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Last-minute BEA Tips!

3 Jun

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!


Book Expo America 2012: Welcome!

3 Jun

Hello, from somewhere in Maryland! I’m posting this from the train from DC to NYC, where I’ll be spending the next week for Book Expo! If you’re coming here because I’ve handed you a business card at BEA or you’re visiting from Armchair BEA, welcome and feel free to look around.

This will my third BEA and I think I’ve finally got the hang of this thing. I’ll be posting sporadically during the week, but this is a sticky post to say hello and introduce myself, particularly if you’ve never visited my corner of the Internet before. If you’re looking for new content, either that I’ve posted before BEA or during, scroll down. If you’re looking for more regular updates and to keep track of me on the BEA floor, find me at @homebtwnpages on Twitter and, less regularly, on the Home Between Pages Facebook page.

If you want to meet up at Book Expo, drop me a line on Twitter, or email me (click the envelope icon in the right toolbar). I’ll have my phone (and an extra battery pack!) on me and checking it regularly. If you see me hanging out in an autographing line, please say hello – I love making new friends :).

About A Home Between Pages

I’ve been blogging here for almost three years, since July of 2009, and since that time, my book life has changed pretty significantly. My day job is as an editor at a newswire, and I’m also about halfway done with my Master’s in Publishing from George Washington University. (My professors were understandably very cool about me missing classes this week). I’m also a regular contributor to Book Riot.

All of this means that my day-to-day life is incredibly busy, but the hope is that eventually I’ll be able to make a full-time transition to working in books in NYC.

I read and review mostly literary fiction, though I have pretty broad taste and read everything from YA to memoir to non-fiction to mystery. I do accept review copies, but as I am so busy, I am very selective about what I will take. Take a look at my review policy and the kind of books I read most on my Goodreads page. (And yes, if you ask to see the semicolon tattoo, I’m happy to oblige).

Again, I can’t wait to see old friends and make new ones. See you soon, BEA!

Looking ahead: Book Blog UNCON

30 May

We are officially 5 days away from the Book Blog UNCON, which I posted about here. I’m getting really excited for this DIY conference, and looking at the list of attendees, some I know and some I’m dying to meet, I know it’s going to be a great day.

The organizers of the UNCON have asked attendees to come up with suggestions for sessions, that either they could lead or that they’d like to explore more in discussion. I’ll be honest, I was feeling a little like I don’t have much to add since this blog has been on an informal hiatus since I started grad school, but the more I thought about it the more I realized I do have things to talk about. So here are a few sessions I feel like I could contribute to and that I would love to explore in more depth.

  • SEO, Social Media Branding and Why It Matters: As my day job is as a Customer Content Specialist for a news distribution agency, much of my 9-5 life directly or tangentially revolves around optimizing content. I can talk a little about what SEO means and how bloggers can employ tips and tricks to improve their search engine visibility. I also want to talk about establishing a presence on multiple social media sites like Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and how it’s relevant to SEO. If anyone else has any Best Practices ideas, this would be the place to bring them.
  • I also wanted to discuss blog/life balance and how people maintain enthusiasm for blogging when life gets overwhelming. This session could also include strategies for productivity or time management, or how you know when its time to take a break. Also, relevant to this discussion is managing relationships with publishers and authors when you’re stepping back from blogging and reviewing.
  • I don’t know that this is something I could lead, but if there’s someone there that can talk about migrating from or to and best strategies for going self-hosted, along with blog design, CSS and more, I’d be really interested in pulling out my laptop and actually starting the process of switching over.

Even if these topics don’t make the planning board, there are so many great suggestions for sessions that I’m sure there will be no lack of take-away ideas.

Will you be at the Book Blog UNCON? Are you interested in coming? It’s not too late to register (for free!) – you can do that here:

Keep your eyes peeled the rest of the week for more Book Expo America posts!

A Different Way of Doing Things: Book Blog UnCON

6 Apr

Perhaps you’ve heard of this small thing that’s brewing as an alternative to BEA Blogger Conference? The Book Blog UnCONFERENCE is the brain child of Jeff of The Reading Ape, and some prodding by a few other people, including Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog (and me, which mostly consisted of Twitter messages that just said, “YES!”).

I had the pleasure of attending the first two Book Blogger Conferences before they were bought by Reed Exhibitions, who runs Book Expo America. As a new blogger, the first year, I found the conference to be helpful and educational and I met some fellow bloggers that I never would’ve met or read otherwise. I didn’t know much about book blogging and having the opportunity to make connections with publishers, authors and fellow bloggers was a dream come true. I wasn’t taking review copies at that point, and I’d never thought that I’d have the audience to support such a leap. But here we are two years later, and I’m at a totally different place in my blogging.

I’m trying to actually make a career of this publishing thing – hence the Master’s in Publishing – and my scope of blogging is much broader. I feel privileged to have the connections in the industry that I do, but I also think I’ve got a long way to go.

At last year’s Book Blogger Con, I was less excited about the actual sessions, and more psyched about the connections I was making. One of my favorite moments from BBC: hanging out in the hallway with a bunch of fellow bloggers – some I knew and some I was just meeting for the first time – and discussing something totally unrelated to any formal session that was happening in the rooms around us. And those connections were far more impactful to me individually than some of the sessions BBC ran. Not because of the quality or topics of the sessions, but because I was at a different place with my blogging.

After some hullabaloo with registering for this year’s BBC, which included the powers that Be asking for blog stats, not publishing session topics or speakers and not making the BEA/BBC registration part clear, I was feeling very jaded by the whole shebang. I was not the only one. Jeff decided that we could totally host an alternative, one that is attendee driven, topic-focused, and organic. And the UnConference was born.

