After getting over the post-holiday blues, I’m finally able to get off my ass to write about how my New York Trip went.
Many of you know that the Eye of Verishten won an IPPY award in April, and I flew to NYC to accept it May 29. That also happened to be the week of Book Expo so I thought, while I’m in the neighbourhood, why not check out the largest book expo in North America?
Here are the highlights of the trip:
1. Touristy days
Tyson and I flew out of Calgary on Sunday and spotted Pauly Shore on the way out. So, that was random. We arrived at JFK and found, who we thought was a taxi driver looking for passengers at the airport. He led us to some old van and Tyson and I gave each other a, ‘oh crap, what have we gotten ourselves into?’ look. He assured us he was with Uber so we were like “Okay, should be legit… except neither of us uses the Uber app, so how the F are we supposed to verify that?" Anyway, he brought us to the hotel safely and we had a real nice chat. No harm done, except he may have overcharged us, hard to say, but note to self, just be more careful next time. We stayed at the Belvedere, which is in Hell’s Kitchen area, a few blocks from Time Square.
Monday was our free day to go out on the town. One of the first places we went to was the huge Macy’s outlet store and bought ourselves some real comfy ass walking shoes, which was the best decision either of us made in our entire lives. They’re like walking on a pile of dreams. We visited Time Square then Central Park. I didn’t get a chance to see Central Park the first time I was in New York, and I never realized how humongous it actually was. We walked about half way through it, before it started getting dark.
In that time, we managed to take a selfie at the Friends’ fountain, saw a roller skate dance off, bought a CD off a street performer because why not? And witnessed three super-happy dudebros doing yoga poses in a field, then giving each other repeated high-fives for a job well done, and attempted several, I kid you not, three-way foot high-fives. Guess you had to be there. We topped the night off with the best Italian food we’d ever tasted in our lives. It was so good we went back for dinner on our last night rather than try to decide among the 5000 restaurants we could have taken a chance with.
On Tuesday, we had a half day to spend at the Museum of Natural History. Yeah… half day is NOT enough time to get through this massive labyrinth. Even going at a rushed pace through the exhibits, we probably covered only a quarter of them. If you want to check out this museum, either plan to just visit one major area or take the entire day or more.
On Wednesday, we took in our first Broadway show. Since both of us are big Trey Parker and Matt Stone fans, it seemed a no-brainer to see ‘The Book of Mormon’ and it was every bit as hilarious, enjoyable, and offensive as you’d expect a Broadway musical from the creators of South Park to be.
2. Award Ceremony
Tuesday night was the entire reason for coming to NYC: The award ceremony at the Copacabana Night Club. It was a surreal experience to say the least. The finger food was excellent, but I was too nervous to eat a whole lot of it, of course. The eBook categories were at the end too so I had to hold onto that nervousness for quite a while.
It went by super-fast, however, given that many of the medalists didn’t show up.
Three great things about the night:
- The medals were actually good quality metal with some real heft to them.
- The photographs made us look like we were at a red-carpet event even though it was just on the stage when we accepted our awards. The photographer even let us take as many additional photos as we needed after the ceremony and made them available to download on their Flickr page.
- When I went up to get my medal, the announcer said, “Great cover!” which definitely made Tyson’s night.
Three slight disappointments of the night:
- I imagined the award ceremony being similar to other ones I attended, which involved several tables in a large space with assigned or unassigned seating. People could eat, talk about their books, and walk up to get their awards from wherever they sat. Instead it was row seating and a few standing tables at the back for eating. This made it difficult to start conversations with people before and after the ceremony. There simply wasn’t enough standing room in the back and the tight space made voices carry too much. For introverts like Tyson and I, it was all the more difficult to meet anyone, and it didn’t help that everyone seemed as stand offish as we were.
- Many people took off after they received their awards. By the time my category came around at the very end, there was hardly anyone left. Those that didn’t leave, conglomerated at the back near the bar and were so loud it was hard to hear the later winners getting announced. When it came time for me to accept my own, I had to push my way through people standing in the way to get to the path leading to the stage.
- There was a slight air of disorganization with the whole presentation as some people didn’t come up when called (either they didn't hear or didn't show up) and there were a few missed winners or names mixed up. My name was called for one of the romance writers before me and we just stood there going…
All mishaps were quickly rectified, however, and everyone got their awards and proper credits given.
