Posts in Publishing
The One Never Fade-ing

Hello! I haven't had the chance to drop by here in a while--life and revisions have been keeping me VERY busy.  I'm happy I get to sneak in a little time here to tell you about a couple of exciting things.

First, in case you missed it: Sequel officially has title, a release date, AND a summary! (SPOILERS for anyone who has yet to read The Darkest Minds!)

NEVER FADE comes out on November 5, 2013

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

I'm so excited and nervous(!!) for you guys to read this book. It has a different darkness to it than The Darkest Minds does--you could say, I suppose, that while the first book was very much focused on Ruby dealing with conflict in the world around her, this one has her dealing with conflict inside herself. I've seen a number of reviewers ask why, if she has such a bad ass ability, she bemoans it and doesn't use it. Well... you'll see! I'm excited, too, that you guys will get to learn a little more about how the skiptracer network works and what the Children's League actually looks like from the inside.

It's already available for pre-order on Amazon and you can add it here on GoodReads.  Cover soon!  It is QUITE cool, if I do say so myself!

My other happy-making news is that I'm not a contributor over on Pub(lishing) Crawl, a blog I love full of people I adore!  I'm so, so, so excited to be part of this group!  I'm going to be running a monthly "Ask Alex" feature about working in the publishing industry. My first real post goes up on Monday and is centered on internships.  Check it out if you get a chance.

Other than that, February and January were nice and quiet for me. I'm hoping to get back on a better blogging schedule, but my writing deadlines this year are going to be killer.  In the meantime, I'm signing off this quick post with a jam.  Happy weekend!

 

The One About Working in Publishing

Okay, so. Did you know that you can ask me questions on my Tumblr? (Now you do!)  It's another direct way of getting your question answered if you don't want to wait for me to get to my GoodReads messages every six months or don't want to feel constrained by the 140 character limit on Twitter.

One question I keep getting over and over again is (seriously, there are currently 20 different versions of it sitting in my inbox on Tumblr): What advice do you have for someone who wants to work in publishing?/How do you get a job in publishing?  I've answered this same exact question another 20 times, but Tumblr doesn't let you tag Ask replies, so you can't search for them.  I'm going to go ahead and answer over here to keep it in a permanent place.

So you want to work in publishing, eh?  Brave soul!  I'm going to go ahead and start with some very basic advice, aimed at both high school and college students--but mostly the latter.

GENERAL ADVICE

1. Educate yourself as much as you can about the publishing industry.  By this I mean, sign up for Publishers Weekly newsletters that reflect your general interest.  For instance, if you want to work in children's books, I recommend PW's Children's Bookshelf, which is now a twice-a-week newsletter that send out with industry news, the most recent deals, articles about marketing campaigns, etc.  If you see articles about the industry in newspapers or magazines, READ them. Know that there are other departments aside from Editorial (more on this later).

2. Read as widely as you can in the field you'd like to enter.  Know which books are being buzzed about or hit the NYT Bestsellers list.  Read quiet books, bestselling books, books for different age ranges (picture books, MG, YA).

3.  Try to volunteer, work, or intern in a creative field.

4. Create a compelling resume and cover letter.  I highly recommend the book Can I Wear my Nose Ring to the Interview? for everyone starting in on the job search. The resume tips are especially great.

5. Be willing to be flexible in getting your foot in the door.  The Children's side of the industry is smaller than the Adult side--if you can get a job working for an Adult imprint, you'll still be gaining valuable experience you can later use to transfer either within the company or to another company. I've had a number of friends switch between departments (Sales to Editorial and vice versa.  I went from Editorial to School & Library Marketing. The list goes on and on.), but it isn't impossible to switch between divisions.  Always take a paying job over waiting for a job that doesn't exist or may never open up.  Base your acceptance of a job over the chemistry you have with your future supervisor and corporate culture.

6. Know that this can be a really tough industry to break into, and you will not be living a dazzling NYC lifestyle--AKA make sure your expectations are realistic.  There aren't many houses and there aren't many jobs available.  Someone I respect once told me that you should only choose to work in publishing if there is absolutely nothing else you can do with yourself.  This is an industry where assistant salaries start as low as $28,000 (the highest is $35,250, I believe).  You might be saying to yourself, well!  I can live on $30,000 a year!  And yes, you can.  But trust me when I say that New York City is EXPENSIVE.  It is CRAZY EXPENSIVE.  Rent costs keep going up, outpacing cost-of-living raises.  You should expect to pay between $800-$1200 for small apartments with tiny bedrooms and kitchens--and that's your share of an apartment you live in with two or three other people.  There is a chance that if the job hunt doesn't kill you, the search for an apartment will (and the cost of moving will officially bury you).  In addition to rent, you are also paying both city and state taxes, which are ridiculous.  Unless you can walk to work, you'll also need to buy a monthly subway card, which is currently at $104 and is expected to rise up toward $120 next year.  You will have to ride that subway every day, twice a day, and it will probably kill your soul just a little bit.  And if that's not enough to scare you, food costs more here, too.  My favorite Chipotle burrito bowl is $5.50 in Arizona.  It is $8.50 here.  Restaurants have to account for the higher rent costs, too.

