I’ve been so busy that it just hit me that Book Expo America is a week from today. BEA Blogger is next Wednesday and the “regular” expo is the rest of the week. This year is a little bit different for me as I’m driving to New York. Even though I’m driving, I hope not to bring home too many books. (That’s what I’m telling myself.)
I’m psyched about seeing Amy Tan, who is will be on the Downtown Stage on Friday. The Joy Luck Club was the very first book I ever read that featured Asian American women in a “normal” way. They weren’t idealized for their race or their culture. It was about mother-daughter relationships. There’s a ton of author signings and educational sessions for the 3 days of BEA. I can’t possibly go to them all, but it’s fun to see what’s on the schedule.
Here are my tips from last year for BEA attendees, plus a few more:
- Wear comfortable shoes. This is non-negotiable. The Javits is HUGE. You’ll be walking miles in your shoes. It’ll feel like you walked a mile just to get to the expensive food court full of greasy food. Don’t buy new shoes the day before you leave. Buy them now and break them in. Bring some talcum powder for your shoes. It’ll keep your feet from sweating and smelling bad after a long day of strolling the Javits.
- Business cards. Bring more than you think you’ll need. Keep them inside the badge for easy access and replenish as needed. You never who you’ll meet in the autograph line. It could be the next hot author or a kick-ass blogger. You want to stay in touch! I met author Alma Katsu last year during Book Blogger Con ad we still stay in touch.
- Don’t take every book handed to you. Really, it’s ok. I know it’s hard to turn down free books, but be honest with yourself. Are you going to be able to read all of them? You might take one to give to friends, but be realistic. Besides, your shoulders will thank you.
- Bring a tote bag. You’re going to receive a lot of galleys. My first hour at BEA last year, I received over 10 books. Without asking for them. Some of the publishers will giveaway tote bags but they might not be very big or comfortable. No rolling bags are allowed on the expo hall. Make sure your tote bag has wide comfortable straps.
- Or bring a rolling suitcase and check it in the luggage check. It costs around $3 a day per bag and you can revisit your bag as often as you want during the day. Stop by periodically and drop your books off in your suitcase. Your back and shoulders will thank you. At the end of the day, just wheel your bag home or to your hotel room. Empty and repeat for the next day.
- Or start a box in the shipping room. The shipping area is basically a huge full of empty boxes. You can claim a box by writing your name on it. Fill it up throughout the week. When it’s full, you fill out the paperwork and pay for shipping. Boxes will be unsupervised, so if you got Chris Colfer’s signed galley, keep it on your person. Last year the carrier was UPS. Just note that it won’t be cheap because of union rules. Last year there was a surcharge for $25 per box on top of shipping costs. You won’t be allowed to remove the box from the shipping room. Alternately, there is a FedEx location in the Javits as well, but they won’t hold your books for you.
- Make an author must-see list. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re walking the many booths during the expo. Write down the day, time, and location of your favorite authors and set reminders so you won’t forget. Depending on the author, the line may start an hour before their appearance. You can also download the BEA Mobile app (iOs an Android) to make your schedule. The 2013 version of the BEA app is a huge improvement over last year’s. It’s more user friendly and easier to navigate and add events to your agenda.
- Pack a backup battery for your smartphone or tablet. You don’t want to be without a camera if you run into Jane Lynch or Justin Cronin. You need evidence that you met them! I’m using my smartphone to keep track of my meetings, author events, and BEA parties. It’ll also be my primary way to stay in touch with my fellow book bloggers. I will be tweeting updates and photos while I’m there too. Follow me on Twitter for updates. You’ll be on the go all day and don’t want to tethered to a wall outlet while your phone charges. I ordered this New Trent backup battery for phone. It’s compatible with most phones/tablets and has really good reviews.
- Pack clothes that work for both day and evening. This mostly applies to us ladies, but I’ll be on the go as soon as I walk out of my hotel room. Since I have meetings during the day, I’ll wear something business casual that won’t look out of place during happy hour. Think layers or accessories that you can keep in your bag. Dresses are also perfect for this. It’ll also be hot and humid in New York City, so plan in accordingly if you will be doing a lot of walking (which most New Yorkers do).
- Pack snacks and a reusable water bottle in your bag. Like I mentioned before the food court in the Javits isn’t the best. Pack nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, whatever you like to snack on until you can get some real food. Some of the publishers’ booths have food or candy, but I didn’t want to chance chatting with the Dianetics people for some candy. Same with water. Pack a water bottle and fill it up at a water fountain. A 20 oz bottle of water from the Javits kiosk cost around $6 if I remember correctly. I even pack some Emergen-C or Starbucks VIA Refreshers to mix with my water.
- Leave the Javits for lunch. If you can’t, at least go outside for some fresh New York City air. Besides, lunch at the Javits food court is not exactly superior quality or inexpensive. The vibe on the expo hall gets frantic sometimes. It’s nice to take yourself out of the hustle and bustle of the expo and relax a little bit.
- Attend a session or stage event. This is my advice to myself. Instead of just wandering around the expo floor all day or wait in line for author signings, I’m going to attend a couple of sessions. I’m thinking about this session about a code of ethics for book reviewers.