BEA Battle Plan

by Bess Weatherby
published in Community

I’ve never been to BEA.

As I approach it, I keep thinking of the children in Willy Wonka, standing just inside the chocolate factory. They don’t know what wonders await them. They only know that there are wonders ahead. That the place is huge. And they’re thrilled to be there.

And Willy Wonka tells them: “We have so much time, and so little to do! Wait! Stop! Strike that! Reverse it!”

When I ask about BEA, I usually hear one of two things: “Free books!” or “The Javitz Center is huge!”

So I’m approaching the weekend with the sage advice to bring a giant bag and wear comfortable shoes. And, also, Gabi’s wonderful guide from Tuesday. If you haven’t checked it out, you can do so right here.

That’s where I started my BEA planning. I tried to answer the question she posed: What’s in it for me?

Well, free books for a start. There are sixty six different industry talks. There are over a hundred authors. There are booths for every single publisher in the business. The chance to mingle with authors. Talks about the industry and writing. And did I mention free books?

And I’m hearing Gene Wilders’ voice in my head, “Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination . . .”

So what do I hope to find at BEA? I’ve narrowed my list down to three things:

1) Books

Sorry. Have I not made this obvious? Books are not cheap. I’ve got a Nook, but I prefer a good old-fashioned hardcover. I’ll be collecting anything that might interest me. Fantasy books. Young adult books. Literary books. Thrillers. Anything and everything. You know what’s beautiful about a book? Even if you don’t like it, someone else will. So I’ll be bringing my biggest bag, filling it, and sharing the wealth.

At the same time, I’ll be learning about upcoming books. What the industry is excited about and why. Hopefully, by the end of the day, I’ll have several books to look forward to in the upcoming year.

As if I didn’t have enough to read already!

2) Authors

There are hundreds of authors at BEA. They will be signing books. They will be on panels. They will be giving talks. They will be among us. I hope to find a few of my old favorites, and also discover some new writers to love.

3) Readers

It’s not really fair to lump everyone else at BEA into this one category. There will be bloggers, book reviewers, editors, publicists and agents. There will be unpublished writers. They will all have their own goals—their own answer to the question—What’s in it for me? But they will all be readers. Guaranteed. We got into this business because at some point a book set our imagination on fire. And I think that’s what I’m most excited about for BEA. It’s a place for readers to gather and celebrate one of the best parts of our lives – stories.

Geek out. I’m going to. As Willy Wonka says, “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”

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