It's not a comfortable lifestyle.  You will have no savings, but hey.  You get free books every once in a while.

If you're still nodding saying, yes, okay, I'm ready for that, then read on...

INTERNSHIPS

Internships are in no way required to work in publishing, but they definitely help get your foot in the door.  Here's the sad truth--a lot of internships are the result of who-you-know and straight up nepotism.  They are crazy competitive in the Big Six publishing houses.  Publishing has always been a bit of an Old Boys network, but you have to try to work the system as best as you can.  Contact your career services department at your school to investigate if there are any alums (especially recent ones) that work in publishing, and contact them to see if they'll be willing to pass along your resume straight to HR or if they'll be willing to meet or call you for an information interview.  Always remember to be polite and professional--people never have as much free time as you expect them to, and you're not entitled to it.  Luckily, most publishing people are passionate people, and they're happy to spread the love.  It is always worth it to ask! Don't forget that you can request informational interviews with HR departments, too.

(I should stop here and warn you all that job websites/online submission forms are black holes.  I remember an HR person telling me that she received over 1500 applications for one job position over the course of a WEEK. It is ALWAYS better to find a friend or friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend to pass along your resume and cover letter.)

If you can't get an internship with the Big Six, consider interning with a literary agency.  There are SO many literary agencies in comparison to publishing houses, and they always need unpaid interns for reading and filing.  Many of the skills you'd pick up in an agency are transferable to life in a publishing house, especially if you want to work in Editorial. What people want to see are demonstrative examples you can read and think critically and that you're knowledgeable about the market.  This also gives you an insider's view to one leg of the publishing triangle of author-agent-publisher and the dynamic between them.

Here's a secret: I never interned in publishing before I started working at a publishing house.  Many people I know didn't intern, though a good number of them did.  I applied to a few, but stopped myself because I felt, personally, that I couldn't ask my parents to pay for three month's expensive rent and food in NYC.  I did, however, intern in my college's Office of University Relations--basically, their PR/publicity department.  Guess what?  Any kind of marketing, publicity, editorial, and writing experience is GREAT!  Really.  Even better is if you participate leadership activities on campus.  Even BETTER than that is if you are knowledgeable about social media, which the majority of you are since you were born after 1990.

Here is another important thing to remember if you're feeling insecure about this: publishing is what's considered an apprenticeship business.  That means that while it's nice to come into a job with extensive background knowledge and practical skills, you will be taught everything you need to know by your supervisors. You think a History/English double major like me knew ANYTHING about marketing before I started at my current job?  Nope.

THE ACTUAL JOBS

I would say that 80% of people who say they want to work in publishing really mean that they want to be an Editor.  Again, an unwelcome reality check: these are the most competitive jobs in the business.  Not only that, but going into Editorial is really more of a lifestyle choice than a job--you do a lot of work on nights and weekends because there is almost ZERO editing done in the office, and no time to read the five submissions you have waiting for you, either.  I started as an Editorial Assistant in children's books, and while there were aspects of the job I liked, I knew I didn't want to stick with it because the work-life balance was such that it interfered with my writing time.  I also knew it wasn't a natural fit for my personality.  What you do actually do as an Editorial Assistant largely depends on who your boss is.  I did a lot of administrative work, read manuscripts and offered comments on them, routed author contracts (and requested them), routed passes to Managing Editorial, and wrote A LOT of copy.  A LOT OF COPY.  Sales presentations, Launch presentations, Pre-Sales presentations, titlesheets, bound galley copy, jacket copy... it's insane.

One other thing a lot of people don't realize is how long it takes for you to be an Editor. Here's the Editorial hierarchy:

Editorial Assistant (two years)

Assistant Editor (two-three years)

Associate Editor (one-three years)

Editor

Senior Editor

Executive Editor

Editorial Director

So... it generally takes between 5-7 years for you to earn the title "Editor," though a lot of your upward mobility depends on the success of the titles you acquire and the environment of the publishing house.

