As you’ve seen plastered all over the blog and my social media, BookExpo America was this week. This was my second time attending – the first being three years ago in 2012 when I was a baby fourteen-year-old blogger – and I’m seventeen now. Still a baby blogger, but less so.
I was so nervous to attend again.
There were a ton of new factors that I’d never experienced before at the conference this year – BookCon, book-tubers (book reviewers who do Youtube videos instead of blog posts), ticketed in-booth signings. That last one actually made a huge difference. The signings, while still pretty hectic at times, were controlled because a lot of booths gave away a specific amount of tickets in advance and cutoff the lines after a certain number. That was great because you didn’t have any messiness with saving spots, you knew you’d get a book if you were in line at a specific time, and there wasn’t a massive surge towards the booth at designated drop times. I decided against attending BookCon because I have exams next week, and it’s not particularly my thing. I would love to go, but I’m more analytical rather than fangirlish and anyways, I liked talking to industry professionals more than I liked attending panels, so BEA was more of a priority. I did however still meet a few book-tubers which was interesting. Although it feels like the blogging and book-tube communities would align, we’re actually very different so I was intrigued to finally meet some of them. It was interesting to hear about their perspective and see how they handled the conference in respect to how I did.
So that was entirely new to me.
I went a little overboard planning, per usual. Y’all know I’m a spreadsheets person. I ended up making two spreadsheets that I relied on: an overall spreadsheet with my day-to-day schedule and a spreadsheet with the titles I wanted, with columns for where they appeared in respective galley drops/signings. Making that spreadsheet was probably my most valuable idea of the conference this year: it was phenomenal. If I wanted one title specifically, I would just check my sheet and see all the opportunities that I could get it. I ended up passing a copy of that along to Jamie who was very appreciative.
I went into the conference mostly just excited to meet people. A lot of the bloggers I met in 2012 when I first went – Kristi, Cat, Anna, etc,. – are no longer blogging or active so it was a bit nerve-wracking because I felt like I didn’t know as many people this year.
In any case, I was so excited – I even missed the last few days of exam review for BEA. (Hello, reward for junior year.) This was my first time back to NYC since BEA 2012 so I was uber happy to be back in my future hometown. It was a great week, and I can’t wait to share all the books and photos with y’all. So here goes:
I got in late Tuesday night because our flight was delayed (unfortunately) and we ended up crashing at about one a.m. We stayed at the Yale Club because my family is a UVA family (go Hoos!) and woke up early to get a good breakfast upstairs. So we got ready, got the continental breakfast, and got on our way to the Javits Center.
Once I was there, I got my mom to take a picture of me in the atrium (so that people would recognize me when I tweeted it) and immediately ran into Alexa, aka one of my favorite bloggers and commenters. We got in line and got our badges, which took no time at all. This year, they did give out lanyards but they got rid of the plastic casing around the badges. I completely forgot to apply for a press pass because I applied as a blogger when I first went, so I registered as “blogger”.
We hadn’t realized it was a half day (what? The floor opened at 1 p.m.) and so we debated going to BEA Bloggers’ Conference. Unfortunately, we heard it’s gone downhill in the past few years so we decided against it.
We ran almost immediately into Jamie, Elena, Christina, and a few others. I saw Sasha in line which I was not expecting – I randomly ran into her in November on the streets of Georgetown and she said she probably wouldn’t be able to go – because she happened to be working in NYC that week and came to BEA during her time off.
I spent about two hours talking with Alexa and Kelly in the cafeteria, and we combed through the PW Daily to add galley drops and extra signings to our schedules. By the end of the morning, my spreadsheet was covered in highlighter and pen marks.
Finally, the floor opened and the day got going. The first thing I always do at BEA (in my two years’ experience) is walk around to get a mental map of where everything is. I only had a few events that I really cared about on Wednesday. I went to the Leila Sales galley drop for Tonight the Streets Are Ours (which I read on the plane ride home and LOVED!) and introduced myself at the booths to publicists I’d worked with before.
I finally got to meet Kelsey Dickson – who I’d actually met in 2012 although she doesn’t remotely remember it (I swear we did, Kelsey!) – who is one of my favorite favorite favorite people in book publishing. If you don’t know her, you should. She’s the absolute sweetest. Right now, she works for Simon & Schuster so she worked the booth a little then walked around with me during her time off.
