Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bookish Decorum at BEA

It's a hotly contested issue of just what kind of decorum you're supposed to have at BEA when it comes to grabbing books. For those of you popping your BEA cherry this year, you'll see stacks of books piled up on the floors at publisher booths, ready for grabbing. The urge to ask for this title or that will be there. At signings? You'll probably have the want to ask for just one more signed copy. But what will people think about you if you do?

Guys, this is me. To that last sentence I say bite me. But on the other hand, if you attend BEA for no other purpose than to horde books to have giveaways and boost your blog stats, pray you don't come across me. Snatching multiple copies of books from publishers is tacky (that doesn't mean I haven't seen people do it, and NOT book bloggers either). Yes, there is a giant stack of books but they're meant to distribute as far as they can and once that pile is gone, it's gone.

So what's that middle road between regretting not getting an extra copy and being a slut at a sausage festival? Here's what I did last year and it worked really well for me. I even had publishers pushing books at me to take.

I asked.

OMG, right? Shocking!

At publisher booths, lay down your business card and introduce yourself. If you know a book is there that you want, just ask if you can grab a couple copies for promotion on your blog. A publicist's favorite word is promotion. Unless they're really strapped for copies, they won't have a problem with it. In fact, they'll probably be a little grateful that you actually asked.

At signings, don't be afraid to ask for an extra copy (AN, singular), signed or not, so you can
promote the book. Don't worry about holding up the line. You won't. Just quickly mention you run a book blog and would love to be able to give away a copy. Most of the time they'll just sign it automatically. One publicist in the autographing area really did push multiple copies at me (not all of them signed) because he was eager to have me promote the book (it was one of the YA Editors' Buzz titles last year). More than happy to oblige!

I'm sure there are people reading this that think me the Antichrist for even thinking the thought of considering getting extra copies. ONE AND ONLY ONE! But the reality is, we're promoters. That's why ARCs are there. To aide us in the promotion of the product at hand. Just be gracious about it and everything will be fine.

I think it's fairly obvious that book bloggers have the short end of the stick in the publishing world. Now that even more of us are attending BEA, now's our time to really shine. Now's our time to show how gracious we are to get those ARCs, how helpful we want to be in promoting books and reading in general. How professional we can be.

This is a PROFESSIONAL event, remember. Act it. I'm not saying don't fangirl/boy at your favorite author or get giddy talking to publishers. What I'm saying is don't be a douche. Don't hoard half a dozen copies of a single ARC for any reason. Don't hold a place for twelve of your closest blogging friends at the front of the signing line (lord have mercy if you do that in a line I'm in, so help me I'll call you right the FUCK out and make you slink to the back of the line where you belong, I can't count how many times I saw this happen and let's just say it made a dent in the book blogger bubble). Just practice common courtesy. We need to show these industry professionals that we're there to help them (although for the most part, I think we've already done this, with publishers, anyway). That we're just as capable as anyone else to get the word out there about their books. Show them your mama done taught you right. The majority of these guys love us. Let's make them love us even more. The last thing we need to do is hand them more reasons to discredit what we do.

At the end of the day, have fun. Get books. Hand out business cards. Get an inside look at the publishing world that a lot of people don't get to see. Take advantage of the opportunity while you have it and be thankful you can get it. Just keep decorum in mind. You may think I'm just stating the obvious but you'd be shockingly surprised.
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