When Agents Attack… I mean, Party

silver-party-shoesIf you’re following the publishing industry (and I assume you are, if you read this blog), you’ve probably heard that Book Expo America, or BEA, is being held this week in New York City. From a purely business-savvy perspective, BEA is a great opportunity to editors, agents, booksellers, librarians, writers, and more to get together and get excited about some upcoming titles — mostly Fall 2011 books at this point. But more than that, and to the point of this post, BEA is a chance to party.

You may think this sounds frivolous, but trust me, it’s not. That editor an agent may bump into at a cocktail party, or share a cab to or from the Javitts Center with, may just be interested in exactly the project the agent’s getting ready to pitch. Without the opportunity for casual conversation, Agent P might otherwise never have known that Editor Q loves horsey books, and used to jump competitively. How perfect for Author W’s next novel, set in the show jumping world!

It’s not just about making connections for specific projects, though. In a perfect world, I’d want to place one of my clients’ manuscripts with every one of my favorite editors, but in truth, that list of “favorite editors” keeps growing, and there’s got to be a limit sometime on the number of clients I take on. But in the casual setting of a BEA party, or serendipitous run-in between the booths, I might find out something about an editor I never knew before, and six months later, or two years, remember that fact and submit the perfect project.

It’s all about connections, and we make them not just at conferences, but at parties, in bars and restaurants, and all over the place — I’ve run into editors on the streets of NYC!

So does it suck that I’m not there this week? Yeah, a little. But I have my spies on the ground, and I’ll make up for it with some marathon chat sessions by phone next week. On the plus side, our feet won’t hurt from all the walking around, and we won’t be carrying several tons of free books we’ve snagged!

Have you ever been to BEA? Got any specific questions about it I can answer? Fire away in the comments!

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