Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What I Learned at BEA

Greetings, fellow literary sophisticates! Given how avidly you follow my every movement, hang on my every word, I imagine my absence these last few weeks has left you beside yourselves with worry. You needn't have feared. I was at the BEA.

What is that, you ask? It's the Book Expo America, a magical week that happens every summer, when publishers gather to showcase and distribute their newest titles; agents gather to learn about which trends are becoming hot; dental hygienists gather to, apparently, throw everyone else off; and vendors gather to start passing out free booze at 3 p.m. (this actually happened).

And you know, I learned a few things, other than that New York's Javits Center can hold literally tens of thousands of nerds.

For one, my co-workers are awesome, which is becoming a little inconvenient. I mean, it should be great that I work with amazing people. Unfortunately, they're sort of showing me up, and I may need to engage in some professional sabotage to make my own performance look better. Just keep that between us, though. You, me, and the Internet.

Case in point concerning the unflattering awesomeness: Amy Cloughley. Amy (stalk her here!) joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates earlier this year and sold her first manuscript, to Seventh Street no less, in something like three weeks. Now, I would personally have preferred that she show the professional courtesy of waiting for me to sell something first, but, office politics aside...not bad.

The manuscript is Allen Eskens's The Life We Bury, "about a Minnesota college student on a dangerous quest to discover the truth about a dying convicted murderer." If that sounds like something you're writing, you might wanna get yo' query on.

But I learned other things, too! One of them was that the illustrious Kimberley Cameron doesn't fully understand the Internet and that revealing its intricacies to her results in amazing photographs.

The other is that there are a truly mind-blowing number of editors in this industry and that their passion, discernment, and plain old nose for a good story have a boundless capacity to re-energize the sometimes jaded eyes scanning manuscripts every day. One of the highlights of our trip to New York was a jaunt over to the office of Mulholland Books, where we met the very talented (and disarmingly young) Wes Miller. One of the books Wes worked on was Lauren Beukes's The Shining Girls, a thriller about a time-traveling serial killer.

This kind of project would usually be, if not beyond my purview, certainly on the periphery. But after flying through the book (in like three days, too, and I have a lot of stuff to read) I was ready for some thrillers. The lesson here is to read a lot and keep yourself open, whether to story ideas as a writer or manuscript submissions as an agent/editor. And by the way, go buy this book. Just do it. You'll love me for it and it'll give you something to talk about around the cooler for months.

I guess the only other big discovery to come out of BEA is that BEA parties are AWESOME.

You guys--they have them on skyscrapers. I think that's all that really needs to be said.

Until next time!