BEA Recap (Best Week of My Life)
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First Day (Sunday)
So I got into New York at about four and then just had some Juniors. We stayed at the Yale Club and just relaxed that night while I was incredibly nervous for the next morning. I had all these printouts and business cards and pulled together outfits at my disposal and I was both incredibly excited and nervous. We went by the library and I got a picture (between the lions)
BEA Blogger's Conference (Monday)
I woke up at six the next morning and proceeded to freak out. I was extremely nervous because I had so many people I wanted to meet, people I had talked to and other people who I knew of but I didn't know whether or not they knew me. You had to be 18 to get into the expo unless you had an industry chaperone so I got Bailey to chaperone me, but it turns out that I didn't need it. They let me get my badge with no problem which was a relief. I got to the center at about 7:45 and then awkwardly mingled, seeing people I knew from Twitter and debating whether or not I should go up to them and introduce myself.
I finally got to meet Bailey! It was a little surreal seeing everybody after only seeing them in pictures. We walked around the center trying to figure out where the actual conference was and Bailey texted me where it was. Then we waited in line for a while and I got to meet some amazing bloggers. My dad finally got coffee so he was happy and we just waited for them to open up the breakfast. As we circled around the side of the room, there were tables with these awesome Penguin classics tote bags in them stuffed with random books. I tried to covertly peek at the books in each of the bags because I didn't want to get the same books that I already had or that my dad got. They were mixed in with some adult books, some random books, and then after the tote bags there was another table.
We ended up sitting at a table with some bloggers that I hadn't talked to before and I made some new friends. I recognized Lisa's Waiting on Wednesday post and met Steph and Danielle. I also met some other awesome bloggers as well.
The breakfast was good. Siobhan Vivian (one of my favorite authors and if I'm not being too bold, friends) got lost on her way to our table so she ended up not coming to our table. We did meet some other interesting authors though, and the conversation at our table more than made up for it. After the networking breakfast, which lasted an hour, we had time to mingle. I went off to find some bloggers that I really wanted to meet and some of my friends. I met some INCREDIBLE bloggers.
I went to go find Siobhan because I wanted to finally introduce myself to her because we talked on Twitter and Facebook a lot. She instantly recognized me which made me ridiculously happy because I wasn't sure whether I would be just another blogger to her. She's absolutely awesome so I really wanted to mean SOMETHING to her or at least be a blogger that she liked to talk to. She introduced me to Jenny Han and my tongue got kind of tied up because her books are so poignant and meaningful. I'd talked to Siobhan before but never to Jenny and it was terrifying but also amazing to finally meet her. We chatted for a bit and she introduced me to Beth from Paper Lantern Lit. There were a ton of people that I was DYING to meet but then we had a speaker, Jennifer Weiner.
Jennifer Weiner was hilarious. I would have been rolling on the floor laughing but of course, I had to look somewhat professional. She was so funny and a fantastic speaker. I'm pretty sure her speech was taped so I'm sure that you can find it somewhere. She also posted it on her blog. Not only was she uproariously funny but she also made great points and was very intelligent. I loved her speech!
One of the interesting things about the conference was that it was very technology-oriented. Twitter was a huge tool! Everybody had phones out and laptops out throughout the performance. Immediately after meeting somebody, you would pull out your phone and follow them on Twitter. Keynotes were tweeted. Hashtags were put up on screens and panelists used them to answer questions. I loved it. Technology has become such an integral part of things like this and it made everything easy and it was so much easier to interact with people and keep track of what was going on. I used it to coordinate meeting with people, tweeting to say hi to me if you saw it, and other things. It was great! It's also much less intimidating to tell somebody something on Twitter or talk to them than it is in real life.
Some people complained that they didn't think that the conference was geared towards bloggers. Yeah, they focused on the industry, but I didn't think it was bad. I really liked the panels and the thoughts and the speakers. It can only get better, right?
Another thing was that something interesting happens when you put on a conference for a ton of introverts. Everybody is terribly shy, but you also know that you have to get over that and actually make friends. What I normally did was I just went up to people and I was like:
ME: Hi, um, I just wanted to come over and introduce myself. I'm a fan of your blog and I, um, follow you on Twitter. I also, um, talk to you sometimes?
THEM: Oh, hi, I'm ______. Great to finally meet you.
If they recognized me, we'd hug and start talking and there were some people who I sort of knew who I now know and it's only the first time meeting them that's awkward. I actually got into a conversation with Veronica Roth about awkward introductions but I met her on another day. You just kind of have to go for it and actually talk to people.
I met Jen, Sasha, Em, Jamie, Tara, Kristi, Cat, Shanyn, Alison, and even more incredible bloggers! I also met with my contact at AudioGo so that was awesome! I got an audiobook download card of Anna Dressed in Blood!
