I’m back again. I was going to wait until next week to post this, but I ran into a few bookish friends on Twitter who are having BEA anxiety dreams, like one was lost and couldn’t find her way to the Harlequin booth and the other was walking the floor naked. That’s some next level stress right there. So I figured I’d best get on with it.
For you newbies you are probably thinking, what’s the big deal?
Well, let me tell you.
BEA is the largest publishing trade show in North America, the second largest in the world. Publishers, buyers, and media peeps fly in from across the globe to present and acquire the next year’s line up of books. Last year they had publishers from over 83 countries, not to mention the book sellers, buyers, rights agents, literary agents, retailers, editors, librarians, scouts, film and TV reps, and media/bloggers.
As an author, the very idea makes my skin begin to crawl with nervous energy.
For an attendee, there are over a thousand exhibitors, plus authors, celebrities, and industry pros to hob knob with. Last year alone, BEA recorded close to 15K attendees.
For three days the Javits becomes a gauntlet which must be carefully, but thoroughly, navigated. It’s over 760,000 square feet with three main stories, in addition to the tower which they use for receptions and parties and things. Inside, the isles begin at row 100 on the far right and count up to 4000 or so on the far left.
This is why people are having panic attacks.
And I think I just gave you one too. Sorry, here’s a paper bag. But stay with me because I’m about to throw some tension relievers your way!
Now that we are both hyperventilating, let’s tackle this a piece at a time. If you read my previous post, then you are already at the Javits, in comfy shoes, stocked with snacks and water, ready to go for it. Here are the things you should know going into BEA:
1) Get there early and sit in line or get there an hour after it starts. The entrance lines will be loooong.If there is an early signing or something you totally don’t want to miss, then get there at least 2 hours before doors open and get your butt in line. Otherwise, maybe take a long breakfast and let the crowd die down a bit. Totally up to you. But either way, be prepared for a bit of a wait. Don’t stress it. Find a comfy spot in line to sit and make friends with the people around you. I mean, you already know they are book lovers like you, so you have at least one great conversation starter. General attendees, media peeps and things will pick up badges in the northwest corner at the Express Registration counters. Bring your printed ticket receipt with you to ensure a smooth check in.
*If you are an exhibiting author and/or have an exhibitor badge, you check in at the Exhibitor Registration counter on the north east side. The lines are much shorter and they will get you in and out super fast. These badges also get you into the center about an hour before the rest of the crowd.
2) Once inside grab the day’s catalog. It will have a bunch of stuff happening that may or may not be on the website, plus the list of books being featured that day. And, heck, it’s a nice (free) keepsake.
3) If you were smart enough to empty your rolling suitcase and bring it with you, take it over to the parking area and pay the $3-$5 to park it for the day before you go inside. Remember, no rolling carts on the floor. You can trek back and forth to drop books in your bag throughout the day as you need to.
4) ALL THE FREE BOOKS. You’ve just stepped inside and you are now overwhelmed by all the free, awesome, shiny swag and books. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD use restraint. Don’t grab six copies of a book to have a bunch for giveaways (publishers hate that). Be respectful and leave some for everyone. Now, if you are dividing and conquering with a buddy (where you go grab one book while she runs off to grab another and then you each get two and trade) then by all means. But nobody likes a book snatcher. And keep in mind that while the books are free to you, the publishers still have to pay to print them, they are effectively losing about $4 for each copy they give away, so be respectful of that. Also, keep in mind that NOT EVERY BOOK YOU SEE is free. Some are for display only so be sure you ask before you snatch. Now if there’s a pile of the same book and people are just taking it, then of course go for it. But one copy on a shelf? Best ask.
And be careful of SWAG. SWAG is very tempting and you should absolutely grab your fill, but too much and you could end up with SWAG-lash, or the depression you get when you realize half of your 50lb bag allotment is used up with bookmarks and bags.
5) Wifi at the Javits blows. You’ll discover this when you try to post that selfie of you with your favorite author. The best reception is found downstairs by the food court. If you can, just *wait till you get back to the hotel to post.
