Thursday, June 5, 2008

A report on Book Expo America

Hey y'all!

Shawn and I got back Monday from spending three exhausting days in LA, working Book Expo America. For those unfamiliar with the Expo, it's the largest gathering for book professionals in North America, where publishers and other book service providers set up and display and discuss their wares with librarians, booksellers, and other industry professionals. There's no point of sale opportunities at the Expo, but there are a lot of people who showed interest in stocking our books!

First of all, let me say that California is a great place to meet Torquere Press people! Jay Lygon, James Buchanan, Mel Spenser, and Andi Marquette all stopped by to say hi, and Kara Larson, Stephanie Vaughan and Tory Temple all dropped in to help us work the booth. Got to wave at Laura Baumbach over at the MLR Press booth, too. Thanks to all who stopped and chatted, and if I missed anyone, holler, as my Swiss cheese memory is just a mess!

We met a lot of folks who were interested in stocking Torquere books, and we had books for Tory and Stephanie to sign. We weren't sure how an in booth signing would work at BEA, so we kept it low key, just brought a few copies, and I think it worked to our benefit. We really felt that the people who took the books would *read* them, not just toss them.

We took catalogs of all the paperback titles, gave away lots of promo for the ebook catalog online, and gave out business cards aplenty to distributors, reviewers, and the like. In short, we talked y'all up, big time.

Most of y'all know that we have the new Young Adult line, Prizm, that's launching this year. We did a lot of talking about that, too, and gave out a ton of sample booklets and post cards. I got to tell you, y'all, postcards with your cover art on one side and the ordering information on the other are still one of the most effective marketing ideas out there. Bookmarks with cover art on one side and a teeny excerpt and ordering info on the back also work so well, especially at a huge expo where people are already carrying huge bags of heavy swag.

Librarians were very interested in the Young Adult stuff, y'all, while booksellers were interested in both YA and Adult. Many, many bookstores told us they were expanding their collections to be more "eclectic" or "inclusive", which is a huge change from years past. We also had some distributors from the UK and Australia who were very interested!

We met the ladies from Bywater Books again (Kelly was at Saints and Sinners, and is a doll) and if you want some great lesbian books, they've got them. The folks from Aspen Mountain press stopped by to say hi, and that was a hoot, as I got to talk Western Colorado, which is near and dear to my heart. Someday you'll get Salida, honey!

Our intrepid webmaster Larry spent the show wandering the show and gathering information, handing out cards, and acting like a kid in the candy store with all the free books. He got some good ideas for us for next year in New York, and did a lot of good networking. We got a good many people stopping by the booth, saying Larry sent them, so kudos to him!

Now for what the booksellers said about our product, just FYI. They loved it. Said it was professional, loved the various cover art, and complimented our typesetting. The YA books kind of premiered a few changes we're making in the typesetting arena, like drop caps at the beginning of chapters, etc, and it was popular with everyone. The librarians loved the idea of gay and lesbian romance, as a genre, and while a lot of them said they would never be allowed to carry them, a good many more said they'd be looking to make orders.

All in all, we came home with less than half of the promo, and maybe 5 books left out of the 50 we took as samples to give out. While there's really no way to quantify how much good BEA did us for now, I would say it was a success, and that again this year, it did a lot to raise the profile of Torquere Press and gay and lesbian romance! Next on the list is Book Expo Canada, and then our first American Library Association convention!

Keep an eye out for the other cons we're going to! We'll be listing them as we go!