Bookish Thoughts: BEA Tips

Bookish Thoughts

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


Bookish Thoughts: BEA 16 Wrap-Up

Bookish Thoughts

Bookexpo America, Chicago 2016


Where do you begin when it comes to describing, putting into words perhaps one of the best weeks of one’s life.  I am at a loss for where to start.  I don’t want to bore you, overload you with information… So lets start with a brief summery of events followed by some pictures from the week.  I will post a separate haul post as well as a BEA tip post later on their own.

My BEA Week:

My BEA trip started on Monday.  One of my college girlfriends now lives in Chicago and works for Rush University Medical Center near downtown.  When I put out the plea for a place to crash during BEA she graciously opened her home and parking place for me.  So not only did I get to attend this amazing conference I got to spend a week hanging out with a dear friend.  No wonder I’m so tired.  Bed around midnight up around six everyday, wow!  Totally worth it though.

Thanks to my boss giving me the whole week off I went early and practiced my route to the conference on Tuesday before bumming around the city for the day.  Despite the rain it was actually a fun day.  This is the first time I had actually been somewhere on my own and it was interesting to go where I wanted, when I wanted and without having to compromise or negotiate the best course of action for the day.  Around five I headed back out to the suburbs and had a delicious meal at my friend’s home as we grilled out and visited.  Probably my earliest night to bed around 10 or 11 as I had an early morning the next day with the Blogger’s conference.

Wednesday was the first day of BEA and I left early, like on the train by 6:20 (I think) and arrived super early for registration to the conference.  Oh well, better than late also meant that there were absolutely no lines when I walked up to the counter to get my pass.  Nice!  Headed downstairs to wait for the blogger’s breakfast and spent a few minutes checking my social media.   Breakfast was nice muffins, danishes and bagels along with coffee or tea. It was nice to sit around the tables and chat with everyone.  The keynote speaker was alright, but I have to agree with some of the other bloggers that I’ve read and it would have been nice if they found a speaker that was an actual book blogger.  So most of her presentation went in one ear and out the other, but that’s okay.  The rest of the blogger’s conference was totally worth the extra ticket in my opinion.  The two break out sessions I attended had some interesting information and the table talk discussion in the afternoon even more so.  I enjoyed the three I attended: connecting with publisher, negative reviews, and blogger burnout.  Lunch was totally worth it for me as well as we had a nice group of ladies at my table and I won one of the $50 drawings (score!).  I did skip the last session as by three I was itching to get up on the floor.

Funny little side story about Wednesday.  In one of the break-out sessions my cell phone vibrated and I checked the screen to see my husband had called.  Oh no!  If he had actually taken the time to find his cell phone, turn it on and figured out how to call me something must be up or dead…  Between sessions I headed out into the hall to call him back.  Come to find out two library patrons had shown up at my house asking why the library wasn’t open!  He gave them my boss’s phone number (who was supposed to be working and forgot), and all was good.  He was a bit nervous, asking me that she did know I was going to be gone this week.  I assured him he did the right thing and everything was fine, my trip was on the calendar and being my normal day to work she must have just forgotten.  Made for a funny story to share all week though!  You know you work for a small library when your patrons know where you live…

Okay back to the wrap-up.  My Wednesday haul wasn’t that big, thankfully as I had not brought a bag to check yet and I headed back to the train and met up with my girlfriend at her work to attend a diversity award banquet that had an excellent spread of food (another score)!  Met some of her great co-workers and spent the evening hanging out with them at a local bar and didn’t get to bed until late.  Again, totally worth it!

The next day was my quiet day, no must haves or sessions to attend (actually all sessions were quickly wiped off my schedule as I spent so much time waiting in line).  I spent the day wandering from book-drop to signing and checking out the booths.  The day started a little later and I visited Disney first as they had an excellent breakfast of fancy croissants and coffee!  I came back a few hours later and helped myself again.  The second day many of the booths had food and I ended up nibbling my way around the center instead of stopping for an actual meal.  That evening they also offered more food and drinks!  I did abstain from that as I am not a big drinker and I didn’t feel like being wasteful.  My second day haul was pretty impressive and I struggled to get everything on the train and to my friend’s house afterward.  So many books and totes!  Having driven to Chicago I did not censor myself very much.  I did take books that didn’t necessarily interest me and every tote I could get my hand on.  I attended as a blogger, but I am also a librarian and knew these books would find good homes and who doesn’t love free totes! (we also use them to give away Summer Reading Program prizes in)  That evening my friend and I had some amazing Thai food and I was able to hit the sheets a tad earlier after emptying my haul to free up my bag for the next day.

