Thursday, May 28, 2015

BEA Envy

It's near the end of May, which means one of the hottest book events of the year, Book Expo America, is underway. If you're at BEA, you are probably having a TOTAL BLAST (whenever you're not overwhelmed, hungry, sweaty or lost).

If you're an author or otherwise heavily invested in the book community, you're probably feeling a bit glum and, if you know what's good for you, avoiding Twitter.

Because chances are, right now someone you know just picked up an advance copy of your favorite author's new book that doesn't come out for seven months and now they are, like, having chocolate at Jacques Torres, and they're tweeting every detail and photo. It's horrible, don't look.

Every year loads of authors sign at BEA. I've been to BEA twice, myself, always on my own dime (well, kind of...remember that year I crashed four different people's hotel rooms? yeah, I'm still pretty proud of my shameless cheapskate skills on that one) and without being invited to do a signing or go to a publisher party or anything. This is quite normal, tons of authors have never signed at BEA, but I'll admit I always get a case of the "I just want"s.

"I just want to be invited to sign at BEA...once!"

This is, of course, complete nonsense. No one ever gets invited to sign at BEA and then says, "Wellp, I'm good." Unless they are so introverted they hate any kind of attention at all. But usually even introverts enjoy a moment in the sun. Attention is kind of like sugar; you probably got introduced to its addictive properties at a fairly young age and while you might get burned out on it, you'll find yourself wanting it again before long. Writing is, in fact, full of "I just want"s:

--I just want to sell a book
--I just want to sell a second book
--I just want to sell a trilogy
--I just want to sell this PARTICULAR favorite-of-mine book
--I just want to earn out my advance
--I just want to get a starred review
--I just want to be invited to sign at a conference
--I just want to be invited ANYWHERE
--I just want to hit a bestseller list
--I just want some awards recognition

I've achieved a couple of these, and yet when I catch myself thinking about external markers of success I feel just as despairing as I did when I hadn't sold a book at all! I'm sure this probably goes for other things in life as well, anything that is really important to you. I actually skipped BEA this year mainly because I've been so busy working on two projects that mean a lot to me. I don't want to take time away from them. I miss New York City and all my friends, but this year I'm trying to focus on two things: taking joy in my work, and getting it done.

I do, however, give myself full permission to eat fancier-than-usual chocolate this week!


  1. I couldn't care less about BEA. I just want #1 and #4. Easy peasy. It would make a nice birthday present. Just saying... ;-)

  2. #4 is at the top of my list as well... But don't make me wait for my birthday!