That was the week that was. My trip to Chicago for BookExpo/BookCon – 2016 was memorable, to say the least. The show was actually two events. BookExpo is a huge publishing trade-show spanning three days. BookCon followed on Saturday and was open to the general public. The big printing technology and services booths were absent from the Saturday event but there was still plenty to see.
I’m not going to blether on about the trade-show itself other than to mention:
- I spent so much time gawping at the booths and general spectacle, that I did not have a chance to attend any of the break-out sessions for authors.
- The 2016 version of BookExpo was smaller than the ones held in NYC.
- I met one of the ladies who worked on my publicity campaign
Instead, I’ll tell you about my book signing on Saturday. That day was not chosen because the show was open to the public. Instead, it was chosen because it was the only remaining day with any empty slots for authors to sign their books at the IBPA booth. It had taken a bit of doing, but I had finally been able to snag the 5:30 to 6:00 PM slot.
I boarded the train for downtown with a certain amount of trepidation. I had the very last IBPA author slot on the very last day of the whole event. Not very promising, to say the least. I’ve been to enough Scottish Highland Games to know that though the closing ceremonies are at 5:00 PM, the Clan tents start packing up at 4:00 PM. Nonetheless, I planned to soldier on in the hope of getting at least two or three copies of Urban Mermaid into the hands of the reading public.
It was pure serendipity. As I was changing trains en route to the venue, there was a blind man standing on the platform, playing the guitar and singing the most beautiful rendition of Can’t Help Falling In Love”. This song is the musical theme for Urban Mermaid. Needless to say, I was all verklempt but still managed to drop a generous donation in the hat.
I checked in at the IBPA booth and learned they’d been looking for me. It seems they recognised the 5:30 – 6:00 author slot was pretty much a non-starter as far as foot traffic was concerned and wanted to move me up to 3:00. Realising I might be able to sign more than one or two books, I happily agreed.
Deciding to take a post-lunch stroll to see things I missed on previous days, I left my books and gear at the booth. I returned at 2:25 to discover that they’d already set things up and were ready for me to get started.
This was going to be a limited signing as the micro press, Gazebo Gardens, doesn’t have the wherewithal to send pallet-loads of books to the shows, like Penguin & the bigger houses do. I had as many copies stuffed in my suitcase as possible and that was it. With any luck, I just might be able to give them all away.
It didn’t take long. I was soon mobbed by females and I was signing books as fast as I could, all the while trying to be personable and keep up a pleasant repartee. Things eventually slowed down and it took a while to hand out the last two books. I was finally able to send them off to new homes and even wound up signing the display copy for someone.
Once all that was done, I packed up my gear and continued my wanderings around the show. I met some interesting personalities and scored freebie books & tote bags. At the end of it all, my suitcase weighed one pound more than it did when I arrived in Chicago.
 Actually, this was the name of a satiric television programme which aired on the BBC in 1962 & 1963. An American version of the show ran from 1964 through 1965. It is perhaps best described as a forerunner of Saturday Night Live. See the Wikipaedia article for more detail.
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