There are SO many other departments within the publishing industry aside from Editorial:

  • Publicity
  • Marketing (Trade, Brand, School & Library, Digital--all are separate departments**)
  • Subsidiary Rights
  • Managing Editorial
  • Production
  • Sales
  • Finance
  • Design (Book design and Marketing Design)
  • Corporate Communications

I was going to describe what each department does, but HarperCollins has a great brief description of each.

** Someone asked me to clarify what the difference is between each department.  It's really all in the projects and books you work on. We create marketing materials for many different markets--wide commercial audiences, teachers, librarians, teens, parents with babies, etc.  For instance, Trade Marketing handles our commercial fiction titles; they place ads in magazines and newspapers, as well as creates posters, kits, and materials for fiction titles going out to a wide commercial audience. Brand Marketing focuses on what we call "brand titles"--those being books that we produce for companies like Disney, Nickelodeon, and Pixar that tie into movies, TV shows, or pre-existing properties. If you see a coloring book for BRAVE or CARS, or a sticker book for DORA THE EXPLORER, Brand Marketing has handled creating ads and promotional materials for it.

Digital Media creates online banner ads, runs our series and main sites, commissions companies to work on book trailers, etc. Depending on the company, some run the social media accounts (Publicity runs them where I work) and develop apps (Digital Publishing at my company, a separate entity).

School & Library Marketing focuses on developing materials for educators and librarians to encourage them to bring books into their classrooms and libraries. These include things like reading group and educator guides, book marks, kits educators can use to teach a book to their class.  On the kidlit side, S&L also submits to all of the ALA awards, like the Newbery and Printz, as well as to state awards. It's an interesting blend of marketing and publicity, because it involves going to several conferences over the course of the year and managing the authors who come for panels and signings, as well as running the company's booth.  It's really, really fun--but S&L tends to be small, and jobs don't come up all that often.

SUMMER PUBLISHING COURSES

Because I didn't have an internship and I am an overachiever, I applied for the three summer publishing courses: The Columbia Publishing Course, the NYU Publishing Course, the Denver Publishing Course.I attended the Columbia Course and loved it.  I would recommend Columbia if you're interested in book publishing and NYU if you're more interested in magazines.  I know plenty of people who have enjoyed the Denver course and got a lot out of it, but, if you can, attend one of the NYC courses.  It will make your job search MUCH easier.

These course are not free--in fact, they're actually on the pricier side, and they've become very competitive to get into.  I could only attend because I had sold my first book and got a scholarship that paid for half of it from my college. (Again, talk to your career services people--there might be scholarship money you can apply to the courses.) They usually run a little longer than a month and serve as publishing bootcamp--different people from the industry (high profile people in senior positions AND lower level people) come in and give lectures on the business and what they do.

The Columbia Course also an intensive week called Book Workshop, where you form fake publishing houses  and you're assigned a position (editor, publicist, designers, etc.). The team has to develop book ideas that could actually sell, create marketing plans, publicity plans, run profit and loss statements, and design covers.  It's incredibly stressful but SO fun.

The biggest benefits you get from this course are the alumni network and the access to jobs.  Again, I can only really talk about the Columbia course, but Lindy Hess--who has run the program for years--is basically the godmother of publishing.  She calls in favors, creates jobs that aren't there, goes to bat for students when they're interviewing, hooks current students up for interviews with past students.  The courses are respected and well-known within the industry.  They do NOT always lead to a job.  I have to stress that.  But after you "graduate" you're placed on a listserv where new jobs are constantly sent out your first year out of the course, and they continue to come two, three years after for higher-level positions.  There is a huge career fair at the end of the course with all of the big houses and many large agencies represented.

Remember how I said this is the kind of industry where you really need to know someone to get your foot in the door?  These courses introduce you to A LOT of people.  You can connect with the different workshop leaders and lecturers after the course, and you come away with dozens of contacts in the form of your fellow graduates.  Because it's a relatively small industry, it's easy to keep in touch and pass along resumes for each other.

RELATED INDUSTRIES

There are a number of creative industries that have some kind of relationship or tie to publishing.  For instance, film studios use book scouts to find manuscripts or books they might want to option. There are publishing imprints that focus on video game strategy books.  You can work for a literary estate like Dr. Seuss Enterprises, or a book packaging firm like Alloy. Even museums need editors to create their books and materials!

WHERE TO FIND JOB POSTINGS

You can check each publisher's individual site, but there are other, easier-to-navigate boards available:

I hope this helps you guys.  If you have any specific questions, please leave them in the comments!

 

The One Merging

Soooo... how was your weekend?  

