Tuesday, May 07, 2013

So You're Going to BEA (A Handy Guide)

Book Expo America is only a few (three!) weeks away. All the authors! All the exhibitors! All the events and parties and friends! 

Now that you've registered, half of you may be feeling:

But the other half of you is probably going:

Because BEA is BIG. It is monstrously huge and overwhelming and crowded with lots of people.

Plus, with the cost of registration, flights/transportation, hotels, and walking around money, your budget at the end of the trip is pretty much:

But do you need to worry?

And why not?


Getting There

At BEA, the dress code is business casual. In layman's terms: slacks instead of jeans, comfy shoes instead of neon-coloured sneakers, nothing with holes or tears (artistically-intended or otherwise), all your relevant creases and crevices should be covered, and you're good to go. You won't be turned away at the door if you do otherwise, but remember, Book Expo is a trade show and publishing is a business. People are working as well as playing and dressing appropriately is a sign of respect. 

As for packing tips:

Some things to bring with you that will help on your trip:

1) Comfortable Shoes. Your feet are going to hurt after Book Expo. This isn't a spoiler, but an established fact.
They will hurt whether you wear stiletto heels or sandals woven from the floppy curls of a thousand boyishly shy YA love interests. But the more comfortable shoes you wear, the longer you'll last on the exhibition floor before you inevitably break down and drag your bloody ankle stumps and prodigious Expo swag onto the shuttle back to your hotel. Keep this in mind.

2) A smaller, empty suitcase (I'll explain in a moment).

3) Business Cards - the very best way to keep in touch with your new friends and associates!

4) A data roaming plan from your cellphone provider. Why?

Paying for Wi-Fi at the Javits Center:
It suuuuuuuuucks.
The reception is notoriously bad as well, but it's still better than the WiFi. And believe me, you'll want to keep in touch with your friends via Twitter/Facebook/texting because the Javits centre is a huge place.

5) Handy, portable snacks. Why? Well, with all the wonderful stuff that goes on at BEA, there's really little to no time to leave the Javits and sit down for a decent lunch. Unfortunately:

Food at/near the Javits Center:
Although it doesn't exactly suck, you shouldn't have to pay $8.00 for one slice of pizza unless it's topped with ostrich meat and Terry Deary's delicious, delicious tears. This, Terry, is what's really taking money out of authors' pockets. 

6) A Priority List. You may not want to plan everything, but in order to keep from being overwhelmed, it's always good to make a list of things you really, especially want to see at BEA. Your favourite books. Your favourite authors. The publishers of your favourite books. Where are they? When will they be there? Will you need tickets? The BEA website has very detailed schedules, as will the publisher websites - and publishers will often hand out flyers with giveaway times while you're there. 

Being There

Yay! You made it to the Javits! Now what?

Here's where the previously mentioned Empty Suitcase comes in handy. The Empty Suitcase has two purposes:

1) It stores your swag! Yup - there are places at the Javits where, for a few dollars, you can check your bag for the entire day. Large bags and rolling suitcases aren't allowed on the exhibition floor (and for good reason), but your accumulating ARCs can get heavy. But it's the matter of a few minutes to pop out, empty your goody bags into your checked suitcase, and float back onto the exhibition floor without ever having to leave the center!

2) It ships your swag! If you're like me, and you live outside the U.S. or A Hella Long Way From NYC, shipping your BEA books back to your place of residence can be pricey. Last year, I packed my smaller, empty suitcase inside my regular one and when the time came to return to the Great White North, I put all my swag into both my suitcases and simply checked an extra bag onto my flight. It costs anywhere from $25-$50 to check an extra suitcase - which is still way cheaper than the $100 or more it would have cost to post them. Plus, I didn't have to wait three weeks to glom onto my hard-won ARCs.

Like a boss.

Another thing about being at the Javits Center - you likely won't be there all day for each day.

It's true. Most of the action happens in the morning, although publishers will schedule the occasional galley drops throughout the day. There's a million things to see and do - but eventually you may find yourself at 2:00 in the afternoon with nothing new to see and no interesting galleys or authors scheduled for the afternoon. It's okay to take a break. Rest your feet. Take a nap. Or better yet - go out and sightsee New York!

