This May, a couple of our fellow Skyhorsers were lucky enough to attend Book Expo America and BookCon in Chicago… and lived to tell the tale!
BEA (and BookCon) is one of the world’s largest yearly gatherings for publishing industry professionals and book lovers, from publishers to media to bloggers. Here, attendees are able to talk to publishers and media, learn about upcoming books, and pick up a WHOLE lot of swag!
A few of our coworkers (two seasoned professionals and two who had never attended) gave their thoughts on this yearly conference.
Lauren Jackson, Publicity Manager
Based on average age and average level of enthusiasm, you’d think Five Seconds of Summer or Taylor Swift had crashed this year’s #Bookcon in Chicago. The attendees—mainly teens, tweens, and their bewildered parents—embodied none of the traditional stereotypes associated with the bookish. They didn’t walk around and peruse; they ran and devoured.
And, being a new member of the team, one of the most rewarding aspects of an admittedly tiring day was the equal parts curiosity and name recognition that Sky Pony had at the con. People were rabid for Tara Sim, but also wanted to know more about Winston, our mascot, and the new Sky Pony blog. What could they expect? Would there be giveaways? What was our Twitter handle? Galley giveaways of dotwav and our new chapter book series with Nancy Krulik flew out of the booth in minutes. Every time we put out a fresh batch of pins, temporary tattoos and bookmarks, they’d be gone in the blink of an eye.
Witnessing the mayhem overwhelmed but also inspired. Before I was a late-twenties publishing “professional” (using that term loosely), I was a bookish pre-teen, much like those that swarmed Bookcon, but I never had such a rich outlet to discover new books, authors, and kids like me. So I watched as an outsider as attendees screamed at the main stage for their favorite authors, begged their parents for more books (“Just one more!! Please?!”), and quizzed me on Sky Pony’s books, but I still felt very much like these were my people… just a bit younger.
How do I begin to describe my first experience at BEA? Words that come to mind: dizzying, exhilarating, informative, fun!
BEA 2016 in Chicago was a successful experience for me personally, and for Skyhorse as a company. As a first-timer and as a publicist I got a better sense of what my role in this fantastic company is.
From the moment the gates opened and the attendees flooded in, my role was to represent Skyhorse Publishing in a professional (and fun!) manner. I spent the day interacting with an array of interesting individuals. I spoke with librarians looking to stock vast shelves. I spoke with bookstore owners looking for the next big seller. I spoke with journalists hoping to break the news on the next hit title. Each new person offered fresh perspective on this wild ride we call publishing.
I particularly enjoyed my time speaking with bloggers. Young Adult fiction and children’s book bloggers were out in force, smiles wide, ready to engage publishers and forge new working relationships. I admired their entrepreneurial spirits. Most bloggers explained that they worked from home, reading through dozens of novels a week, trying to elevate themselves to great heights as book reviewers. I exchanged business cards with dozens of them. As a publicist I saw opportunity to broaden the reach of our titles. As bloggers, they saw the chance to widen their review catalog.
At the end of each day, everyone left the conference tired. Tired from good conversations about good books.
I can’t wait to see what BEA 2017 will have in store!
Brianna Scharfenberg, Associate Publicist
At times overwhelming and exhausting, the next you’re giddy because you saw an author you’d never thought you’d see in person or nabbed a galley of a book you can’t wait to tear open. The best part about the conference was being around hundreds of readers and having wonderful conversations with media. At BookCon, lots of excited teens and adults flooded McCormick place finding gems of books and freebies. The kids loved our colorful Winston Sparkles buttons, tattoos, and giveaways like two in one book Project Droid.
The book world is alive and well thanks to all the dedicated readers and passionate publishers. Next year will be even better!
Jennifer Chan, Marketing Manager
Overall BEA went well for us. We set up many sales meetings ahead of the show with our key trade accounts. Key advertising on the first and second days and daily ARC giveaways helped drive foot traffic throughout the show.
We also participated in this year’s Librarian Lounge which included a scavenger hunt contest (our booth was a required stop) and a full table display at the exclusive VIP reception. Both promotions gave us many opportunities to talk up our titles, gain new contacts, and turn a number of librarians on to our company and the kinds of books we do for adult and children.
The Sky Pony titles we promoted at BEA were dotwav and the Project Droid series 2-books-in-1 flip ARC. We also had fun items like Project Droid temporary tattoos and a Winston Sparkle button to promote the Sky Pony Express blog. All the ARCs we put out were snapped up as soon as we put them out (which is a good sign for our upcoming plans for ALA this month).
After a number of years of the show being in NYC, it was nice to be in Chicago this year. With the change in venue, it gave us the chance to connect directly with a number of local librarians, educators, booksellers, and media!
Catch us next at ALA from June 24th-27th (booth #2236)! Stop by for ARCs, bookmarks, Winston Sparkles buttons, and a bunch of other swag! #TeamWinston