Wednesday, June 06, 2012

BEA Day One: A Head Full of Pain and Ideas

At least, after months of waiting, I'm in New York! And because my schedule is (briefly) clear and I have free internet at my hotel, I can regale you with some of my adventures from Book Expo America! Pictures will come later!

Day One was June 3rd, where I flew to Chicago and from there to New York. United Airlines has a surprisingly backward way of doing things: for the three-hour flight to Chicago, we had to board a cramped, uncomfortable little plane with only two seats on each side - and I only occupied about 75% of my seat as the other 25% was hogged by the very large (to be fair, large as is built rather than as fat) man next to me.

The one and a half hour flight to New York took up a spacious aircraft with three comfy seats a side with squishy headrests that could be bent to fit the shape of your head! What gives? Why save that plane for the short ride?

I arrived in New York at around 11:30 pm, their time, and had to spend another thirty minutes in the trailing Cab Line of Doom. Lots of people needing cabs, with the occasional sleazy, unlicensed taxi/town car driver circling around trying to scam the most impatient-looking of us into their vehicles.

After that came the Hotel. I went up to my hotel room and. Found. A. BUG. INMYBED. Needless to say, I freaked out. Just a bit. I mean you hear all these rumours about New York hotels and bedbugs. So I trapped it under a glass and called the front desk. While they quickly changed my room, I wasn't appeased, nor convinced that there weren't hordes of creepy, crawling things in the shadows, waiting to devour me once I turned off the light (a la flesh-eating beetles in The Mummy). Even when I looked up bedbugs and realized, rather shamefacedly, that what I found a) looked nothing like a bedbug and b) was actually far smaller than a bedbug (smaller even than a no-see-um), and c) that I'd only found the one, my primitive lizard-brain was still screaming, bugs bugs bugs bugs!

So I couldn't sleep at all - which was convenient, because it meant I was awake to experience a sudden onset of a gastrointestinal Ailment which I shall not name for the benefit of my delicate-minded readers, followed by CHILLS, which required me to try and cover myself up with (possibly-only-in-my-mind) bug-infested blankets.


NOT FUN was also getting out of bed at an unseemly hour to get ready for the BEA Book Bloggers convention. I was so wobbly and dehydrated I nearly gagged in the middle of the hallway trying to dry-swallow the hastily-bought pills for my Ailment. BUT STILL. I persevered. Moving very slowly and taking tiny sips from a water-bottle, I took the shuttle to BEA, got my tickets, and waited in line.

At first, the convention was great - lovely, interesting books of all different types and genres, and a wicked-cool coffee mug from Kobo that you can draw on with chalk! Excellent! Also excellent was FINALLY meeting ALL my blogger friends in person! I met Ana and Thea from The Book Smugglers, Katiebabs from Babbling About Books, Jessica from Read, React, Review, Janicu from Janicu's Book Blog, and Jane Litte from Dear Author!

We all got to share a table with them, which was excellent, because we were all present to commiserate on the less-than-good aspects of the convention.

First off, the Networking Breakfast - this was where the authors all switched tables every fifteen minutes to talk to the bloggers while we ate coffee and muffins (or in my case, tiny sips of water with tiny bites of banana). Some of the writers were excellent - Justin Cronin was very personable and answered questions and put forward good discussion. I definitely want to read The Twelve now. But the other writers we got didn't seem to quite understand what bloggers did. Both of them seemed to think that we were more promoters than critics. That if we liked what they pitched us about their books, we'd put their book on our websites with hearts and rainbows attached.

Second Most Awkward Moment of the Conference: When the author of Motherland ranted about "those damn reviewers" to a table FULL OF REVIEWERS.

Then came a rather laughably self-aggrandizing keynote speech from Jennifer Weiner - a speech that was mostly about how awesome she is and how she helps other authors and how her type of writing is so misunderstood and underestimated - gosh, just like Book Bloggers. It's like we're all sisters! She did have some valid things to say, but I think everyone at our table rolled our eyes at the same time and chalked snarky silent comments onto our Kobo Coffee Mugs when she stated how we should all focus on sprinkling fairy dust (her words) on the stuff we like instead of blogging about what we don't like.

After that came an interminably long question-and-answer period - with a very suspicious number of questions focusing on When Jennifer Weiner's Next Book is Coming Out and What Jennifer Weiner's Working On Next, rather than, um, Blogging and What It's All About. I was sincerely starting to wonder if there were plants in the audience.

