While this conference is geared towards librarians and educators, it’s still pretty similar to BookExpo America – the publishing conference that I’ve been to twice. I attended BEA in 2012 and 2015, and I fully plan on attending next year when I’ll have friends in NYC with whom I can stay. ALA is supposedly a little smaller and calmer, but I’m actually more afraid to go to this one since there are less resources on it for bloggers. (Most “advice” posts are geared towards librarians and educators who’ll be attending awards ceremonies, panels, meetings, etc,. I’ll just be wandering around the floor and talking to publishers.)
I’ve never been to ALA before, so naturally I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Senior year was really something, and so I haven’t even been keeping up with that many upcoming releases. (Normally, I’m much better about knowing which books are coming out during the next season.)
Supposedly, there isn’t a signing schedule aside from those that individual booths will publicize when it gets closer so I have no idea who’ll be there, what books’ll be there, and which ones I should want.
I’m an over-planner. My BookExpo America preparation largely consists of multiple, cross-referenced, color-coded spreadsheets organized by both time and title. Not to brag, but it’s pretty spectacular. It’s a bizarre experience to go in blind. I have so many questions.
- What books do I want?
- Are they as free with tote bags as BEA is?
- Who’ll be there?
- How do I know which signings there are?
- Is it more businesslike than BEA or more casual?
- What’s it like?
I can’t decide whether it’ll be scary or refreshing to wander around with a bare-bones schedule, with a vague idea of what publicists to whom I’d like to talk. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for me to expand my reading taste. One of my favorite things to do at BEA was to ask the publicists which books THEY were excited for, rather than impersonally mapping out my galley drops. So maybe I’ll end up stumbling across books that I wouldn’t have picked up earlier, because I hear a publicist I like gushing about it.
I have some books that I’d like to get, but none that I must get right this minute.
So that’s another thing that’ll supposedly differ from my BEA experience.
In past years, I’ve usually come home with about fifty books (with about 1/4 coming from publishing meet-ups, 1/2 coming from the floor, and maybe an additional 1/4 coming from additional events or other bloggers.) I’ve gathered plenty of books at conferences because I know I’ll read them, or I’m interested enough to talk about them. The ones I end up not wanting to read, I pass on to friends and other bloggers.
But that’s been during years where I’ve been reading voraciously, when I’ve dedicated my entire summer to devouring my TBR pile. So this year – easing out of my reading slump, as I enter college – I don’t think I’ll pick up as many simply because it’s not a particularly normal reading year.
So going in blind is actually kind of nice in that regard, because I know I’ll only pick up books that I’m truly interested in or that people I trust will recommend to me. I don’t know whether I’ll come home with a few books or a ton, but I’m okay with it either way.
Without further ado, here are my ALA goals.
hang out with the fabulous NOVL team
I love love love the people behind Little, Brown’s YA team NOVL. They’re absolutely WONDERFUL. Although I have a habit of somehow embarrassing myself at the Hachette booth (like the time I thought their HQ was in Boston), I’ve really adored getting to network with them. Plus, they publish some of my absolute favorite books! Famous in Love is a triumph, y’all, and I fully plan on getting the scoop on the TV show. Secretly hoping to work for them someday.
chat with some author friends and editors
I don’t know that many bloggers going (say hi if you’re going to be there!) but I do know a few authors and editors going that I’ve been dying to meet or see again. Siobhan Vivian is my homegirl, and Sarah Dotts Barley has edited two of my favorite books of 2016 – Caraval and If I Was Your Girl. Clearly someone I want to talk to!
get some excellent books I can talk about all summer
While the actual galleys aren’t my current priority for ALA 2016, I’m still really looking forward to them! I’ve felt so behind as a blogger this year, because I’m just barely reading books that came out months ago while others are firmly into Fall 2016 titles. It’s such a satisfying feeling to get a hold of a highly-anticipated book you know you’re going to tear into the second you get home. I get so much adrenaline from being around so many excited people gabbing about the same book or topic. Plus, our annual trip to Canada is coming up and I could use some fresh reads to lay out with.
I’m pumped! I feel horribly disorganized and I don’t know much of anything about what ALA is like vs. BEA but I have some business cards, a blazer, and a passion for YA. So hopefully that’ll give me the great experience I’m looking for.