BEA 2013

I'm back from New York! And yet again, I am jetlagged. Keep waking up at lunchtime. I meant to stay awake all day when I got home, but fell asleep at 7:00 and slept through to 16:00, so now I'm still buzzing like a bluebottle every night. 

BookExpo America, or BEA, is quite different to the Winter Institute (see my Wi8 blog) and LBF. It's a large book trade fair, attended by publishers, agents, booksellers, authors and readers from all over the world. On the Saturday, BEA opened to "Power Readers" from the general public. This didn't happen at Wi8 or, to my knowledge, LBF. This year BEA was held in the beautiful Javits Center on the West side of Manhattan. Unfortunately the centre doesn't have the best Wi-Fi, so I wasn't able to tweet – but it was a great venue otherwise, with tonnes of room for booths, autographing and galley drops. I spent four days in New York, and two of those at BEA. The weather was spectacular, and it seems to have followed me home to the UK! So without further ado, here's my BEA experience.  

Thursday 30 May 

Up at 5:00 for a 9:30 flight. Arrived in New York and went straight to my hotel, the Affinia Manhattan, opposite Madison Square Garden. All Macmillan authors and staff were put in the same hotel (Bloomsbury is distributed by Macmillan in the USA). My room wasn't quite ready, so I sat in the lobby – which looked, at the time, like a construction site – and read a few chapters of The Gamal, a brilliant new novel by CiarĂ¡n Collins. Think Wuthering Heights mixed with The Catcher in the Rye, set in rural Ireland. When I got to my room, I carried on reading for a while before I had a gorgeous seafood dinner with Cristina, during which I tried oyster and octopus for the first time. I was almost falling asleep by the end, so Cristina whisked me back to the hotel and I fell straight to sleep. It was the beginning of the end of my ability to sleep properly. 

Friday 31 May 

Jerked awake in a panic at 4:00, having heard what I genuinely thought was some kind of civil defence siren. Turned out to be a New York fire engine, but my God, it was so loud. The note on the bedside reading PUT NEW YORK ON MUTE, accompanied by four sets of ear plugs, was clearly a sign of things to come. I couldn't get back to sleep for the life of me, so I made some coffee and got myself all spruced up for BEA, making the interesting decision to wear high heeled pumps. Sara Mercurio, Bloomsbury's wonderful publicity director for the West Coast, met me at 10:00 in the lobby and we headed for the Javits Center. And it was hot hot hot. New York literally smelled like heat.   

The Javits Center was teeming with people. And air conditioning. Phew. I was given a shiny badge and led to the Bloomsbury-Macmillan booth, where I was lucky enough to have another coffee delivered by the super-helpful Bloomsbury staff – apparently there was a 40-minute line for Starbucks. Why they didn't have at least ten coffee outlets, I have no idea – this is the publishing industry, dammit. Everyone drinks coffee. At 11:00 I did a video interview with the amazing guys from Publishers Weekly, then I was off to a Twitter chat at the Kobo booth at 11:30. (I got some great questions; thanks for sending them in!) The Wi-Fi in the Javits Center is really spotty, so it took a while for my answers to go through, but we got there in the end. There was a quick break for lunch, so Sara and I headed out into the West side and discovered the most amazing salad bar. They had every kind of salad you can imagine, and you could just pile it all into plastic boxes and take it away. 

The autographing area
At 14:00 I went to the Autographing Area to sign ARCs of The Bone Season. I'd been having nightmares for weeks that there was going to be no-one there and I'd look like the most unpopular debut novelist on Earth, but to my great surprise, there was a line. I suddenly got terribly nervous and had to take a few minutes behind the curtains to compose myself, but by the time I sat down at Table 22 I was fine – I was just completely overwhelmed that so many people had turned up. It was great to be able to chat briefly with everyone that came. I also got to meet the very fashionable Lisa Lueddecke, who I've been friends with on Twitter for ages. After the signing I bought some hazelnut frozen yoghurt and ate it because I was happy and I could. Thank you, guys, for being there and showing your support. 

After the signing I was finally introduced to Sarah J. Maas, author of Throne of Glass and its sequel, Crown of Midnight. Sarah is lovely and I was thrilled to meet her – I read Throne of Glass a few months ago and loved it. We chatted with our editors, Michelle and Rachel, to prepare for a panel the next day. Afterwards I rushed back to the Bloomsbury booth to meet a group of bloggers who'd won ARCs of The Bone Season. I was so pleased to meet them all, especially Kathy and Alexa, who I'd 'met' on Twitter previously. There were lots of cookies. 

