BEA (Book Expo America) is something Christie & I have dreamed of attending and this year, it is actually happening! We are so excited, but also incredibly clueless as to what to expect. So, what’s a better way than talk to a fellow blogger who has already gone?
We reached out to Andrea, who is the blogger over at The Overstuffed Bookcase. She’s been to BEA and knows what to do before you go, what to take with you, and what to expect while you’re there. We originally planned for just one post, but once she got started, Andrea realized just how much a newbie to BEA would need to know. So, BEA Tips from Andrea will be broken down into three different guest posts.
We featured BEA Tips Part 1 two weeks ago and BEA Tips Part 2 this past week and today we have BEA Tips Part 3.
Part 3 is all about what to do WHILE YOU’RE THERE.
So, here you go! I hope this helps you just as much as it helped us!
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BEA Tips Part Three: While You’re There
Hi everyone! My name is Andrea and I’m the blogger over at The Overstuffed Bookcase. I’ve had my book blog now for over two years, but I’ve only been to BookExpo America (BEA) once, so I’m in no way an expert. However, I do think that I can share a few tips with those of you who have never been before. This is the third and final part of my tips: While You’re There, where I’ll talk a bit more about what to wear and bring with you to the conference, shipping back books, basic BEA tips, and other events going on during BEA. Make sure to check out the previous posts, Part One: Before You Go, and Part Two: What To Pack. And if you have any questions, feel free to email me at theoverstuffedbookcase (at) gmail (dot) com, or send me a tweet at @OverstuffedBook!
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
What to Wear
I already talked about this in Part Two: What To Pack, but I feel like I should still mention it here. To the conference, you should wear comfortable shoes, business casual clothes (no jeans!), and maybe bring a light sweater with you, in case the AC is blasting.
What to Bring With You to the Conference
I also mentioned some of these things in Part Two: What To Pack, but I have also included a couple other things that you should bring with you.
The most important thing you need to remember is your registration confirmation. You should have been sent a confirmation email with your badge number, a bar code, and all your registration information. You must print this out and bring it with you the first day that you come to the conference. You can also register on Wednesday even if you’re not going to be at any of Wednesday’s events (like the BEA Bloggers Conference). When you register, they will give you an actual badge. Make sure you bring your badge with you every day.
You should think about having some kind of large bag to bring with you. You will probably pick up several tote bags while you’re there, and those will help with carrying around books, but you should definitely have a bag with you that contains the following items:
Your event schedule/wish list (Be sure to check out Part Two: What To Pack, because I have an example of the schedule I made for last year)
Your business cards
Some kind of folder or envelope for all the business cards that you receive (I used a coupon organizer)
A snack (The lines are long and you often have to get in line way ahead of time, so a snack is a good thing to have!)
A few pens
A notebook (You may need to jot something down and it’s good to have some paper handy!)
Optional items: tissues, band-aids (I really recommend these, because you might get blisters on your feet—I did!), a wireless cell-phone charger
You should also bring a rolling suitcase (with a lock!) with you. It also might be handy to have some kind of bright, unique item on your suitcase (I suggest putting something on the top near the handle), so you can easily identify it. When you get to the Javits Center you should register if you haven’t already, and then head right to the areas where you can check your suitcases. You have to pay a couple of dollars for the service, but it is definitely worth it. Put any items you don’t need in your suitcase. You will receive a tag with a number to identify your suitcase, and make sure you don’t lose it. Put it in your wallet or someplace safe. Take your other bag with you on the conference floor. Then, when you have amassed several books, you can simply go back to your suitcase and put the books in your suitcase. That way you’re not carrying tons of books around all day. Then at the end of the day, you can retrieve your suitcase, and it is an easy way to get your books back to your hotel.
Basic BEA Tips
When the floor opens each day, there is a long line and kind of a mad dash to all the booths, where publishers have their first book drops. So if you’re not going to an author breakfast, you should try to get there early (and even if you are going to an author breakfast, you should probably get there early), so you can get a good place in line.
Booths have different times when they drop books, or put books out for people to take, but they don’t all publish those times ahead of time. Some booths will have handouts with their book drop schedules, so those are good to get. Some will tell you when they will drop certain books if you ask. Sometimes they will have lines for book drops, and sometimes you can simply walk by and get a book. No matter what you do, you should be polite. Don’t grab the books, and don’t get more than one, unless you ask and they say it is okay. Some bloggers are very adamant about people only taking one, but last year I ended up taking a couple at once, because I asked if I could have one more for another blogger. I wouldn’t advise doing it though—it may make you look bad to the publisher or other bloggers.
Some booths will also have in-booth signings, where an author will be stationed in their publisher’s booth. Last year, a couple of those booths had tickets for these in-booth signings. I suggest that if there is an author you really want to see who is going to do an in-booth signing, that you visit the booth ahead of time, and ask them if how they will be doing the in-booth signing.
The autographing lines are kind of crazy and hectic. Be prepared to do a lot of waiting. You probably need to get to the autographing line at least 30 minutes ahead of the time when the author will actually start signing. In fact, an hour beforehand might be a better idea. When you get to the numbered line, odds are that another author will still be signing at that line. Ask the attendant if there is already a line for the next author, the one that you want to see. They will direct you to a kind of pre-line. Those might already be super long, depending on how early you get there. Last year, I got to one line 2 hours ahead of time, and there was already a pre-line, with about 5 people. So if there is an author you absolutely MUST see, I would advise that you get to the signing line at least an hour ahead of time.
Also, at the front of each of the autographing lines, there are these big clear boxes, where you are asked to donate some money. I think they ask you to donate $1 for each book you receive. Which is a heck of a deal, really. I don’t remember ever seeing much money in those boxes, though. One tip I learned last year is dropping a $20 bill in at the beginning of the conference, and you can always add more later.
