A Biggs Eye View

By Adrienne Biggs, BIGGS PUBLICITY & EVENTS – books a specialty


Steven Tyler rocks BEA

Steven Tyler rocks BEA

I’ve been fortunate to attend at least 10 BEAs over the years and I can say there was definitely a buzz this year that I hadn’t felt before. And I can summarize it in two words: SOCIAL MEDIA. Ok, even one word: TWITTER. At least three Twitter books were being promoted heavily on the show floor, including one coming from North Bay-based publisher, O’Reilly Media. There were several sessions including or focused exclusively on the subject, from Socialnomics to Social Media and the Independent Bookseller to How Social Media is Transforming the Way We Create, Publish and Sell Books. These sessions—and those featuring book bloggers who declared themselves “the new hand sellers”—drew standing room only audiences eager to discover how these new formats might, or might not, lead to more book coverage and sales. 

Tina Brown, Sir Harold Evans

Tina Brown, Sir Harold Evans

On Thursday, May 28, I attended was CEO Roundtable with Tina Brown, editor of DailyBeast.com. She spoke about the collapse of newspapers, too many books in this new “size-down” economy, magazine articles as the new books, finding a balance between the “dinosauristic publishing methods versus crash books that are still seen as stunt publishing”, and declared $9.99 a “paltry pitiful sum for e-books on Amazon.” Panelists, including publishers of HarperCollins and Perseus, discussed the “high perceived value of hardcover books,” how to “migrate value with new partners,” why “Google is not the danger point, it’s how it enables institutions toward piracy,” and how the new market is “not about selling, it’s about conversations and that’s where Twitter comes in.”

The next session that caught my interest (more as a reader than a book publicist) was BEA Editor’s Buzz. Esteemed editors from houses including Scribner, Grand Central, Dutton, and Norton brought their passion to life when describing how they acquired and plan to market their #1 fall titles, including Roses, Stitches, and Happy, and I felt lucky to grab galleys of all three.

Trust Agents On Friday, I attended a Social Media Session featuring the likeable authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith of the upcoming Wiley book, Trust Agents. Takeaway notes include: “trust moves around on the web, you can manipulate engagement” with examples citing the Twitter pages of authors Paul Coelho and Neil Gaiman. Author tips for Twitter users or bloggers included “be helpful, be humble, share, equip and empower.” Brogan quoted Bob Stein’s definition of a book as “a user-driven media where users and sometimes authors congregate” and endorsed the Flip video camera as the best and most affordable camera for adding YouTube footage to a blog. He closed with, “In this age of Jackson Pollack data, the social media phone is ringing. And we all better listen.”

Next up was Meet the Producers of Nighttime Talk Shows, featuring top staff from Colbert Report (“a guest’s job is to make his case”), Real Time With Bill Moyers (“ religion, poetry, healthcare are common themes”), Jon Stewart (“pitch the argument and no ‘prepared jokes’ please”), and Bill Maher (“publicists need to tell us truthfully about their clients”). The Colbert Report producer won over the audience, which was filled with publicists, when she described Colbert “like a drunk in a bar, filled with misinformation” and said her job is to set him straight. Jon Stewart’s producer shared her pet peeves: “Not knowing the show, overcalling, not pitching ‘the argument’, offering authors who just aren’t good on TV.” 

That evening, I attended the Lit-a-Gogo BEA party at Idlewild Bookstore, then the NCBPMA Tea, followed by a cab ride with some PW editors to the first-ever official BEA TweetUp along with over 400 other publishing colleagues at Greenhouse, where entertainment included a DJ plus “how to save publishing” mad-lib games offering full-body blanket “snuggies” as prizes and an open bar serving literary-themed cocktails such as “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mango-tini”. Souvenir BEA TweetUp laminates were a hot grab if you were lucky (I wasn’t).

Saturday morning, I missed the Book Reviews 2010 Session, but caught the popular Book Bloggers Panel where I got to finally meet online book publicist Lisa Roe and 6 top book bloggers in person (“you must build a relationship with us, you can’t just send us a book and do your standard follow up call”). After that, I found myself physically toggling between the social networking Session with multi-millionaire author and wine expert Gary Vaynerchuk (“you must add your Twitter account to your email signature, follow the top 50 in your industry and become part of their communities. Twitter is not a magic potion that you drink and shit happens!”) and the Twitter for Dummies Session, an interactive presentation that included yours truly (I Tweeted the author from the audience, my post appeared on the screen on stage, and he used it as an example of how to start a conversation and build networks on Twitter).

At 5 pm I met up with Yen Cheong, assistant director of PR for Viking and Penguin Books, who writes the wonderful Book Publicity Blog, then attended the McSweeney’s and Rumpus BEA party at High Line Ballroom, hosted by Stephen Elliot with comedy and spoken word including dozens of spontaneous recitations of Six Word Memoirs. There I bumped into Jossey-Bass publicist (and NCBPMA Newsletter editor) Cynthia Shannon. We shared a cozy VIP booth before we cabbed over to the PGW party at the Blender Theatre.

 Whirlwind? Yes! But this year I used Twitter (and texting) to keep me well connected and informed. Next year, let’s “follow” each other. I’m @adriennebiggs. And you?


3 thoughts on “A Biggs Eye View

  1. Pingback: Biggs Eye View — For Real This Time! « The Monday Muse

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