May 27th, 2008

The Week of The Great Unknown

Yep, it's finally here: Hell Week. Vast Uncertainty Week.

BookExpo Week.

I'm sure all of you reading this know by now that HWA will have a booth there, and I'm in charge. Nearly all of my HWA work for the past two months has gone to this. There have been schedules to organize, signs to order, booklets to lay out and print. And, of course, page after page of complicated rules and regulations to wade through. This ain't a World Horror Convention, where anything goes; this is the biggest publishing trade show in North America, and I have to worry about everything from offending Teamsters (since we're too cheap to hire 'em to do our unloading) to properly hanging our posters.

And after all this work, I truthfully have no idea if this is going to work or not.

Will we find the attending booksellers and librarians (all 40,000 of 'em!) anxious to take the free horror books we'll be passing out, or will they be too busy standing in line for the latest self-help author who's signing? Will all 500 copies of our "Members' Books in Print" be gone by Sunday morning, or will I end up having to lug 450 copies home and figuring out where the hell to store them? Will we find people interested in chatting about HWA and horror, or will we get 40,000 polite smiles and diverted gazes?

I really don't know. HWA has invested about $3,000 in this weekend (a fraction of what most exhibitors will have spent, by the way), and I hope it pays off in increased awareness of the genre, our members and HWA. I hope it garners us new members (booksellers and librarians can join at the Associate level), and sells a few extra books for HWA's writers. But it could also prove that horror is still the dirty H-word, regardless of anything we do to try to change that.

If it's hugely successful for us - meaning we distribute all of our free books and the "Books in Print" booklet, and we add 30 new members to our ranks - that brings up another question: Who in HWA will do it again? It'll be in New York next year, so I'm out of the picture (thank heaven). No one else has shown the least bit of interest in organizing this next year. It'd be a shame to let the momentum die if we build any up this year (truthfully we've already let some of the momentum die - BookExpo offers priority placement of tables to exhibitors who sign up early, and we've already missed out on that).

The only thing I know for sure at this point is that we'll have a damn fine display for the amount of money we spent, and I will be insanely happy when it's over and I get my time back. That's right - I was once a writer. Ahhh, those golden days of yore...