By now, with BEA (Book Expo America) just days away, everyone is probably sick of seeing BEA-related posts. Unless you’re like me and attending BEA for the first time – then you’re positively DEVOURING any and all advice you stumble across.
So here’s the deal: At first, I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to attend BEA. I applied for a Press Pass and was denied – That’s fine and I understand why it happened; it’s just, it took so long to hear back from them about it that I was pressed for time in registering and buying my ticket. And then, when I was finally ready to buy my ticket, some transportation issues arose. For those who don’t know, I live outside NYC and was planning to commute in each day. But then things came up. So I wasn’t sure if I was going and I didn’t want to plan and get excited, only to find out I couldn’t go. Bottom line, I didn’t want to get my hopes up!
Then a wonderful blogging friend saved my BEA Butt by agreeing to let me crash at her apartment. And so here we are, two days away from BEA and I haven’t finalized my conference schedule, haven’t made a packing list and haven’t started packing, obviously. I haven’t even pulled my suitcase out of the attic yet.
So, if you’re like me and behind on planning, fear not! I’m going to share with you everything I’ve learned so far!
But first… I’m going to share with you some things about myself to prepare you guys for the socially awkward meet-and-greet! This idea is credited to Jessica @ Lovin’ Los Libros. You can find her post here!
1. So, I’m NOT photogenic and I HATE putting my picture out there (yet I do STS vlogs, go figure). But here it is, so you can pick me out in a crowd more easily:
2. I’m a TOTALLY awkward hugger. Unless the other person initiates the hug, I always wonder if they actually WANT to hug and then I hesitate and it’s awkward. But I DON’T mind hugs, so if you’re a hugger, go for it! Just a heads up!
3. I’m really, really shy… Like, someone I went to high school with once told me everyone thought I was a bitch and a stuck-up snob because I didn’t make eye contact with anyone in the hallway between classes… But I was just painfully shy. Once I get to know you, I get chatty and you won’t be able to shut me up!
And that leads me to Things About Me Number 4…
4. I’m ridiculously nervous when it comes to approaching people. I tend to get nervous and sulk away. So if you see me/recognize me, feel free to make the first move! (That sounds so wrong, but ya know what I mean!). And if we make eye contact and I look away, I’m NOT snubbing you!! I’m just shy and, most likely, working up the courage to come say hi!
5. The final point I want to make is this: I’m BAD with faces. I could stare at a person’s picture for hours and still have trouble recognizing them in real life. So if I’m scanning the crowd and look right past you, I’m SO SORRY! Just run up and yell at me!
So that’s everything, I think. Bottom line: I’m totally composed on here and on Twitter because I can type something out and read it over ten times, making sure it sounds perfect. But I can’t do that in real life! So yeah, the excitement is there, but so are the nerves! Please excuse my quirkiness and COME SAY HI if I don’t have the guts to do it first :)
OKAY… Now that the fun stuff *COUGH sarcasm COUGH* is done… As promised, here is a short list of everything I’ve learned so far in preparing for BEA:
1. Professional versus Comfortable. Dress professionally, but wear comfortable shoes – even if that means sneakers (just make sure they’re clean and new looking!). This seems to be the number one piece of advice from every blogger, author and industry insider I’ve spoken to. BEA is a professional trade show. That means you are representing your company and/or your blog/vlog. 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. Be polite, professional, respectful. Avoid foul language and inappropriate jokes. Even if you think you’re saying things just to your friends, you never know who will walk by or who can hear you from the next booth over.
3. Business Cards! Sadly, if you don’t have business cards already, it’s likely too late to order them. VistaPrint is pretty good about express shipping, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg. However, if you DO have business cards, BRING THEM. 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. I’ve been told numerous times by numerous people that the Javits does NOT have any outlets for you to use. Not to mention it seems to be a black hole that sucks out all your phone’s battery within an hour or less. And if you really want to take pictures or share things on social media, your battery will drain even faster. 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. This is another piece of advice everyone has been talking about. Seriously, don’t grab every single ARC just because you can. Think of it this way… 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 I’ve been told food at the Javits is yucky and over-priced. Plus, you could end up waiting in some sighing lines for over an hour and might have to rush from one signing to another, with no time for food inbetween. 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!
So I think that about covers everything. I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of things, but no have no fear! I’m including some links below to blog posts by other bloggers who have similar posts. Some of them are seasoned BEA-goers and are able to provide better advice than I can!
The wonderful bloggers at Owl Always Be Reading have a whole blog post with nothing but links to BEA advice posts. Be sure to check it out here! It’s like a one-stop free-for-all.
The epically amazing (and generous) Jenna @ Jenna Does Books has kindly shared her ENTIRE BEA spreedsheet, which has a huge list of autographing authors, broken down by day. If you stop by her blog and download the Excel document, be sure to leave her a comment, thanking her for her generosity! Find that blog post here!
Katie @ Katie’s Book Blog has some wonderful advice about not spending all your time in the autographing lines and discovering new authors. Check it out here.
Shae @ Shae Has Left the Room has a six-part series filled with BEA advice – everything from packing to getting your badge to BEA etiquette. Find them all here!
Nicole from YA Interrobang has a Google Doc FILLED with an extensive list of YA signings, panels and galley drops. Check it out here!
Not sure what to do after BEA each night? Don’t want to just hang around your hotel room/apartment? Julie at Bloggers[Heart]Books has a great list (with dates, times and locations) of some after-hours events that are open to the public! Check it out here!
If you’re a blogger interested in attending the blogger meet-and-greets, Alexa Loves Books has a blog post with more information, such as dates, times and locations. Find it here.