If you’ve seen any of my tweets recently, you’ll see that I’m currently mourning about not being able to attend BookExpo America this year. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that BEA was the best week of my life. It was absolute bliss being surrounded by the industry and the people and the passion that makes all of the blogging worth it. There’s an energy to New York City and specifically BEA that absolutely captivated me.
If you’re attending BEA this year, you’re ecstatic. If you’re anything like I was last year, you’re terrified. As a newbie, BEA can be completely overwhelming. It’s nervewracking to keep track of signings, parties, the author events, people to meet, etc,. But it’s also worth everything in the world. Last year, the thoughts going through my head were, will people like me? What if I don’t get the books I want? Do I just go up and talk to people?
BEA was everything to me. I’ve known that I’ve wanted to go into the industry for a very long time and I’ve been submersed in the blogging world for a while. But until BEA, I’d never really encountered it. Before BEA, I’d only met an author once during a school visit and that was when I was eight. BEA really enforced the idea that this is what I want to do with my life. This is my purpose. After BEA was when I wrote my post on having a passion. It meant the world to me to be around people with that passion.
Obviously, I’m extremely bummed that I’m not going. I would kill to have that feeling again – of completely belonging to an industry and a future. It’s one of the only times I’ve been completely a hundred percent certain about something. I miss that, but I’m living vicariously through all the tweets and recaps. For the record, I’m extremely jealous of everybody who’s going this year. Have fun for me, okay? I’m not the supreme authority on BookExpo by any means, but I might be able to help a few of you with my tidbits of knowledge.
1. Introduce yourself.
I know you’re shy. We’re all shy. Isn’t that why we got into reading? It’s terrifying going to something like BEA and being surrounded by people. Even worse, people who intimidate you. First of all, we’ve found our niche. We’re a part of the blogging community and everything’s going well. It’s scary thinking that you’ll actually be meeting the people you’ve been chatting up on Twitter for months. In person. Who wouldn’t be scared?
Don’t be. It’s scary, but you’ll regret it if you don’t introduce yourself. You see a badge you know? A blogger you admire? Introduce yourself. Chances are, they’re just as nervous about meeting people and will be BEYOND flattered that you know their blog. There are all these passionate, amazing people in one place, for one purpose, and you’re crazy if you don’t take advantage of it.
You just have to suspend your fear. I have a little bit of social anxiety, so it’s difficult for me, but even though I was frozen while meeting people, I just forced myself to introduce myself. When you’re back home, you won’t regret introducing yourself. Some of my blogging connections that I made at BEA have been my most valuable. It’s refreshing talking to somebody in person instead of over a computer screen.
There were a few people that I didn’t have the guts to say hi to (and some of them still give me grief for it now that I’m friendly with them). Brent. Jeremy and Jeffrey. Andye. But there are others who made me feel like the happiest person in the world when I finally met them. Jamie. Kristi. Yes, it’s awkward. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. But if your experience is ANYTHING like mine was last year, you’ll find yourself chatting books in no time and exchanging business cards and smiles. This is how friendships develops. We all love books and we’re all nervous. Introduce yourself.
2. Be flexible.
I’m sorry, but if you expect to stick to your rigid schedule, I can’t help but laugh. Last year, I printed out all these different schedules and itineraries, color-coded by preference and organized by time. I rewrote my schedule a dozen times, stacking book signings on top of each other and squishing everything in to make it work. You’ve agonized for HOURS over your BEA schedule, nervous that you’re missing something. The hardest part about making a schedule is…letting it go.
Let it go. You want to have guidelines and rules for yourself. Want to go to that Andrea Cremer signing at 2:30? Great. Set an alarm for yourself or something. (Another note about signings – lines get huge so if you REALLY REALLY want something, scout out the line an hour in advance and get there at least thirty minutes before it actually begins.) But expect it to change.
Some of the best things about BEA last year were the little things. Bloggers talk. A lot. They’ll be talking next to you in the signing line and you’ll hear that Little, Brown is laying out a few ARCs at a certain time. You’ll hear about hush hush things and little surprises and last minute planned things. Don’t overbook yourself. Check out the little things if you want to and feel free to wander around. I wrote so many signings on my calendar but often times I could just walk around and stumble upon a little thing that made BEA a thousand times better.
Don’t expect to stick to anything. Prioritize – would you rather go to Marie Lu or David Levithan? It’s decisions like those that will get you through the day. Everything will work out. You’ll figure out a solution. I promise, BEA isn’t as stressful schedule-wise as you’re making it out to be. And at the end of the day, you’ll have hours of conversation with your favorite bloggers, a massive stack of books and totes, and a huge smile. And sore feet, but that comes later. BEA is an experience, so let yourself have fun and don’t let your agenda rule you.
3. Be connected.
If you’ve been following Twitter recently, you’ll notice a lot of little BEA tips. There’s so much insider information that people give out regularly. Publishing houses do this now, but during the conference, it’ll get more frequent and more helpful: they tweet about signings, ARC drops, and other special opportunities. A blogger may tweet a picture of himself or herself. “If you see me, say hi!” Little tips can make your life a ton easier.
Conserve your battery. Blogging takes place online, and even during a conference like this, bloggers are online. When I was too shy to talk to anybody the first day of BEA last year, I would gently tweet to a blogger “I’m at the corner table and I’d love to meet you!” or something along those lines. It made it a lot less intimidating.
Being connected to social media and everything makes it easier to ask questions, figure things out, and be aware. Awareness is one of the keys to BEA. Be aware of what’s going on and you find yourself accomplishing everything that you want to do.
I may tweet more throughout the next few days, so follow me for some helpful tips! I’m so jealous of all of you that are going! BEA was the best week of my life and I’m praying that I can go next year. Wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated, don’t overload on ARCs, and interact! In the end, BEA wasn’t so much about the books – it was about the people and the life of the industry and everything else!
(Also, I just looked through pictures of BEA while trying to find a picture for this post and it made me even more nostalgic – the Hush Hush boys? Siobhan Vivian? Get lots of pictures for me!)
Have fun for me! And I expect epic recaps.