It’s Grace, and today I’m here to talk about something that’s very dear to me: BookExpo America. If you’ve followed the blog for a while, I mention the conference a LOT. Because, when I went to BEA in 2012, it changed my life. I had already been pretty certain that I loved blogging, and books, and publishing, but after going, I was absolutely convinced that what I do is my life’s purpose. (I just really really love to read.)
It’s weird to be going back, three years later. Timing has never quite worked out with high school. This year, I’m technically missing exam review for it but a) it’s the last year at Javits before it moves to Chicago and b) it’s my reward for surviving junior year semi-intact. (In fact, after this post, I’m diving into about five hours worth of AP U.S. History studying.)
First off, if you can’t go, do Armchair BEA. It’s awesome – it gives you a week’s worth of blog prompts, plenty of interactions with other bloggers, and a chance to still be a part of the action.
I figured I’d put together a little post to tell y’all what I’ve been doing to prep – and what I’ve been thinking about going back – as well as adding a few tips for first-time goers.
It’s so easy to get nervous about BEA. Frankly, it’s a bit overwhelming. I’ve legitimately had NIGHTMARES this year about going to BEA last minute, getting on the floor, and realizing I have no idea what’s going on. Because BEA is a lot about meeting people and getting books and talking about books, sometimes personal worries sneak in there. Because it’s annual, it’s easy to feel the pressure of “Oh God, I have to get everything done there. What if it’s not what I expect?” I’ve had SO many panicky thoughts about BEA this year.
- A lot of bloggers I was friends with in 2012 have stopped blogging. Will I still know anybody?
- I’m at the point where I’m relatively established in my relationships with the community and publishers. Who will I see? What will I do? Will I get invited to events?
- What books do I want? What happens if I don’t get the books that I want?
- What if I can’t schedule everything?
So I just try to take a breath and relax. First off, everything’s STILL in the process of being scheduled and announced, so I try to resist the urge to plan it all right away. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – you have to go in having a schedule (pretty much) and you have to be expecting that schedule to completely fall through. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who’s stuck to their original schedule the whole way through.
In any case, I’m going to go through and compile a list of advice posts – which I stalk religiously because there are always good ideas floating out there (thank goodness for creative industries!) – for all y’all and put it on the blog sometime in the next week.
Here’s what I suggest in the meantime.
- DO check out other blogs and keep records. Right now, I have a Google Drive folder stuffed with BEA information (travel info/itinerary, my signing spreadsheet, schedules, invitations, lists) and plenty of bloggers tweet out links to where they do the same. (For example, Nicole Brinkley has an epic compilation spreadsheet.) Stay plugged in. Bring a portable charger if you can. Pubs and bloggers tweet out EVERYTHING they know about BEA (especially under the #BEA15 hashtag) and I will too.
- DO get business cards. Get them ASAP. Some people pass them out religiously (me!) and others barely use them, but it’s a good thing to have. If you can’t get a book at a galley drop – or would like an additional copy for some other purpose (only! get! one! copy! of! each! book!) – you can often introduce yourself to a publicist working the booth and ask about the books. Sometimes you can give them your card and they’ll be more than happy to help you out. Don’t wait until the last minute to get business cards – trust me, they’re something to splurge a little on, and have well in advance.
- DON’T get anxious about it. I’m a worrier myself so I COMPLETELY understand but the whole point of BEA is that it’s supposed to be fun, and inspiring to be around people who love what you do. And a lot of other readers deal with social anxiety, so people are really caring and understanding if you’re nervous.
- DON’T expect to go only for the free books. Okay, it’s super nice to be able to receive ARCs and finished copies of books at BEA for review but primarily, it’s a business and you’re a reader, and you should want to support that. (Side note: don’t shame people for getting a lot of books. I was one of those people my first time who came home with a box of books and I read every single one of them.) Simply: be responsible enough to know what you can handle and what you should get.
Last reminder? Don’t listen straight to an advice post! I have things that work for me. Other people disagree. It’s YOUR trip to BEA. If it’s your first time, you’ll figure out what you like and what’s helpful for you to know and have a blast. (If you see me, please say hi. It’d put me over the MOON.)
BEA on WLS
Photo warning: most of my photos no longer show up on the blog because at the time that I wrote these posts, I was on wordpress.com, not self-hosted. So excuse the blank spaces.
This year, I actually know how to inbed photos so that they ACTUALLY show up in my recap posts, and I’m not taken aback by the sheer amounts of photos I want to get. (If you see me, chances are I’ll be taking a photo with/of you.)
See you there? Let me know in the comments!