Sigh, we bought our shelf at the NY Book Expo America with high hopes, but I am afraid, it was definitely not worth it.
How did I hear about BEA? Well, it is right there on the CreateSpace marketing page as a great way to market your books. I did not want to travel to NY and exhibit in person (too costly), so when I found out about purchasing a shelf (around $1000) or a slot for a book on a shelf (around $300). I was excited. The thing is, BEA does not handle this exhibit, Combined Books does.
It literally took 4 hours to fill out the BEA online form for the 8 book shelf. I had to upload samples of each book and add all the publication info about them. If you pay online, they will tack an additional $25 on for the service. Otherwise, you can send in a check, but they want it ASAP (like they will send you an invoice the next day and call to ask why they haven't received the check the day after that).
I was sending hardcovers and paperback, so I called Combined Books and asked if multiple shipments were okay - they told me 'yes.' Then, when I had a printing error and had to send a substitute title, I called again to inform them, and they thanked me. So far, everything was good.
Then I visited the website to change the title there. This is where things started to go bad. My contact information did not transfer correctly from the BEA website and I could never figure out how to fix it. I was able to adjust the book information (which was also messed up). However, this process took time that I didn't want to spend since I already wasted four hours typing it in the first time.
Next, I got an email from them telling me my books had not arrived. Then I got a call saying the same thing. I had tracked the mail, and I knew that my books had arrived. So, I called. And no one returned my call. I sent e-mails. And no one returned my e-mails (including about questions for fixing my account info on the website. In addition, it was never the same person contacting me.
The day before the show, I finally spoke to a person. That person told me they probably had the books and it was due to a "new person" who hadn't checked them in. She told me she would call me back, and to her credit, she did. However, she also told me her boss would call me back to reassure me, and he never did. The last I knew, they still had not found one of my books.
I will say you get a listing on their website for a year. This is nice, but as of posting, I have not seen a spike in sales as a result of it. No agents or publishing companies are knocking on our door to give us a contract. No distributors have put in an order.
My take on it is that some of the thousands of people visiting probably did wander over to the display (perhaps just to get away from the authors who bought a booth and were begging them to come look at their books). They might have even looked at our books out of the hundreds (thousands?) that were there. They probably went home with the nice flyer (along with countless other pieces of literature) and promptly filed it (them) in the circular file. But I am a cynic.
Who knows? Maybe a month from now everybody will be beating our door down to buy our books... I won't hold my breath for that one.