It helps if you have a friend with you who will save your spot in line if you have to go to the bathroom. But if you don’t, odds are you’ll start to chat with the people in line around you, and many of them will be glad to save your spot in line. Just make sure you’re back quickly, so that if the line starts moving, or if a pre-line moves into the actual line spot, you don’t get left behind. Also—there are not many bathrooms. So try to go before you get there, and any time you have a break. There will also be long lines for the restroom, especially the women’s.
The food in the food court is expensive. Each day I got a soft drink, a salad, and a package of two mini Milano cookies, and I’m pretty sure I spent at least $15. Maybe it was more, I can’t really remember. But be prepared to overpay. Some people bring their own lunch or lots of snacks, and some people go off-site for lunch. But I felt like it would take up too much time to go off-site so I just came prepared with extra cash. They also take credit cards in the food court. And during lunch time the food court is super packed. So if you have some free time, you might want to head down a little early so that you don’t waste too much time in line at the cash registers.
If you are a blogger, and you see a blogger you recognize from online, but haven’t met in real life, don’t hesitate to say hi! Introduce yourself, and make sure to say the name of your blog, because that’s an easy way for other bloggers to recognize you. You may feel shy or awkward saying hi to someone, but try not to! Most bloggers want to talk to other bloggers, and want to get to know more bloggers, so just go for it and say hi!
Shipping Back Books
I believe that there is a UPS or FedEx booth just outside the main entrance to the conference floor, so that you can easily ship your books back to your home address, that way you don’t have to lug tons of books back on the plane/train/bus/car with you. However, I was told that that booth is extremely expensive, and was advised to simply take my books to one of the many post offices around NYC and send them back that way. Several bloggers sent theirs back via media mail last year, and I heard that several of them had horrible luck with their packages being damaged, or even opened with books missing. I personally didn’t use the media mail option. I just grabbed a couple of the large USPS flat-rate boxes, filled them up, and mailed those to myself. They were $16 each, which may not be anywhere near as cheap as the media mail packages, but my boxes weren’t damaged in any way. So it’s up to you how you want to send them back. But the large post office near Penn Station is open pretty late, and is also open on Saturdays and Sundays, so it’s a great place to ship your books.
Other Things Going On During BEA
Some bloggers will be invited to publisher parties during the evenings. Don’t feel bad if you’re not invited—I wasn’t last year and I felt so overwhelmed that I’m glad I wasn’t invited to some of those parties! However, if I’m invited this year I’ll be super excited! And if not, I’ll still have tons of fun hanging out in NYC with my husband!
There is also a Teen Author Carnival on Wednesday the 28th, at the Jefferson Market Library. I didn’t go to this last year, so I don’t really know much about it, other than there will be several YA authors there. For more info, you can go here: http://teenauthorcarnival.tumblr.com/ or follow the Teen Author Carnival thread in the BookExpo America Goodreads group, which should have more information as they receive it.
And my favorite thing going on during BEA (well, besides BEA itself): the BEA Book Blogger Picnic! Last year as BEA time was approaching, I was afraid that bloggers wouldn’t actually be able to spend too much time with each other at BEA. Sure, you might see some bloggers at the Blogger Con, and you might stand in line with some of your fellow bloggers, but that didn’t really give you time to talk very much, or a chance to meet other bloggers that you might not see in line. So I decided that we needed some kind of blogger gathering during the week of BEA. I went to twitter, gained some awesome fellow organizers (Katelyn from Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands, Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, and Jen from YA Romantics), and we planned the 2013 BEA Blogger Picnic. We held last year’s event in Central Park on Friday evening, and it was so much fun! About 30 bloggers showed up, and we had some cake, and just chatted about books, BEA, blogging, etc. And this year, the BEA Blogger Picnic is back! My co-organizers and I are currently in the planning stages, and we might even be making the event a two-day thing, with a picnic in the park on Friday evening and a kind of meet-and-drink in a pub on Saturday evening. But like I said, we’re currently in the planning stages, and hope to have more info really soon! Just follow my blog, The Overstuffed Bookcase , my twitter (@OverstuffedBook), and/or the hashtag #BEABloggerPicnic on twitter for more info soon! All book bloggers are welcome, and we hope to see you there!
General NYC Tips
I’ve only been to NYC once, for last year’s BEA, so again, I’m no expert, but I thought I’d just give you a few basic NYC tips in case it’s your first time to the city as well.
Utilize the subway. Cabs can be costly and traffic can back up, so the subway really is a great way to get around. Of course, sometimes it can be very confusing, so double check that you’re going the right way, or are on the right train!
There are tons of restaurants in NYC, and while you can just walk up to many of them, there are others where you need to have a reservation. I downloaded the OpenTable app on my phone, and it made it super easy for me to make a reservation to a couple of NYC restaurants. I made my reservations a few weeks in advance, though, so that way I knew we would be able to go to those restaurants that we really wanted to try out. Also, be aware that some restaurants require a dress code. Be sure to look up that information or call ahead, just in case.
Well, those are all of my BEA tips! Those that I can think of, that is. Most of all, just remember to have fun, stay hydrated, and sit down when you can at the conference. You’ll be in lots of lines, and your feet will thank you if you sit down a lot.
Please feel free to email me at theoverstuffedbookcase (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any questions, or shoot me a tweet at @OverstuffedBook. And thanks so much to Heather for letting me share all my BEA tips with you guys! Hope you all have a great time at BEA, and be sure to say hi to me if you see me!
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Thank you so much Andrea for providing tips to those of us who have no idea what to do in preparation for BEA this coming May. We hope to meet you while we’re there!
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