To all my book blogger and book-obsessed friends, I highly recommend attending BEA at least once, if you can. It's an amazing, exhausting, mind-blowing experience that's worth both your time and money. Because this year was my first time attending BookExpo America, I learned a ton so I thought I'd share my hard-won experience with those of you thinking (or dreaming) about attending:
1. Wear comfortable--yet professional-ish--clothes. But don't worry so much about your shoes--wear what's most comfortable. It's so crowded, most people won't even see your shoes. I wore my tennis shoes and thanked god I did at the end of each day. But you're going to be talking to a ton of people, most of whom you want to leave with a good impression of you so don't look like you just rolled out of bed.
2. Speaking of...don't be afraid to talk to people. The nice thing is, you're all there because you love books so you'll always have something to talk about. Surprising myself, I talked to authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers like it was my job. I swear, I'm a really introverted, shy person and with all the talking and meeting new people this past week, well, it's going to take me a while to recover but it was so totally worth it. I met a ton of fabulous people just by talking books, one of my favorite subjects.
3. Don't be afraid to go solo. All my interactions prior to BEA were online so I knew no one IRL. But I went anyway. And had an absolute blast. I loved meeting Allison from Allison Can Read, The Gorgeous Gals of Bewitched Bookworms, Jenny from Supernatural Snark, Melissa from i swim for oceans, and so many more awesome bloggers, authors, publishers, and bookish people. Amazing folks I wouldn't have met if I didn't suck up my fears and go it alone.
4. Get organized. The BEA had an online show planner that was relatively helpful but, I have to say, a lot of it went out the window when I got there. Many of the publishers put out a schedule of their author signings and book drops (when they put out piles of lovely ARCs that they want people to pick up and buzz about). Publisher's Weekly also puts out a "Show Daily" that talks about show events. I found these most helpful in putting together a daily schedule (which I didn't do until the second day, having spent the first day wandering around in a daze).
5. Be flexible. Yes, a schedule helps immensely but don't be rigid about it. BEA serendipity plays a large role in the BEA experience. What do I mean by that? Well, I wouldn't have run into John Green *major, breathless fangirl squee* at the Penguin booth and learned he's both taller and more adorable than on his Vlogbrothers podcasts. And nicer, if that's possible. *sigh* BEA serendipity also led me to several signings and run-ins I wouldn't have had if I'd stuck to my schedule.
And some short but important lessons...
6. Book storage: Don't be afraid to bring a rolling bag and store it, if you want. A lot of people do that, so they don't have to play the role of a book mule all day long. It's three dollars to store it. Personally, my hotel was close enough that I just dropped some off about half-way through the day and headed back.
7. Remember, you're going to have to get everything you collect home. It's not such an issue if you drive but if you flew or rode the train, you're better off showing more restraint. Of course, you can always mail your books home via media mail. Super-easy.
8. Wear a watch (or bring a phone). Timing is everything.
9. Don't expect the internet or your phone to work well. The Javits Center is a battery graveyard, draining away your phone's life force and will to work.
10. Bring water and a snack. Trust me on this one. An 8oz bottle of water is like $4. Crazypants expensive.
P.S. I really suck at taking pictures so all these are from Wednesday near the end of the day...because that's when I remembered to take pics. *rolls eyes at self*