Behaving There

It goes without saying, but Book Expo can get extremely crowded. That's not necessarily a bad thing, so long as people respect each other and the publishers, authors, business people who are putting this exposition together for them. On that note - my handy list of Do's and Don'ts:

DO Take ARCs -- provided they are being offered. Lots of books in the booths are for display so it never hurts to ask. 

DON'T Take Every ARC - sure, they're free - until you factor in the physical cost of carrying them everywhere and the financial cost of shipping them home and the temporal cost of having to actually read them. What I mean is: don't take ARCs just because they're free. If the cover blurb is only so-so or you hated the author's previous book or the genre is one you tend not to like, don't take it. The people working the booth won't be offended - supplies are limited and this could very well be someone's Holy Grail of BEA Swag. 

I know, it's hard to resist the idea of Free! Books! - but that little greedy voice in your ear isn't doing you any favours.

DON'T Be a Little Bitch About ARCs.
Let's get this out of the way: you are not entitled to ANYTHING at Book Expo America. These galleys, ARCs, free finished copies, and goodies are gifts, separate from the cost of your registration. They are produced for marketing purposes, and supplies are not infinite. 
This means, no, you can't take five copies of a particular ARC in order to host a giveaway on your blog. 
This means, no, you have no right to bitch or moan or complain if the galley drop is late or cancelled or they run out while you're still in line. 
This means, no, ARC-hunting is not a competitive sport and getting more ARCs than anyone else doesn't make you a Better Blogger - it makes you a Braggart, and a wasteful one at that if you're not personally excited about or interested in every single one you snagged. 

DO Be Polite
You'd think this goes without saying.
You'd be wrong.

Remember how BEA's dress code is Business Casual? Let's go ahead and assume that BEA's behaviour code is also Business Casual - as in, people want you to have fun, relax, meet great people and have great conversations, but if you wouldn't be able to get away with certain behaviours at your workplace, you shouldn't try to do so here. 

DO Meet Your Favourite Authors!
You know who fans love running into at BEA? Their favourite authors! You know who authors love running into at BEA? Their fans! It's a match made in heaven!

There are many opportunities to meet your favourite authors - at panels, at their publisher booths, at their breakfasts, at their autographing tables - even sometimes on the exhibition floor, just chillin' (how I met John Green!). It's a great way to introduce yourself and tell them how much you loved their book, and even ask them questions (if there's time - if you're in a long line, please use your discretion).

DON'T Stalk Your Favourite Authors
Keep in mind, though, that authors go to BEA to network and have fun, too. Don't follow them around the exhibition floor unless they've stolen your totebag with your Rose Under Fire ARC inside. If you meet them on the floor but they're deep in conversation with someone else, don't barge in and interrupt. Keep it all in the Javits - if you have to follow them to the bathroom, in a cab, to their hotel room for a chance to talk to them, you've gone too far. 

Last but not least,

Do. Not. Pitch. Your. Book. To. Anyone.

Book Expo America is about Publishing, not Writing. It'd be like trying to sell eggs at a fried chicken expo - BEA is more focused on the finished product. Actual books, and getting them in the reader's hands. I mean, if an editor asks you for a pitch or to submit something, you're a Special Snowflake. But this is neither the time nor the place to pimp your manuscript on your own. You will not make a good first impression. You will only annoy very powerful people in publishing.

And that leaves:

Leaving There
Upon returning home from Book Expo America, take care to perform the following two steps:

Step One

Step Two

And that's about it! Any other questions or tips? Leave them in the comments!


  1. I love this post! I won't be able to attend BEA anytime soon, sadly, but when I go (and I will get there someday), I will keep all of this in mind. :D Thanks.

    1. Awesome! I think it'll be in Chicago next year.

  2. Great post! I'm on the fence as to if I should just ship my books home OR carry them back with me. I live only a few hours from NYC and I'm taking a bus up. Media mail could be cheap, but I know the bus allows two suitcases free. Decisions, desisions!

