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?
ANIMEJUNE'S BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BEA!
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:
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.
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!
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,
DON'T TREAT BOOK EXPO AMERICA LIKE A WRITER'S CONFERENCE
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:
Upon returning home from Book Expo America, take care to perform the following two steps:
And that's about it! Any other questions or tips? Leave them in the comments!