A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be at BookExpo 2018 with Gabriela Pereira. As a newb to this (or any) trade show I can tell you it was definitely a stress reliever to have a pro like Gabriela to show me the ropes, because as exciting as BookExpo is it is also overwhelming to a first timer.
Nevertheless, once I found my groove I couldn’t help but notice all the juicy information (along with the mountains of books!) on display by the various publishing houses and panels. So many amazing things are going on in our industry today to get excited about. One of the biggest changes in the air I noticed at BookExpo 2018 was an increasing feeling of inclusivity within what stories get told and who gives voice to them.
There was so much awesome information I gathered from BookExpo this year, but here is an inside look at one of 2018’s biggest events, and a few helpful tips about this show in general from this BookExpo newbie.
Rick Riordan Presents
If you listened to Gabriela’s BookExpo recap episode, you know that I’m a bit of a Rick Riordan fangirl. Understatement of the century that one. I have always been a mythology nerd, so all of Rick Riordan’s work has always been right up my alley. And as luck would have it, my first time attending BookExpo who’s there creating buzz? You guessed it. Rick Riordan.
But this wasn’t a purely fangirl moment (though there was some squealing involved), it was a learning experience. I sat in on the Rick Riordan Presents Imprint Launch Panel at BookExpo where the Storyteller for the Gods himself chatted with the authors of the imprints first two titles, Roshani Chokshi and Jennifer Cervantes, about their books, the imprint, and gave a sneak peak into some of the other great titles coming up.
What does this imprint do?
Rick Riordan Presents is focused on mythological retellings from cultures that don’t normally get told in books of today, by authors who are from those cultures. Essentially what’s being created here is a superhero team of storytellers for all the various gods.
How does the imprint work?
According to the authors the only real guideline is that any story idea pitched to the imprint must be some kind of mythological retelling. The pitches all get screened by Rick Riordan and his editor, and if any story speaks to them they tell the writer to go forth and write it. Roshani and Jennifer said that while they worked closely with Rick’s editor on their books, Rick Riordan himself was very hands-off (you know until he retweets their new book’s release to his millions of followers).
Of course he does get to see a polished draft of the book before it gets made into the final product, and both authors said he sent back their manuscripts with a lot of red marks which they panicked about until they realized it was mostly “LOL’s!”.
Why is this important?
I’ve always gotten a very good vibe from Rick Riordan’s work. Though he writes about various mythologies, he’s not saying one is right and the other is wrong. He’s saying this mythology is right, and everything else is right too. No judgments, no favoritism.
Now he’s taken this message a step further by starting up an imprint for new voices to tell their own cultures’ stories. These books aren’t issue-driven, though; they are epic modern day retellings of mythology that just happen to have a diverse cast of characters, and to me that’s the best part of the whole imprint. Diversity is the norm.
A panel launching a new imprint wouldn’t be complete without getting a little sneak peak at what titles are coming up. Below are inside looks at several books scheduled to be released by Rick Riordan Presents.
- Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (March 2018):This is a retelling of the Pandava Brothers story and other Indian/Hindu mythology centered around a young girl named Aru Shah who has to stop the world from ending after she lights a cursed lamp. This is planned as a quartet with the second book, Aru Shah and the Song of Death, scheduled for release in 2019.
- The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes (September 2018): This book uses Mayan mythology to tell the story of a young boy named Zane Obispo who not only has to deal with a physical disability, but is also at the center of a prophecy that could destroy the world. This series is planned as a duology with the sequel, The Fire Keeper, to be released in Fall 2019.
- Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (January 2019): Planned as a stand-alone novel, this story combines Korean mythology with science-fiction, in an epic space opera adventure.
- Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez (September 2019): This stand-alone, according to Rick Riordan, is a combination of humor, quantum physics, and Cuban mythology.
- Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (2019): This is planned as a stand-alone novel centered around the retelling of Navajo mythology.
- Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbaliia (2020): African and African American mythology combine to tell the first story in the Tristan Strong series.
Remember while some of these books may not be available yet, pre-orders help to create a lot of buzz for authors. So if these titles interest you order what you can now, and keep your eyes peeled for more books from Rick Riordan Presents!
Thinking About Going to BookExpo Next Year?
If you’ve been following all the BookExpo 2018 recap specials we’ve been doing at DIY MFA, and are thinking you might want to try your hand at attending this awesome trade show, here are just a few last tidbits of information you should know before you go:
- Wear comfortable shoes, and if you think they’re normally comfortable think again. It’s been a month and my feet are still punishing me.
- There is no official dress code at BookExpo, and you will see everything from formal suits to jeans and t-shirts. My advice think business casual with flair.
- There will be hoards of free books there, and yes you can just take them. Be polite, and don’t maul fellow book lovers.
- Bring a big suitcase for all the books you will get. If you think your suitcase is big enough, bring a bigger one.
Well that about wraps it up for this newbie’s look inside BookExpo. I hope to bring you guys more industry insider information from BookExpo 2019!
Marielle Orff is a freelance writer, content strategist, and podcast producer who strives to help authors manage their online presence so they can put their best foot forward. As a content strategist she takes the stress of content marketing off authors and streamlines their process so they can focus their attention on what really matters: their writing. She is the producer for DIY MFA Radio, as well as the Content Strategist for DIYMFA.com. In her free time she writes stories of science-fiction and fantasy for young adults. To connect with Marielle check out her website at marielleorff.com.