Book Expo America 2018 – by Kerrine Bryan

American Book expo 2018 Butterfly Books

Book Expo America 2018 – by Kerrine Bryan


The 30th May to 1st June 2018 was Book Expo America, which was held in New York this year.  I attended the 3-day event which included booths, panel discussions, presentations and book signings from all the big players as well as newcomers in the publishing industry.

Here are some of my highlights from the expo:

American Book expo 2018 Butterfly Books

Children’s Book & Author Breakfast

This was such an inspirational and emotional morning, hearing from panelists:

  • Oscar winning actress Viola Davis Corduroy Takes a Bow
  • Meg Medina Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
  • Dave Eggers What Can A Citizen Do?
  • Yuyi Morales Viva Frida

The event was hosted by National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jacqueline Woodson, as they all spoke about the reasons for them writing their children’s books and the background behind the stories.

Diversity, empathy and acceptance were the key takeaways.

Signing by Taye Diggs and Shawn W Evans

American actor and singer Taye Diggs did a signing to promote his upcoming children’s book ‘I Love You More Than…’ about a father who doesn’t live full-time with his son and tells him all the ways he misses and loves him. Illustrations are by Shane W. Evans, who was also signing.

Signing by Andrea Beaty

I was thrilled to meet Author of Rosie Revere Engineer and Ada Twist Scientist, Andrea Beaty. Andrea was promoting her upcoming book ‘Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters’ find out more on their website.

IBPA Presents: Some of the Best Independently Published Books of 2017

Being independent publishers ourselves, I was happy to attend this presentation, by 10 winners of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s (IBPA) Benjamin Frankin Award.  All of the books were just amazing, and it was motivating to see independent books doing so well. My personal top two were:

  • ‘Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy after Loss’ by Alexis Marie Chute – After her son, Zachary, dies in her arms at birth, visual artist and author Alexis Marie Chute disappears into her “Year of Distraction”.
  • If You Look Up to the Sky by Angela Dalton – A story is about a young black girl whose grandmother teaches her that the sky and universe will always offer her love, protection, and guidance should she ever need it. And that it will always be a way for them to connect – no matter what. 

However, the turnout to the event was low in comparison to other events, and this was only an indication of the industry’s attitude towards independent authors/publishers, who many times are not publishing independently because they can’t get a book deal, but because that’s the way they are choosing to publish. This could be for reasons, such as keeping close control of the process and content of their books.  I hope that this attitude will change as books such as those highlighted in this session gain the popularity and attention they deserve.

Panel Discussion: We Need Diverse Books Presents: Life Cycle Of A Diverse Book

The panel consisted of a representative from each of the main stages of book publishing:

  • Renée Watson, author of the children’s book ‘Piecing Me Together’
  • Beth Phelan, a Literary Agent
  • Alvina Ling, VP, Editor-in-Chief at Hachette Book Group
  • Sara Hines, Co-owner of family Bookshop Eight Cousins

The key takeaway from this session was that although we had a diverse panel, the industry is still not diverse. This was something I could see for myself just y walking around the expo floor. It was noted that for an agent to take on a book or for a publisher to consider a book, they really need to personally love it. This means that they need some kind of connection with the book.  It the people working in these roles do not represent the population of the market, then that’s a huge problem. How is an author’s amazing story about a young black boy, or a bi-sexual woman going to make it through the process to a booksellers store if the people involved in the process don’t have any connections with being black or being bi-sexual.  An area for concern. Some progress is gradually being made but in my opinion, not enough.

Find out more about We Need diverse Books here.

Signing by Kwame Alexander

I was the lucky person to get the last signed copy of ‘Swing’ (sample chapters) by Kwame Alexander expected out in October 2018.

Hip Hop: Behind the Beats

Hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow, Rocky Bucano, President of the Universal Hip-Hop Museum, and Zack O’Malley Greenburg author of 3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Hip-Hop’s Multibillion-Dollar Rise discussed how fears and anxiety can fuel success, and how hip hop moguls overcome struggles to succeed.

I learnt about the main 4 elements of hip-hop:

  • DJing – rap music production and radio broadcasting
  • Breaking – street dance forms
  • MCing – rhythmic talk, poetry and divine speech
  • Graffiti – street calligraphy, art and handwriting

as well as a new element of knowledge, which is knowing how to put it all together.  There was a general concern for new hip hop artists who are not aware of the history of hip hop.

Some of you may know that our author Jason Bryan dabbled in a bit of MCing in his younger days. After this initial introduction to the history of hip hop, I now look forward to visiting the museum in New York once it opens, and I’m sure Jason will too!