    How cool that you got to meet John Green!

    1. It was seriously cool to shake John Green's hand - a once in a lifetime thing!

      I'd take the suitcase then - you save money and you get your books right away! Plus, uh, exercise?

  3. I love this post, thanks for sharing!

  4. I totally found my head nodding to every single thing on here. I remember my first year of BEA, I did the Javits from the time it opened until the time it closed.

    Then my second year, I left on the last day a bit early.

    And last year, I like ducked out by 3 p.m. every day because I got kind of bored and my feet hurt and at one point I think I got food poisoning from one of those hot dogs. Sigh. Also, I probs came across as rude when I met you last year at BBC but I was nursing the worst hangover ever so my apologies.


    1. Believe me, I was not at my best last BEA *either*, so we are even. I'll definitely and sneak in some sightseeing this time around - especially since the Intrepid Museum is only a few blocks away!

  5. Bahahaha, lovely wrap up. I considered doing the luggage thing that you do last year, but, with all the traveling around New York I have to do, I don't think I would be able to manage two suitcases. Thus the shipping them home, but eh. It wasn't terrible shipping the books back, and I didn't even do it the cheapest way because reasons.

    Also, I didn't know people pitching their books was a thing. *facepalms*

    1. I certainly hoping pitching at BEA isn't a think - but I do know that prospective writers + captive editors = desperate moves you will regret later.

  6. I love this post (and all the gifs you included). I kept nodding my head over and over again to everything I was reading. Last year was the first time I attended BEA and I was told in advance that I should try to play it low key, and just do my best to enjoy myself, and not get overwhelmed by all the hype. I think I did a pretty good job of that, and I can't wait to go back again this year! :)

    1. Exactly!

      BEA is a bit like Skyrim, the game. You go in expecting the structure of a conference when it's really come and go and do as you please - which means it can be really rewarding if you set your own goals and know where to go, but it also means it can feel a bit empty and lonely if you don't.

  7. Loved your post. It'll be my first time attending this year so I'll be making a mental note of all these tips. Quick question....how does one find out info about the galley drops?

    1. Well, sometimes there are posts about it on Publisher's Weekly. I recommend following Publisher's Weekly or your fave publishers on Twitter. They WILL have twitter accounts, trust me. Plus, Kirkus usually sends out a copy of the catalogue of ALL the books given away at BEA, which also helps. But the best way to find out is also to ask - they'll have schedules at the booths.

  8. LOL--most excellent post! I especially agree with the competitive ARC-ing. It is NOT a competition but I was practically run over a couple of times by people trying to get to the pretty ARC pile before the books were gone. *sigh* I HOPE to go again this year and this year, I might try that extra suitcase thing. I mailed last time & it was FOREVER before I saw my books again (at least, that's what it felt like. In reality, it was about four days).

  9. Vorkosigrrl10:36 AM

    You are so hilarious! And well mannered, too! Love you, Animejune.

  10. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! This will be my first BEA and your humor is the icing on the cake (and I love cake) for these useful tips. Fantastic reading and much appreciated.

  11. Love this post! Such great advice and loved your hilarious presentation.

    Definitely agree with what you said about having a plan and also treating BEA as a business event. I've been going to BEA for several years now but I still remember my first time at the show. I felt a bit like Bambi staring into oncoming headlights. I was completely overwhelmed!

    That's why I think it's so important to go into the show with a game plan and know your goals. I used to be super type-A about it, making these crazy spreadsheets and color-coded schedules. Now that I've been to BEA a few times, I'm taking it a little easier. I have general goals but so far I haven't made any spreadsheets. But who knows... we've still got a couple of weeks until the show. :)

  12. OK, this post is kinda brilliant.

    I'm going to BEA for the first time this year and am both OMG SO EXCITED and also kinda apprehensive. I've read a lot about how people go a little crazy for ARCs, I am not interested in fighting it out! You made it seem slightly less psychotic!!

    *goes back to putting together spreadsheets like the OCD gal she is"

  13. Hilarious post! Well done!