Phew! I’m back from BEA and so exhausted from everything that went into trying to not miss a single second of the show. It was basically go-go-go at all times Wednesday through Friday but I regret nothing…especially as I look at my amazing book haul and even better pictures!
Since I’m back I wanted to take a moment to first give you my perspective and then give a few tips for anyone going for the first time. Wednesday was a half day and for a newbie it was a nice easing my way into the show since I had no idea what to expect. It was a catch 22 though because there wasn’t a ton going on that day. So I appreciated getting my feet wet but at the same time there wasn’t nearly as much going on as the other days. Don’t get me wrong though – I still got amazing books and my coloring book from Newbourne Media, which has proven as awesome as I expected, made the day pretty amazing.
Thursday and Friday were overwhelmingly fantastic from start to finish. I not only got books from authors that I love, I also got to meet many of these authors. I’ve said for years that authors are my celebrities so this was just wonderful to me. These included Gayle Forman, Tahereh Mafi, Elin Hildebrand, Jodi Picoult, Justin Cronin, Jill Shalvis, and Marissa Meyer.
Author Marissa Meyer – author of The Lunar Chronicles
So here are my tips for other newbies in the future:
Get there early! Below is just one example of one of the lines. We drove to the conference every day because I’m only a few states away so the first day we got there early and scoped out a great parking spot. Then every day thereafter we literally parked in the same spot because it was such a great spot. But even if not driving getting there early is a wonderful idea – the line to get in starts early as do the events every day. Which leads me to my next tip.
Plan ahead! Look at the schedule of both what galleys are dropping when and which authors are signing when and where. All of this information is key! There is both an autographing area at tables as well as booths which mean the Publishing booths – authors can and will sign at both. I had no clue that there was a difference, I assumed it was all one place. There were multiple times that because I planned ahead I was able to do some smart planning and pick up a quick galley on the way to getting in line for a signing I knew would be much busier. Each day Publisher Weekly puts out a ‘daily’ magazine that they hand out and we read while waiting to get in, with updates to the schedule. This was vital because schedules change and this changed MY schedule.
Be kind and courteous. To absolutely everyone. Even if you don’t know who they are. I mean, you should be anyways obviously. But this is key here. It’s not cool to be rude to people just because they can’t do something for you. It’s even worse to act like people at BEA OWE you something. Swag and free books were really amazing to get but I witnessed some people acting like they just deserved to get them. While others were clearly touched when they randomly got gifted with something fun. Definitely be the latter. Extend that kindness to those in lines too – a good line is a fun line. We held the place for those who needed to run quickly to grab something because that’s just good line etiquette, but also good karma!
My favorite bookmark from Harlequin – an example of fun swag I got.
Explore! Look beyond the big Publishing booths. There were a ton of booths there – and not just of books. There were fun booths, like Litographs and our new favorite Obvious State, that we featured last week. There were great booths like Newbourne Media I mentioned earlier with the coloring books, there were booths with amazing leather bound bookish journals, there were just awesome booths everywhere!
Oh, and along the lines of preparing – bring water and snacks with you. Food is expensive there. I found I also didn’t want to miss anything to take a time out to eat. The food you should be protein-ish too so you don’t pass out or anything!
Also, while you should be nice and courteous don’t be afraid to approach people. Because I was paying attention while in line for other things and I watched these two authors be super nice I was able to speak to them and grab a quick picture! The main picture on this post is Jess, Dottie, myself and author Sonali Dev hanging out in line together waiting for another author. That was a great experience to be able to just chat with her for about 30-45 minutes. Jess and I had met her before so we were comfortable enough to approach her there. I’m definitely not saying to seriously accost authors because they deserve their own space too. But by being respectful and nice it could work out well for you too.
Laini Taylor – author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Ransom Riggs – author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Regardless of if you follow my tips, just remember to have fun!!