We picked up a few books at various booths and then at three, I went to the Jennifer Donnelly signing. Jennifer Donnelly wrote my favorite book Revolution, which I read in 2011. I’ve read over 1000 books since then and it’s STILL my favorite, and will be for much much longer. She was signing a different book but I brought up my battered, beloved copy of Revolution and she had no problem signing it! That was so nice – I wasn’t expecting her to be allowed to, and her line was massive. So I went off happily.
I left around four to head to Simon & Schuster. Kelsey graciously took me to visit the offices – which I’d never done before – so I finally got to see a publishing house in action, although most people were at BEA.
First off, the building’s actually gorgeous. The interior is just as pretty. Kelsey showed me a few of the highlights – the meeting rooms and author photos lining the hallways. She showed me the childrens’ floor, where she let me raid her shelves for books to review. I got them in the mail today, so I’ll be doing an In My Mailbox soon! In conclusion, I’d love to work for them someday – and I was so happy to hang with Kelsey! I’ve been told I’m a baby Kelsey, which is SUPER flattering because she’s awesome.
I had to leave around seven for a Scholastic party at the Hudson Theatre, which was absolutely beautiful. The theater was stunning. I walked in and Jeremy West (another of my faves) marked me on the list. It was all long velvet curtains and crystal wine glasses and marble. It felt like something straight out of history, or like the Tampa Theatre.
I walked into the theater presentation, which was just beginning. The event centered around The Marvels by Brian Selznick. Watching his illustrations come to life – and hearing about his drawing/writing process was absolutely fascinating. He showed us the beginnings of his animated trailer, and showed us his apartment in London where he perched for a few months to complete the book. It was absolutely amazing hearing him speak!
Afterwards, I found Jeffrey West (Jeremy’s twin who also works at Scholastic – another fave). He was talking to Kirstyn who I was also meeting for the first time. Side note: it’s so strange when you talk all the time to people and meet them in person for the first time. I feel like I’ve known the Wests FOREVER but I’ve really only known them since 2012 when they scolded me for being too shy to say hi to them at BEA. (My, how the times change.) Andye, Kirstyn’s mom, talked to us for a while too. They’re all wonderful.
After the Scholastic party, I trooped through Times Square and got dinner with my mom. We ate at Buddakhan, which was really cool – and delicious. I get really really tired in dark restaurants though, so I was practically asleep at the table. Finally, we ended our night by collapsing into bed.
Thursday was a bit busier than Wednesday was. It was the first FULL day of BookExpo America, so I got up early and got prepared. I got another Yale Club breakfast – and for some reason their coffee is addictively good. Maybe their intelligence diffuses into the blend? Or they’re so smart they know how to absolutely perfect their brew? In any case, such good coffee, and such good breakfast.
We meant to get there early for Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. There were only 200 special edition ARCs of an edition that wasn’t even copyedited. I ended up being a little late to the signing but shockingly, I got a spot in line next to Sasha. (And we finally got a picture – yay!)
I had a lot of perspective this year on two things that helped me stay relatively sane during the expo. First, all books come out eventually. That helped when I felt like I was desperate for a book. Secondly, I could always request the book later (and then I’d be sure that I really wanted it and I wasn’t just getting them because they were there). It’s tricky when you’re in an atmosphere as frenzied as BEA not to feel like you have to get ALL the books you can.
In any case, I was still super grateful to have met Alexandra Bracken and have snagged a copy. I’m itching to read it.
I was supposed to help with an Algonquin galley drop at ten but ended up missing it because I was stuck in line for an hour – so right afterwards, I went to introduce myself.
Next up was the Firewalker by Josephine Angelini signing – I’m reading Trial by Fire right now and adoring it. First off, Josephine Angelini is one of the prettiest women I’ve ever seen – and she’s so nice too! Katherine Tegen was helping with a signing and I politely tweeted at her that I’d love to meet her (since she’s on my top bookish people to meet list and I’d essentially love to be like her when I’m older) and so she responded to head on over. She said we should get a picture so I happily obliged. Some people are fans of authors; I’m also fans of powerhouses in publishing. She captioned it on her Instagram as “with a fan” and I most definitely agree: I’m a fan.
Her author – J.A. White – apologized to me while I was over there. Weird trend of the day? Authors apologizing to me for naming evil characters in their books “Grace”. Three in a row was a bit surprising.
