Friday, June 01, 2007

Postcards from the Edge ... of BEA #2

Greetings,

Well BEA's official beginning is just hours away. The first day in particular is always something to see. Thousands of attendees (booksellers, librarians, industry professionals and those who just finagled passes to get free books!) anxiously staked out at the entrance of the main show floor like NY cab drivers idling on Broadway in Times Square. They must wait until the 9:00 AM "all clear" when they are finally allowed to enter the sanctuary known as the show floor. That is where we, the exhibitors wait. Hundreds of publishers and businesses providing a range of services to publishers stand bright-eyed and bushy tailed with a gleaming smile and a practiced and polished 30-second pitch to present their latest titles to the trade in the hopes of taking orders and/or bolstering sales.

By contrast many attendees will likely have their poker faces on, a sturdy tote hanging on their shoulders to store their countless FREE books (no bags with wheels allowed on the show floor), a stiff jaw and a list of preferred exhibitors to visit before their feet (or bag) give out. And the dance begins. Attendees search for their proverbial needles in the haystack of 52 trade show aisles and over 2,000 exhibitors. Exhibitors like me will smile and greet passersby in search of attendees who may be interested in our titles (most notably the booksellers and librarians donning blue badges). My company in particular will also reach out to exhibitors in the African American Pavilion and the Small Press area. If you're exhibiting in these areas, let me know!

This is our eighth year. And it's ALWAYS been worth the time, money, preparation, exhaustion and foot pain! But we're doing BEA smarter not harder these days. We mix business with extreme pleasure. For example, this week I certainly did my speaker thing, presenting two courses at PMA University. But I and my family are also taking the Big Apple by storm. We're actually taking in the sights the host city has to offer, eating fabulous meals, and getting our rest when needed (since we aren't getting any younger). Trust me when I say, this is unprecedented. I am a true room service queen who rarely leaves my hotel at these events. But NYC's ridiculous prices have driven even this certified 5-star groupie into the streets in search of food and fun without a 25% surcharge.
We saw The Color Purple last night and our seats were so fantabulous I could almost reach out and give Fantastia a high five for her simply stunning and captivating performance. And she was not alone. The entire cast, including Elisabeth Withers (Shug Avery), NaTasha Yvette Williams (Sofia), and the very handsome, very talented Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Harpo) (who used to play one of Kim's boyfriend's on The Parkers), were all simply stunning. Even the ensemble cast (including or especially the church ladies) left me breathless. After the play, we dined at Maison, a trendy 24/7 restaurant with outdoor seating, and did our part to prove NYC is in fact the city that never sleeps!

But since all play and not work makes Tonya a pauper, I did my lawyer thing too. Today, I had the great pleasure of participating on the "Protect Your Copyright" panel with my esteemed colleagues, publishing lawyers Jonathon Kirsch and Lloyd Rich. I covered copyright notice, publication, registration, the various ways you can own copyright and the documents involved in transferring or evidencing ownership. Early in the day we also we set up the booth and attended the African American Bookseller festivities, including a lovely luncheon hosted by Atria Books that included a riveting panel discussion by Atria authors Tananarive Due, Stephen Barnes and Blair Underwood (all co-authors of the new Casanegra), Zane (who just released a non-fiction how-to sex book!), Nathan McCall (who is following up his non-fiction with a fiction project), and Stacey Patton (author of a new memoir).


Tonight we stopped through the African American reception hosted by Ingram and I got a chance to chat with veteran literary agent Marie Brown, editor Malaika Adero, Amber Communications Group publisher Yvonne Rose, Clarence Reynolds from Black Issues Book Review, Troy Johnson from AALBC.com, Pat G'Orge Walker (of Sister Betty fame) and Tananarive Due before she was off to the next gig. The fam and I ate, drank, became merry and returned to the comfort of our temporary home (a/k/a the hotel). Getting a free lunch AND dinner in NYC... priceless.

Now, all of the preparation has come to this moment in time. And after the National Spelling Bee contest, the Cleveland/Detroit game and this blog post, I'll finish my "must visit" list, polish my presentation, use my last teeth whitening tray to tighten my gleam, and get ready to SELL THOSE BOOKS.

Stay tuned,

Tonya
Booth #3046 at BookExpo America 2007

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