As I wing my way to New York for Book Expo, I wanted to offer a couple of quick tips I’ve learned from my previous two trips.
First: it is absolutely essential to have a schedule worked out with must-dos. The wifi reception in Javits is crap, so I always have a printed copy with me with a pen to add new events/signings and cross off ones I’ve reconsidered, as well as a highlighter to keep track of new must-dos. Also, in my schedule, I’ve double, triple and even quadruple booked myself for certain time frames: don’t feel like you have to only plan on doing one thing during a 30-minute block of time. For many signings, you can jump in line, get the book inked, and still make it across the convention floor for a galley grab or two. And when you’re in the moment, you’ll be better able to gauge what gets priority and make the call with EVERYTHING you might want to do in front of you.
Second: take a look at my Pinterest board for my BEA essentials. I find that I only carry what I absolutely have to on the floor because you’ll easily get overloaded with galleys and other bookish paraphernalia. Everyone says it, but it is that important: wear comfortable shoes! (And bring more than one pair – you never know if a pair you thought was comfortable will give you blisters and you need to switch footwear for the next day.)
In the mornings, I always grab an iced coffee (cream and sugar!) and bagel from a street vendor on my walk from the Subway to Javits. There are always several parked in the few blocks on the way and it’ll cost you a couple bucks rather than the $8-$10 a stop at Starbucks will cost you. I have tickets to the Breakfast events every morning, but I sit in theater seating in the back with my own iced coffee and bagel, avoid the higher ticket price, and usually end up with a better breakfast anyway. If you have the option this late in the game, it’s a much better alternative. And yes, the Breakfast events are totally worth it if you do theater seating.
Speaking of getting overloaded, decide before you get there on Tuesday how you’ll be handling the galleys you pick up. For the last two years, I put a tote bag or rolling suitcase in bag check and then came back over the course of the day to add to that bag. I will still probably do that this year, but rather than carting all of those galleys/books home on the train in my suitcases, I plan to mail most of those books home from the post office. We’ll see how well that works out.
Here’s a piece of advice that I swore I would follow after my first year at BEA, but proved much harder to stick to than I thought: only take books you know you’ll read! I am guilty of being overly optimistic about my reading and reviewing capabilities and many books from BEA have gone unread. I know I’ll struggle with this again this year, but if I can’t take my own advice, maybe you can instead.
There are lots of events happening in New York during Book Expo, as part of New York Book Week, and if you find something that interests you, make an effort to go. There’s some great things happening at the NY Public Library and several local bookstores are having readings and parties. Even if you don’t have anyone to go with, you won’t regret stepping outside your comfort zone and attending a real NYC book event.
Along those same lines, make an effort to get to at least one local indie bookstore. There are so many great ones in New York and you can do a search for one near your hotel on IndieBound.
Finally, don’t be afraid of down time. There were always times in the afternoons after a day at Javits where I felt like I should be out exploring NYC or hanging out with other bloggers, but what I needed most in that moment was a disco nap to keep me going for the evening of parties or some quiet time to myself. If you let yourself enjoy those rare moments of down time, you’ll be much happier by the end of the week.
That’s it! Those are my best tips – I hope it helps, and I look forward to seeing everyone there!