I should back track a little and explain that the reason why I disappeared is that I went home to Arizona last week to surprise my mom for her birthday.  To fully appreciate this, you have to know that my mom is IMPOSSIBLE to surprise. She's the person that watches a movie and can guess, twenty minutes in, exactly how the thing is going to end. She's always one step ahead of you when it comes to plotting things.  I like to believe this is because she was an angel-faced-devil-child when she was younger and that helped her hone her skills, but I digress.

I made her think I had a work even late on Tuesday night, and waited until my brother had picked me up from the airport to pretend like I was in a cab, heading back to my apartment.  She must have bought it, because when I popped out and screamed "SURPRISE!" at her when she walked through the door, she actually yelled "WTF?!"

On her actual birthday, which was last Wednesday, we decided to be different and go up to Verde Valley to Out of Africa.  It's about an hour and a half outside of Scottsdale, but in a really beautiful area that most people only know as the place you stop for food and gas between Phoenix and Flagstaff.  The zoo has, admittedly, seen some better days, but we got to go on a "safari" bus tour and feed Pilgrim the giraffe.

The zebras were basically little monsters.  The park guide/bus driver has these things he calls "cookies" that he throws out to the animals to get them to come over (I'm pretty sure they're made with soy and protein?). Well, the zebras have pretty much figured out how to work the system.  They will physically block the bus to prevent the driver from leaving, so he has to keep throwing cookies out to them.  One of the males also "smiles" aka bares his teeth to get cookies and all of the girls have started doing it, too.

While I was in Arizona, I kept hearing these rumblings of some kind of "super storm" in New York that was supposed to happen the weekend I was flying home.  Luckily (or not luckily, since I wouldn't have minded being stranded in Arizona with my family for a few more days), I had a red-eye on Saturday and beat Sandy in.  The whole weekend leading up to the storm was like something out of a crazy dream.  It felt calmer than preparing for Irene did last year, but everyone in the city apparently decided to wait until that Sunday to buy food and supplies.  You would NOT believe the lines I encountered at the grocery store (I didn't even buy food at the big grocery store by us--Fairway--I literally walked in and out when I saw the line), at the little bodega next to us, and even Duane Reade. The line at DR practically wrapped around the store:

I don't know that many NYCers were taking the storm seriously until they started getting emails from their offices about how they'd be closed on Monday, possibly Tuesday.  There was a bit of guesswork involved in when the storm would actually hit, but, more importantly, all of public transportation was shut down to try to prepare for possible flooding.

I'm sure you guys have seen the news reports--it ended up being pretty damn bad, especially for lower Manhattan.  My roommate and I used to live in a big apartment complex called Stuyvesant Town, right on Avenue C and 16th street.  And, well, this is what Stuy Town looks like right now. Our old building was right across the street from the Con Ed power plant where the transformer exploded--basically, it was a flood zone (how horrifying is that blue light?).  All of lower Manhattan is still without power, but we fared much, much better on the Upper East Side.  My roommate and I were joking that this was probably the first time it was cool to live uptown, because it really does seem like there are two different cities at the moment.

Yesterday was the first day I went into work this week, and... it took us an hour and a half by cab to go across town and 20 blocks south.  We ended up getting out and walking the rest of the way.  The traffic was SO awful.  The MTA and city got the buses mostly up and running, but everyone else was trying to drive and it just wasn't happening.  I wasn't even going to drive to hail a cab or squeezing onto one of the SUPER packed buses.  Even though Central Park (all of the parks, actually) are closed, I decided to walk home.  Unfortunately, it was freezing and I wasn't wearing the right coat, so I had to stop in a store and buy a hat and gloves for the 40 block trek home.  It was so, so, so strange to see just hordes of people out trying to do the same thing.

Midtown is also a bit of a challenge right now, because the police have enforced a mandatory evacuation zone around the partially collapsed crane we've all taken to calling "the dangler."

I wish I had snapped a picture that better showed how A) massive this building is and B) how massive the crane itself is.  They've blocked off everything between 59th and 56th street between 6th Avenue and Broadway.  For a while, my office was completely blocked off and employees were having to show their ID to the police guarding the barricades to get in, but they finally moved the blocks back a ways.  We're really not in any kind of danger unless some rogue wind snaps the thing off and it bounces off of five different buildings to get here.  The immediate concern is that thing falling onto the ground below, but I think they've managed to mostly secure it.

