We are a week away from Book Expo America, and I thought it would be fun to share some bits of wisdom that I’ve acquired over the last few years. If you’re reading this post, you have already made plans to attend BEA, or you are thinking about attending in the future. I feel sorry for those of you that fit into the latter category, because that means you have to wait a whole year for BEA ’14!
Let’s start with some tips on the prep work involved…
- You need to book air fare and hotel EARLY! To get a great deal to/in NYC is difficult to say the least, but if you book a hotel with roommates in mind you can save a wad of cash.
- Save yo $$$$! Now, I know what you’re thinking, I’ve booked my flight, hotel, and bought a ticket to BEA. What else could there be? Well, let me tell you, SHIPPING! Whether you pick up 10, 20, or (in my case) 90 books, you still have to get them home. This is where the U.S. Postal Service comes in, but I will touch on that in a minute. Just be prepared to spend anywhere from $20-$120 in shipping to get all of those beautiful books home.
- Packing. BEA is three intense days of walking, standing in line, walking, standing in line, dashing across the main floor, standing in line… You get the picture. While you want to look professional, you also want to be comfortable. My first year I wanted to be ‘cute’, and I paid for it in blisters. My feet will never be the same! Good shoes, layers, and deodorant are key. (I know it’s obvious, but every year I end up in line with someone that has not put on deodorant. Please, for the love! PUT. IT. ON.)
- If you want to network at BEA, don’t hesitate to bring biz cards. This can be a wonderful way to get a new reader, ‘Follower’, or ‘Like’.
- Lastly, if you’re like me it may be difficult to decide if food or books are more important. If this is the case, bring snacks. I love to pack breakfast bars, and I eat them throughout the day. Then, I chow down with my besties, after the festivities have concluded (and I’ve taken a cat nap back at the hotel), at a local dive.
- ‘My Show Planner’ on BEA’s website will be your best friend while you’re running around booths each day. Don’t wait, sign up for an account early, and start scheduling which signings and booths you want to check out. Print it out. That way you can decide which signing/panel to go to if you have two that overlap. You can also figure out good times for bathroom/water/food breaks.
- Get there early. Each year I am surprised at how many people get to BEA early and wait in line to be the first person to get all the goodies that the publishers pass out. First, know that you can’t get everything, so don’t be disappointed if you miss out on one or two items. There is a good chance they may hand out the same item later during the conference. Secondly, if there is a ticketed autographing session (it will state this on the website), you will need to pick up said ticket before the convention opens.
- Bag checking is a big deal at BEA. You will have your hands full within the first 15 minutes of each day, and checking a bag will be a life saver. Once you check your bag (I suggest bringing one with wheels), you can come and go as you please to fill it throughout the day.
- Phone service kinda stinks at the Javitz Center. Just know that if you’re trying to tweet, text, or email in the center the life of your phone battery will be sucked into a black hole. Bring a battery backup, or change the settings on your smart phone to be dumber.
- Shipping books home can be rough financially if you choose to use FedEx, or the like. They have booths at the conference, but I suggest rolling your collection of ARCs and swag to the closest U.S. Post Office. Media mail is so much cheaper, and well worth the walk or taxi ride!
- This last one is a no-brainer… Have fun, be nice, and network! There are so many amazing people you will meet each day, and they will be your friend while you wait in line, or watch your stuff while you run to the potty. You can’t go wrong making a friend at BEA, because they probably love books as much as you do!
P.S. Next week, I will be back with pictures and tales of all the fun had at BEA! You can also keep up with me while I’m at BEA by following me on Twitter, or liking me on Facebook (see sidebar for links)!