My Time at the Book Expo America 2016

I went to the Book Expo America in Chicago with no idea what to expect.

Oh, sure. They had a website, an app, and a list of classes, but I was way too busy to look at any of that.

(Just a touch of advice for you. Don’t do what I did. End of advice.)


All I knew was I wanted to attend an 11AM class on publishing agreements, and my train was due around 10AM. I could make it from Union Station to McCormick Place in 45 minutes, right?

No. Not if said stranger to Chicago gets lost, even with the best directions ever from a native Chicagoan. And that’s all I have to say about that. ;)

1PM: I enter the wrong end of the McCormick Place, bewildered, ready to kiss the ground I was walking on (the correct ground, this time), and so excited to finally be at the BEA 2016!


I wandered the book expo floor–and people kept shoving books in my hands. Lots of books. Free books. Books that haven’t been released yet.

187 books, to be exact.

I nearly tackled the guy handing out Katherine Reay’s soon-to-be-released novel. I restrained myself and somehow managed to snag a copy in the stampede anyway. Whew! And woohoo! I can’t wait to read this!


There were signings (including some very well-known authors such as Nicholas Sparks, signing his not-yet-released novel that, yes, they were just giving away–no, I did not stand in that 8-hour monstrosity called a line–but this signing happens to be my fave):

Mini-sessions were scattered throughout the floor, and an entire conference area downstairs was dedicated to hundreds of classes over the course of three days.

Patrick Brown, the Director of Marketing at Goodreads told us everything new and trending, and in beta testing, on Goodreads.

Cindy Ratzlaff, one of the most intense and dynamic speakers I have ever had the pleasure of listening to in my entire life, spoke on advanced marketing strategies on Facebook.

I learned so much. So. Much.

And I got the hang of everything by the second day. By the third, I was a pro. I could navigate Chicago, get to my classes on time, and look like I knew what I was doing.

I even bought a rolling suitcase in nearby Chinatown and used the expo’s bag check to store those lovely books I just couldn’t stop taking from all the people shoving them my way. (Um, thank you, lovely people. You are all pretty much my favorite.)

I was in my world, happy go lucky, when I ran across an article in the BEA’s Hulk-sized magazine. (Seriously. These suckers were the size of my rolling suitcase.) This is the first time in 12 years the BEA has left their venue in New York City to hold their conference in Chicago. Twelve. Years.

The Chicago and Midwest publishers and other industry professionals–including myself–were thrilled with the change in venue. (I mean, I could actually go!) The big publishers based out of New York? Not so much.

So during lunch on the third day, I sat with a publisher from New York and a freelancer from Ohio. And got to hear the entire argument from both of their perspectives. (So glad I read that article first!)

The New York publisher was upset with having to ship books, pay for hotels and airfare, send fewer representatives, and leave the convenience of walking from their downtown office to the expo. The freelancer (who was once an editor for a major New York publishing house, but has since done so well to freelance out of Ohio) was thrilled with the expo being so close to be able to attend–without the exorbitant costs of staying in New York.

I listened, nodded, smiled a lot, and wholeheartedly agreed with the freelancer.

The publisher did admit, with a sheepish grin, that the McCormick place was a much nicer venue than New York’s. And the publisher did allow that it must be nice for the smaller presses–including me–to be able to send someone. And the freelancer sympathized with the added costs of shipping stock and not having as many reps.

I was entranced by both of them. Well done, opposing sides!

So I just have to say: Thank you, Book Expo America, for coming to Chicago. Thank you for making it possible for smaller presses and their representative to attend.

I have treasured everything I learned and the entire experience of BEA 2016. Thank you for the books. Thank you for the signings. Thank you for the classes.

Thank you for helping me grow in my profession, learn more about my field, and stay abreast of the latest trends in this ever-changing industry.

You have my undying gratitude for coming to Chicago.

And thank you, dear reader, for sharing my adventure with me! It was such fun!

In Him,


Okay, I had to show you these amazing journals I bought the last day of the expo. I’ve never seen more gorgeous journals in my life!

What’s next? Well, I’m not sure. But I hope it has something to do with Facebook Launch Parties, Blog Tours, and other book-release fun for Zombie Takeover. I can’t wait!!!

(Oh, yes! Zombie Takeover happens to be available for preorder. Hurray!)

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