After Jennifer finished speaking, we networked some more and then came the networking lunch. I sat at the table to meet both Jordan Matter (photographer of the DANCERS AMONG US project which I've been a huge fan of - as you may remember, I'm a dancer) and Julie Kagawa. I had a great table and met some wonderful people. Jordan sat down and talked to us. I told him that I was a dancer and he gave me his number and told me that I might be able to tag along on a photoshoot! I nearly died. Some girls at my dance studio love his photography (including me) and I love dance photoshoots. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it because it was at the same time as the breakout panels but I saw his photography the next day.
After meeting Jordan, I met Julie Kagawa. I fangirled SO HARD. She is a goddess, I swear. I was internally freaking out and we talked with her about her books, how she got an agent, and she told us a funny story about her chickens. Everything about her was just amazing! I have no words. I got a picture with her!
Afterwards we went to the breakout sessions which were really well done. It was very engaging. Truthfully, I spent a lot of the time on Twitter catching up with people and figuring out who I still had to meet and such. I met Melissa (finally!). After the breakout sessions, we headed back to the main room and listened to The Bloggess speak. I nearly died. I love her blog and her Twitter, she is hilarious, and she's also just an incredible person. Her speech was one of the highlights of my BEA trip. I also met Kaye who is so sweet. I had to leave early, but my dad and I snuck out to go to dinner with my mom. I was going to head over to the Class of 2k12 BEA Kick-Off Party but it was across the city so we ended up going to the YA Authors Take the Big Apple panel which was pretty good. That was my Monday!
First Day of BEA (Tuesday)
My parents and I woke up around six or seven (I can't remember!) There were no ticketed authors who I wanted to see that day so we went upstairs and ate a good breakfast before heading over to the center. When we got there, there had already been a huge line congregating but the thing is that once the floor opens, it is gone so quickly. I didn't get there much earlier than when the floor opened.
At first, the floor is crazy congested because we all kind of piled through the same booths and there were ARC tours and people trying to get over to the sides to get books and I was actually shocked that you could just take an ARC or they were just passing them out. I knew they gave away ARCs but I didn't really know what I was expecting. I was instantly handed a ton of tote bags and books and explored the booths for a bit. I was originally planning on meeting up with Wendy Higgins at the Harper booth but her travel plans ended up falling through. I was bummed, but hopefully next year!
Everyone tells you to make a plan, but don't expect to stick to it. Have a few loose points or events that you want to go to and leave the rest up to fate. I wandered around the booths for a little while and asked when they were laying down certain ARCs and making contacts and such. My first signing was for The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth.
After the book's signing or strict laydown and whatnot, if you missed it, just go to the booth and ask for one. When I did that, I would start talking to the publicist and they would get me the book if they could. The days are so long that by late afternoon you feel like you've been there for lifetimes. It's not as intimidating talking to publishers and big bloggers and authors once you get used to it. When you see somebody wandering around, it's okay to introduce yourself. That's how I met Maggie Stiefvater, Susane Colasanti, and some other authors and bloggers. Once I got comfortable with it, it's less scary than I thought it would be. My parents kind of let me have free reign on the place and we met up every once in a while.
I attended a few signings (the Harlequin signing was wonderful) and by lunchtime, I was well on my way to filling up both of the huge McGraw-Hill tote bags that they were handing out. My feet and shoulders were aching, but it was so worth it. It was a happiness like no other to finally be in my element, with the people that I adore, doing the things that I love to do and talking about my favorite things. Honestly, I've known for years that I wanted to go into publishing and that I wanted to do something revolving around books but this week made me so much more certain that this is what I want to do with my life.
At lunchtime, my dad and I just bought some pizza from the stand outside the floor. Food in the center is expensive but after a certain point, protein bars didn't cut it. Especially because of course, BEA week was the week that I decided to have growing pains. Anyways, so we had lunch, I hit a lot of signings. What I noticed was that I got more books on Tuesday, but there were more high profile signings on Wednesday. Anyways, I had an incredible day. I met a lot of publicists and made some fabulous contacts. Networking appealed to me even more than getting the actual books at BEA so it was wonderful to meet some people that I've talked to for a while.
I showed up an hour early for The Raven Boys signing and ended up talking to some awesome bloggers. Then, right behind me, I saw somebody that I had been dying to meet all day. I finally met Leah Clifford. Leah and Siobhan are my favorite authors to talk to and I was dying to meet them. I introduced myself and Leah got excited and gave me bookmarks and we talked for a long time. I met Scott Tracey and Gretchen McNeil and I was FREAKING OUT.
