BookExpo America is approaching fast!! Since this will be my third year attending (and my second year speaking at Blogger Con! Don’t forget that!) I thought I’d offer a few pieces of advice.
Join the BookExpo America Goodreads group
This group has been invaluable to me every single year. There are topics about registering, signings, galley drops, authors, and more. This is one of the best places to get information on which signings people have their eyes on.
Make a super awesome colour-coded spreadsheet.. with EVERYTHING!
The BEA Show Planner sucks. Actually I can’t even say that for sure because I’ve never used it. I’ve just seen it and thought it was ugly and clunky and didn’t even know how to BEGIN to use it. Since my first year, I’ve just created my own spreadsheet.
Here’s what mine from last year looked like:
There are a few tricks to having an awesome spreadsheet:
1. Note down EVERYTHING that interests you
This includes high priority, low priority, mediums, whatever. Everything that you are interested in maybe getting—write it down. Even if there are two at the same time, write them both down.
Because you have to be prepared for change. Let’s say you have two books at the same time that you want, but you only write down one of them. Then, on the day, you go to get that one book you wrote down and they say, “Sorry, we already have too many people in line and you won’t get a book at this point.” Well that sucks. Now what? Had you written down the other book too you could have hopped over to the other opportunity instead.
Put down everything that interests you, but PRIORITIZE them. This leads me to:
2. Colour-code your signings according to priority
A lot of people have colours for every priority (including low), and that’s cool. It works for them. Me? I’m a visual person. So I only colour code the ones that are REALLY important to me. I make them jump the hell out.
- Red: High priority GET ME NOW! NOW NOW NOW!
- Green: Medium priority I’d really like to have you, but won’t cry if I don’t
- White: Low priority the books that might be nice to have but I’m not actually that bothered
I make my low priority books white so that they don’t stand out as much as I’m scanning through my spreadsheet.
3. Make a note of multiple opportunities
Sometimes there will be a galley drop for a book on Thursday morning, an author signing for that same book Thursday afternoon, and another galley drop on Friday. If this is a book I want, I add all of them to my schedule. I just add a note in my “Notes” column that there will be other opportunities to get that same book. That way, when I’m going through my schedule on the day, I know I can skip one of those galley drops if something else is taking priority, and I know I can still get the book another time.
Research the books and authors
The BEA Show Planner may suck for compiling your schedule, but it doesn’t suck for general browsing. They list all of the events (except for in-booth signings and galley drops) on the site. The main things here are the talks/panels and the author signings. Read through them, see what interests you, and add them to your spreadsheet.
See what other bloggers are doing!
It’s easy to miss the in-booth signings and galley drops since they’re not on the official BEA website. This is where the Goodreads group and other blogs come in handy. See what other people have researched. Some bloggers let you download/view their own spreadsheets, others post links to publisher schedules, etc.
Use multiple sources for gathering your information and that’s how you’ll find those super awesome books (and the pesky galley drops!).
Find out who else is going and make plans
Talk around on Twitter, browse around your favourite blogs—find out who else is attending so you can arrange to meet up with them. It doesn’t have to be a super official “let’s go out for coffee” kind of thing. You can just exchange phone numbers and make loose plans to see each other at Blogger Con or in line for a specific book.
It’s fun to meet your online friends! In fact, sometimes that’s more exciting than the books themselves. (Did I just say that?!)
You don’t have to get there at 6am… SERIOUSLY!
If you’re gunning for those specific author tickets then this doesn’t apply.. But if you just want to get into the BEA show floor, you DO NOT need to get there at 6am!
Every year I see people saying “GET THERE EARLY!” Well, every single year I’ve arrived at 9:00 – 9:15am (that’s 15-30 minutes early) and I’ve never been in a ginormous line. It’s never taken me more than like 2 minutes to get inside once they start letting people in. So I have no idea why people are getting there at like 7 or 8am. I’d rather get some more Zzzzz.
And then there are the points you probably already know…
I feel like these last things are the pieces of advice EVERYONE gives. They’re still equally true but I wanted to put less of a focus on them since you’ve probably heard them before:
- Bring a suitcase and check it. Then, whenever you have a break in your schedule, return to your suitcase and
dumpneatly pile your books in there.
- Wear the most comfortable shoes you have. Screw what they look like. This is like Shawshank Redemption and no one will be staring at your feet. I wear flip flops every year because they’re comfy and I can wear them for hours.
- You don’t NEED to bring a tote bag. You can if you want, but there are hundreds at BEA just waiting for you to grab them. Sometimes people shove them in your arms.
- DON’T get every single book. Be picky. You probably won’t read most of them anyway. Case in point: 11 Books I Haven’t Read from BEA 2014 and 10 Books from BEA 2014 I Still Haven’t Read.
- Be a good person and drop some money in the donation boxes.
- Try to be social and hand out your business cards. Talk to people in line around you. (I suck at this)
- Don’t forget to eat. Sometimes I actually forget eating is a thing. The books will do that to you.
Don’t forget about Blogger Con!
Sometimes the Blogger Con is my favourite part of BEA. People are more relaxed, less in a rush, and I love talking about blogging! It’s a great place to actually meet people and exchange information.
I will be speaking with other bloggers on two panels this year and we’d love for you to come. 🙂
10:00–10:50am: Optimizing Your WordPress Blog
Make your WordPress blog the best that it can be to attract followers and engage readers. Learn about the must-have plugins and how to configure them, get hands-on with SEO, and take steps to secure your blog. New and mid-level bloggers who have a WordPress site and want to ensure they’re using the best plugins and fully utilizing the platform will enjoy this session.
Basically, rock the bloody hell out of your WordPress site. Do everything, and do it right.
2:30–3:20pm: Going Beyond Blog Formatting
Enhance and customize your blog by learning advanced formatting with HTML and CSS. These coding languages will allow you to create more dynamic post layouts, and make those blog design tweaks you’ve been dying to do for months! Advanced bloggers who are familiar with their blogging platform and the visual editor, but want to take things a step further by learning code will benefit from this informative session.
Get a grip on HTML, CSS, and learn to customize your own blog! We’ll turn you into coding gods and goddesses.