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Book Expo America 2014


I was happy to attend Book Expo America for the first time a couple of years ago, and since then I have been hooked. The conference designed for book industry professionals will be held in NYC in 2015, then it moves to Chicago in 2016. The sessions are mostly geared towards adult materials, but there are a few sessions devoted to kids and teens. Authors, editors, publishers and lawyers attend the conference and sit on the session panels. Book Expo is a great opportunity to meet professionals in the book business.

Intellectual Property Update

The first session I attended was about protecting your content and brand in a social media and digital world. Three attorneys discussed common issues that authors have concerning copyright and fielded questions from audience members. Their knowledge about this area is much more detailed than my own, so I was able to learn much from them. There were about 25 audience members for this panel.

The attorneys mentioned that authors cannot reproduce a photograph that appeared in one of their works without checking his or her rights first. The copyright belongs to the photographer. However, a photograph or artwork that is incorporated into a book cover can usually be produced on social media sites such as Facebook because authors need to show the book covers in order to promote their books. Mostly broad rights are granted for book covers.

Interestingly enough, the characters in a work are protected by the copyright of the book. This is about the rights of the authors and the rights of the public to not be confused by "secondary meaning." A lawsuit could result if someone pilfered a character from a Stieg Larsson book and tried to use him or her in an entirely separate work of their own creation. Authors have the right to make derivatives of their work, which includes sequels and prequels. For example, Fifty Shades of Grey  had to be changed from what it originally was; this is based on the very popular Twilight series. However, when fans post "fan fiction" online, authors consider it to be simple admiration. However, commercializing works using characters from other's people's books is problematic.

An audience member asked what the best way was to protect blog content.

One of the attorneys commented that blogs do have copyright protection, but the Internet is vast, and people just take content and use it for their own purposes.

Another audience member told the group that someone posted his entire self-published book online for free without his permission.

One of the attorneys said that statements are protected by copyright, but general ideas are not.

Young Adult Book Buzz

The next session I attended was a very crowded young adult book buzz. Many teens were in attendance. The panelists talked about the latest teen books; they were promoting books with publisher's pitches. Editors spoke about the books that they publish, and they read selections from the works. I like teen books a lot, so I always enjoy this session.

Publishing Careers for Women

A very informative session was New Success Tracks for Women: Publishing Careers. Members of the Women's Media Group, which consisted of editors, publishers and a Yale academic, gave career advice to the audience, which mostly consisted of women. It was terrific to get career advice from women in the book business.

Some of the women did not know that they wanted to be publishers when they accepted their first jobs in publishing houses. They spoke about the span of their careers, and admonished the audience that it is very important to communicate that you are interested in the field and that you really want to do it. One panelist opined that people should take control of their careers more and not passively wait for things to happen. Not every one is cut out to manage people, and there are ways to be a leader without having direct reports. Some people enjoy line work, but others crave the challenge of managing other people's work. 

The panelists discussed mentoring at length. It is important for people to find others that they admire and can learn from. In addition, it is important to ask questions in order to garner more information. Some people fear looking stupid, but not asking questions can seem like a lack of interest. There is also something called anti-mentors; these are people who treat you in a manner that you do not appreciate. You can learn from them never to treat people in such a manner.

We promote reading because we love it and to improve people's literacy skills and efficacy in life. Many librarians come from publishing careers. I was a copy editor myself, and the skills I learned in that job have been priceless in terms of proof-reading my own blogs.

An audience member felt that the digital age makes job searching impersonal. People can utilize social media sites in order to review books. Being a participant in the industry may cause people in the industry to notice you.

Another audience member asked how to discuss digital technology with people who are entrenched in the way they used to do things. A panelists suggested that perhaps looking to a different person who may be more receptive might help.


Lunch was a great opportunity to network with librarians, authors, and publishers. It is awesome to be with professionals who are interested in and engaged with their book careers.

Publishing Students Teach Their Professors

I love education, and I was thrilled to hear the panel Lessons Learned in the Classroom: What Publishing Students Teach Their Professors. The panelists were publishers who are leaders in their field. There were some students in the audience. Courses in the field that are available include: ebook production, web analytics, social media marketing, etc. There are master's degrees in publishing.

Students often have experience in the field that can help their professors and fellow students learn. Students have told one of the publishers that the most common way that they hear about books is word of mouth. Things that professors love about their publishing students is that they are amazingly well-read, they are excited about what they are doing, they are interested in niches, and they can offer new perspectives on the field. Many of the panelists have hired some of their students, and they have worked out well.

One of the editors changed the way that he holds staff meetings based on what he learned about students, their needs and interests in their careers. Many of the panelists concurred that they would sometimes bring up conundrums in their workplace for discussion in class; students would offer solutions that in retrospect seemed obvious. The editors wondered why no one in their company had come up with that solution before. It is important to note that not everyone under 30 years of age is a social media expert.

One publisher enjoys talking to less experienced staff about what they think should be done in certain areas of the company; the answers that the staff gives often surprises her. It is important to talk to junior staff not only about the specifics of their jobs but also about the larger problems that the company is facing and the direction that it is going in. 


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