I think BookExpo America is a lot of fun. It's targeted to book sellers, but authors can go there to pitch books and do some networking. I brought a book proposal and got 15 names of acquisition editors interested in my book subject, which I then was able to share with a my eventual agent and get my non-fiction published.)If you go bring an extra suitcase. You can get a LOT of free books.
NO NO NO
Do NOT go to BEA to pitch your book, I beg of you.
Sure, go to network (cause with 16,000 people there you're sure to meet just the right person) and go for free books (cause you're a buzzmaker and when you say "oh I loved this book" to your friends they go buy it) but do not go with the idea you'll pitch your book.
The people who staff the booths at BEA are NOT EDITORS. They are the sales and marketing folks, maybe some pr folks, and an author or two (thousand) signing books and meeting BOOKSELLERS.
The people with booths at BEA (cost for a booth is running 8 grand I think right now) want to meet booksellers. They want to write orders for books, and generate buzz for their current list.
And just to make sure we all know who's who, your badges are color coded.
People in booths at BEA barely want to meet agents let alone writers.
There are panel presentations that can give you some good ideas about how the industry works and what people think is the next big thing but unless you plan on pitching your project to an editor in a room full of people after s/he's made a presentation...the very thought makes me faint.
I remember last year at BEA I was waiting at a publisher's booth to meet with the acquisitions editor (the publisher isn't based in NYC so they'd asked to set up this meeting). I was standing around yapping with the sales manager when a fellow with an author badge walked up.
Of course he interrupted us thinking I was "just staff". Of course he proceeded to talk about his book, going so far as to pull out a three ring binder with the manuscript. The sales manager, to his eternal credit, did not cut this guy to shreds. He very kindly said no, this was not a topic they published at all. The author was very insistent that "Paul Smith" over at Smith Publishing told him this publisher was just the right place for his book. I think he said that twice. The sales manager (who ain't a highly paid successful guy for nuttin') reached over to the binder and said he'd be glad to pass the material along.
No! said the author, he'd only brought the one copy.
The only thing that saved this guy's life was that the acquisitions editor walked over and said she was free now and we went off to discuss my books on her list.
Now, I KNOW you'd never do this, and certainly the person who sent the email above didn't say to do this so everyone just ramp down.
The fact is this DOES happen all the time, and because it does, it poisons the well for everyone.
I pretty much blame good ol' Jack Canfield (whom I adore and have had many happy hours of conversation with in years past) for authors going to BEA. How he placed Chicken Soup for the Soul at BEA has taken on the patina of legend now. Trouble is Jack and Mark Victor Hansen went to BEA 20 years ago. It was a LOT different then, and they also struck out 160 times before hooking up with HCI.
Please please don't go to BEA with anything on your mind but learning. Leave your manuscript at home. And if you see Miss Snark in conversation with anyone, interrupt at your peril.