Post-Katherine-Tegen, I headed to the Humans of New York signing which was definitely my priority for Thursday. I was actually hoping to snag a picture of Brandon Stanton and caption it Humans-of-New-York-style but he didn’t linger around the conference. Instead, I just got a regular picture and asked him a few questions.
While in line, I ended up chatting with the Macmillan publicist who was managing the end of the line. Kallam was so adorable and so great to meet – I asked her about her “origin story” i.e. how she got into publishing. That was another of my projects for BEA: ask publishing professionals how they got into the business. A lot of ways were unconventional, but I got a resounding amount of responses that enthusiastically said internships. In any case, Kallam was super sweet and I probably distracted her from her job for too long but I ended up chatting with her for a while.
After HONY, I headed over to Harlequin which was already forming a line. HarlequinTeen does these fantastic signings where they get five or six authors in a row and just do these massive signings all at once. You have to get there super early and wait in line for an hour or two, but you get to sit down and it’s so worth it.
Post-Harlequin, I went to go hang at the Bloomsbury booth. I wanted to see Erica Barmash – who I absolutely adore – but hadn’t seen her in my previous walk-by. I finally got to introduce myself and ended up talking with her and Erica for a while and relishing the feel of the carpeting. (My feet were so sore by then.) I saw the Wests again, which made me happy, and walked around with them for a while.
Towards the end of the day, I was exhausted. So tired that I thoroughly embarrassed myself by accidentally sitting at the business tables in the Hachette booth (some booths will let you sit down in their seating – others will not) at which point a worker politely told me that I could not in fact sit there, and I left blushing. I get way too embarrassed about things like that.
After I left the conference, my mom and I headed to Chinatown for an early dinner. I had never been there before, but I got a ton of recommendations to go to Peking Duck House, so we went there. It was so spicy and was so delicious. After that, we went to Little Italy for gelato (I never realized those two were so close) and then we headed to the New Yorker hotel to join Liza for a little bookish conversation to end the night.
Again, collapsed into bed exhausted. We had an early morning on Friday, so we got prepared for the last day of the conference.
We got up early because we had a few breakfasts to attend. Although I wasn’t crazy about James Patterson heading Children’s Book and Author Breakfast, I was pumped for Nathan Lane and Rainbow Rowell.
We settled in at our tables and had some bagels and coffee. I’m telling you – Yale Club coffee.
I never expect Children’s Book and Author Breakfast to be as fantastic as it is, but both times I’ve been, I’ve been blown away by the speakers. First off, they present awards so a Russian woman spoke of publishing books of freedom under a strict regime and Anderson’s won another award.
Nathan Lane was absolutely hilarious. I could have listened to Oliver Jeffries speak forever. Rainbow Rowell was so stunning to me. I’ll admit, I’ve never been a huge Rainbow fangirl – I love her books but never understood the ridiculous, insane hype – but after hearing her speak, I completely understand. She was so passionate – I was on the verge of tears just because she spoke so powerfully and was so obviously nervous and that made me so happy that she was so vibrant and funny and moving. I’m definitely a fangirl now.
I had to leave a bit early to go to a Scholastic breakfast (and I heard James Patterson wasn’t that great, so I didn’t particularly care) and met a few booktubers. My sister, when she learned R.L. Stine would be at the breakfast, got so upset because she’s still stewing over some Goosebumps cliffhangers. (And they had really good smoothies.) I ended up chatting with another publicist – who was another twin – about the recent trend in YA about twins dying? Seriously, there are so many titles with twin-deaths that have either come out this year or are coming out. And another trend: Scholastic likes twins. (Maybe someday they’ll hire me then?)
Shortly after, I wandered around and found myself again at the Scholastic booth. This was the highlight of my day: I was talking with Jeremy and he asked me who my favorite writers were. So I said “David Levithan and Maggie Stiefvater.” And he goes, “David’s right behind you and Maggie’s on her way.”
He INTRODUCED me to David Levithan. David Levithan. David Levithan is one of my favorite writers and thinkers. I posted this long, rambling caption on Instagram about how much respect and admiration I have for him. My favorite book by him is Every You, Every Me which talks about the idea that you’ll never truly know a person because they have so many versions of themselves. Every you will never know every me. I told David that and he said that not many people said that one was their favorite but those who did tended to be very passionate about it. So then we talked about that, and he was so nice, and talked to me so earnestly. I met the kindest booksellers from Georgia, and we talked about University of Georgia because it’s one of my interests for next year.
