To wrap up my post-BEA posts I thought I would share the standard BEA tips for those of you that are thinking of attending. There are tons of these posts and videos out there with lots of great tips for you all. The following is just some of what worked for me, what didn’t and ideas that I thought might be useful for those looking for information before their first trip. So shall we begin.
My BEA Tips
- Go Early: Now you don’t have to be like me and go an extra two days before the conference starts. I was lucky in that I was staying with a friend and had the whole week off work. That being said arriving in town a day early is a great idea, gives you a chance to get settled, check in with friends also attending, go over your game plan one last time and do my next tip.
- Practice public transportation: This is a great idea if you are someone like me that doesn’t use public transportation on a regular (or at all) basis. You can test your route to the convention center, time it to see how early you need to leave and make sure you know how to use your pass. You will be more comfortable the next day when time counts and you need to be on time. Also pay attention to your stops; where do you exit, is there an elevator (for when you are carrying your books home each night), how often do the trains run, which train direction do you need for where you are going, what is the name of your stops. All good things you can learn on a test run.
- Lodging: I put out a plea on social media months before my trip asking if any of my friends would be open to letting me crash at their place. I was lucky in that one of my college friends lives in the city and let me stay with her. You could also put an offer out there to share hotel rooms, but you will be surprised who might take you up on your begging for a place to crash. You can also put out there that the perks of letting you stay is tons of free books! My friend said it was the best conference she never attended and wished she had taken the week off work to go with me. If you do find a friend to stay with it can save you so much money! I save probably $700.
- Backpack Vs Tote: This was a tip that a lot of people suggested, using a backpack. I think it could be a good idea for the right person, but personally I took my backpack one day and left it home the rest of the time. It was just too awkward to take it on and off to put stuff in and my back was killing me by the end of day one. I picked up two of the better totes and just carried them all day, stopping every so often dump books in my checked bag. I stashed some treats in my purse and was good to go. One tote I would put books in, the other was for lighter items like papers, bookmarks, and more totes.
- Treats and Water: I carried some treats with me, but quite frankly this is another area where I over did it. Honestly most of the booths had something to nibble on so I could have done without bringing any really. The second day I didn’t even eat lunch I was able to fill up on food from the different vendors, plus I was saving room for the amazing Thai food we were having that night. I would bring two bottles of water as well, tossed one when empty and the second I would refill at a fountain. Worked great.
- Shoes: Okay I went out and bought a cute pair of business style loafers that had memory foam inserts and absolutely no heal. My feet hated me by the end of day one, and I was sitting most of the day! The next day I went to put them on and my feet said ‘Hell no’ and I ended up wearing sneakers for the last two days. No one cared or noticed and I was actually feeling pretty good feet wise by the end of the conference. So just wear the sneakers.
- Business Cards: These are a great idea and people will ask you for them. It also helped when you would catch a great picture that people wanted you to send them. You could just give them your card and they can grab it off your social media account. I did not do this, but I think it is a good idea. Have two versions of your card; one with your mailing address and one without. All of my cards had it so everyone ended up with my address. I’m not too worried, but still better safe than sorry. Next time. Also take a stash of them and put them in your pocket for easy access.
- Checked bag: Do this. Don’t even hesitate, bring a bag to check and stop throughout the day to dump books in your bag. You will be amazed at how fast it will fill up. Also if you are driving in like I did and can haul as much home as you want don’t bring one of those cute little carry on bags, bring a huge regular sized suitcase. People will have them so don’t worry about looking odd. I wish I had had a regular sized bag even with the fact that I was riding public transportation to and from the conference. As it was I would cart home the carry on and a huge book filled tote on the train each night.
- Explore: For us bloggers the main action at the convention is around the signing tables and the publisher’s booths, but I urge you to venture into the other half of the conference as well. Sure it is more for industry people, but you can still find some interesting booths to check out and some cool freebies to grab. I thought the international booths were really quite interesting.
- Publisher Booths: Each publisher had a different way they do things. Visit each one and grab their book drop and signing lists and make a plan. Even non-ticketed signings will end up having tickets. Not that they cost anything, but usually there is a limited quantity. Most publishers drop tickets about a half hour before a signing when most people start lining up, but sometimes the tickets drop in the morning hours before a scheduled signing. If there is an author you really want to meet then ask them how that signing is going to work. They will let you know and usually point to the area and give you the time to show up. I really liked how Harlequin handled their signings. They would group four to six of the same genre together like all YA or Suspense. You got in line and when the signing started you went down the line and exited with up to six books! Sure you might have only wanted one, but being they are all similar styles you might end up with a great new-to-you author to try. How cool!
- Scan your badge: Let them scan your badge as many times as they want. This is how they grab your contact information and see how committed you are to their authors. If they see you are a repeat visitor they might take a second look at you and start sending you ARCs.
- Bloggers Conference: Being new to blogging I really liked the conference. The floor doesn’t open until one that first day anyway so why not go and make some connections and meet other bloggers. Personally I thought the sessions offered were great. I especially liked the round table talks in the afternoon which were on various topics and were broken down into three half hour sessions. If you are a more experienced blogger why not attend too and share all your wisdom with those just starting out!
- Cell Phone: I have a new cell phone that offered an introductory plan of unlimited data for 45 days. This was great! I didn’t have to worry about eating up my data or searching for a wifi signal I could access the internet anytime I needed to. So if you have the option for the week of the conference either purchase extra data or swing for unlimited for that month. It also helped my battery which didn’t have to drain itself searching for a signal all day. I carried a pocket charger with an extra long cord and just hooked it up once a day. I would leave my charger in my purse and loop the cord around my neck and kept my phone in my jacket pocket. Work amazingly well.
- Display Only: There are tons of books that are going to be available or pushed on you at BEA, but keep in mind not all books are free for the taking. Some titles are clearly marked display only. Leave them where they sit.
- Rudeness: Being in the mid-west I heard many a time at the conference how surprised people were at how nice everyone was. Living here it came as no shock to me, we tend to be nice, even in a big city. 95% of the people I interacted with were wonderful and so helpful. That 5% though can ruin an entire trip if you let them, so don’t. Do what I did, if a publisher gets a little snippy or someone a little obsessive about the ‘line starts here’ put your hands up and walk away. I have to say the only booths I had trouble with were the American Library Association that took one look at my blogger badge and became snots. Needless to say I stayed the hell away from them the rest of the conference. Slight disappointment there, librarians are supposed to be better than that. Then there was Penguin Random House. I’ve had some issues with this publisher online through their First to Read program so it didn’t surprise me that I didn’t care for my interaction with them in person. Not all of them were awful in this booth, but some of the ladies made me turn on heal and search out friendlier waters. As to fellow attendees most of the difficult people I interacted with were from the East coast. Every single time. You all must just live on top of one another and get used to be aggressive and abrupt with others. Did not encourage me to visit this conference in New York some year…
I’m sure there is plenty of other tips I will think of later, but these are the main ones I wanted to share. If you have questions feel free to ask in the comments. This is an amazing experience and I am so glad I went. I would love to go again some day, but if I don’t that’s alright. I have actually been thinking of seeking out other conferences or conventions to attend, BEA isn’t the only one out there. I was a tad disappointed that the genres I read were not well represented, so perhaps a romance or sci-fi conference should be on my list next! Know of another great convention to attend, share in the comments!
Thanks for following my little adventure. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and stories and be sure to come back on Monday when I will announce my first book that I’m giving away. I have the stack of titles listed on my social media accounts, go tell me which one you want me to giveaway first! Happy Reading~Amy