I keep thinking I want to go downtown and see what it's like, but it's honestly such a hassle to get below 34th street. You can see what I mean about there being an actual line between Power/No Power here on the subway map they released yesterday to show what lines would be open.  I left my apartment at 7:50 this morning to try to avoid the big crowds they were expecting.  I also took a different route than usual because the N wasn't running to the stop by my office due to the evacuation zone.  So it was... different, to say the least.  But guys, it's such a mess for anyone that lives in Brooklyn and downtown right now.  Look at this snap  of the line to get on the shuttle bus between Brooklyn and Manhattan:

That goes down the block and around the corner! (The reason Brooklyn travel is messed up is because the East River is between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the East River decided to flood into every single subway tunnel running under it.)  To drive a personal vehicle across any of the bridges, you have to have at least three people in the car to help with the flow of traffic, too, which caused some headaches for people who got to the bridges and were turned away. The best part of this situation is that fares are free today and tomorrow, so I don't have to buy my $104 monthly card just yet.

We have some downtown friends staying with us in our little place, but I do feel bad about our inability to do much more at the moment. We were really, really lucky--the only problems we've experienced have to do with the lousy cellphone reception in the city. It really is just bizarro world out there.

Aside from Hurricane Sandy merging with the cold front, we also had Penguin and Random House merge (which, OMG), and Disney and Lucasfilm join forces.  I have a lot of feelings on both of those happenings; the opinions for the former I have to keep to myself, but I'm sort of... not excited about the prospect of more Star Wars films?  I'm just not sure what direction they're going to take, and seeing what Disney did to John Carter of Mars makes me super, super nervous.  But that's a post for tomorrow.

For now, here's your Teaser Thursday:

The Comic Con One

Hi y'all!  Sorry for not dropping in on Sunday or Monday (I'm trying to establish an actual blogging schedule with limited success), but I was busy, busy, busy trying to finish the story I've been working on since last October!  And I did!  Last night, around 12:30 in the morning. I decided to suck it up and push through to the end, even though I've been feeling under the weather and I kept turning around to gaze mournfully at my bed. I'm really proud of myself for finishing this one--I'm allowed to say that without looking like a d-bag, right?  I've had the idea in the back of my mind since 2009, but I didn't start working on it until Columbus Day weekend last year (when I took a research trip to Boston).  I was going to be all dodgy and secretive about it, but I flat-out said it was Middle Grade in that post and, well, no use pretending.

That's really why I'm proud that I finished it--writing MG is out of my comfort zone, but I wanted the challenge after feeling a little burnt out on YA.  I honestly have no idea if I actually succeeded. Initially, I really struggled with the stylistic changes you have to make to write for a younger audience.  I tend to be a long-winded writer both on a micro sentence level and a macro storytelling level, so it was an uphill battle to change my usual syntax.  It ended up being 65,000 words (just under 250 pages) which is still a bit long for MG, but, hey, that's 100,000 words shorter than the first draft of the last book I finished (she says, trying not to cry).

In any case, it needs a bit more polishing and time to settle before I talk about it, but--I'm excited!  Finish it was one of the goals I had for October, so I'm actually ahead of schedule. Even if it all comes to nothing, I learned a lot about writing MG and I'm really fond of the characters and story.

(I was going to write some slick transition here, but I'm feeling pretty miserable/not-so-clever/headache-y today. This morning on the subway train--which, of course, was running "at slower speeds due to an earlier incident"--I started feeling REALLY ill. I woke up thinking, "I should probably call in sick to work today," but in the two years I've worked here I've never taken a single sick day... and, well, this girl has pride.  Anyway, bad choice.  I felt worse and worse and worse when I transferred to the Q, and, lemme tell you, there are few places worse when you're sick than a super hot, super crowded train.  I started stripping off my scarf, my coat, my knit vest to try to cool off, but I could feel the sweat pouring off me. And all I kept thinking was, YOU WILL NOT BE THE SICK PASSENGER, BRACKEN.  YOU WILL NOT HOLD UP THIS TRAIN BY PASSING OUT, NOT AFTER SO MANY JUDGE-Y TWEETS ABOUT SICK PASSENGERS GETTING ON TRAINS.

This is when the train stopped all together and I basically gave up on life and set my purse and lunch bag down on the ground so I could lean against the pole and puke on the evil person sitting directly in front of me, watching all this happen, and not offering me the chance to sit down.  A girl a few seats down finally got up and thank God for that--I think I was two seconds away from sitting my ass down on the floor of the car to avoid falling onto it.  So yeah, not a super fun day.)

I just wanted to remind you guys that this week is NEW YORK COMIC CON WEEK!!

I would LOVE to meet you guys if you're attending!

Friday, October 12th

11:00 AM-12:00 PM. Disney Publishing Worldwide Booth 1132

I'll be signing THE DARKEST MINDS galleys in the Disney Hyperion Booth alongside Dan Krokos (author of FALSE MEMORY).