And then David introduced me to Maggie Stiefvater. I’d met Maggie in 2012 when I was a super-awkward fourteen year old (and now I’m a still-awkward seventeen year old) and we talked about all her books. I asked her the question I’ve been dying to know – is there ever going to be a third book in her fae series? She told me yes, Requiem‘s been written, but it’s never been perfect enough to be published so they keep pushing it back. We talked about the audio for The Raven Boys and the process of getting Will Patton to narrate. Jackson Pearce joined us. I met her in 2012 as well, and she was one of the sweetest ones. She talked to me with Siobhan Vivian (who unfortunately didn’t go to BEA this year) for a long time.
After the Scholastic booth made my day, I wandered around with Kelsey until I had a lunch to go to. I didn’t have any signings that I really needed to go to until the afternoon. Finally, I made my way to the PenguinTeen lunch which was on a terrace towards the top of the Javits Center.
The lunch was set up with us all around a massive table, with the authors – Sarah Dessen and Carrie Ryan – at the end. I was running a bit late but sat down with my boxed lunch and listened. They had it set up interview-style and it was so funny and informative. Both authors were great speakers.
Afterwards, we had a small signing and I talked to Sarah Dessen about University of North Carolina – my twin sister Hannah is almost definitely going to go there if she gets in, and it’s towards the top of my list – and chatted with everyone. It was really lovely.
After that, I headed to the Six of Crows drop and the Soundless signing. I had accidentally turned in my front-of-the-line pass earlier with my Children’s Book and Author ticket, but the front desk was so helpful in getting me another, which I hadn’t been expecting. I used that one for Soundless and then hopped back in David’s line to see him sign. He told me to come back after the signing to get a picture with him, since he couldn’t take pictures then, which put me over the moon.
I spent the end of the conference just meeting up and talking with people – which was my favorite part of it. I ended the conference talking in the HarperCollins booth with Jeremy and a very kind marketing director, Elizabeth. I said goodbye to everyone, which is sad in a bittersweet way, and packed up my books to ship home.
After the conference, I was exhausted. I found out BEA 2016 is during AP exams (c’mon College Board) but ALA’ll be in Orlando which is very close to me.
Okay, embarrassing story time (because apparently, I need one every day): I went to a French restaurant after BEA on Friday for an early dinner. We sat outside and the maître d’ pulled out my chair and I sat down and completely missed the chair. My arm flew out and knocked into the wall and it toppled over into the street. So there I was, flat on the ground, in front of all the waiters, with the shattered remnants of all the planters with the flowers around me, apologizing and on the verge of tears. They were so nice about it – the wall was hollow, which nobody had realized until I somehow pushed it over – but it was still so humiliating.
In any case, I tried escargot for the first time and then went to see Wicked for the second time on Broadway which was absolutely PHENOMENAL. It was a great way to end my last day of BEA, and I explored the city a bit more.
Saturday morning was really chill for me. I got to sleep in an extra hour which felt amazing. And then I headed over to the Bloomsbury offices for a little blogger brunch, which was absolutely adorable.
I loved meeting everyone over there. All of us bloggers were a little tired so it was really nice to just be able to unwind and talk about a few of the books we got.
I heard Erica Barmash‘s publishing origin story – which is actually really interesting – and got to hang out with some of my favorite bloggers. They had a make-your-own-tote-bag station (Gillian had the best one by the way, but Elena’s was pretty great too!)
I spent an hour or two there just talking with everyone. Finally, I had to go because my sister’s getting married in March (!!!) so we had an appointment to try on bridesmaid dresses. I finally got a photo with Erica, and talked audiobooks with Andye, and made sure to follow everyone’s blogs before we left.
For lunch, I got some Shake Shack and started Tonight the Streets Are Ours. We packed up and checked out and I fell asleep in the cab on the way to the airport. I was so so sad to leave the city, but it was a good week. A tiring one, but a good one.
BEA 2015 was one for the books. I’ll talk a little more when I do my In My Mailbox for my BEA books – the box is supposed to come tomorrow. I had such a great time and I hope I have so many more in my future.
Right now, I’m sick like the majority of people from BEA so I’m a little loopy from the NyQuil. If I met you for the first time at BEA, it was fantastic to see you! If not, I hope you enjoyed my recap.
Put your Twitter name on your badge! It makes so many more people recognize you.
The least crowded bathroom is in the shipping room.
Chocolate covered espresso beans. So great for the floor.