 

Or this could be the worst idea I've ever had.

Yikes! I can't step off the mat!

  Facebook:  PatriciaKeelerBooks
Twitter: @patriciakeeler
Instagram: @patriciakeeler

represented by Liza Royce Agency


  1. Wha! Ha! Too bad it's so expensive, Mrs. Hoi Poloi! I haven't been there in years! It's a racket! If they charge the hoi poloi $1,000 for that ridiculously small spot, and you have to promote yourself, please walk off it during this event! If I get crazy and spend the money to attend, it would be for 1 day...I can't take the Javitz Ctr. What fascinates me is you found a seal to match your character...or did you use him as a model? To make yourself more noticeable, can you have a pole with a flag/ banner from Vistaprint with your name on it? Custom- make a 10' flagpole! Marilyn

    1. It is a tough gig. We'll see. I think I saw the seal image first when I was researching, but not sure. Someone mentioned selling the seal and the book as a package. Great idea!

  2. Good Luck! Very impressive that you already have 50 Librarians/booksellers already eager to meet you. Hope you make your investment back in Lizzie and Lou Seal Orders and it's a good experience. On the other hand if you think about it, I'm attending an SCBWI conference for roughly the same amount of $$$ and time this year and previously I've paid that out advertising in Illustration Annuals. I think investing monies into your own self-promo or craft is worth it. Unfortunately you never know what works best for you or your book until you experiment. At any rate kudos for experimenting.

    1. It will be tough to tell if this pays off in that most will buy directly from Sky Pony, not Amazon where I can see the numbers. But I might get the feel by the number of visitors. Thanks for the support. I'm definitely experimenting!

  3. Wishing you tremendous success Patricia!

  4. Congratulations Patricia! All of your hard work shows and I am sure you will have an amazing expo!

  5. I loved reading this and I love your spirit and spunk! You'll do fantastically with that attitude plus your beautiful book and your drawings too. I also think it is interesting that customers can sign up in advance. I will pass your article along to a few folks I know yho are attending for sure. Good luck!