Ask Me Anything: Agents at BEA

Book Expo America is an annual convention that a lot of publishing people attend and talk about. A few weeks ago it was probably all over my social media feeds. So I got a question about it. 
What is an agent's role at BEA? Is it to meet with other publishing professionals? Get an idea of what other books are on the market? Scout for potential clients? Support any agency authors who might be there? (And if so, how?) Fangirl/boy over the ARCs they want and get books signed like any other reader would? Thanks!
The answer is essentially all of the above. 

BEA is fun and exciting and a lot of work for agents. I love to see what publishers are advertising--it gives you a great sense of what they're excited about and what's working in the market.

There's also some great industry news put out in the PW Daily each day. You can read about different events and trends and what fans are lining up for, etc.

And yes, there's also some swagging and fangirling involved. This year, I fangirled Alexandra Bracken and was super excited to read Passenger. And you know, I like books. Free books are like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. 

And walking the floor and picking up ARCs is also a really great opportunity to do the market research. Knowing what books are coming out from the different publishers--and knowing what books are getting various marketing budgets is something important for agents. It helps me better serve my clients and also know what else to look for. 

For instance, my favorite things to go to at BEA are the Editor Buzz Panels. There's one for adult books, one for YA, and one for MG. The five editors of the books selected (by a BEA panel) usually talk about the book and what it was like to get it on submission and why they loved it and also why they're excited for all the great things coming up for the book. 

These are the books from the Editor's Buzz Panel. (Sorry not the best picture). After listening to all the editors I was most excited to read Home is Burning, but they all sound great. I can't wait to dive into them. 

To give you some context on what this means, some other titles that were part of the Editor's Buzz Panel in different years: The Night Circus, Brain on Fire, Five Days at Memorial.

There's also meetings. Jess and Kathleen take a lot of foreign publisher meetings. This year Jackie and Jaida took a number of audio publisher meetings. Then there's meetings with editors. I had a lot of Starbucks meetings and endured the long lines.

I also had meetings with a few library distributors and book merch people. I met with the lovely people at Litographs and got myself a TS Eliot tattoo.

Then there are client events. As an agent, I do a lot of going to client events and helping out, taking pictures, etc, and then often meet with the hardworking client. 

Then there are the BEA parties after the night. Many of the publishers have a BEA party and agents typically go to them with clients who are attending BEA or with other agents so that we can network up a storm. 

 Then we go home and then wake up the next day and do it all over again. So the only thing I'm not doing is scouting for new writers. That's still done best via the slush pile in my opinion. 

You may also like


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andreea said...

Mrs. Townsend, do you also happen to accept re-submission? Presuming the first time author was too naïve and inexperienced and wrecked the first query, yet then realised their mistake and polished up the next, hoping to submit it to you?

Unknown said...

Yes that's fine!