[This post is just an overview of my time at BEA and BookCon. More detailed posts may be coming in the next few weeks.]
This year I attended BookExpo America (BEA) and BookCon, both located here in New York City. BEA is the professional convention, for book industry folks to connect, librarians and educators to explore upcoming releases, and authors and publishers to promote their new titles. BookCon, which runs the Saturday-Sunday after BEA, is intended for readers; it’s heavily YA-focused, and brings in thousands of fans to meet authors and snatch up exciting ARCs.
I went into BEA and BookCon with one very particular focus: finding out about as much upcoming queer fiction as possible.
And I’m pleased to say that, with a few exceptions, these conventions delivered! At almost every publisher booth I went to, the energetic and knowledgeable publicists were thrilled to talk about their upcoming LGBTQIA+ titles. (A few publishers informed me that they did not have any queer books in their Fall 2017 or Spring 2018 lines, which was admittedly disappointing.)
Who are the winners?
Scholastic: I was overwhelmingly pleased with Scholastic’s commitment to diversity and queer lit for all ages. They had an amazing #ReadWithPride display wall up, featuring Middle Grade and YA titles with LGBTQIA+ rep, and took time out of their busy day to chat with me about them.
Tor (also Tor Teen & Forge): I am definitely impressed by Tor’s recent and upcoming diverse SFF. I’ve already seen some amazing titles from their e-only imprint, Tor.com, but I had a chance to meet with a rep from Tor, who walked me through almost a dozen titles in their 2017 line-up with queer rep or by queer authors.
Other publishers with awesome queer books to look out for:
Chronicle Books: this smaller publisher won me over with a picture book featuring a gender non-conforming kid and a family that respects and encourages his choices. Plus a few YA titles that have been getting good reviews!
Lion Forge: this indie comics publisher has at least two stunning graphic novels out this fall: Taproot (a gardener who falls in love with a ghost!) and Generations (about a gay millennial who’s adrift in life).
And the publishers that disappointing?
Hachette (including all of their imprints): I asked multiple publicists at the Hachette booth if they could name any of their upcoming LGBTQIA+ titles, and every one of them came up blank– with one exception: the Grand Central imprint has a Caitlyn Jenner biography that recently came out.
Disney: While other publishers were bringing awesome diverse content for kids, Disney’s booth was wall-to-wall TV/movie novelizations. A publicist I spoke with said she “thought” they might have a YA novel coming out with LGBTQIA+ rep, but wasn’t sure.
The conventions otherwise were a blast! I was lucky enough to meet up with some amazing authors, like Tristina Wright, Jude Sierra, and more. Plus a few random “celebrity” author encounters– I met Maggie Stiefvater, Holly Black, and Daniel Jose Older!
And yes, I did manage to get a few highly coveted ARCs. Some books you’ll definitely want to add to your Goodreads list are:
- Spinning, by Tillie Walden
- They Both Die at the End, by Adam Silvera
- The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O’Neill (Oni Press)
- The Tiger’s Daughter, by K. Arsenault Rivera
I do prefer BEA over BookCon, though. On the whole, it’s a lot more professional and laid-back. The crowds over the weekend were often out of control (at one point there was almost a mob to get a much-anticipated ARC of Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman novelization) and lines stretched for hours. I was able to set up some really productive meetings at BEA… and some TOP SECRET interviews, which I can’t wait to bring you!
BEA and BookCon next year are back in NYC, and I’m already looking forward to attending. For anyone in the book industry, or anyone who’s simply a fan of books, it’s the kind of convention you won’t want to miss.
And before I go, a few more pictures that I snapped:
If you’re interested in attending BEA or BookCon, or learning more about the conventions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment!