I have my hotel and plane tickets arranged for Book Expo America next month in Chicago. It’s been on my to-do list to walk the floor and meet people and get that wider sense of the industry, but until now, going hasn’t made sense.
And it didn’t make sense until a few days ago. My friend Elissa reached out about her upcoming wedding, in Chicago, which coincidentally is the weekend after BEA. I connected the dots, figured out a hotel with a BEA shuttle that’s six minutes walking distance from the wedding hotel, and decided to go.
There are a lot of expensive and time-consuming things in my publishing life right now. All I do is work, and to work–to make books–I have to spend a lot of money and hours, usually two or more years before pub date. Printing advance copies and shipping them are among my highest costs. Computer tasks–such as editing, reading submissions, answering emails from hopeful writers, factoring royalties, and compiling news about all our titles weekly for our distributor–are among the most time consuming. None of these gives anything back to me in joy. Ultimately selecting and then launching a book is one of the most exciting, empowering things I personally can do for another person, given my native skill set and what I’ve learned in the last four years. But to do that, I go through a lot of drudgery and take a lot of risks and make a lot of small decisions.
Just this week we’ve been finalizing the cover for The Hour of Daydreams, Renee Macalino Rutledge’s debut novel, due out in spring 2017, and we had a huge multi-voice conversation about how the front-cover endorsement should (or should not) be aligned. We have a decision now–and will be ready to share the image sometime soon!–and I’m glad we had the chance to perfect this cover together. And yet… it’s a lot of tiny detail work. More computer hours. Less time with my kiddos, or out walking around in the world.
I’m not sure what I’ll learn at BEA, or who I’ll meet, but I’ll be out from behind the computer, wandering around in the world as a publisher, and it’s those moments that make the laborious spreadsheets and difficult decisions and detail work worthwhile.
See you there?