1:30--2:30 PM, 1A14  PASSION, POWER, AND PARANORMALS! Panel

Authors Keri Arthur, Maureen Johnson, Tahereh Mafi, Tonya Hurley, Margaret Stohl, Dan Krokos, Alexandra Bracken, and Kalayna Price discuss the inclusion of romantic elements in their action-packed novels. If dating the undead wasn’t tricky enough, these protagonists must also battle the forces of evil while trying to keep their sanity and the world safe from destruction. Moderator Jocelyn Davies will have the authors divulging the steamy details behind creating their characters and their tricky love affairs.

1. Keri Arthur (Beneath a Darkening Moon) 2. Maureen Johnson (The Shades of London series) 3. Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me) 4. Tonya Hurley (The Blessed) 5. Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures) 6. Dan Krokos (False Memory) 7. Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds) 8. Kalayna Price (Alex Craft Novels) MODERATOR: Jocelyn Davies (A Beautiful Dark and A Fractured Light, Editor at Razorbill)
(I'm SO excited about this panel... and super, super nervous!  Luckily Jocelyn is captain of this ship, so I know we're in good hands and the audience is in for a real treat.)
3:15 – 4:15, Autographing Tables 2,3 and 4 Panel Autographing
I'll be signing BRIGHTLY WOVEN after the panel ends, but I'll have a few copies of THE DARKEST MINDS to give out, and--if the shipping gods smile down on me--TDM postcard-sized prints I can sign for you, too.
The One About BEA #3

I like that Wordpress always greets me with "Howdy, Alex!" So I'm going to start off with a hearty, "Howdy, folks!" because that's how we souls from the American West roll. Book Expo America was this past week and, needless to say, I'm still recovering. It's an intense experience as a publishing professional--my department (School & Library Marketing) doesn't do a whole lot with BEA, but it's such a huge event in the publishing world and the stress and planning for the different events inevitably trickles out from Publicity to everyone else. To give you some sense of the work load involved in any kind of conference planning, you have to know that in addition to the parties that have to be organized and planned (and the materials that need to be made for said parties like cover posters, prints, etc.), you have to put together itineraries for authors, plan visits into the office, order books, set up booths, organize signings. That's the very tip of the iceberg.

As an author, BEA is mostly just fun. :)

My favorite part of BEA is always, always, ALWAYS running into people I know. I love seeing friends from my old job, from my publishing course, and author buddies that I've never had the chance to meet in-person. I love meeting bloggers and finally putting faces to Twitter handles and blog names. It's basically a lovefest all around. I also FINALLY got to meet the people who have been working on The Darkest Minds for the past year--believe me, when I tell you that I won the publisher lottery, I mean it.

BEA started on Monday for me with BEA Day of Dialog. It's an event that's sponsored by School Library Journal, hence it fell under our S&L umbrella. We got to Javits around 7 AM for set up, and proceeded to wander around the bowels of the building until we finally found the room we were looking for. Can I say here, just this once, how truly awful the Javits Center is? The location, the layout, the airflow--EVERYTHING. AWFUL. ALWAYS. FOREVER.

Ahem. Anyway, Day of Dialog is an event for Librarians and trade reviewers. Most of the publishers set up tables with galleys and F&Gs (F&G = folded & gathered = advanced picture book copies that are unbound) and promo materials. Throughout the day are panels and publisher presentations of upcoming titles they're excited about. I think my favorite panel ended up being the first one--when I, like James Dashner, finally learned that Eoin Colfer's name is not actually pronounced "e-oine," but "Owen." Let me follow that up with a swift #duhalex

DoD will live forever in my memory mostly because of how freezing the room was. Guys, at one point I actually thought to myself, "Now I know what it would feel like to die on Everest." My mom and brother were coming back to NYC from Massachusetts for that one night, so I had brought an overnight bag to stay with them at their hotel (which was within walking distance of my office), and, no joke, we were using the extra clothes like blankets.

I worked our booth on Tuesday and Wednesday, mostly trying to control autographing lines. We're one of the publishers that uses their booths mostly for signings, so I never had to brave the autographing stalls (until Thursday!). I had about a million people try to ask me questions about our adult authors, to which I started shrugging and pointed them in the vague direction of someone who looked like they worked on the adult side of things. One highlight of Tuesday for me was watching some conference-goers stroll up and ask our company's (incredibly handsome and cool) CEO where the bathroom was.

