BEA - Day 1

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Yesterday was the first official day of Book Expo America. Which if you haven't heard about it, it's awesome. Like Christmas with books and publishing and people who love books and publishing. There are parties and freebies and awesome talks.

Though today was the first official day, it's more like Day 0.5 since the exhibition floor isn't open yet. (That's where you get the displays and the free books and the swag!) But there are a lot of other great things happening in the conference rooms. Including...

The Editors Buzz Panel

This is the original buzz panel and features a handful of editors of books coming out in the upcoming fall season. These books (along with others--adult fiction and nonfiction) are submitted by the publisher to a committee who reads and chooses the six most "buzz-worthy."

As an agent, I love this panel because it's great to hear about what's coming up that people are excited about and it's great to hear from the actual editors. These are the people who actually acquired the books and they usually talk about what it was that made them so passionate about this title. I love hearing that.

Deanne Urmy, a senior executive editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt spoke first about Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Field by Wendy Lower, which will be released October 8th, 2013. This nonfiction account follows the lives of women went east--often with their husbands--and found themselves surrounded by the atrocities of the Holocaust. They were either witnessing or taking part in this violence in their every day life.

Deanne specifically mentioned that one of the things she found most intriguing was that unlike previous discussions about women who were officers or guards, these are just every day women who became a part of this history because of a rush of unique circumstances during that time period.

Also, worth noting, the author, who speaks fluent German, went to Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union and found documentation that interested her in the role of these German women. So she researched, tracked them down, and interviewed them. (This is what interests me about this most. It's not just speculation, it's hardcore research).

Liese Mayer spoke next. She's an associate editor at Overlook Press, and she acquired The Facades by Eric Lundgren which will be released September 12th, 2013. When she first became an editor, she was at a dinner party, sitting next to a writer (haven't we all been there?). The conversation turned to books and she talked about the kind of novel she really wanted to acquire--something unique with a strong voice--and the writer started telling her about a friend who he met at his MFA program, Eric Lundgren.

Several years earlier, Eric's agent had shopped a manuscript, a number of editors had come close to buying it but for whatever reason couldn't put an offer together. Now he had shelved the novel and was working as a librarian. Liese was interested in the novel.

She got her hands on it, she read it, and within just the first few pages she realized that she knew she had to acquire it and work on this novel. It had the great voice, superb writing, a unique story that came together in the right way. The plot had a mystery but at it's core was about self-deception and self-discovery. She shared it with her team, they loved it too, and she put together an offer. (Dream story, right?)

Now here's what tells me I have to read this book: A few months after the acquisition, Overlook hired a new editor and one of the first things he talked about was that four years ago, there had been a novel he wanted to buy but couldn't. He wanted to track the author down and see if he could acquire. He didn't need to because it was The Facades by Eric Lundgren. (Four years as an editor and he couldn't stop thinking about it!)

Next up was Anna deVries, a senior editor at Macmillan, who was talking about another novel. This one, The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd will be released August 27th, 2013. First, I just want to say that I love this cover. I can just imagine how striking it will be on a finished hardcover. This novel appeals to the New Yorker in me. It takes place here, in Brooklyn specifically.

The protagonist is a young widow who hasn't been able to move on from her husband's death. She owns a small apartment building and she chooses the tenants that she thinks will be quiet and respect her privacy. But when one new tenant moves into the apartment above her--and takes a new boyfriend, her carefully constructed walls and boundaries start to crumble. The protagonist becomes immersed in her tenants lives--the good, the dark, and even the sexy.

Anna even read us a short excerpt, that I wish I could link to because the voice and the writing sound fabulous. But alas, you'll just have to wait!

Venessa Mobley went next. An executive editor at Crown, she discussed with Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital which will be released September 10th, 2013. This work of non-fiction takes place during Hurricane Katrina and is an investigation into the patient deaths at Memorial Hospital.

Part one deals with the decision that a group of doctors and nurses made to first select a group of elderly patients who would be evacuated last and then to give them a fatal injection.

Part two is an in-depth look at how that decision happened--and why. It's the culmination of six years of investigative reporting, and according to Venessa, part two will turn everything from part one on its head.


Whitney Frick,  an editor at Simon & Schuster then told us about Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death. Katy Butler's memoir comes out September 2013. It deals with her aging parents as well as our society's obsession with not dying. Advised to do so by his doctor, her father had a pace-maker put in. did, but it destroyed his quality of life in the process.
And that one surgery that was supposed to keep him alive

What I really liked when listening to Whitney speak about this book, was the way she brought in her own family. She first read an article by Katy Butler on this topic and was beyond excited when the proposal for the memoir came in. When the first draft came in (long after they'd acquired it), her grandmother had taken a fall. In the hospital for just a few stitches, she caught an infection, and suddenly it seemed like everything was going down hill. Reading Katy's memoir helped her family have a pragmatic conversation about death which saved her grandmother a lot of angst, frustration, and pain.

She also shared some staggering statistics comparing what the majority of older people want (to die at home) and how many of them end up hooked up to machines and in hospitals.

Last up was Lee Boudreaux, an editorial director, HarperCollins. She announced that she hadn't realized she would have the comic book on the list which gave everyone a laugh, and then she launched into All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior which will be out February 25th, 2014.

Like the editor before her, Lee read an article Jennifer wrote about parenting (I've pasted that in since I can't find the book cover on line). It interested her because Lee was the new parent of a two year old, but also because she felt it was relatable to the average parent, rather than the upper class parent trying to get their kid into one of three colleges.

Even more so, and this became apparent as she spoke about the book, Lee loved that while this was a book about how parenting could be the most draining and exhausting and not fun role of our lives, there was still joy to be found in it, and in fact it could also be the best thing of our lives. She was quick to say that this isn't a "parenting" book. It doesn't tell people how to achieve a certain effect, like get your child to use the toilet. It's a novel about "parenthood"--the ups and the downs, the different stages, the things that will make you laugh and cry.

The author pulled together all kinds of research, everything from academic and scientific sources to Louis CK. She found and compiled everything (over the course of several years by the way) and then she spun it into a book that's funny and hopeful.

After the editors spoke about their books, we headed out to the lobby where there were copies of the all the books for the taking. Some people pushed and shoved, while others waited patiently to get their hands on them. I made it home with a copy of each and I'm excited to read each of them.

All in all, it was a good start.


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1 comment:

Sam Mills said...

"Some people pushed and shoved... I made it home with a copy of each." I can read between the lines. ;)