BEA is one of the year’s biggest book conferences, bringing together writers, editors, publicists, bloggers, agents and basically anyone else working in or around the publishing industry, for three jam-packed days.
Whether you’ve been every year or haven’t ever gone before, here are a few things to keep in mind to make your BEA experience a huge success.
1) Make a Plan
There are hundreds of events, author signings, giveaways and interviews. There are so many people to meet and things to see. When you walk in, you’ll see publisher booths and huge lines, and might not even be able to tell what the lines are for! Thankfully, BEA has an awesome app that you can download with a map and schedule, but it’s still best to plan ahead, so you can make sure you’re not stuck in a line for two hours, or miss what you want to see most.
2) Bring a Bag
Or don’t. Seriously. If you plan on getting lots of free books, be sure to bring a tote bag, or even a rolling suitcase. You can check the suitcase when you walk in, and it will make lugging your books back to your hotel or apartment a heck of a lot easier. If, on the other hand, you’re like me, and tend to grab any free book in sight, whether or not you actually think you’ll read it, it might be safer to not bring a bag at all. Then you won’t be tempted to grab books just because they’re there, and other readers who really want them will have the chance. You can get what you really want, and not overstuff your bookshelves in the process.
3) Arrange Transportation
The Javitz center is nice and huge, but it’s also nice and far from the nearest subway. Somehow, even though it occurs in May, BEA ends up falling on some of the hottest days of early summer. Once you arrive, the Javits center has excellent air conditioning, but if you’ve been walking in the hot sun for four avenues, that won’t be much help. Take advantage of the shuttle services and bus routes to get to BEA without the walk, or wear breezy clothes if you plan to make the trek. And remember, you can always just take a cab, but be prepared to wait awhile in traffic.
4) Dress Appropriately
My caveat to the previous point—if you’re anything like me, you’re always freezing, and the Javits center is very air conditioned. I usually wear a light dress (for the walk over) but I always pack a sweater, too! I also always pack a snack and a bottle of water, because the food inside the Javits center is pretty pricey and the lines can get long. The last thing you want to be is hangry, not when there are so many books to see and people to meet!
5) Be Spontaneous!
As much as it helps to have a plan, some of my best experiences at BEA have been surprises. I saw a MG book that looked kind of interesting, and the line was short so I jumped in, and discovered a wonderful new writer and series. One of the best parts of BEA is discovery, so be open to finding new things, and seeing what else is out there. You might find a new book or writer! Or, in my case, a mortal instruments hoodie (because everyone needs one, obviously).
Have you been to BEA? What’s your best piece of advice? Share it in the comments below, or on Twitter, using the hashtag #5OnFri!
Bess Cozby writes epic stories in expansive worlds from her tiny apartment in New York City. By day, she’s an Editor at Tor Books, and Web Editor for DIY MFA. Her work is represented by Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency. Tweet her at @besscozby, contact her at email@example.com, or visit her website at www.besscozby.com.