It’s that time again! I’m excited once again to head to Book Expo America to learn about new books, talk to authors, and get an inside look on the publishing industry. If you’ve never been, it’s a HUGE conference with many concurrent events. I’m looking forward to meeting authors that I’ve
stalked tweeted with this past year. Not to mention the authors we’ve featured as our book club selections.
This will be my fourth year at BEA and I’ve learned the hard way to not accept every book thrust at me. These are my tips for Book Expo America attendees from last year, but they are still valid for BEA 2014:
- 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.
- 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 love my s New Trent backup battery and my iPhone friends love Mophie Juice Pack.
- 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 planning on attending sessions on e-publishing and social media.
- Most importantly, meet new people! While you’re in line to meet an author or get a book, chat with the people around you. You’d be amaze by the interesting people you’ll meet. Who knows? You might make a friend for life!
If you’re attending Book Expo America in May, who are you looking forward to meeting?
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