Just navigating through the crowds on West 35th Street, wending your way to 11th Avenue as each block feels much more like five blocks gives you a feeling of what it takes just to reach the Javits Center--a gigantic structure that looks like something an erector set enthusiast gave up on half way through.
But that's only the beginning. Even if your publisher has a designated booth, you still have to fight through the throngs carrying shopping bags, anxious to spot Steven King and other favorites, and looking forward to all the giveaways. Then, if you ever manage to get some official to sign you in and give you access to the second floor exhibitors area, you're still way behind.
Perhaps you've imagined how many publishers are out there vying for some slice of the readership market. However, taking in the rows upon rows of booths, each row stretching far to the left and right, each aisle made up of sellers and writers directly opposite as onlookers drift between, gives you a true inkling of what's in store.
To top it all off, after you've walked quite a distance and finally reached your independent publisher's designated spot, you may realize the experience isn't at all what you thought it would be.
In my case, I actually had to compete with a colleague by my side for the attention of passersby. I assumed she'd help. I assumed the fancy book markers she'd sent would do the trick. But oh no. Oh-oh-oh no. And the fact that my Hollywood caper was just released wasn't nearly good enough. She had buttons and all kinds of paraphernalia to catch people's eye, an also just-released novel but one that was being made into a movie, plus a can't-miss tale of a female anti-Christ she was especially fond of.
And so, lousy salesman that I am, I found myself standing up and intercepting folks who looked kindly and receptive. Admittedly, the young lady in the adjacent booth, the one fronting for an e-publisher from North Carolina and her down-home partner turned out to be friendly and promised to read the Kindle version of my novel. So those kind of things helped ease the constant pressure.
Needless to say, it's a given "you're not in Kansas anymore." And once you've been through it, you'll probably never be quite the same.