Like, Leah, if you EVER happen to read this, you are AWESOME and I can't wait for your next live show because I adore you! Talking to you during BEA was the best and I was SO RIDICULOUSLY HAPPY to finally meet you.
The thing about the lines at BEA was that you'd expect to be horribly bored and hurting but it wasn't bad at all. I completely forgot about it all and just talked with everybody around me. It was ridiculously fun. I met Stacy from Girls in the Stacks and some other wonderful people. I was one of the first people in the line so I got to quickly get in and out.
Afterwards, I swung by the Penguin group because I wanted to see if they still had any ARCs of Black City but I found myself incredibly lucky there. I quickly hopped in line for Ally Condie's signing. I was one of the last people before they cut the line off so I got to talk to Ally Condie and got Matched as well as a signed poster. Afterwards, the Penguin publicists did a "secret giveaway" of Rift by Andrea Cremer which I was ecstatic about because I missed the signing earlier so I was one of the lucky ones who got a copy.
I headed down to the Apocalypsies signing and met some fabulous authors who I had been talking to for a while on Twitter. I finally met the charming Kimberly Sabatini.
After the signing (which was awesome), I headed over to Teen Author Carnival. The panels were hilarious and wonderful. I got to talk to Siobhan again and she introduced me to Jackson Pearce in a way that made me laugh. I won a box of ARCs and got to talk with some incredible authors and get them all signed. The panels were all fascinating. The thing about the carnival was that it was so much more intimate than BEA and was so much more informal. You could talk easily with the authors and get to know each other better. I met so many authors and there are way too many fabulous ones to name. Seriously. I brought my well-loved copy of The Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita to be signed by Jen and she was really excited to see someone with that book. It is one of my all time favorite books and my sister loves Jen so it was awesome to meet her. I'm way taller than her so I had to crouch down to get a picture with her.
I also got a picture with Kristi!
My mom and I went to dinner afterwards and we relaxed while trying not to fall asleep at the dinner table! TAC was one of my favorite parts about BEA.
Second Day (Wednesday)
We woke up very early on Wednesday because I desperately needed John Green tickets. We also needed to check out of the hotel because we were leaving that night after BookExpo America. Anyways, I finally got tickets and we were able to go to the Children's Book and Author Breakfast. I sat at a table with a HarperCollins publicist and some people in the industry so it was interesting to chat with them and the breakfast was actually delicious. Chris Colfer came across as incredibly intelligent and entertaining. He had everybody howling at dumb questions that reporters asked him. I don't watch Glee, but he presented himself so well that I was tempted to start watching because I kind of love him now. His speech was excellent. Also, he introduced John Green as the "Justin Bieber of the literary world". John Green's speech was eloquent and funny. Lois Lowry made everybody cry and Chris Colfer was so respectful to her.
After the breakfast, I was lucky enough to stumble upon the tail end of the Becca Fitzpatrick line. I thought I would miss it which really upset me but I ended up being able to get my book signed! So I got a signed copy of Hush, Hush, an awesome shirt, a picture with Becca Fitzpatrick, and I got to talk with some Simon & Schuster publicists. And the boys! They got some shirtless boys dressed as angels to go around taking pictures and handing out bookmarks. My mom made me get a picture with them.
I walked around the floor for a long while after that and mingled and hopped in signing lines when they were short because I didn't really have anything planned for a while, at least not that I remember. After that, I went to wait in line for the Marie Lu signing and talked with some bloggers and librarians. I was also next to Lenore Appelhans, who I'm not going to lie, I was pretty intimidated by. Lenore is AWESOME! I got her to sign my copy of Level 2 at TAC but I was still fangirling a bit next to her. I got my mom to wait in line for the Dark Days signing for a bit while I got Prodigy signed. When I was done with that, I joined my mom in the Dark Days signing and we were next to Aimee Carter, who is really sweet and lovely to talk to. The line was about two hours long but so worth it. I had run into Veronica Roth earlier in the day so it was fun to talk to her again especially because of how phenomenal her books are. The Dark Days signing basically contained some books that I wanted so badly from BEA.
Afterwards, I headed over to the Autographing Area where I went to a few signings. I ran into Susane Colasanti so I got to talk to her for a bit then I went to wait in line for her signing. I ducked out of line for a few minutes to go make a last-minute round of a few of the booths and I ran into Siobhan and Jenny again! I was really happy because I wanted to get a picture with Siobhan and I hadn't gotten to yet. Then I got to go to Susane's signing and get a picture with her. After that, I had to leave but I got to go to a few more signings (including Brandon Mull's).
In summary, best week of my life! Hopefully I get to go again next year. Thank you everybody who helped me out! Thanks to everybody who I met! I just loved everything about BEA.