I can't believe it's almost time for BEA!! Just two days! I thought since I have shared all the tips and advice that I could think of, it would be nice to hear from someone else. Erin Cosenza is a book reviewer and owner of the blog Read-at-Home Mama, and she has graciously agreed to share some tips that she learned at her first trip to BEA, last year.
What tips do you have for a first time BEA-er?
You're probably going to be carrying a lot of books back home or to your hotel, so carry only the necessities (cell phone, wallet, room key, train ticket, anything else you deem absolutely necessary) into the Javits. To further that point, if you know you're planning to see a lot of authors or grab a lot of galleys on any given day, bring an empty rolling suitcase with you. You can check it in the baggage area outside the show floor. I learned the hard way last year that trying to carry too many books from the Javits to Penn Station can be *extremely* painful on your shoulders....Advil was my best friend that night. Don't make the same mistake I did!
Use the BEA Mobile app or the website to help you get an idea of what authors you want to see and to help you create a schedule. I walked in completely unprepared on my first trip to BEA last year and was totally overwhelmed by all the signings and meetings going on. The map on the BEA website (under Show Info > Show Overview) will be immensely helpful. I make a schedule for each day of the expo on its own piece of paper -- my apologies to the trees, it's only for a few days -- so there's no confusion. I list the time of the signing or session, the name of the author or session being presented, and the booth or table number so I know where to be and when. Some people prefer to create Excel spreadsheets...I'm a bit more old-school and use paper and colored pens. Whatever works for you!
Some of the lines for autographing sessions get really long (depending on the author's popularity) and you'll be waiting longer than anticipated. When this happens, you have to decide what's most important -- waiting in line to see someone, or getting out of line to move on to the next author or session. To help me out with this, I actually list multiple options on my schedule so that if one author's line is too long or a session is too crowded, I have an alternative instead of standing around and doing nothing. If I don't have an alternative for any given time period, I use the time to walk the aisles, check out the booths, and maybe do a little shopping (for instance, I'm planning to visit the Litographs and Out of Print booths on Wednesday afternoon, where they usually have merchandise available for purchase).
If you want to get tickets for ticketed autographing sessions, arrive early!! Last year I showed up at 7 a.m. and the line was already very long. The later you get to the Javits, the smaller your chances of getting the tickets you're after! (Or better yet, buy your BEA ticket online as soon as they're available and purchase an Avid Reader Pass -- I believe you get to choose any 10 ticketed authors and you'll automatically get tickets, so you won't need to worry about waiting in line the day of!)
Whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET TO BRING YOUR BADGE. You won't be allowed on the show floor without it!
What things do you do to prepare for BEA?
I make a schedule for each day, as I mentioned above. I also like to lay out my clothes the night before, as I live in New Jersey and take the train into the city every day of the expo. Being awake at 5 in the morning is hard enough; having to coordinate an outfit while walking around like a zombie isn't the best idea. I personally like to make sure that I don't look like I ran away from the circus to visit BEA. I double-check my bag to make sure I have my wallet, keys, cell phone, BEA badge, and snacks with me and something to read for the train ride to the city!
What do you pack with you for NY?
I live locally, so I don't have to worry about packing for travel to NY. However, if I were staying in a hotel I'd pack several dressy-casual dresses, a few blouses and pairs of pants (you gotta have options!!), a sweater or two, several pairs of comfortable shoes (possibly with Dr. Scholl's insoles), sunglasses, an umbrella, my phone charger, and a notebook or journal to write about my experiences and meetings.
What do you bring with you to BEA?
I always pack essentials like my wallet and keys, something to read on the train, a fully-charged cell phone (and maybe a camera), a notebook for BEA Bloggers, my schedule for the day, my badge, and either a large tote bag (if I'm only expecting to pick up a few books) or a rolling suitcase (if it's going to be a book-heavy day).
What would you tell someone who is considering attending BEA?
Do it! There's literally no experience in the world quite like BEA for people who love to read. It only happens once a year, so if you miss this year's expo you'll have to wait until next year. You can meet a lot of great authors, publishers, and industry professionals -- bookish people like yourself! I highly recommend going at least once in your life if you're a bookworm!
Erin, thank you so much for sharing your tips for how to have a successful trip to BEA! Make sure to follow Erin on her Blog, Facebook, and Twitter!
Are you also attending BEA this year? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to share any tips you think we missed.