On the morning I left for BEA, I found that Sean Keener had picked a “discussion” with me on the BootBlog regarding my past posts about Namebuilding.
I'm glad he opened it up to public opinion, and I'd like to do the same here.
Personally I keep my stance on the subject. Building your name in the community through connections and relationships — in addition to bylines — is an immense help in advancing your career.
I had the pleasure of working with Jim Benning of World Hum, Ken Vollmer of The Wanderlust Survival Guide,Christine Michaud who came all the way from Canada, Deborah Garner, and Bradley Charbonneau. All of them are working on books in one way or another and to see all that they got out of their BEA experience should be testimonial and encouragement to any doubters.
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If they feel like sharing their BEA stories here, they can, it's not my place to tell it for them.
Though most of my energy went into Sand promo and helping the authors I just mentioned, I did take my own advice and used BEA to further my connections for future work.
Last year I had talked to an agent who said that the book I’m working on was perfect for Andrews McMeel Publishing. But when I went to their booth last year and saw all the sales reps in meetings at tables, I just looked at the titles and left.
This year, I asked for the sample book copy I wanted and shamelessly chatted up their rep. I even offered to be his rodie when I heard he covered Australia and New Zealand. Then all joking aside, we talked business and I asked for what I wanted. The name of the editorial person on staff who handles submissions and could talk to me about which agents they like to work with. Bingo. In addition to him telling me the story behind one of his best sellers and the makings of a millionaire author, I got the name and contact info I wanted. All for the price of asking.
It does work people. Getting out there. Talking up who you are and what you’re working on.
And the more prepared you are, the better your chances.
I will make one ammendment. Know your limits and don’t feel pressured to go too far outside of them. Sure we all need to challenge ourselves and take that extra step, but as I watched the BEA rookies do their thing, I saw them quit when they knew they needed to quit. And that’s important. On the second day Christine was already commenting on an experience that was worth the whole price of the trip, Bradley had already accomplished more than he had set out to. And Jim had got what he wanted and needed from only one day at the convention.
Anyway, kudos to all of you who made the effort to come and advanced your connections. Hopefully you have returned home with new inspiration on your projects. I know I have.