Debra Prinzing

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Book Expo comes to LA

May 30th, 2008

Los Angeles Convention Center – BookExpo 2008

I’ve heard about Book Expo for years and lucky for me, the venerable trade show and book-sellers’ extravaganza came to Los Angeles this week.

We authors often toil alone in our little offices, sitting at keyboards, staring at monitors, listening to the phrases roll around in our heads and banging out one word; then the next one, plus one more . . . all to string together a well-crafted sentence. I’m very dependent upon my sources, designers, gardeners and homeowners who generously share their stories with me. But in the end, I am alone with my words.

So the 65-mile drive to downtown LA was a big adventure that got me out of the office, into the car (fueled by $4.09/gallon gas) and on a route involving no fewer than five freeways! I arrived at the GIANT LA Convention Center on Figuero Street around 10 a.m. and found a $10 parking lot across the street.  Thank goodness for my Garden Writers Association Press Pass: it easily earned me a badge and press access to the giant exhibition hall.

Some people would be overwhelmed by the aisles and rows of publisher displays. But not book people. It’s reassuring to see how many titles are still printed (albeit in Asia). Ink letters appear on paper pages, 4-color photographs are splashed between blocks of text. Hundreds of sheets are stitched together with thread and glued into a hard-back binding to build a book cover. It’s then wrapped in a colorful jacket and included in a sales catalog. And eventually, that book is touched by the hands of a customer, which is our ultimate goal, isn’t it? Sharing words, photographs and creative ideas with readers. It’s still a noble pursuit and a rewarding profession.

Look v-e-r-y closely. You can see Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways between the heads of the two women in Crown’s booth.

I knew that Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways wouldn’t receive much play in the ENORMOUS Random House/Crown Publishing booth. Let’s call it a quadruple booth! Filled with slim, stylish marketers and aloof publicists with interesting eye wear, the RH team had hundreds of titles to publicize and promote. And, as I had been told ahead of time, the emphasis at Book Expo is on fall 08 catalog titles, not spring 08. So, there wasn’t really an opportunity to be the star of the show. My expectations were low. But still, I had to check it out.

I really did find my book on the back shelf in the booth. And, hey, I’ve got connections! As I was standing there, hoping to meet someone interested in talking with me, who should walk by but a college friend of mine who is PRESIDENT of a major university book store Co-op! I haven’t seen him for years, but we rowed crew together and had an immediate recognition and friendly reunion. I actually “sold” him my book while standing in Random House’s booth. How cool is that?

Debra with Roger Waynick, president & publisher of Cool Springs Press

Next, I ventured over to see my former publisher at Cool Springs Press, Roger Waynick. Bless CSP, which “birthed” two of my books and is – remarkably – the ONLY publisher from which I’ve ever earned royalty checks! CSP is still selling The Abundant Garden (with photographer Barbara J. Denk) and the Washington & Oregon Gardener’s Guide (with co-author Mary Robson).

The Abundant Garden (left) and Washington & Oregon Gardener’s Guide (right)

Roger & Co. were actually happy to see me. They wanted to brainstorm ideas for the future. It was really nice to feel welcomed. My pal, Nan Sterman, author of the California Gardener’s Guide, did a book-signing and was enthusiastically greeted by convention-goers. I was proud of her and her wonderful book.

Investigating Book Expo was educational and insightful. Books are still alive and well, and cherished. I’m glad I took the time to attend – and I’m grateful for the connections I made today.

Here are links to a couple recent media mentions:

The first comes as a complete surprise from Newsday’s “Garden Detective” columnist Jessica Damiano. On May 22nd, she ran a column called New Gardening Books, from organics to landscapes:

“It seems every year around this time, bookstore shelves swell with gardening tomes. Most go back whence they came after I drain my latte cup. But a select few stand out. Here are my picks for books that should actually make it out of the store. Drink up! . . .

The Abundant Garden: A Celebration of Color, Texture, and Blooms (Cool Springs Press, $29.99), by Debra Prinzing with photographs by Barbara J. Denk, is one of those books you flip through, drool overthe photos and then try in earnest to recreate what you see in your own patch of dirt. And that’s pretty easy, as the photo captions actually include names of plants depicted, a rarity in the garden-book world. But this guide’s beauty lies deeper than its color glossies. There’s actually a science to the beauty of abundance, which is defined, in part, by the lack of visible soil or mulch between plants. Readers learn nine specific design principles of creating abundance by studying photos and descriptions of gardens on Bainbridge Island in Seattle.”

It’s so wonderful to receive a review from someone like Jessica, a Master Gardener and editor who is a passionate plantswoman. It’s even more gratifying that she could sift through three years’ worth of garden book releases to unearth and highlight our book. Thank you!

Next, thanks to Diana Ransom, a small-business columnist for Smart Money, who features three Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways shed owners in today’s story about creative home-office solutions. Entitled: “Designing a Dream Home Office,” the article includes quotes and Bill Wright’s gorgeous images of our “shedistas” and their locations: Joseph Marek (landscape architect), Liz Lyons Friedman (print maker) and Amy Bloom (best-selling novelist).

The key to a perfectly productive work space, says Debra Prinzing, a Los Angeles author who has interviewed a number of home-based business owners for her new book, “Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways,” is detachment. “You have to be able to walk into this space and have it be fully dedicated,” she says. A truly separate space boosts productivity – and “quality of life so so much more enhanced,” she adds.

Wow, that’s a lot of good news for one day. Nice to end the week on a high note.

 

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