My author funtimes started on Tuesday night, with the legendary, infamous Disney*Hyperion author dinner. Good. Lord. First of all, it was at an insanely gorgeous, delicious restaurant. Secondly, I got to hang out with the incredible D*H team. Do you know how to make an author feel very loved and special? You love up on their books, you ask them questions, you talk about their characters, you try to steal secrets about sequels. I can't even tell you how close I came to crying at one point when one of the Sales reps started telling me how much she loved the book and how hard she was fighting for it at her accounts. The House of the Mouse is the place to be.

I was really, really, really nervous for this dinner--I've been to so many on the work side, but I've never attended one as an actual guest. So aside from meeting everyone and hoping that I was going to make a good impression, I went into this dinner also knowing that all ten or so authors had been asked to get up and speak about their books for a few minutes in front of a room full of booksellers and media types. From the second I got to the hotel where we were all meeting, I pretty much zipped over to Dan Krokos and Tamara Ireland Stone, and we all kind of huddled together in a corner and freaked out quietly. My poor, poor Table 2 knew how nervous I was while I was waiting for my turn (I spoke 8th), and by the time I finally got up there, everyone else had NAILED their speeches. You have to know, too, that part of what makes the night so fun is that many of the authors have been coming for years (like Eoin Colfer and Mo Willems) and they basically just roast one another, Hyperion, White Plains, Rick Riordan--seriously, nothing is sacred. It's hilarious, but a little intimidating to jump in your first time out. Like Rachel Cohn said: next year. I will get the boys next year!

Anyway, here's a fun fact for you: I cannot talk about myself or my books to save my life. It's one of the few times the crippling shyness I had as a kid really comes out to play. I worry about boring people, coming off as totally into myself, about being funny, about what they'll think of me killing off 98% of America's population of young people, etc. I'm generally fine speaking in front of groups and giving presentations, but it's hard to have a room's attention focused fully on me (it's one of the reasons I don't like birthday parties, weird as it sounds). At one point, one of my fellow Table 2-ers wisely advised me to pretend like I was talking about someone else's book when I got up there. The only problem with that was that, after my editor introduced me, I got up and started talking like an NPR lady. Seriously. My voice actually lowered a full octave. The whole time my brain was screaming what are you doing what are you doing what are you doooooing?!. But I made it through! I talked about the college road trip I took with my dad, about exploring what it was like for me, as a teen, to grow up in the wake of a national tragedy (this being September 11th), about the feral kids at Waffle House, and I hope--I HOPE--I actually conveyed what the story is about. As much as I love The Darkest Minds it tends to defy being summed up in two or three sentences.

Wednesday was the blogger party! Guys. Again, how can I even express how awesome you are?! I secretly loved being all, "To Chambers and the Hudson River!" to the cab driver when I got in--the drive down was so worth it to see your faces and check out the amazing view of Manhattan. Thank you, thank you, thank you for inviting me!

(Also: where did you get those delish lemon cookies?!)

Now, as you may or may not know, I have two critique partners: Anna, who lives in NYC and I get to see on a regular basis (♥) and Sarah, who, unfortunately, lives on the opposite coast. Because Sarah's incredible book Throne of Glass is hitting shelves this fall, it mean she was going to be in town for BEA--and pretty much any time I get to spend hanging out with her is time I love. Let us pause, for a mo' to appreciate her awesome book trailer:

(Seriously. It is awesome. It is really, really awesome.)

I dashed into the Apocalypsies Meet and Greet on Tuesday to say hi (where I also saw another favorite author of mine, Veronica Rossi [who I shamelessly complained about writing sequels to]). I didn't really get to hang out with her until the blogger party on Wednesday--and, BONUS! I finally got to meet Kat Zhang, who is pretty much just as incredible and adorable as you'd imagine. Her debut, WHAT'S LEFT OF ME, is my first read from my BEA grabs and I'm loving it to pieces so far.

Thursday was my "Author Alex" Day. It started bright and early with my signing at 9:30 AM. Just like last year, my morning got off to a bit of a rough start. I woke up late, my contacts refused to go in without doing that whole, "HAHA TRY IT AGAIN, WE'LL JUST KEEP BURNING YOUR EYEBALLS!" routine, I couldn't get my hair to keep a curl, I couldn't get my hair to go straight, so it just sort of... hung there. I wish I had had the time to go get a hair cut earlier in the week, but that's life. Thank god I moved out of the East Village, because I was actually able to hail a cab this year at 8:30 without bursting into tears (unlike last year, which found me weeping at the corner of 14th street and First Ave). Naturally, traffic was awful and I had to sprint into Javits to meet my editor, Emily, on time. We made it to the Green Room/Staging Area that I could not find for the LIFE of me last year, and the signing went off without a hitch. Thank you again to everyone who came out to see me and my wild ass hair.

