I am back from BEA and completely exhausted. It has been awhile since I last visted Chi-town, and it is as beautiful as ever. The magnificent architecture has only gotten better with the addition of many new skyscrapers. I could see all of them from my apartment (see pic with wine) that I rented via Airbnb. Across the street from McCormick Convention Center, on the 28th floor, and on a corner, I really enjoyed the view.
Back to why I was there. Books! My book! This was the first time I got to greet her, my first fiction novel. Even though I have published before, there is nothing better than holding your multiple years of hard work as a finished product. But the moment is fleeting because my job was not to ogle my book. Or collect ARCs (advanced review copies) from others. I am there to sell, sell!
Prior to arriving, I was definitely nervous. I had prepared well, memorizing a few versions of my logline (one minute/elevator pitch) to give to people. I printed out a few hundred microfiber cloths with the image of my book with link to pre-order. However, while I can talk your ear off if you are not careful, I am not great at meeting strangers. Oh, and there was the whole sprained ankle issue I was dealing with too (previous post). Fortunately, my ankle had progressed well, and I did not bring my crutches to Chicago.
One of my co-author colleagues at Waldorf Publishing, Nic Schuck, gave me the idea of taking the give-away totes, and fill them with our book as well as the standard book list. Then ask for their card while you are selling them on your book. In the beginning, a tote is like gold; it can hold a lot of free books. Since people wanted one, it was a nice ice breaker to go into my shpiel. I could see what worked and what did not, and I could hone the speech.
I found my stride at BEA. When the totes were not in as much demand, I started giving out my cloths. Having experience at BEA about 5 years ago, I saw the kinds of giveaways that were popular and unpopular. I noticed that in the beginning, you want free books. But eventually, you have to carry them around, and you simply stop. I thought of something small and light, that could advertise my book Schizo, that people would actually want. I did research and found that the cloths were reasonably priced. And frankly, I use them myself.
It worked. I could snag someone who was not at all interested in our booth, offer them a cloth, and have them stop while I quickly gave my shpiel. More importantly, I met a lot of people and felt like I truly connected. I even had a fan who found out about my book the previous day and waited for me to arrive so she could meet me and get an autograph! My first fan (other than my husband who technically gets that honor). I hope the bloggers and book sellers and librarians liked what they saw, so my launch in September is successful.
After the convention, my husband met me in Chicago and the vacation part of our trip began. He bought my favorite wine and we enjoyed the bottle while staring out at the amazing view (see gallery photo). Our dinner reservations at the Little Goat Diner fell through due to flooding, and was rescheduled to Sunday. No problem! Lord knows there are a ton of great restaurants to choose from. After dinner we tried to find a donut shop, but nothing in that area seemed to be open past 9pm, so with the cold rain beating down on us, we gave up and enjoyed the city view from our rented apartment.
That was when we had a great husband-wife moment: I asked, "Did you bring a printed copy of our cubs tickets for tomorrow?"
He said, "I did not because I did not buy the tickets. I thought you did," I responded.
"No, we talked about it. You definitely bought them. I know I did not. We talked about where they were located. You got them."
Hmmm. We searched and searched and there was nothing purchased. But tickets were still available. We looked at the frigid weather planned for the next day, and decided it was best to do something inside. Best mistake ever! We opted for the Art Museum. It has a new modern art wing that was built after my time there in med school was over. I loooove modern art. And I hate the cold. So our mistake was a win-win.
To be continued for Part II with an architectural tour