I finally got up and asked what she thought about negative Author Reactions to Negative Reviews - and she immediately caught on to that whole GoodReads scandal about that insane self-published author who tried to "revenge" herself against a reviewer by posting all of her personal contact information online. She said that authors need to calm down, adding that she never reads any of her reviews, good or bad, because she doesn't want to obsess about them and have them affect how she writes. She also stated that reviewers should just politely say "thanks for reading my review" to negative author rants, stating "don't poke the crazy." Which makes sense.

Most Awkward Moment of the Conference: This happened during the next panel (which started half an hour late because Jennifer Weiner went ten minutes late answering questions and then held an impromptu book signing) with some HarperCollins Representatives and one of the managers from GoodReads. I was sitting at another table by that time (next to Tom Pollock, who wrote The City's Son!), and Katiebabs stood up and asked what they thought about plagiarism, and how that should affect a blogger when bloggers are trying to be seen as professionals.

I almost cheered - but holy cow, the whole room went quiet. A couple of the bloggers at my new table blushed and hid their faces with their hands. It was pretty obvious whom Katiebabs was talking about - it was also discovered that the Plagiarist Blogger Who Shall Not Be Named was in the same room.

HarperCollins immediately replied that they didn't respect plagiarists, that they wouldn't do business with a plagiarist, and that they wouldn't want to trust their books to be promoted by a plagiarist - man, you could have heard a pin drop.

After that awkwardness came lunch, which I ate outside the convention room with my blogger friends. Good discussion, good food (which I found I could eat) - the only problem was my increasingly-murderous headache. I decided to head back to my hotel room to lie miserably in the dark and missed the rest of the convention.

It was not a good day, overall. The blogger convention (the half I was present for) was disappointing, and I wasn't the only one who thought that, either. I asked Thea about the panels I missed and she replied that I didn't miss much. A lot of bloggers felt misunderstood and dissatisfied that most of the conference was spent with publishers telling us what they wanted from us, rather than talking about more blogger-focused topic like a Blogging Etiquette or Ethics.

I was sorry about missing the social aspect, however. As you will see later in my posts for BEA, the Book Expo itself isn't very social, and so I'd really been looking forward to seeing and chatting with all my friends at the BEA. But health comes first, I suppose. Getting sick is one thing, but getting sick on your vacation which leads you to miss your most-anticipated events? Really sucks.


  1. Anonymous2:37 PM

    I'm sorry that you're sick and that the conference wasn't that great. But I love your post!

    1. Anonymous2:37 PM

      Also, feel better!

  2. *..but I think everyone at our table rolled our eyes at the same time and chalked snarky silent comments onto our Kobo Coffee Mugs when she stated how we should all focus on sprinkling fairy dust (her words) on the stuff we like instead of blogging about what we don't like. *

    A moment to envy for sure! Wish I could have been there for that. You never fail to make me laugh.

    I am so sorry though that you didn't feel well. I hop you got mucho better fast.

  3. I'm sorry to hear that you got sick but hopefully you'll be better in time for tomorrow! I HEARD about the book blogger drama but I didn't know the details until now. It sounds like an unsatisfying (and extremely awkward) experience. I'm kind of glad I didn't even bother with going to it now (although I wish I had one of those awesome kobo mugs!).

    Anyway, again I hope you feel better soon! and that you don't see anymore suspicious bugs *shudders* that's why I hate hotels so much.

  4. Like Sandy, I heard about the drama, but not these extra details. Pin-drop silence indeed, though considering the worry about blogger's reputations Katie's question sounds understandable, especially if she didn't know the Blogger was in the room. There's a big possibility that it can come across as snarky however.

    Hope you feel better soon and can enjoy the rest of your time there!

  5. Sorry that you got sick on your first day, but thank you so much for posting this! Was curious how things went, but glad I decided to skip it. Hope you're feeling better now!

  6. I think Tom Pollock was the man of BEA. Everyone I talked to who met him loved him, me included.

    I have no shame apparently based on my question I asked about blogger ethics and plagiarism, but I felt it had to be said and discussed. I hope you're feeling much better.

  7. hahaha I left BBC after lunch too. My head was full of pain as well, but for a much different reason ;-)

    It was awesome to meet you.

    And man, I wish I had thought to eat out in the hallway because I would rather have talked with friends than listen to a pitch.