Picture by Laura Keefe

After leaving the Javits Center, Rachel and I went to find Band-Aids, because wearing high heels had turned out to be a terrible idea. After dinner, I headed back to the hotel to start reading my ARC of Crown of Midnight, then tried my best to get to sleep. Why NYC taxi drivers feel the need to slam their fists into their horns in a gridlock is quite beyond me. 

Saturday 1 June 

Up at the crack of dawn again. The main event of the day was my very first panel, entitled 'New Adult Crossover: from YA to adult and back again'. The panel was made up of myself; Sarah J. Maas; Sarah's editor Michelle Nagler, editorial director of Bloomsbury Children's Books; and my US editor, Rachel Mannheimer. We had a great conversation, discussing the potential of both YA and adult novels to appeal to different audiences (I'll be doing a hot topic at some point to discuss the subject in more detail on here, as the panel ended up being mostly about mine and Sarah's books). Sarah's novel Throne of Glass and its sequels are published by Bloomsbury Children's Books, while The Bone Season is published by its adult division, so it was an interesting topic to get our teeth into. We also discussed the fine line between author and reader that's been created by the rise of social media. Sarah has a large online fanbase and loves interacting with her readers. I agreed with her wholeheartedly that social media is fantastic in allowing us to engage with readers – this blog has given me so much joy over the past year – but I also took the opportunity to warn authors against getting too personal when readers don't like their work. I used my old favourite, the Death of the Author theory, along with a story about when I unintentionally stuck my nose into a book blogger's business, to demonstrate that the book is a subjective object – and that no matter how much it might hurt to see bad reviews, readers have the right to think what they like about an author's work, and to say what they think in public. As authors, we have to exercise restraint and not be a sinister, lurking online presence that leaps out and pounces on anyone who dares to not enjoy our books. It was great to see so many people at the panel, and afterwards I met Kara Malinczak, who is just as sweet in person as she is online.
Picture by Lisa Lueddecke

After the panel, I went to do a video interview with Rich Fahle, who runs Astral Road Media. Then it was off to the ShinDig booth to do a joint video chat with Sarah about our writing. I think ShinDig are planning to put the videos up online; I'll put up a link as soon as I have it. I popped back briefly to the Bloomsbury booth, where I got to meet Steph Sinclair from Cuddlebuggery, one of my favourite book blogs. It was great to be able to put so many faces to names. Once I'd signed a few ARCs, my time at BEA was officially over. I had dinner with George and Sara before heading back to the hotel to continue with Crown of Midnight. Finally, I stuffed some earplugs in and went to sleep. 
Picture by Elena

Sunday 2 June 

Picture by Lisa Lueddecke
I woke up in the early hours with bright orange foam in my ears and another headache from hell. Jetlag was out to get me on this trip. I napped for another few hours and woke up feeling much better. After scouring half the neighbourhood for an ATM – most of them were tantalisingly locked behind the doors of closed banks – I walked down 7th Avenue to Times Square and met Lisa again, as well as Elena from Novel Sounds. They are both absolutely lovely. We went to a restaurant called Junior's and had a slap-up breakfast, along with buckets of coffee (seriously, the cups were enormous). Afterwards I had a few hours to kill before my flight, so I read some more Crown of Midnight and slowly packed my things. I got back to England early in the morning on Monday.      

If you love books, and other people that love books, I highly recommend BEA. Tickets are quite expensive, but the place had a fantastic vibe and you'll get lots of ARCs and goodies. I had a wonderful time; I hope I get to attend again in the future. Thanks again to everyone at Bloomsbury for being such gracious hosts! 


  1. Glad to hear that you had such a great time at BEA! I've got to make it up there one of these years, it sounds fantastic!

    Your panel sounds interesting too, the more and more I hear about NA the more I like it. It really seems like some kind of "golden spike" that bridges the gap between genres and will pull in people both older and younger than the target audience. Such a wide net.

    Agreed on the social media point. Being on the other side of the author/reader connection (at least for now) I can say that I value being able to talk to people like you just as much as you do to us.

    Lastly, you've really got that stare-into-your-soul look down pat!

  2. I'm glad you were able to come to BEA! It was such an honor and a joy to meet you in person, and I certainly cannot wait to read The Bone Season. I'm definitely looking forward to it! (P.S. See you on Twitter!)

  3. Dude. People not showing up in your line? That is just MADNESS. I bet your line was super long. I get why you were nervous though as I know Romily Bernard had the same feelings and she was also a debut author there too. And it was so awesome to meet you! I hope you get to go back next year!


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