Friday Photos | Post- #BEA15 Edition

me and my amazing editor Chelsey at the HarperCollins BEA party.

me and my amazing editor Chelsey at the HarperCollins BEA party.

This week was huge. For the first time, I felt like an AUTHOR. 

I've never been too particular about calling myself a writer. You don't have to be published or work for money. If you say you're a writer, you're a writer. 

But this week, something happened. The book --  thus far, my somewhat private writing that I shared with a few key people (my agent, editor, close friends, my boyfriend) -- went public. Really public, at BEA. Now people have books in their possession. They will read them. They will think thoughts and I won't be there to say, oh I meant this and not that. The work now stands on its own. 

I've already written about my signing and how I was totally blown away by the turnout. This post is about everything else -- the pics on my phone, the events after Javits closed, the thoughts still on my mind.

First, events. I had been to BEA two years before (as a reader not an author), so I understand the floor. It's really not that different as an author as opposed to a reader. You see what books are coming down the pike. You wait on lines to get books or posters signed. You see celebrity authors (or, perhaps a celebrity cat as I did one year). I'm never going to be a book buyer so that whole wheeling-and-dealing side of BEA will never be part of my experience. 

But what was new... the parties! 

On Wednesday night, I went to an event with about 40 book bloggers. They got a head start with a presentation that looked like this... 

As one blogger said to me, "If HarperCollins treats its authors as well as it treats its bloggers, then you're in good hands." 

Then after two hours, the bloggers moved to another room where they mingled with... the Authors. At first, it had tinges of a meat market, like I was being paraded into a room for others to size me up. But that was before I met anyone (and because my mind tends towards skewing things in strange ways). Everyone was so nice! So many READERS. Many bloggers read one book/day. Others have been doing this for years, creating communities of thousands.

I got to talk about my book, my writing process... all that. But for me, the best part was connecting with these uber-readers, the evangelists, the ones who hyperventilate at the thought of meeting their favorite author. They make you love books even more. 

Here are some pics from early in the night, before the room got packed ...  

And then the next night... another party. While the blogger party was intimate and a little networky (not in a bad way!), the HarperCollins BEA party was celebratory and familiar. It was held at a gorgeous 2-floor space in Tribeca with a roof deck overlooking the Hudson River. 

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Who was in attendance? Any author who was involved with BEA, plus their editors, agents, publicists, and marketing teams. Both HarperCollins and Harlequin were there (the former owns the latter). I'd say there were 400-500 people there. 

And that night was a little strange because again I was put in that Author camp. Sure, one of many many authors (most with many more books under their belt), but still. People went out of their way to make sure I was entertained. I had a separate check-in area. People introduced me as "Jessica Tom, the author", which made me chuckle the first couple times I heard it. The event seemed to say: HarperCollins couldn't publish books without authors. Thank you. And that was cool, to be a seed that helps grow this massive industry. 

I got to meet the many people who make the book what it is: sales, marketing, pr and the editorial team. I got to meet Meg Cabot (who, rather charmingly, was still wearing her BEA badge though everyone else had long taken them off. ("I learned it from an old-time author. Make sure people know who you are!" Which is ironic because... she's Meg Cabot.) 

I also did this fun promo video for Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee's historic much-anticipated book. All authors were asked to answer one of three questions. I answered the prompt, "The Book That Changed My Life." I answered The Secret History by Donna Tartt. If you haven't read it, it's juicy yet literary, sexy and suspenseful. It made me want to be a writer. 

Because I'm a dweeb, I matched my dress to my cover art. This is a vintage Bill Blass...

Because I'm a dweeb, I matched my dress to my cover art. This is a vintage Bill Blass...

... with Amrita Singh earrings and Jil Sander shoes (not that you can see them).

... with Amrita Singh earrings and Jil Sander shoes (not that you can see them).

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All in all, this was the most eventful week of my writing career. Getting an agent, signing a contract... those were big and amazing, too. But they were all leading up to this moment: a physical book, a community of readers, the ability to say "I'm the author, Jessica Tom." 

I'm not quite used to that yet... but I hope to get there soon.

NB: These books are galleys for press, bloggers, etc and are in somewhat limited supply. Even my parents don't have one. If you want, you can pre-order yours here and get it at your door on October 27.

And, here's my BEA post about my first signing. Seventy people came! 



My first signing at BookExpo America #BEA15

This isn't the cutest photo of me at BEA. But it is the most representative (smiling as wide as my mouth allows). My very first book signing was by far the coolest thing I've done with Food Whore (not that sitting in front of laptop for years of my life is much competition). Here's how it went down and some quick thoughts (still processing the coolness of it all). 

First, what is BEA? It's a trade show for industry professionals: booksellers, librarians, editors, agents, sales/marketing teams, reading app entrepreneurs, literary tote bag designers... you get it.


It's pretty amazing to be in the company of thousands of other book lovers. How often do you see billboards and giant banners for books?  

BEA interior

I got there an hour and a half before my 3pm signing so I could walk the floor, visit the booths, and -- let's get real -- cool off because I was sweating like crazy from the walk from Penn Station to Javits Center. I should have taken more photos, but I did catch this: tea settings at the Chinese booths. One can only do business over tea! 





I also scoped out my autographing area. Here's the sign that announced my session. The excitement builds...








And this is what the lines looked like one hour before my signing session. The photo on the left is of the low-numbered tables (1-5). And the photo on the right is of the high-number tables (10-15). I was Table 14. 

So, I was expecting...15 or so people over 30 minutes. And I was totally fine with that! I had a camera tripod so I could take photos with people, a mailing list sign-up sheet, and of course the tats. I was going to take my time. There were a lot of big-name authors signing the same time as me, so I was happy to just enjoy the experience and meet a handful of readers.

Long lines for established authors.

Long lines for established authors.

What I was expecting. (Not being pessimistic... just looking at the facts!) 

What I was expecting. (Not being pessimistic... just looking at the facts!) 

Fifteen minutes before showtime, my publicist and I went to the green room to relax. I wasn't nervous and I didn't really think through what I was going to say or write. I thought I'd just wing it the few times it happened. 

Then we went through the "backstage" area, where everyone's galleys had been organized. 

I thought I'd take a moment to get settled in ... get out my water bottle, my Sharpies. Fan out the tats. 

But instead, WHEN I OPENED THE CURTAIN, I saw this...

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HUMANS! WAITING! For ME! Seventy people, to be exact. More people than could fit in the allotted 30 minutes, so we ended up moving over a table and going 15 minutes overtime. Thanks to my agent, Stefanie, who took these photos of me smiling like an idiot.

This woman researched my book and marked me in her day's schedule. 

This woman researched my book and marked me in her day's schedule. 

That auburn-haired woman to my right? That's Carol Alt! 

That auburn-haired woman to my right? That's Carol Alt! 

I signed galleys for booksellers, bloggers, agents. I signed for a library benefit auction and a hospital library. I signed for a woman who said, "don't make it out to me because my husband is a foodie and he will get jealous." 

People were drawn by the title. I met a woman who said this was the first thing she was going to read on the drive home (as long as you're not driving, I said). Twitter pals who I had never met IRL came.

One woman said the tats reminded her of the time her parents paid to remove her tattoo -- 10x more than what the tattoo cost (I hope that isn't real, she said). Other people told me that I should definitely make the tat official.

@yolandashoshana said my book was her top book haul acquisition...

This signing exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds and I'm SO grateful for all the people who stopped by. Can't wait to sign to do more events and maybe sign a book for you. ;) 

P.S. If you like, join my mailing list so you can get news about signings, appearances, etc.