ALA Annual is one of the world’s largest yearly gatherings for publishing industry professionals, librarians, teachers, bloggers, and book lovers! Here, attendees are able to talk to publishers and media, learn about upcoming books, and pick up a WHOLE lot of books and swag! We had a great booth in the middle of the exhibition hall that we filled with our adult fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, Autism, and of course, Sky Pony titles.
A few of our coworkers (three seasoned professionals and one who had never attended) gave their thoughts on this yearly conference. Although it was swelteringly hot in Florida in the middle of summer, it didn’t dampen our spirits!
Jaidree Braddix, Assistant Publicist, Cooking & Lifestyle
A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of learning that there is no happier being on earth than a librarian or book blogger who has just received a free book. And boy, did we give out a lot of free books. At ALA Orlando, children’s and YA books ruled the day, with free copies of the adorable picture book Gorillas in Our Midst and the timeline-bending YA thriller Timekeeper being the fastest to fly of our tables.
It should be no surprise then, that one of my favorite memories from my three days at the Skyhorse booth was the moment two small boys rushed in, eyes locked on our “Books for Minecrafters Library” at the back of the booth. Our Books for Minecrafters were hugely popular with children’s librarians and teachers throughout the day, and I had gotten used to answering questions about reading levels and age groups in a more detached sort of way, but seeing the genuine excitement in an 8-year-old boy’s eyes when he asked me, “Is that GameKnight999?!” reminded me who our real audience is. He was beyond disappointed that he could not walk out of there with the entire collection, but was thrilled to come back for our giveaway the following day and to pester his poor mother into taking a handout listing all of our Minecrafter titles, so that she could “buy them all later.”
That 8-year-old’s excitement was mirrored in the eyes of book bloggers in their 20s, standing in a fifty ft. line waiting for Tara Sim to start signing Timekeeper; in a teacher, new to her school, who was desperately seeking picture books with diverse main characters when we showed her Ming Goes to School; and in a costumed young superhero receiving his signed advance copies of Science No Fair!: Project Droid #1 and Soccer Shocker: Project Droid #2.
Even though we were there to self-promote on a broader scale, the individual interactions and happy new-book-owners are really what makes conferences like ALA special.
Cheryl Lew, Associate Publicist, Children’s and YA
This was my second time at ALA Annual (I attended last year’s in San Francisco), and it was still just as fun, exciting, and slightly overwhelming as my first time. We had an awesome team attending this year, and that really made it a memorable experience.
Everything in the booth went smoothly: Our giveaway books flew off the shelves (especially Just One Damned Thing After Another, The Hamilton Affair, and Gorillas In Our Midst), and people loved all of the bookmarks, Winston Sparkes buttons, Project Droid temporary tattoos, and other swag that we were giving out. It was so much find to have librarians and other attendees approach us to learn more about our company, excited that some of our books would fit perfectly with their collections. People were especially excited about our diversity titles, as well as, of course, our books for Minecrafters.
The most exciting part of ALA for me was meeting a lot of my authors, including Tara Sim (Timekeeper), Taryn Souders (Dead Possums Are Fair Game), Tamera Will Wissinger (There Was An Old Lady Who Gobbled A Skink), and mother/daughter duo Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser (the Project Droid series). Since ALA is geared mostly toward librarians, we decided that all of our signings would be children’s authors. . . Which was amazing for me since they were all mine! I had corresponded with all of them via email, but it was wonderful to finally put faces to names. Not only were all of their signings huge successes, we were joined by the authors for dinner at Todd English’s Blue Zoo at Disney/Epcot. The meal was great, but getting to know each other was even better.
Most importantly, ALA was a great opportunity to get to know my coworkers. In addition to making attendees aware of our books, we also bonded as well. . . And a few of us even went to Harry Potter World after!
We had a great show this year. We did targeted advertising leading up to ALA Annual and offered a daily schedule of key title giveaways and in-booth signings which kept foot traffic coming to our booth throughout.
Our author signings were scheduled on the two main days and featured a nice mix of out-of-towners & locals, seasoned & first time children’s book authors.
One of my favorite parts of the show was meeting and getting to know them (we had a fun “family dinner” at Disney on Saturday night) and hosting their signings. It was also exciting to see firsthand such energetic attention and support from all the fans/readers.
It was a particularly poignant show, being in Orlando just two weeks after the nightclub shooting. There was a feeling a healing and pride, lots of t-shirts, buttons, and rainbows in support of the community.
That’s why it was really meaningful that we had invited three Florida authors to come sign their Sky Pony books in our booth: Taryn Sounders signed her middle grade novel Dead Possums are Fair Game; Tamera Will Wissinger signed her picture book The Was an Old Lady Who Gobbled a Skink; and Kerry O’Malley Cerra, who unfortunately couldn’t attend, but we gave away her novel Just a Drop of Water.
Because there were a lot of local librarians in attendance, the was a lot of recognition and excitement and pride for these for these Florida authors and their great books.
What was your experience at ALA like? Tell us in the comments!