I’ve attended BookExpo several times now – four, to be exact. It never gets old. It’s amazing getting to see all my friends and colleagues, learn about awesome books, and meet authors. Every BookExpo brings with it something new and exciting. Plus, this year, I got to go as not only a blogger, but also a bookseller, which added a whole new element to it for me (for those who don’t know, I’m now a Children’s Lead Bookseller at my local Barnes & Noble). I also spent some time with my Spencer Hill Press Family, so with everything going on, it was a busy schedule!
I’m going to break this down into my favorite moments and advice for those who wish to attend BEA in the future:
My Favorite Moments
-Seeing fellow book bloggers and publishing peeps who I really only get to see once a year. Blogging has brought with it some of the best friendships I’ve ever had, and I love seeing my fellow bloggers in person. Also as a blogger, I work closely with publicists, so it’s nice getting to see them in person once a year to discuss new books and fangirl over ones we’re both excited for.
-I’ve been working with one particular publicist since the beginning of my blogging days (back in 2013). And I FINALLY got to meet her. Not only was it incredible to finally meet her, but she introduced me to one of her top authors as a “superstar.” That was a pretty incredible moment for me, not gonna lie.
-I’m a publicist for Spencer Hill Press, but I work from home, so I rarely see my fellow coworkers. Seeing them at BEA is alway exciting.
-It was amazing attending BEA as a new(ish) bookseller. Like I mentioned above, it gave me a new perspective on the show. As a blogger, I was looking for mostly teen books, since that’s the main audience of my blog. But as a Children’s Bookseller, I noticed picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books, as well. I made note of several books that I wanted to bring into my department so I could recommend them to customers, and create new and exciting displays.
-I was invited to a publishing event for Macmillan/Fierce Reads. This was DEFINITELY highlight, as I was able to meet the amazing Leigh Bardugo (top) and the awesome Tomi Adeyemi (bottom), author of Children of Blood and Bone. Not only was it amazing getting to speak one-on-one with these (and other) authors, but it was a nice chance to relax and have fun after a long day on the exhibit floor.
-There was this amazing giant whiteboard wall at one of the publisher booths that asked attendees to “Share the book that changed your life.” Can you guys guess which one I picked?
It wasn’t Harry Potter, believe it or not. That one is kind of a giant DUH! The book I picked was one that changed my life because it was one of the first teen books I read, and really shaped me as a reader: The Mediator series by Meg Cabot!
-Another really cool moment? Seeing this epic poster for Sarah J. Maa’s Throne of Glass series:
-Finally, I had some epic celebrity sightings at this year’s BEA: Sally Fields and Bruce the Bear!
My goal this year was to only grab the books I was truly dying for. My number one most desired book was Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco – which I snagged! Everything else was a happy bonus, and most of what I got came from the Fierce Reads Party.
Advice to new Bloggers who want to attend BEA
BEA can be so overwhelming the first time you attend. Just keep the following in mind, and you’ll be good:
1. Dress professionally, but wear comfortable shoes – even if that means sneakers (just make sure they’re clean and new looking!). BEA is a professional trade show. That means you are representing your company and/or your blog/vlog/bookstagram/etc. You want to make a good impression! You’re going to be meeting many, many people and you never know who you might network with. You want people to remember you for the RIGHT reasons.
2. Be Polite and Respectful (!!). Going back to rule number one – You’re going to be meeting agents, publicists, editors, authors, etc. Are you a blogger who wants to work in publishing one day? Then you may very well meet your future co-workers at BEA, if not your future boss.
3. Business Cards! This ties in with rules one and two – you never know who you’ll meet and network with. Trading business cards allows you to stay in touch with those you make connections with.
4. Bring an external battery charger. The Javits Center is a black hole that sucks out all your phone’s battery within an hour or less – especially if you’re taking pictures or sharing things on social media – and doesn’t have a lot (if any) outlets for you to use. Plus, since your phone is your lifeline for meeting up with friends, you’ll be in trouble if it dies on you.
5. Don’t be an ARC Hog. Bloggers have gotten a terrible reputation at conventions because of this. There are only so many copies available. What if you grab an ARC you’re only mildly interested in and, because of that, someone who was dying for it can’t get a copy? Better yet, what if YOU desperately want something and every copy is gone by the time you try to get it because every person who was mildly interested in it just grabbed it? Plus, is it really necessary to leave BEA with 100+ books, half of which you may never read? And, another thing? Don’t be greedy… Don’t grab multiple copies! Same logic – it deprives others who might desperately want it.
6. Bring Food or Starve. Okay, not really. But you’re going to be waiting in a lot of long signing lines and might have to rush from one signing to another, with no time for food in between. Bring granola bars, dried fruit, trail mix, candy bars – whatever will be yummy and satisfying. Personally, I like granola bars that have peanut butter and lots of protein because they’re filling. Also, while water is your absolute best option, some drinks like Gatorade and Vitamin Water have electrolytes, which help keep you from becoming dehydrated.
7. Authors are People, Too. They are going to be signing hundreds of books for people. Some signings are only half an hour long. Don’t get upset if an author looks/sounds tired or isn’t up for chatting or taking pictures. Be kind and respectful to them and thank them for their time. They’ll remember that kindness and appreciate it!
Looking forward to next year, I’m just really excited to see my fellow bloggers and booksellers, to network with the awesome publishing peeps I work with every day while blogging, and to discover even more awesome books!
So, have you attended BEA? Do you want to? Leave your comments or questions in the comments section below!