Saturday, May 19, 2012

This bears repeating, OK, this bears repeating!!

After much internal debate, I will be attending the BEA Bloggers Conference and BookExpo America. The cost has gone up, but I figured the networking possibilities can't be tossed aside. Baring a last-minute disaster I will be getting a workout at the Javits Convention Center for four fun-filled days. I'm attending grad school in the fall, with a goal towards a Masters in publishing. So this year, my third attending both conferences, I have to take it with a different approach. Maybe I can get some advice on my professional pursuits.

This year I will be attending another cocktail party, this time with Other Press instead of HarperCollins. I will also be attending a breakfast at Random House. That last one I'm really excited about. I heard about other bloggers doing that in the past and wondered how they got so lucky!!! Now I get to take part.

Now all of that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to pass along a few tips for first-time attendees. I thought about coming up with a new list of tips, but last year's list was pretty good. So I decided to post that same list again, with a few minor tweaks. 

1. PLAN AHEAD!!! Go to the BEA web site and plot out the booths you want to visit. It can be a bit of sensory overload if you don't plan ahead. Write out what and whom you want to see. The stuff on the BEA web site isn't the easiest to figure out. Last year, I mapped out which publishers I wanted to visit. I went to those booths first and then went elsewhere.

2. Bring a small rolling suitcase with you. This little tidbit would have saved my shoulders. I carried around three big bags of books ALL DAY. There is an area set aside for the suitcases. For three bucks (assuming the price hasn't changed) you can leave your bag there and put your books in it throughout the day. Although, keep the highly-coveted books with you. Some people have sticky fingers, and they take the popular books. Also, I think they help you ship your books home if you need it. I saw the spot last year and wondered what it was for. Imagine my surprise when I found out at the END of the day. That walk from the Javits Center to Penn Station is very short, but not when you're loaded down with books.

3. Bring snacks and drinks with you. Take it from a New Yorker, the food in that place is expensive!! Also, if you can bring an ice pack. The convention center is air-conditioned, but imagine how hot a space can get with thousands of people in it.

4. Avoid taxis, if you can, and buy a metrocard. Buses, trains, and your own two feet are the best modes of transportation. I can't really speak about hotels and airfares because I live within commuting distance. All I can tell you is to book early and shop around for the best deal. If you have family in New York, ask them to take pity on you. If you know any other bloggers attending, perhaps you can share a hotel room. There are shuttle buses, so do take advantage. It was great to hop on the bus to Penn Station rather than having to walk with all of those books.

5. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking, so comfort is important.

6. Have a business card. This event is all about making connections. You will be meeting so many people, it helps to have a business card. You will want to develop a list of contacts, and publishers want to do the same thing. And be sure to follow up when you get home.

7. Make sure your blog is in tip-top shape. A review policy and contact information are musts. My own blog will be under construction next month. I want to streamline a few things.

8. Take pictures. How many opportunities will you get to experience an event like this? You will want to remember it. I'm planning on buying a camera. My cellphone camera wasn't up to snuff last year.

9. Attend a panel. There will be panels discussing books and book-related content throughout the day. The list isn't up yet on the BEA web site, but it should be soon.

10. One to a customer. Don't be greedy. Last year when the exhibit hall opened, people ran to the bookstacks. You would think they hadn't seen a book in years. 
11. NO SKIPPING!!! I understand if you're holding the spot for a friend or two. But just a friend or two. I wanted to scream when I learned someone was holding a spot for not one but SEVEN PEOPLE ON A VERY LONG LINE last year. It's just plain rude to do that. Some publishers run out of books and how fair is it if SEVEN PEOPLE skipped ahead of the others waiting on line.

12. Make friends. You will be on long lines for most of the convention, so strike up a conversation with the person next to you. While waiting for on line for Maureen Johnson's autograph I met the young lady behind  The Norwegian Book Girl. We had a lovely conversation and it helped pass the time.

13. If you didn't get it before, please PLAN AHEAD!!!

14. Have fun!! Of course be professional, but don't forget to have fun.

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