[What's Next?] BookExpo America
Written by
Cait Levin
June 2015
Written by
Cait Levin
June 2015

Last week I had the chance to attend BookExpo America with the She Writes Press authors and Brooke, our fearless publisher. It was my first experience at any kind of big event like this, and I walked away . . . well, I walked away exhausted. But there were more significant takeaways than tired feet and general fatigue. Now that I’ve had some time to digest and reflect, I’m not totally sure what the direct benefit of these conferences really is. There were four things I thought were really positive:

  1. Meeting so many SWP authors. We have authors all over the country and around the world. We are very much a “virtual” company, meaning we have people working all over the country, from Berkeley to Arizona to New York. The event was definitely a reason to come together, and I think I can say confidently it was the first time so many SWPers were in one place all together.

  2. Networking. There are lots of people to meet, and they all walk around with their cards and flyers ready to go. I attended this conference from the publishing perspective, but as many of you know, I’m also writing a book. So as I was “walking the floor”, as they say, I was looking through two different lenses. I would say about half of the people I spoke to wanted to sell me something—their new digital platform, a focus group, editing services—you name it. I don’t like salespeople in general, so walking around a huge room of people trying to sell me something was a natural turnoff for me. That said, I’ve never met more people involved in the industry in such a short amount of time.

  3. Exposure. I had the pleasure of meeting several people who knew about She Writes but not about the press. I was able to speak to people about our mission and about our hybrid model, and to listen to our authors eloquently do the same. We spread the good word, so to speak, and we definitely got some exposure. I don’t know if that’s a direct benefit because I don’t know if it can be measured or how, but I definitely felt it.

  4. Legitimacy. There’s something about having a presence at an event like this. It does feel right that if the industry is interested, we should be interested. Our model is different, but people are listening. Ingram went a long way in helping with that, but being present at BEA backed up the message that we’re here, and here in large numbers.

These are all good things, but I don’t know if I need BEA to get them. SWP authors could get together in another way without paying the fees to BEA and being confined to a small cubicle space in a big conference center. As a writer I’m not sure I learned much from it, although I didn’t get to attend many of the lectures and presentations because of my time spent in the booth. What I’m really wondering is what you all thought. Did you attend BEA? What were you hoping to get out of it? Did you get that, or something else? If it was your first time, would you go back?

Cait Levin is a Project Editor at She Writes Press. You can read more of her blog (when she stops watching so much Dawson’s Creek and actually writes more of a blog) here.

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  • Michelle Cox

    I did not attend, but have enjoyed listening to the great networking that occurred between the She Writes authors.  I would love to be able to meet everyone in the future, either at the next BEA or some other venue.  I have to say I was stunned to learn that you and Brooke had never met in person before this event!  Amazing!

  • Ellen Cassedy

    Take a look at my report for SW on BEA 2012 here: Oink: A Report from BookExpo America.  I promoted my book, and also felt nurtured as a writer.  Most important, I met Olivia the Pig.  

  • Thanks Cait and Brooke and everyone who represented SWP at BEA! And thanks for posting this -- makes me feel included in all that's going on, even though I'm on the other side of the globe! :)

  • Great points, Cait. I agree. I'm so glad you were there. Our book LOOKED amazing, and our authors rocked it. But yeah, they could have done that anywhere.

  • Eileen Flanagan

    I agree with much of Cait's analysis, which is why I hadn't been to BookExpo for a few years. This year I went partly to meet everyone from SWP! That said, I do think there are other things we can get out of Book Expo. I attend a few very interesting workshops--one on women's leadership, another on industry trends in audio books. I also have a friend--very successful nonfiction author--who was told by her agent to go to see what is selling. That might not motivate most of our authors, who are guided by an inner urge more often than publishing trends, but I still think it's useful to know what the trends are, especially for our publishing and publicity teams. Worth the admission fee? Maybe not, but there are lots of ways to make the most of BEA.

  • Hollye Dexter

    I've loved the She Writes Press tour- a way for us to come together in one place, to network, and to talk to others about our hybrid model. I think we should do a lot more SWP tours!

  • Patricia Robertson

    Like the idea of SheWrite authors getting together in a less expensive forum.

  • Pam Webber

    Well said!