All in all, it was an unforgettable night, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to accept the award and enjoy some recognition for all the hard work put into this book. I already entered Immortal Serpent into the same categories and it didn’t win, but I will be sure to enter with a future title.
3. Book Expo
The last three days of our trip were spent at the Book Expo at the Javits Centre (oops… Center… this is America). I went in knowing that this expo would cater mostly to publishers and book sellers, but what I didn’t expect was that it would cater only to the big publishers and book sellers and virtually nothing for authors, self-pubs, or indies. Not sure why I’m surprised come to think of it. This is New York, after all, where mostly all the big publishing houses are based. Why would they give any attention to us little guys? Because of that, there were not many panels for small time indies like me.
The ones I did attend had some interesting information like:
- How publishers are looking at Wattpad stories to find young audiences and sign potential young authors. It’s a platform where people upload fan fiction or stories in an episodic format. It could be something to look into as more and more adults may come to use it, particularly in the romance genres.
- Using BookBub to aid in an author’s online visibility, which I need desperate help with. Seemed to be another Goodreads type thing, but the majority of users are middle aged to retired women.
- I learned that male readership is growing fastest with audio books, which means to reach those readers, I need to look into making those cheaply.
Besides education panels, the celebrity panels included Rick Riordan, author of Percy Jackson, talking about his new imprint that features authors writing about mythologies outside the Western ones; Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec and Megan Mullally from Will and Grace, promoting their book about conversations they have as a couple, which sounded hilarious; and Sean Spicer, former White House Press Secretary of all people, promoting his own book coming out soon.
Tyson and I almost saw a lady get taken down by security because she aimlessly wandered in front of the audience and toward the stage, but alas, she walked away before anything went down… darn.
Speaking of aimless wandering, we checked out the show floor where all the different publishing houses displayed their new titles. The first place we went was the New Title Showcase where I had paid a discounted price to have my award-winning book displayed. Since it was eBook only, I went to the computer kiosk to search for it. To my disappointment, it wasn’t anywhere to be found. At this point, I started getting angry. I paid good money and spent so much time going back and forth with different people to make sure they had everything they needed, and it still got screwed up. I had a ‘storming off’ moment where Tyson had to drag me back. We looked again and thankfully, it was there… only under the regular book section. If I had known they’d end up putting it there, I’d have mailed a hard copy to put on the shelves as well, but they assured me I didn’t need to because it was an eBook only. I should have gone with my gut and just sent the hard copy anyway. Not to worry, at least it was somewhere, but I can’t imagine too many people found it in the kiosk without a hard copy on the shelf.
After that little snafu, Tyson and I started to wonder if this expo was worth the money. Then, Tyson found a graphic novel for the Dark Crystal. The lady at the booth said, “Take it if you want it,” We’re like, “Seriously?” She’s like “Yeah, that’s what this expo is for.” This changed everything. The books we saw weren’t just sitting there to collect dust, they were free. From then on, we spent the rest of the expo looking for author signing tables and display piles and getting free copies of any book that looked interesting.
I was surprised that Tor Fantasy was not there other than Tor Teen in one tiny booth. It quickly dawned on us that there really wasn’t much fantasy or sci-fi being featured at this expo at all that wasn’t teen/young adult/children’s fiction. The only adult fantasy book I managed to snatch was a paranormal fantasy, which is better than nothing, I suppose.
The weekend would then transform the Book Expo into Book Con which is geared more toward readers and all the free books are replaced with books for sale. That’s when even more famous authors come out for signings, but we had to fly out so couldn’t stay for that component.
All in all, it was worthwhile getting to experience what the traditional publishing world is doing, which hardly resembles what I’m doing now, that’s for sure. Although, I was not too shocked by the lack of attention given to indies, I was surprised by the lack of adult fantasy. It made me wonder if traditional publishing is phasing out adult fantasy altogether or if this particular event didn't want to focus on it. One guess is that fantasy tends to have large word counts that take years to write and are expensive to edit and print. Given lost readership to other forms of media over the years, it makes more sense for big publishers to only produce cheaper content with mass market appeal while indies continue to fill the niche markets. So, I’m going to keep on keeping on, but when I am ready to give traditional publishing a try, I have a slightly better understanding on what to deliver and what to expect.