BEA: The Report

I got back home from BookExpo last night, and I’ve already gotten quite a few emails asking “How was it?”. I suppose my answer to this question is simply: BEA is the very worst event a writer can go to.

The sheer size of the show (BEA was held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center) was quite overwhelming. There were 1,500 publishers, from the big houses to the small ones, each with several dozen books on display. There were several thousand attendees, all congregating on the show floor to check out the books and the authors.

Walking that floor at BEA is one of the most depressing things I’ve done as a writer. There were times when I had to literally elbow my way out of an aisle, and it reminded me of being in a food souk in Morocco, right before dusk, when the prices are lowered in order to clear the merchandise, and people go into a frenzy. What the hell? I thought. How can I add my voice to this cacophony?

But I suppose that’s also what makes BEA one of best events a writer can go to. It made me remember, just in case I’d forgotten, why I choose to write–not because of the publisher, nor the hype, and Lord knows it’s not because of the money. I do it because this is what I’ve been called to do. It’s not just that I want to write, it’s what I need to write.

Sure, it was fun to read in front of a large audience and to sign my first galley. It was fun to go to a few parties, where I met people whose work I’ve read and admired, or read and disliked, or even just heard about. But it was even better to be back home, in my quiet little office, where I can just hole up, alone. And write.