Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chicago -- My first Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC)

I had been telling myself each year since I began narrating books that I would go to the annual conference held by the Audio Publishers Association (APA).  I joined the APA several years ago but hadn't gotten to their conference until last week.  The event is usually held in New York City and is in conjunction with the BookExpo American (BEA) publishing event.

I figured that Chicago wouldn't be quite as expensive as NYC so it was a good venue for my first time to attend.  Besides the all-day conference which consisted of panels discussing different topics and interacting with the attendees, there was also a pre-APAC mixer the night before.  I was pretty nervous when I walked into that room.  It was held in a reserved room of a downtown restaurant and featured finger foods and a bar.  I was late getting there and when I looked around the room I saw Simon Vance, Johnny Heller, Xe Sands, and too many other well-known names to mention.  Let's just say that I felt very much like a newbie although I did have a chance to meet people I'd only known via the Internet and others I'd never met in any format.

The really big night for the event is the ceremony for the Audie awards.  It's expensive to attend so unless you're nominated or involved in some other way, most people don't go.  Comedian Paula Poundstone was the host and she was pretty funny.  (The Audies were streamed live via Youtube.)  Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins and narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher won Audiobook of the Year.  For a complete list of nominees and winners, you can check here.

APAC was absolutely worth going to and I plan to go again (although probably not next year) when it's back in it's home venue of New York City.  As I mentioned to many people, I felt like a sponge just soaking everything up from the panel discussions and chatting with other narrators.

My hotel.

Across from my hotel.

I didn't have much extra time in Chicago but I did have a couple of free hours the day I arrived.  I stayed at the old Congress Plaza Hotel which is across the street from Buckingham Fountain. The Congress was just down the street from the Art Institute of Chicago so I made a beeline for it after I checked in.  Beautiful museum.  I had been ordering from their catalog for years so it was great to finally have a chance to see some of it.

Art Institute of Chicago

Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great.  I loved that it was cool but it was rainy, too.  And foggy.  Yikes, the fog was bad.  We have it in Florida but not this often (according to what a cabby told me).  My last day there I decided to walk a few blocks to a Starbucks for the exercise and to pick up breakfast.  When I got back to the hotel I looked like a drowned rat.  Had to do a little repair job on my hair.  There was no way I was going to look like that all the way back to Tampa.

Another foggy morning.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the awful TSA lines at the airport.  It was pretty bad at O'Hare -- I was in line for about an hour -- but I understand it's been bad at most airports due to the lower fares and people not wanting to pay to check a bag.  I'm glad I allowed extra time.  I was able to grab some lunch before leaving.  There were a number of narrators who missed their flights.  We were flying out on different days and from two different airports, O'Hare and Midway, but the stories were pretty much the same.

Here's a shot I took in a food court at O'Hare of three jazz/blues men made of paper mache.  Tres cool.   

Art at O'Hare.

It's been back to work for me.  I just finished up a mystery which I'll post about here when it's closer to publication.  Next up is a nonfiction book on the history of vaudeville.  It's never dull... 


  1. Sounds like you packed a lot into your short stay in Chicago. Glad it was so rewarding. Hope you can go again.