The last day of BEA was my game-on day!  My two must-have authors were Friday and both were dropping tickets at almost the same time in different areas.  My plan was to swing by and score a Sylvia Day ticket and then rush over to get in line for Justin Cronin who would be signing around 10, Sylvia’s was at three that afternoon.  I did it!  I managed to get tickets to both of my must-have authors and I was going to meet them both!!  I was so thrilled.  Standing in line for Cronin I decided to turn on my data to check my push notices only to find my husband had been stalking me on social media.  When was the last time I talked to him?  Ops.  I couldn’t remember so I placed a quick call to him and made sure things were alright at home.  They were, but I could tell someone was missing me.  I said good-bye and shortly afterwards the signing started and I chatted with people in line.  This was a pretty popular signing so they didn’t allow pictures with the author, you could take one before or after, just not with him.  That’s alright.  I got to meet Justin Cronin!  I tried to keep the fangirling internalized, but I was shaking afterwards.  He was so sweet and I am thrilled I got to talk with him.  Came up to him and he said “Of course Amy (main character’s name in the book is also Amy)”  and I told him that I am also from Iowa (where the character is also from, go look it up already, The Passage Trilogy).  He quickly started searching my name tag to find out where and I told him I lived near Iowa City (where parts of book two is located) and said how I recognized locations in the book!  He was so cool about it all and even apologized for blowing up the dome on the capital building.  Like I said he was super sweet.  Later that morning, once I was coming down from my fangirl high I walked through the booth again and saw him sitting there with his handler.  Just sitting there !  Of course I found something very interesting to look at and tried to work up the courage to talk to him.  He started to leave, I followed and said ‘ Excuse me Mr. Cronin, but would take a selfie with me’.  He said yes and the rest is history (picture below).  That totally made my day and I will be gushing over it for some time.

My next signing was Sylvia Day at three so I bummed around the booths and tables picking up what ever caught my fancy.  I did manage to stop for food on Friday and filled up my suit case fairly early.  A lot of the booths started packing up and giving away early in the afternoon.  Before I knew it I was in line to meet Ms. Day.  This was probably the longest line I had been in and I was shocked to learn that I was surrounded by a ton of authors who were just as excited to meet Ms. Day as I was.  The woman who I had been chatting with for several lines that day ended up leaving early as her friend scored her a signed book early and she needed to leave for the author’s tea (a $ ticketed session).  She turned to me and gave me her ticket and that is how I ended up with two signed copies of One With You by Sylvia Day!!!  I will be giving the second copy away on this blog so be sure to keep an eye out for more information.

After that signing and two more passes around the floor I decided it was time to go.  I was a little sad that it had all passed so quickly, but also ready for it all to be over.  I still had a Science Fiction Writers of America book signing that night where I got to meet John Scalzi!!!  As well as two more days of fun with my college girlfriend.  I wrestled my bag home and headed back downtown for the signing and another ride back to Oak Park for the night.  I was beat.  My friend had her own event that night and I was on my own to start organizing my books and packing everything away that I would no longer need.

The rest of the trip was just normal sight-seeing (and a trip to Ikea!).  We had some great food, I got to treat my friend to our favorite Turkish restaurant and she gave me a tour of where she works.  The next day we checked out the stores in her town and had lunch around the time of a very sad phone call from someone’s husband wondering if his wife was ever going to come home.

I want to thank my friend again for inviting me to stay with her.  She not only saved me a ton of money, but make this trip even more memorable!  I will definitely be back for another girl’s weekend where we can see more of the sights around Chicago and perhaps another trip to Ikea…

Last week was the trip of a lifetime for me. I do hope to attend another BEA, but probably not next year.  New York intimidates me and I don’t think I feel comfortable going to that city on my own, maybe with my husband.  It doesn’t matter really as next year’s conference is a bit later and my library’s Summer Reading Program will have started and I’ve been informed not to take vacation at that time.  Quite frankly though I managed to bring home so much stuff that I think I’ll probably not be through all the books I snagged this year.  So maybe in a couple of years.  If you get the chance to attend the Bookexpo of America go.  You will not regret it for one instant.  This conference is a bookish person’s version of heaven and I loved every single minute of it!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.