Will Travel For Words: I want to be a part of it… by Karen A. Chase
Book Expo America in the Big Apple is a big deal in publishing. The BEA event is every spring and gives book publishers and pushers (stores, retailers, agents) a way to come together and flip through the pages of all that is new and wonderful in books. I contemplated attending, but when I looked into the pricing I was stunned to find the cost for an author to attend is nearly double that of everyone else in publishing.
At first I was a bit miffed and thought, “Hey, without us authors there wouldn’t be everyone else in publishing.” Once my ego took a nap, I realized authors also need everyone else to help words find the right readers. Perhaps deterring a few authors from attending enables those at BEA to do their jobs without writers schlepping potentially unqualified manuscripts at every turn. So, I decided to just stay home.
Then a funny thing happened. I went to New York anyway. Not to BEA, but to award shows that kicked-off BEA. (Brace yourselves, I’m going to brag.) My first book received four independent publishing awards, and with them came two award galas. I was full of mirth that my little book about turning forty in Paris was picked as a winner out of nearly 5000 books from independent publishing houses, and university and museum presses. What the IPPY and Next Generation Indie Book Awards gave me were medals. However, what I received at their oh-so-lovely galas (besides free champagne) was inspiration.
Authors accepted awards and several shared their stories and their struggles. They told of taking months, years, and even decades to write their books. They lamented the times they were dropped–once, twice and even three times–by big publishers. Yet each author held a medal because a small press took a leap and published their book. Or, like me, they took the leap to publish it on their own. Recognition from the publishing industry–editors, agents, seasoned authors–was our reward. It was recognition from those who would mostly attend BEA. Those who could also help us get our stories into the hands of readers. Readers… where authors find the real reward. I could clearly see, we need each other in this publishing machine.
It reminded me of a quote from The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (also used in the movie Hugo based on the book). “I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”
My reason, is to be the author. To write. To write well. It took a little trip to New York, to stand humbly among the best independent publishers, to realize this is just the beginning of my story as an author. I have many stories to tell. My part is to find the words…now, where is my pen.
Karen A. Chase is a regular contributor to Shelf Pleasure, sharing journeys near and far in the pursuit of stories and novels in her monthly feature, Will Travel for Words. She is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, and is currently working on an historical novel set during the American Revolution. Follow her on twitter: @KarenAChase.
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