My annual trip to BookExpo America is a mixture of stress, excitement, sleeplessness, and discovery. In other words, it is pretty much the best week of my year.
My chief purpose for attending BEA is to party. Well, to help host a party- the Independent Publisher Book Awards ceremony. The Awards, affectionately referred to as the IPPYs, are a major focus of my “day job” as Book Awards Coordinator. It is also responsible for my long silences when it comes to writing here.
This year’s celebration was the cap to the Awards’ Sweet Sixteen. It now consists of seventy-two National Categories, eleven Regional Categories (divided between fiction and non-fiction), and five ebook awards. Twelve books were selected from all entries as Outstanding Books of the Year. We received over 5,000 entries. While we do have specialized judges, we cannot send them up to 200 books in their categories. That equates to a lot of reading for myself and my coworkers.
The party is a lot of hard work. It is also a joyous night, watching all the hard working authors and publishers celebrate their victories. How many people experience such a rewarding return on their work? It is difficult to pick the winners from so many worthy entries, but it is wonderful to meet some of the winners in person and share in their achievement. As well as meeting some fantastic authors and publishers, this year we even had some celebrity guests like Susan Lucci (her daughter won an award), classic rocker Mitch Ryder, and Senator Al Simpson… and Caitlyn and Trey, our spokespeople, who everyone will know one day, I am sure of it.
As well as my work party, throughout the week I attended parties put on by various publishers and the Audie Awards gala (read more about the Audie Awards here ). All this, and I could be found roaming the floor of Jacob Javits Center Monday-Wednesday for BEA. I was able to meet people representing all aspects of the industry from publishers to audiobook producers, librarians to bloggers (some wore both hats), authors to narrators.
As the dust settles on BEA 2012 and the inevitable gripes and critiques begin to flow, including from myself, I also sit back and reflect. I remember as a child imaging what it would be like to make a living surrounded by books. My life didn’t follow a straight path to get me here, but in the wake of BEA, I can smile and think, “Way to go.”