When my publisher wangled me an autographing session at BookExpo America, the publishing industry trade fair June 5-7 at the enormous Javits Convention Center in New York City, I was thrilled. Plunging into the stream of booksellers, agents, librarians, bloggers, readers, and writers, I had two goals.
1) Getting the word out about my book. Obviously!
- I’d prepared ahead of time – studied the list of exhibitors, made a map. Since my book is about a Jewish roots tour that expands into an exploration of a country facing its Holocaust past, I got in touch with some Jewish book festival planners from around the country who I thought would be there and invited them to stop by my publisher’s booth. Several did.
- I visited other booths, including the big red Read Russia booth, where I talked to people about a possible translation of my book; ditto for the Polish booth. I stopped by the Lonely Planet travel guide booth and talked to the folks there about listing my book in their Lithuania edition.
- What didn’t work: my cute giveaway. I guess a Holocaust-themed tchotchke was doomed to fail. No one wanted my cards featuring a quote from the book, which were stacked at the UNP booth. (Nearby, a publisher of erotic fiction had attractive men in tight T-shirts handing out, for some reason, bicycle horns. These were popular.)
- Business cards in hand, I networked madly in front of my publisher’s booth. The University of Nebraska Press recently acquired the Jewish Publication Society, which meant a lot of relevant people stopped by.
2) Finding ways to nurture myself as a writer. Many opportunities!
- PEN/Bellwether Prize ceremony. Barbara Kingsolver presented Susan Nussbaum with the annual award for a socially engaged novel. Wonderful!
- Walter Dean Myers, the legendary author of urban-themed juvenile fiction, autographed a book for my daughter, a middle school English teacher. Myers is one of my heroes.
- Wilhelm Dichter, an extraordinary writer who was a child survivor of the Holocaust, did a reading along with his translator. Fantastic!
- Amy Goodman. It turns out the passionate voice of Democracy Now! radio recently visited Lithuania on a Jewish roots tour of her own. Maybe she’ll read my book….
- Stress! I picked up a free book about stress that was being hugely hyped. Filled out the stress quizzes, stressed about my stress level. Will look into the suggested solutions, which include “earthing.”
- Signing. Hooray, people were lined up and waiting when I got to the autographing area. I loved giving away a pile of free copies.
And the best part of all? Getting my picture taken with Olivia the Pig!
Ellen Cassedy is the author of "We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust" (University of Nebraska Press, 2012). [TIPS OF THE TRADE] appears monthly on SheWrites. Visit Ellen's website at www.ellencassedy.com.