2015 will see me through my seventh Book Expo, and my second Book Con, and I couldn’t be more pumped. There are some seriously exciting guests attending both events, some really exciting breakfasts and panels, and there is bound to be some killer swag. Whether you’re going to BEA, Book Con, or both, if it’s your first year, it’s going to be overwhelming. The Javitz Center is HUGE. Here are my tips for successfully navigating this convention:
- Pack light– Books are heavy. You may think you understand what this means, but you don’t until you’ve got a backpack and two tote bags full of books and you’ve got to carry them around for extended periods of time. The more you bring with you, the more you have to carry around all day. It may seem like a good idea to bring a book into the convention with you to have signed, but it’s not. Technically it’s against the rules, so your author may not sign it if his or her publicist is around, and he or she is there to promote a new book. Get that one signed.
- Consider checking a suitcase– There are two reasons this is a good idea. First, it allows you to unload all your swag periodically, and save your back a bit. Second, it makes you less bulky on the book floor, allowing you to weave between people with ease, and bump into them less. I believe it was $3 last year to check a suitcase, and it’s the best money you’ll spend at the whole convention. Not to mention, wheels make transporting your books home much easier.
- Bring lunch– Javitz Center food is expensive, and leaving the show floor to get lunch is super time consuming. Bring something that won’t squish that you can eat while standing in line. I suggest a sub or a wrap. Also, granola bars are your best friend. DON’T FORGET YOUR WATER BOTTLE. While you do want to pack light, a water bottle is a necessity. Hydration is good for making sure you don’t get cranky.
- Wear sneakers– Looking your best is always good when surrounded by writers you respect, but if you don’t wear comfy shoes, you will very definitely regret it.
- Arrive early– BEA and Book Con both have lines. Lots and lots of lines. You want to get there as early as possible. While you’re waiting in the line to get in, you also get to peruse the daily guide book printed by Publishers Weekly. It is awesome because it tells you about signings and giveaways you won’t find out about anywhere else.
- Do your research– If you’re attending BEA, get the app. It has every scheduled autographing and location. You can build your schedule right there, and then carry it around with you on your phone. It also has a little news feed where people have already started uploading info. about giveaways and signings. For both events, check Twitter, check Facebook, check Tumblr. One year a publisher posted on Tumblr that if you went to their booth and said a code word, you would get a certain book. Only on Tumblr. There are also occasions where authors who are not listed will show up, but post about it on a social media site. Neil Gaiman did this one year.
- Prioritize– You will not get to do everything you want to. It will be crowded, there will be hard core lines. Last year was the first year of Book Con, and it was a madhouse. The doors opened at 9 a.m. and people started lining up for things scheduled for the afternoon. If there is something or someone you’re desperate to see, make that your #1 priority. Also prioritize which books you pick up. You’re going to be carrying them around a lot. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you NEED it. Trust me, you don’t.
- Be a human being– You may think this is a given, but after how horrible people were last year, I think it has to be said. Remember that everyone is there to have the best experience possible. Being rude, stealing, and line cutting will make everyone cranky. Frankly, it’s just not cool.
- HAVE FUN– BEA is awesome! Where else is everyone super literature-obsessed? Make new friends! Bring business cards so you can keep in touch with people!
This year’s event will see the largest gathering of in-person Geekettes ever! Will we be seeing you at BEA/Book Con? Let us know in the comments!