My First BEA

Amazon invited me to the BEA last week and because I told myself I would try everything at least once, I said YES and my husband and I flew to New York to see what the Book Expo of America was all about. Energy and excitement are two words that come to mind as I think back on my week. Thousands of people were walking the aisles, but I didn’t see much of that because CreateSpace and KDP kept me busy. I was lucky enough to talk on a panel at the Upublishu on Sunday with authors CS Marks (hilarious), Brittany Geragotelis (enthusiastic) and Darcie Chan (professional and kind). I was able to meet a lot of the behind-the-scenes people at Amazon and what a treat that was. So welcoming and friendly. So REFRESHING!

Speaking on a panel with Darcie Chan, CS Marks and Brittany Geragotelis

This was my first opportunity to speak in front of a large group. I would say there were a few hundred people in the audience. It was Sunday morning after all and very early. Thank goodness. I was very shy growing up and so I was apprehensive about speaking on any panel anywhere. I had index cards just in case I froze. In the past, when I attended RWA conferences I would freeze when I came face to face with an editor. Why? Because all of my hopes and dreams felt as if they were riding on that 30 second talk. Ridiculous but true.

My first book signing

At the BEA it was a whole different ballgame. Since self-publishing in March of 2011 I have had full control of every aspect of my writing career…and guess what? I like it. I like it a lot. I have no reason to fear editors and agents or anyone else (I do realize I never had reason to fear them, but it just felt different back then because they were the decision makers, the people who held all the cards). One of the things I am enjoying most about self-publishing is that I don’t have to send queries out every week. I don’t have to open any more rejection letters. No more queries. No more waiting. No more rejections.

I am one happy writer.

Amazon has spoiled me. I tell other writers to be patient with every aspect of self-publishing, but it’s not easy to do. I want to do everything and I want to do it now! After 19 years of queries and months and months of waiting for another rejection, it’s so nice to know that when my book is ready to go, I can release it to the world and let readers decide if they like my book, or not. Not one reader, but hundreds or thousands if I’m lucky. I don’t have to wait for an agent to send my book to twelve publishers and then wait months while those individuals decide if my story meets their requirements.

Wardrobe check before video shoot

Anyhow, back to the BEA, did I mention that a limo picked me up from the airport? Surreal would be putting it mildly. I was asked to hang around the CreateSpace/KDP booth for a few days during the BEA and I’m so glad I did. I was interviewed by Mercy Pilkington at Good Ereaders. I was jet-lagged and pale and I found myself looking up at the Heavens instead of at the interviewer. It’s all a learning experience. Hopefully I’ll be invited to other events so I can practice! I spoke to the Huffington Post and Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Len at Pod Chronicles. The man from Huffington Post didn’t understand why I would sell my Lizzy Gardner Series to Thomas & Mercer when I am making so much money on my own. I told him that I wanted to try everything. I want my books on audio. I want foreign sales and the chance to have my books in a brick and mortar store somewhere in the world. Maybe in an airport someday. I want to give my books a chance to be translated into another language and T&M might be able to do all of that and more. I also told him to talk to me in a year and we’ll see if I am happy with my decision. It’s all experimental.

Talking to Andriana and my husband, Joe, on the rooftop of Ink 48 Hotel in NY where we stayed

I was asked to give two short talks at the KDP booth and then answer questions and sign a few books. My first book signing! The icing on the cake was a three hour video shoot for Createspace/KDP (see last year’s video) on my last morning in New York: hair, makeup, sound, directors and wardrobe. The toughest question I was asked…the question that made me pause was “If not for Amazon, would you have ever been published?” That’s a tough one, but my answer was and is, “One thing for certain is that I never would have given up.”

Not only did I get to see my son, Jesse, and his girlfriend, Andriana, (they live in Brooklyn) while in New York, I met James Altucher (and his wife Claudia) author of I Was Blind But Now I See. James is a very interesting person and I wish I had had more time to speak with him. James has been on a quest to find the meaning of happiness since the age of six. He is a positive force and I am very excited to have met him (read his blog post).  Meeting Frederick G. Dillen, author of Fool, was another highlight of my trip. He was kind-hearted, super interesting and adventurous. Traveling to New York just to meet Fred would have been enough for me, but I was also lucky enough to meet Alexis Harrington, Vincent Zandri, Blake Crouch, Justin Luke Zirilli, Jim Fusilli, Dan Mayland, Greg Smith, Darcie Chan, Brittany Geragotelis, CS Marks, and many more whose names I never learned!

Getting direction from interviewer

I was invited to speak at a conference in Idaho in November and I met many wonderful people from Audible and ACX. Pam Spector and I tried to connect, but never did. We did wave from across the room. I met Jennifer Bassuk and Anthony Roberts, a really nice guy.

I also met my editor from Thomas & Mercer, Alan Turkus. What a treat. He’s as nice in person as he is on the phone. I was lucky enough to meet Andrew Bartlett, Libby Johnson McKee, Alison Grand, John Fine, Jennifer Butler, Brittany Turner, Thom Kephart (he looks 19!), Hande Ormen, Whitney Hall, Mia Lipman, Nader Kabbani (a real slacker...Not! Nader is a pianist, a swimmer, a husband and father of four beautiful daughters, and who knows what else he does!), Atif Rafiq, David Symonds, Sean Linehan and Jacque Ben-Zekry. These are only some of the wonderful people I met from Amazon. There were many more, but I’ve only been home for a few days and this is all from memory, which isn’t what it used to be.

A great group from KDP/CreateSpace

Overall, during my time spent at the BEA, I have to say that the opportunities for independent authors, now and in the future, appear to be endless.