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Monday, June 02, 2008

BEA report, part 1

As you probably know if you're reading this, I spent last Wednesday night through yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles for Book Expo America (BEA) as part of a promotion of Devil's Cape and the other Wizards of the Coast Discoveries titles. I had a great time, saw some old friends, signed a lot of copies of my book, and spotted some celebrities, too. The short version is: it was a great several days. The long version is after the jump.

I'm going to slip into bullet mode here (rat tat tat--watch out for the tommy guns!). It will be easier to keep the details bite-sized that way, and what I've got is less a coherent analysis or story and more a series of impressions. I got partway through this and crashed, so it's part one for tonight and we'll get part two up soon.

  • I was keyed up the night before the trip--I got very little sleep and was practically bouncing up and down all day at work. My inner child isn't really all that inner sometimes.
  • The trip west was largely uneventful. I had kind of planned on watching Justice League: The New Frontier on DVD on my laptop on the way over, but we were crammed in tight to a little McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and the jerk in front of me decided to lean back. I watched about five minutes and gave up--I had to contort myself to a terrible position to see the screen and it would have been murder on my back. Plus I wasn't about to do to the person in back of me what the guy in front was doing to me. The plane ticket holder had some marketing copy about the American Airlines experience being like a "group hug." Give how tightly we were packed onto that plane, it was woefully, ironically appropriate.
  • I had a quick, pleasant taxi drive to the hotel. Wow, the rates are expensive, though. Seems like the rates in San Francisco were much lower, but maybe that's just my imagination.
  • After checking into the hotel, I quickly hooked up with fellow Discoveries authors Richard Dansky and J. M. McDermott, who I found out had been waiting for me at an Irish pub (Riordan's) for something like three hours. Yikes! I had a quick burger there with them, then we dashed off and ended up at the Library Bar, where we swapped anecdotes for quick a while. If you meet Dansky, be sure to ask him about the French scotch gnome.
  • Thursday was quieter than I expected, at least during the day. There were educational sessions, but most of them not up my alley, and the exhibit halls were under frenzied construction. Many of the booths were pretty cool. The Wizards of the Coast booth was one of the coolest--it was a small, roofless building decorated to look like a classy fantasy tavern (the ornate frames on the walls held paintings of the covers of the books on display, including Devil's Cape). It made me feel like I was stepping into a Dungeons & Dragons adventure.
  • Thursday night, a shuttle bus took the Discoveries authors and the Wizards brand manager Jessica to Dark Delicacies bookstore for our group signing (we were joined by several other authors, too). It's a very cool store--I was told it's the only one in the United States devoted solely to horror. My book wasn't exactly the target demographic, although we sold a couple copies, but I didn't mind since it was just neat being there. Steve and Melanie Rasnic Tem were like rock stars, though. People came in carrying cases filled with old books they'd contributed to, magazines, and more. It was a nice thing to see.
  • My old buddy Joe Casey picked me up at Dark Delicacies and I got to meet his wife; we treated her to embarrassing old stories about junior high. It was great getting to see him again. Afterward, he took me back to the hotel via a roundabout route that showed me some of the Hollywood sights, including the Hollywood Palladium, which served as the exterior for the late, lamented, much-maligned Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Good times.
  • Friday I got up at the crack of dawn to snag some autographing tickets so that I could get a couple of bigwig autographs. Of course, even though I was organized and made a chart for myself of where I wanted to be when, I still goofed and picked up tickets for authors I wouldn't actually be able to stand in line for--since I was going to be autographing at the same time. As an exhibitor/author, I was able to get into the exhibit halls early to wander around, but the real action started at 9 when they opened the doors for everyone else (the main target audience of BEA is made up of booksellers and librarians--the ones who decide which books they're going to stock in their domains).
  • At 9, wow. An impressive number of people surged into the exhibit halls. The booths were well-stocked with freebies, including lots of free books, and they began to be snatched up in a frenzy. Signs forbid people from bringing rolling suitcases into the exhibit hall without special permission (as from a doctor's note), so that limited most people to what they could carry, but people could carry an awful lot.
  • Okay, yeah, I picked up a lot of books this weekend.
  • Heck, I'm getting tired writing this and I'm only to Friday morning.
  • One of the first autographs I got was from the incomparable Robert Crais--a new Elvis Cole novel on unabridged audio. I can't wait to listen to it. It was very exciting meeting him, as he's one of my favorite living authors. Shortly after meeting him, I called Mom, who also reads his books. Very cool.
  • En masse, the Discoveries authors signed at the Wizards booth for two hours on Friday, giving away free copies of our books. It was exciting. We were all signing pretty much constantly for that two hour stretch, and several of us ran entirely out of books.
  • The most surreal moment of the convention came during this signing, when I glanced up and saw a very short lady standing about two feet from me getting Richard Dansky's autograph, then realized it was Dr. Ruth. I completely lost track of the conversation I was having with the person whose book I was signing, and just kept saying "That's Dr. Ruth" over and over again in my mind.
I'll get to the rest of the weekend next time. Peace out.


Spork Boy said...

Can't wait to read about the rest of the trip. Good on ya, mate!

Rob Rogers said...

Thanks, man!

Unknown said...

It was great hanging with you, Rob.

Rob Rogers said...

Ditto, Richard!

J m mcdermott said...

Next time we do LA, Dr. Ruth will blog about seeing *us*.

Well, Richard, anyway.