I know I’m not the only person who’ll be attending Book Expo America and/or the Book Blogger Convention for the first time next week – and probably not the only one who’s a little anxious about it, either! For me, knowing as much as I can about what I’m getting into is helpful in managing that anxiety.
Fortunately, there are plenty of more experienced BEA-goers who are more than happy to share their knowledge with us newbies. Several were kind enough to send some tips for me to post in response to a request, while I stumbled across others via my highly-oversubscribed Google Reader.
The most popular tip you’ll find anywhere is easily “Wear comfortable shoes.” While this will be my first BEA, I have been to two BlogHer Conferences, and I can attest that this is good advice for any convention. However, as Amanda points out in a “BEA Tips” post on The Zen Leaf, those shoes need to be comfortable for standing as well as for walking. You may be covering a lot of real estate walking around the expo floor in the Javits Center and exploring New York City, but you’ll spend plenty of time standing in lines and barely moving at all, too.
Kathy from Bermudaonion reminds BEA-goers that “it’s a privilege, not a right, to be at the trade show.” (And she’s right – BEA is not open to the general public. Bloggers are admitted as media.) Therefore, she suggests
“Act professionally – introduce yourself, don’t take books or swag without asking, only take one copy of a book, wait your turn to speak with someone and engage them in conversation about books and publishing. Ask them which books they’re excited about and what you can do to help promote them.”
The word on the food available at the convention center is that it’s overpriced and unremarkable. But you’ll be in New York City, a mecca of culinary exploration! Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit recommends several places she tried while at BEA in 2010.
Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelves has a list of five essential things to bring to BEA. #5 on the list may be the most important one of all: “Patience.”
In a guest post for the Book Blogger Convention site, Shannyn from Chick Loves Lit mentions a few things NOT to bring to BEA, including more clothes than you’ll need and books of your own. Books will be provided for signings, and that book you have in progress can be saved for bedtime reading in the hotel. Shannyn also explains the shipping setup at the Javits (because you don’t want to carry those new books around all day, do you?) and mentions where to find chairs.
Lexie of Poisoned Rationality has set up a “BEA Info Page” on her blog, and generously sent me a bunch of additional tips to share as well. I’ve condensed them below:
“Stay Hydrated! Whether it’s straight water, 100% Cranberry juice, iced tea, hot tea…just drink something liquid related that isn’t just soda. You’ll need it as you walk around and the Javits begins to get warmer. If you’re worried about the added weight in your bag, just remember as you finish a bottle you can chuck it. Or be environmentally friendly and bring a re-fillable water bottle.
“Plan those bathroom breaks! Since BEA can involve waiting and lines, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to map out the bathrooms and make a plan within your group either. If you know you’ve got 45 minutes before the next signing, have a friend save the spot in line and make a dash in pairs.
“Bringing Lunch! I brought my lunch last year for one of the days, and you know, it wasn’t that bad of an idea. The problems inherent in this are packing something that doesn’t need refrigerating or heating up, and lugging it around until you find time to eat.
“Buying Lunch! If you’re staying in the city with pals try to scope out eateries on the way to Javits or by checking out the web. BEA has some dining tips (or they did last year), but honestly the web is more helpful. Don’t just go to places you can find at home like McDonald’s or TGIFriday’s, try out a deli or bistro. There’s two or three Whole Foods throughout the area too–take advantage. They often have easy to take out and eat selections because they’re used to people just popping in real quick. If you’re feeling adventurous head down to the Chelsea Market–a little pricey, but has loads of eating shops with interesting food that’s tasty. New York is a mecca for foodies, at least on the East Coast, so take advantage!
“Gush over a book or author while in line. I don’t just mean in line for events either, when in line in the morning to get into the Hall, make friends with the folks around you. They may know something you don’t, or when you see them later in line they can help you out.
“Lastly…comfort is essential. Javits will be warm, the city will be warmer and at some point you’ll hit air conditioning and feel chilled. Avoid jeans (if possible), wear slacks or khaki shorts. Or dresses if you prefer. Wear nice shirts that don’t have ‘Kiss me I’m Evil’ or Stewie Griffin’s head chanting his evil mantra. Break in any shoes you plan on wearing (you don’t want nasty blisters).”
In light of my husband’s health episode last week, I seriously considered not going to BEA after all. But as he reminded me, it’s not just BEA; I’m also moderating that session at the Book Blogger Convention. And he knows how long I’ve been getting ready for this, and looking forward to it – so I will be in NYC next week! We’ve lined up family and friends to help out here and check in on him while I’m gone; I’ll be calling and texting him more often than I might have otherwise; and I may not be entirely relaxed about being away from home for six days, but I’ll be there.
I arrive late Monday afternoon and should be at my hotel by around dinnertime. If anyone would like to meet up to eat that evening, please let me know! I’ll be leaving early Saturday afternoon. I hope I’ll get the chance to meet you in New York City!