Yes, I learned a lot while I was in New York for BEA.
1. Shoes are important and comfortable shoes are key. I wore really nice shoes and was really stupid and didn’t listen to my mother about packing running shoes. Yeah, by about half-way through Monday I was regretting that decision but I’m very stubborn so I dealt with aching, swollen feet all week.
2. People are a lot nicer than you could ever imagine. I was so worried that I would be a total fish out of water and playing on my phone the entire time as to not seem like I was completely by myself. But within the first few minutes of being in my first line I had struck up a conversation and it just kept up like that the entire week. I think that going to the Teen Author Carnival and talking to people while being incredibly self-conscious about it really helped.
3. The people at the publisher’s booths are great. I was able to find out information from them about upcoming releases (like Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maas) and it was from them that I was able to find out about signings I would have completely missed – like Deadline by Mira Grant. They are also amazing at pimping out their books while you’re waiting in line for signings.
4. Really, shoes are important. My feet are still slightly aching from last week.
5. Wardrobe isn’t as important as I thought it would be. I mean, I read a lot about dressing as business casual, but there were a lot of people there in just jeans and a t-shirt. Granted, I loved my professional look and I never have a chance to dress up anymore, so I took full advantage to bring out my nice clothing - no uniforms for me for an entire week!.
6. Making a schedule is a really good thing to do. I printed off all the signings I would have liked to go to and put them into chronological order, but I also left room for flexibility. I also tried to keep things on a priority level... which worked for the most part. But it’s amazing the things you’ll come across that you want to add to your day and by the end of the week I had a hold of how it all worked.
7. Timing is key. With any signing you want to be in line as soon as you can. There were times when I was lining up 45 minutes before it started. This allowed me to be really close to the beginning of the line, which then allowed me to move on to other things I wanted to do. Basically, schedule everything at least a half hour before they start and you’ll be fine.
8. The first day is insane and as the week goes on it either gets easier to navigate or there are just less people. Thursday especially compared to Tuesday was like oil and water. Lines were shorter, or else they moved faster, and I was able to move through the crowd without taking them out with my backpack.
9. Wheeley suitcases are a great idea to shove in baggage check for the day just to save your back. I, unfortunately, thought that I would be fine with just my backpack. Admittedly, as the days went by, I built up my strength or something so I only had to check my bag the first day, but I would have loved to not carry around 50lbs of books for 8 hours.
10. That being said, my backpack made a kick-ass chair when I stacked the books right. It saved my feet from falling off in the middle of the exhibit floor.
11. Take advantage of not only the UPS shipping available on site, but the flat rate boxes from the post office. Also, if you’re flying, make sure that you have a bag you can check along with your suitcase. I saved money and my poor back by checking my backpack on the flight home. Thankfully my cousin thought of it, because it never would have crossed my mind.
12. The food isn’t that expensive for what you get. At least it wasn’t for me. But bring snacks just in case you’re so wrapped up in the exhibit floor that you lose all track of time. Or in case you start to feel a little light headed or queasy. And along that line, make sure that you have water or something to drink with you the entire time. I know that I didn’t drink enough purely because I was so excited about everything.
13. Stay out of the way of older ladies. Some girl got BIT by an older lady librarian. Like, bit with teeth, right on the arm while trying to reach for a book the first morning. I was appalled.
I can’t wait for next year, though, and I’m going to start saving right away. As much as I loved staying with my family in Queens, I would love to be closer to all the action for the week. I also want to attend more of the publisher events and the breakfasts, so I’ll be planning as soon as I can.
Let me know if I met you at BEA. I have everyone’s business cards that I did meet who had them, but I’m still unpacked so some of them remain at the bottom of my suitcase...