Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA: My Life Changing Decision

Story time!

Working on a cover copy
for a Fall 2012 release!
People wonder how I ended up interning at Random House.

What you probably don't know is that I applied for an internship all six of the Big Six. I didn't get an answer from nada one of the other five, except Random House, and that's because I e-mailed the Editor-in-Chief (now Publicist) directly.

You: How did you do that?
Me: Well, I happened to know her.
You: But how does one become friends with authors, editors, etc?
Me: If sneaking into their homes and leaving dead mice on their pillows doesn't work, then you're probably out of luck.
You: Is that what you did?
Me: I tried that first,* but eventually experienced greater levels of success when I attended a book conference. Specifically, Siren's Conference.

Sirens Conference 2011
Actually, it was a strange coincidence that I ended up there. I was sitting in my bed... at college... in Vermont... and I was trolling around Tamora Pierce's website looking for inspiration for my English thesis when VOILA! I saw that she was going to be at a conference in Colorado two days from then. And I thought, well hey, I should go to that! (It's not like I have classes, or plans, or I don't know, a life...) So while sitting in my bed... at college... in Vermont... I booked a plane ticket for the next day and magically attended this conference that changed my life. The very conference that lead to my English thesis, my Random House internship, this blog, and many, many subsequent friendships and books. The ironic part? Tamora Pierce got sick and didn't even show up, but that didn't matter (because I got to work on her book the following summer!)

Now hey, I'm not saying that you should follow my path in life and spend a thousand dollars you don't really have on an impromptu book adventure. (I think we have already established that you should not be following all of my life choices, because if you were you might be freezing your butt off in the January cold at a gas station after getting into a truck with a German driver who spoke no English and dropped you off somewhere in g-forsaken Belgium at 3 am... But I digress...)

What I am saying is there are a lot of opportunities to get involved off the internet, even if you can't make it to New York for BEA. I'm not the veritable expert on book conventions, but there are loads of smaller ones happening in all kind of places around the country. For you west coasters Siren's might be an interesting possibility since it's near Portland, Oregon this year. I'm sure a lot of you have been to book signings, but if you have the resources, I would absolutely suggest trying to attend an actual conference.

Don't get me wrong, book signings are awesome (I just went to one earlier today), but a lot of time I find they leave a level of personal intimacy to be desired. I chit chat with an author and they probably say something nice, and I say something nice, and then we smile at each other, and your forced to move on else things get really awkward or they file some kind of restraining order. Developing an actual relationship is more difficult, and it takes more time than 30 seconds (unless you're soul mates like myself and Tahereh Mafi, and the friendship-magic happens instantly**) Conferences are all about developing those new friendships, kind of like Armchair BEA has been doing remotely. When else are you going to get the chance to stay in a hotel with Holly Black, Kristin Cashore, or Justine Larbalestier? Or get lulled to sleep with hot chocolate and a short story written and read by Laini Taylor? Or go in the jacuzzi during a snow storm with Sarah Rees Brennan?

Maybe your life is fabulous and you're doing all of these things right now. But if you aren't and they interest you at all, I would definitely suggest looking into a conference. And if any of y'all have any questions for me, I am more than happy to answer!

Who knew that one impulsive decision made while cuddled into my Anthropologie bedspread on a cold October night would put me in New York City 18 months later, just on the heels of a lunch with editors before an evening book signing, planning out my outfit for a launch party the following day. And I'm not even attending BEA!

Pretty exciting, huh?

Siren's Conference 2012

* I solemnly swear I have never illegally snuck into another person's home and left them a creepy present. Probably.

** That's a lie: I have never met Tahereh Mafi. So far I have had to idolize her from a distance, but someday I am convinced she will realize I am her soul sister.

*** I couldn't figure out how to work in a non-sequitur quote today. Boo, you whore (Go! Name that movie!)


  1. Mean Girls! Awesome post and crazy how life can work out like that, huh?

  2. This is brilliant. Seriously? This is the kind of stuff I dream about when I get swamped down in my homework and everything looks so bleak and depressing! Lol. I know I'll definitely be going to some academic literature conferences this coming year as a graduate student, so I'm looking forward to that! Still, I can be impulsive and random at times, but I wish I had the chutzpah to do what you did! It turned out so well for you (though knowing my luck, I'd end up like you with that German truck driver...). Lol!

  3. Aw, I'm so glad you took the path you did! Otherwise I would have never *met* you through Random!

  4. That's an awesome story!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  5. That's a brilliant story! I'm glad it all worked out for you, it feels like one of those things where everything was just meant to be - can't believe you flew out for a conference from Vermont to Colorado on basically a whim! I kind of love it.

    Sage advice on the conference thing, too - I do author signings all the time, but it's such a quick snap with them that's really all gushing and brown nosing and 'omg i love your books and now you and don't give me a restraining order i swear i'm not crazy's. Not quite conducive to real time and talk. I was talking with Kirsten Hubbard and Cindy Pon (name drooooop...sorry!) once and they very heavily suggested the same thing: conferences, and chatting and having real conversations with industry professionals.

    Great post!
    My Armchair BEA Real Life Networking Post

    (And holy cow how have I never found your blog before?! You're hilarious and awesome and I am most definitely following now!)
    Also, MEAN GIRLS <3 So fetch.

  6. Your post is extremely well written. I enjoyed reading it. Have you considered writing a book?

  7. Wow, talk about impulsive! I am SO not that person, but I will definitely check out the conference thing :) I loved going to conferences in my undergrad for that subject area (music - specifically film scores) and I really want to take that love over to my book blogging. So yeah, thanks for inspiring me to look into conferences closer to home! :)


Love all y'all! Thanks for commenting!!