But I have amazing friends, and amazing readers, and an amazing editor and the whole hour flew by. Look who were #1 and #2 in line!

Thursday was also the day that Hyperion arranged to have its authors shoot author videos at a real, fancy pants studio. I wish I had thought to bring my phone into the room to snap a picture, but, alas, I shall have to ~paint a picture with words~

So the whole room was set up, including a green screen behind me. I sat on a chair facing Nellie, a Marketing Manager from Hyperion, and the whole filming crew. My chair was tilted toward Nellie, but I was supposed to turn slightly and look directly into the camera whenever I spoke. Before we had gone in, Nellie had briefly talked to me about what kinds of questions she would be asking and told me to try to think of a short way to pitch TDM's plot (brain: nooooooooo DO NOT ASK THIS OF ME).

(Also, I totally didn't bring a hair brush with me. Crazy hair is captured always and forever for the internet's enjoyment.)

All I can say is poor, poor Nellie. The whole thing was like pulling teeth, and I pretty much just wanted to die to put the poor women and crew out of their misery hearing me stumble and fumble over words. At one point, I was repeating things line-by-line after her, because I couldn't, for whatever reason, make the ears --> brain --> mouth connection with what they were trying to coach me with. We got through two questions through sheer tenacity on their part. As I told Editor Emily later, I think I just psyched myself out. It's sort of like when you're taking a timed test, and you know that you've messed something up and you get so upset and flustered it just builds and builds. It also doesn't help that I work in marketing, so I really wanted to talk things through from a marketing perspective with her. The film crew and Nellie were incredible and so patient with me, but I walked away feeling like I had blown it. I didn't feel better about the whole thing until later, when I got on twitter:

Lloyd's cookies WERE pretty amazing. I maybe pulled a Grandma move and packed one or two in my purse...

Anyway, my BEA #3 was amazing. AMAZING in every sense of the word, and exhausting, and a total blur. It's hard for me to believe that after almost two years (!) many, many people now have The Darkest Minds galleys in their hot little hands, and I'm already getting feedback on Twitter and reviews on GoodReads. Y'all are fast readers! If you didn't make it to BEA and you're interested in a galley, I did grab a few extras to give out in contests and the like, so stay tuned!

The One on Netgalley

Friends, Librarians, Media Professionals, lend me your ears: The Darkest Minds is up a little early on Netgalley and available for requests. But--as many of you have noted--Disney*Hyperion is not accepting blogger requests at this time.

Judging by Twitter, this has been a bit of a disappointment for you guys out there, not just for my title but also other upcoming ones like Beta by Rachel Cohn and Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone. Toootally get it, and I'm really sorry for it. I don't have any kind of official explanation for you as to why this is D*H policy, but I'm not about to question the wisdom of the House of the Mouse. If I had to guess--and let me stress here again that this is my opinion--they've probably made this decision based on how overwhelming the blogger requests can be. Or, possibly, they want to limit the flow of review copies that going out and keep to a kind of schedule on them.

In the case of the first, let me tell you--at work (and remember here that I work for a big publishing house), I think the Netgalley request approvals are split between three separate people. Someone in my department handles educator and librarian requests, another handles media and professional reviews, and one or more publicity assistants are in charge of bloggers and everyone else.

Netgalley, while an amazing resource, takes a lot of time and energy on the publisher's end. At any given time, the publicity assistants are sorting through hundreds and thousands of requests--and by sorting through I mean that they're checking to ensure the people requesting titles have 1) and actual blog 2) followers and 3) meet all of the other criteria they've set forth. It is sort of soul-crushing and overwhelming at times, so I can't hold it against D*H.

This is sort of an insane time in the publishing world with BEA next week and ALA Annual shortly thereafter. I'm going to ask my editor and the amazing marketing folks at D*H if it would be possible, later in the summer, to open the title up for bloggers for a limited amount of time. A week or two, tops. I'm not sure they'll go for it, but I promise I'll ask.

As I'm sure you guys have noticed, many children's publishers aren't even ON Netgalley anymore--Penguin pretty much never uploads anything, I don't see Little, Brown listed, S&S has their own digital galley program, and it looks like Harper is gone. Which really makes me wonder what the future will hold.

I do have a question for you guys, though--how many of you actually use Netgalley/like using Netgalley? Because many publishers have now banished their shiny print catalogs to yesteryears, they're on a platform called Edelweiss, which, in addition to being an online catalog, allows educators and librarians to request titles in a similar way to Netgalley. That might be an option for bloggers one day. Or do you guys still prefer an actual printed galley above all else?