Hey there, word nerds! Thanks for joining me for this episode of DIY MFA Radio. Today I want to share with you some survival tips for Book Expo America (BEA), the publishing industry’s premier trade show in the United States.
BEA is the Big Kahuna of trade shows in the US. If you’re in the book business, this is where you want to be. This event is centered on BOOKS, but writers can get a lot out of the expo as well. Because there’s so much going on, though, it can be a little overwhelming. Fear not! This Book Expo survival guide episode will give you all the inside details on how to make the most of this event.
The best thing you can do before you go to BEA is define your goals and map out your strategy. At DIY MFA, my big goal is to connect with book publicists so I can set up more great podcast interviews with amazing authors. In addition, I keep my eyes open for overall book trends and themes to feature on our Five on Friday column (#5onFri). Plus, I’m always up for making new friends and meeting fellow book lovers.
BEA is a industry only event which means that as an unpublished author, you would have a hard time getting a badge. But, if you review books on your blog, you could get a blogger pass and go to BEA with the goal of discovering new books to review. For a book blogger, BEA is a great place to find content, whether that be about specific books or authors, about industry trends, or about other facets of publishing.
Even if you know what your goals are for BEA, these are a few survival tips you should keep in mind. Listen in to get all the details.
Book Expo America Survival Guide 2015
1) Focus on what you can offer.
It’s easy to go nuts over all the galleys and swag, but don’t get caught up in the “mine, mine, mine” mentality. Focus on offering value, not taking it. Remember not to offer what you can’t deliver. This means, if you say you’re going to review a book for someone, you’d better review it. If you only review books you liked (so you refrain from reviewing arcs you did not like) be up front about that.
Keep in mind that as an author, you’re not there to foist your wares. BEA exhibitors are selling their books to buyers and librarians. Chances are you’ll be interacting with marketing and publicity people (editors and agents are more likely to float around the show or be in private meeting rooms). This means the people you run into on the show floor aren’t the ones who could make a decision about buying your book, anyhow. Be professional and be courteous.
Most importantly, have a real conversation with the people you meet. Make friends. Book Expo is how I’ve met a number of wonderful authors and industry professionals whom I’ve had the pleasure staying friends with over the years. These connections are worth more than any marketing pitch.
2) Develop your PITA (Pain In The @$$) radar.
Make sure that you aren’t being a PITA! Think about the needs of the person you are talking to and respect others’ time. One way that I make sure not to be a PITA is by using the 3 minute rule. After 3 minutes of conversation, I thank the person for their time and ask if I can follow-up via email. At this point they either hand me a business card, or say “it’s OK, I can keep talking.” Either way, it’s a win.
If you’re shy like me, here are a few other networking tips:
- Say something nice.
Never underestimate the power of a kind word. When in doubt, a compliment is a great ice-breaker. But remember to be authentic. Don’t say something just to say it. Make sure you actually mean it.
- Act professional.
It’s easy to get caught up in the Literary Super-Dazzle (LSD as I like to call it). Galleys, book signings and celebrity authors… it’s enough to make even the best of us lose our cool. Just make sure to respect the rules and the people around you. Don’t lose your head and start snatching up books, cutting people in line, and causing a scene. Honestly, that just makes you look like an amateur. As long as you keep your wits about you and behave like a grown-up you’ll be just fine.
3) Plan in advance.
I spend about a week before Book Expo just planning out my itinerary and scheduling meetings. This is a big event and it goes by fast so make sure you plan in advance. Follow #BEA15 on Twitter to see who else is going, find out schedule updates, and plan what you don’t want to miss. Also, check out the following links for updates on can’t-miss galleys and events.
- Publisher’s Weekly: Children’s Galleys
- Publisher’s Weekly: Adult Galleys
- Kirkus BEA 2015 Guide
- School Library Journal Guide to ARCs and Signings
4) There’s more to BEA than what is on the show floor.
Check out panels and other talks going on in the basement of the Javits Center. Also check out the BEA Bloggers Conference, uPublishU, and several other conferences going on at the same time. (Some of these require an additional ticket.) I’ve attended the blogging conference in the past, and definitely found it valuable when I was starting DIY MFA. In addition, if you’re an author looking to connect with bloggers, the Blogger Directory for that conference is an invaluable resource!
I myself am always excited to check out the book buzz panels (where editors talk about the book on their list with the most buzz). This year the tech-geek in me can’t wait to check out some of the talks on multimedia, too.
5) Bonus logistical tips.
The Javits Center is basically in no-man’s land on the West Side. There will eventually be a subway stop there (who knows when that will ever happen) but for now, you might as well be in Siberia, you’re so dang far from the rest of the city. Whether you attend BEA for one day or for the entire conference, make sure to keep these basic things in mind:
- Be prepared to eat your meals at the food court, because there aren’t any restaurants nearby. If you decide to grab lunch, go before or after peak lunchtime.
- Bring a water bottle and a snack. Food at the Javits is expensive, plus it’s a mob scene. If you can survive on snacks for a day or two, go for it.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously the Javits is HUGE and you’ll be doing laps from one end to the other. Comfy shoes are a must.
- Rolling suitcases are not allowed on the show floor. To avoid hauling around a heavy pile of swag and books, you can check a rolling case in coat/bag check, and then drop off some of the stuff you acquire at regular intervals. Keep in mind that you’ll need to bring cash for the coat/bag check.
- If you can, make arrangements for a ride after the event because it’s nearly impossible to get a cab after the show floor closes. (Did I mention it was crazy far from everything?)
There is so much cool stuff happening in and around BEA. I want to make sure you don’t miss a thing! Also, I love meeting my fellow Word Nerds face-to-face. If you’re going to be at BEA, tweet or email me, so we can connect.
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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.