BEA ’11: Planning on Not Planning

18 Apr

With about five weeks until the start of Book Expo America (BEA ’11) in NYC, I’m feeling very different than I did last year. Last year, I was checking the BEA site every day until the signing and conference schedule was posted, then put together a schedule for each day, in which practically every minute was scheduled – down to mealtimes and bathroom breaks. I felt that, because I was totally unaware of what BEA was going to be like, I needed to be over-prepared so I didn’t get overwhelmed.

However, the moment I got to Javitts and picked up a conference guide, most of my plans went out the window. There were signings I didn’t realize I wanted to go to, and conference events that got skipped in favor of wandering the Expo floor. Trying to stick to my pre-planned schedule was actually the most overwhelming part and by Day 2, I’d figured out that I was just there to enjoy myself, network, chat with authors, pick up review-worthy books, and meet other bloggers. As soon as I started to look at my schedule as a guideline, rather than a requirement, I enjoyed myself much more.

I’m going into BEA ’11 with a different attitude. I feel much less like a newbie this year, for one thing, both as an attendee and as a blogger. I have advice to give instead of advice to seek out. Plus, I have a lot more to take into account – I don’t have the luxury of staying with family this year, as I did last year, so I’m going to be much more cost conscious. I don’t have a second person to schlep books home for me, mid-week, as I did last year (Thanks, Mom!). I’m going to have to be super aware of how many books I can feasibly bring home because I am exceedingly short on bookshelf space in my new apartment – as in, I don’t even have enough room for the books I already own – so I have to be incredibly tough on myself to only take galleys I legitimately think that I will read. There are an extraordinary number of books that I not only never read from last year, but books that I have no immediate plans to read. That will not happen this year.

In addition to keeping more detailed records of what I read this year, I’m also going to make a more concerted effort to read and review those books I get from publishers in a timely fashion – at least before I start school again in the fall. (Did I mention that I decided to enroll into the Publishing Masters program at GW after all?) I want to dedicate myself to being a serious book blogger, and part of that will entail doing a blog/branding redesign. I’m hoping to have that completed before BEA, but knowing how I procrastinate, I doubt that will happen. But at the very least, I know that my plans for BEA will mean a lot of not planning. I’ve got a few conference sessions that are must-do’s, like the Buzz panels, and the breakfast and lunches that I’ve already paid for, along with some great publisher events. But I’m not going to limit myself to sticking to an agenda.

What about you? Are you making plans or just seeing what happens? Do you need any advice for BEA? Do you know of any affordable blog designers? 🙂

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4 Responses to “BEA ’11: Planning on Not Planning”

  1. Lori (TNBBC) April 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    I tried to plan last year and ended up spending some time following a seasoned blogger around as she explained how things worked, how to plan and balance time between the author signings… This year I am going to make a note of the MUST SEE authors/signings, and will probably spend more time meeting and greeting with the indie publishers. Last year I was a bit shy about it, but this year I know so much more about what I am doing as a blogger, and what my goals are…

    I hope to see you there Rachel! Be sure to DM your number, maybe we can grab a lunch or two while we’re there?

    • Rachel April 21, 2011 at 8:58 am #

      Yes, definitely, let’s plan on it. I’m also going to be making some more networking connections this year as well, especially now that I have a better sense of what kind of books I review most often.

  2. Kerry April 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    I’ve been for the last few years, but always as an exhibitor, which meant no planning. That said, I found that I really liked just being able to wander when I did get some spare time. I discovered a lot of books/booths I otherwise would have missed that way.

    I’m toying with coming up to NYC for a day this year – Amtrak has $30 tickets from Baltimore to NYC! – and if I do make it, I’ll be planless and just wandering 🙂

    • Rachel April 21, 2011 at 8:57 am #

      I think you totally should! Having just one day would be great because some of the pressure is off because it’s much more relaxed.

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