*Unless you are an exhibiting author. If you are, try to post every hour or so with live updates from the con floor. Be sure to tag your uploads with #BEA15 and your booth number!
Speaking of the food court, holy shit it’s almost 4pm and you haven’t eaten all day (unless you took my advice and packed a power bar or two). Lucky for you, there’s food here. It’s overpriced and the lines are obscenely long. So what do you do? Well, if you are strapped for time, then you’re better off to wander out into the sunlight (ah! It burns! My eyes!) and hit the falafel cart across the street. It sounds gross. It even looks gross. But sweet mother of god it’s so tasty and, bonus, it’s cheap. Or at least as cheap as you’re going to get in NYC.
Got a little more time? Cross the street at the far west side of the Javits and walk into the city about two blocks and there’s a killer american restaurant on the corner called Clyde Fraziers. The food is spectacular and not terribly priced. You can be back at the Javits in under an hour.
6) You’ve crossed all your must do’s off the list for the day. Now what? Well, if you are a dirty quitter you can go back to the hotel and take a nap. OR you can wander the floor. Check out all the rest of what BEA has to offer. Start at isle 100 and make your way up and down, taking everything in. You may find some jems you never knew you wanted or run into authors and celebs doing the exact same thing. True story, my first year I was rushing to get to a signing and I full on barreled into Julie Kagawa. She was so sweet and tiny and I honestly think I nearly flattened her like a pancake. Take your time and just wander the crowd.
7) Your feet are legit killing you now. Didn’t I say something about shoes? You can’t remember because it hurts all the way into your ears. Then you see it, an small round table with two empty chairs. You say a silent prayer of thanks and take a seat, only to be chased out by the booth boss. Yeah, those super comfy looking seats aren’t for you. Most of the exhibitors have meetings scheduled every 15 minutes or so and that’s what those tables are for, and for some reason they get really pissy when you plop your butt in one, even just for a minute. No clue why, but this is just a FYI. On the very back wall, near the bathrooms, there are often a handful of big round tables where you can sit. But other than that, your best bet for a little relief is either down at the food court or just squatting with your back to a wall somewhere. Also, Disney, Harper Collins, and Harlequin often spring for the extra padded carpet, so wander over there to stand for a bit and get some relief.
8) Hey, what’s up there? There’s a big ass escalator that takes you up onto a whole other level. Look for signs. Often that level is reserved for authors and other featured attendees. Sometimes publishers even have beer and wine receptions up there. If you are going as an author, try to score an invite. I haven’t quite figured this one out myself yet, but for reals.
9) Panels? Autographs? The panels are held at the uptown stage mostly, to the far rear left of the Javits. To the right rear is the massive autographing area. Now, remember not all autographing will happen in this area, but it’s where most of the “big” names will be. These lines also get long fast, so check the schedule and try to show up early. There is often a limited number of books being handed out.
Don’t stress if you miss out! There are literally thousands of books given out at BEA, so if you miss one, just move on to the next. Or, if you leave a card with the publisher/booth rep, you can often score a digital arc after the fact with a simple email.
10) No matter if you are an author, a blogger, a retailer, or a librarian, hand out business cards. No one at BEA will ever say no thanks to a business card. They should have your name and at least email contact info on the front and you should give one to EVERYONE you meet. The biggest function of BEA is making connections. It’s super frustrating to get home and say, wow I met the most amazing people, if only I could remember them all! And then when you do get home, send an email, even just a, hey, it was great meeting you.
So that’s my advice for navigating BEA. Remember the 5-2-1 rule, get at least 5 hours of sleep a night, eat at least 2 meals a day, and shower at least 1 time a day (con crud is a THING, folks). I can’t wait to see you all there! Be sure to swing by the Clean Teen Publishing booth (PDZ) 565, row 500 in the right rear near the autographing area, and say hello! It’s going to be a great con!
Clean Teen Publishing will be hosting signings for my new novels PRODIGAL & RIVEN and the forthcoming QUEEN OF TOMORROW! We will also be doing the cover reveal from my new novel PLAYING WITH FIRE!