Hello bookish folks! It’s nearly that magical time again where everyone who is anyone (and can fork out roughly the cost of a new kidney) descends upon NYC in a mad scramble for the new and upcoming books of the year. Yes, I’m talking about Book Expo America.
A BEA vet, I can say that this is the single largest convention I attend each year and by far the most chaotic. So, for newbies and veterans alike, I’m here to offer you a handy BEA Survival Guide. This is the first part of a series of blogs designed to help you navigate the treacherous waters of Book Expo. This week, I’m breaking down some pre-convention things you can be doing to prepare.
1) Break in those shoes. Seriously. BEA is basically the hardest cardio ever, with books at the end, yay! You will walk approximately 5-10 miles each day (depending on how many laps you do around the Javits) not to mention the to and from wherever you are staying, and any after convention stuff you might do. Even the most comfortable pair of shoes you own will leave your feet sore and achy by day two. So if you are going to do something stupid like buy cute new shoes for the event (see also: Pulling a SHERRY), get them now. And then spend the next two weeks doing a light jog on the treadmill in them for at least 60 minutes a day. This is not a joke. If you are going to have issues, better to know now, plus it never hurts to build up those callouses.
2) Pre-pack. Packing efficiently is a skill born of 5 am crazed desperation to fit all the new books and swag you just collected into one suitcase before you miss your flight home (see also: Pulling a SHERRY part 2). I suggest you think ahead. I’ve heard everything from packing extra suitcases inside your main suitcase so you come to NYC with one bag and leave with three, to packing and shipping your clothes home (because clothes are lighter than books and thus easier and cheaper to ship). However you do it, expect at least one full suitcase of books and swag. Even if you have the self control of a nun in a nudist colony, you are coming home with stuff. I promise you. Figure it out early so there are no surprises.
3) Make your plan. BEA is a virtual explosion of awesomeness and you don’t want to miss a single moment of it. But, spoiler alert, you will. There is literally no way to see and do everything, and that’s OK. You should, however, jump on to the BEA website and either download their handy Show Planner App, or comb through the scheduled events and make a spreadsheet of what you want to see and do. Be aware that the schedule is fluid and each day there will be a printed list of the day’s events free to grab, with all the up to date info. Also, not every event or signing will be listed online or in the flyer. BEA actually charges a small fortune for those listings so many smaller publishers rely on word of mouth to alert readers to their booth events.
For example, *cough, shameless plug, cough* Clean Teen Publishing has lots of signings happening that you won’t see in the online list. Here’s our schedule:
So be sure to allow yourself some time to wander and browse each aisle too. (and come see me, YAY!)
This is also the time to book hotel rooms and flights before they are all gone. Honestly, I suggest looking for roomies to split room costs if you can (and know that the $300+ per night rooms will still be the size of my closet and probably smell like a Ladies Foot Locker) and generally buddying up to save on cabs and things. Plus, it’s just more fun when you have someone to experience it with.
4) Take inventory. You will need things like wireless cell phone chargers (there is nowhere in the Javits to charge your phone), PowerBars and water bottles (you can buy them there if you are made of money or just plain don’t care how much you are spending, but either way, you will need to keep fueled up and hydrated), and bandaids (bandaids are currency at BEA, like cigarettes in prison). Think very hard about what you need, but take the absolute minimum you need to survive. A bag full of random stuff leaves less room for books and goodies, not to mention it will save your aching shoulders/back. If you can help it, don’t take a bag into the Javits at all. You can grab one when you get there, every other booth will be handing them out like peppermints.
5) Say hello to my little friends. No, really. Spend the next week or so combing through the website and checking out other bloggers and authors posts about BEA. You will stumble across some great tips and advice that will give you a better idea what to expect. Even if you’ve been to conventions before, anyone will tell you that there’s nothing quite like BEA and it always feels better to go in prepared.
That’s it for now. Next Wednesday I will be back to talk about the ins and outs of the Javits and what to expect inside the con. Hope everyone has a fantastic week and I can’t wait to see you all there!