While it’s still in the planning phase, there’s a lot of excitement. The Center for Fiction has graciously offered up space for free, which means that registration for bloggers is free. A crucial part of making the UnCon successful is getting people to come, to suggest sessions, to just be their generally awesome selves.

Jeff noted this point on a follow-up post here that I want to reiterate. This is NOT a revolt or a protest, and its not directed at any one person or decision made by BEA/Reed. Its a matter of wanting to attend an event that’s by bloggers for bloggers, that takes our collective knowledge and puts it to work. We’re going to have plenty of time to interact with publishers and authors during BEA, but our needs and wants as bloggers are unique and we want an event just for us.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in attending, register HERE and follow the UnCon on Twitter for updates.

I’ll post next week with some conference session ideas I have, but please sign up and spread the word!

Spotlight: BEA Books

20 Jun

I mentioned in my BEA wrap up post that I brought home quite a few books from New York, but I wanted to highlight a few that I’m particularly excited about. Where the books are available for order, I’ve linked the covers and the titles to Powell’s Books. I’ve sorted these by their on-sale dates, but keep in mind, these could change.

Already on Sale:

Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love by Andrew Shaffer

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larsen

Skinny by Diana Spechler

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

July Release

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

The End of Everything by Megan E. Abbott

August Release

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

How to Love an American Man: A True Story by Kristine Gasbarre

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

September Release

We the Animals by Justin Torres

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker (no cover available)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

October Release

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Mistress Contract

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
There are several others that are coming out later this year and into 2012, but there’s almost no information about them yet, so as we get closer, I’ll give you more.

BEA Round-up – Sort of.

13 Jun

Ugh, it’s been well over week since I last posted, and several weeks since Book Expo America in NYC and I’m just now getting around to posting my thoughts? Blogger fail. I don’t know that I can bring myself to break down my entire BEA experience when 1) it’s been several weeks, 2) I’m terrible at taking notes/photos, and 3) there are some fantastic round-ups out there already, from some seriously fantastic bloggers who are way more on the ball than I am.

So. I’m not going to do it. If you haven’t read any round-ups yet, you probably don’t care about the minute-to-minute schedule of my week in NYC. But if you’re looking for some great synopses of the week, check these out:

Lori, my BEA buddy, and I did a lot of the same events, both on the Monday before BEA started and during the week. Check her posts here and here. (I could not have asked for a better partner to hit BEA and BBC week with. Seriously. She’s amazing! Especially since she let me tease her about taking the Subway.)

One of the splurges I let myself have during the week is getting theater-seating tickets for all the breakfasts (that means no food, but a seat in the back). This year, there were two Adult Author Breakfasts and one Children’s Author Breakfast. Beth Fish Reads also went to these events. Her recaps are here and here. My only notes are that I absolutely loved these events, but I was disappointed that during the first Adult breakfast, the only actual book they gave out was for Charlaine Harris. I’m not a Sookie fan at all and I didn’t even stay to see her talk since she was last on the docket. But Diane Keaton, Mindy Kaling and Jeffry Eugenides were absolutely fantastic and I’m looking forward to all three of their books.

As for the second Adult breakfast, I have a particular affinity for Jim Lehrer considering I live and work in DC, in a branch of the news business. My news-junkie self was all aflutter. His book looks great, and I have a feeling I’ll be cracking it open closer to the 2012 election cycle. The highlight of the breakfast though was Roger Ebert. I teared up several times, laughed even more, and got goosebumps. What an honor, seriously. I’m also excited for both Anne Enright’s book The Forgotten Waltz (release date: Oct. ’11) and Erik Larsen’s newest novel, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (currently on sale).

The Children’s Author breakfast was a highlight across the board. Every author – Sarah Dessen, Brian Selznick, Kevin Henkes and moderator (and actress) Julianne Moore – was enthusiastic and intelligent. Katharine Paterson, author of one of my favorites, Bridge to Terabithia and the upcoming Brother Sun, Sister Moon, also made an appearance and very aptly made this comment: “No one ever tweeted her way to wisdom.” Maybe my favorite soundbite of the week.

As for other events during the week, one of the conference sessions I most look forward to is the Editor’s Buzz Panel, but that session fell on Monday and I already had publisher events all day and had to miss the session. But BEA released the titles that would be highlighted, and I managed to snag every single one over the course of the week during autograph sessions. Dawn at She Is Too Fond of Books highlighted them here. I’m super excited that I got copies of every single book since some of them were HOT commodities, like Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.

Also, when I went to meet Justin Torres, debut author of We the Animals, he was so excited about the buzz and attention his book was getting, he was practically jumping up and down. How refreshing to meet an author that is just as psyched as everyone else is. He was so sweet and gracious and I’m insanely excited to read his novel, out September 1st.

Most of my BEA week – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – were a flurry of author signings, Insight events, and meeting publishers. Some highlights:

    • Jane Lynch talking about her new book Happy Accidents and the amazing time she’s having on GLEE!
    • Tweeting to Scott Westerfeld (@ScottWesterfeld) because I just barely missed getting tickets to his signing for Goliath, the third in his awesome steampunk Levithian trilogy. AND HIM TWEETING ME BACK. AND RETWEETING MY REQUEST FOR A TICKET. Sadly, no one offered a ticket, but still…he tweeted back. Starstruck!
    • Another author Twitter moment – Emily St. John Mandel (@EmilyMandel) tweeted about my semicolon tattoo!
    • Having a chance to put names and faces together especially with some of my favorite publishing contacts.
    • Hitting WORD in Brooklyn on Friday for the launch of new publisher Red Lemonade, complete with readings, with possibly my new favorite blogger, Kit from Books are My Boyfriends – her blog about BBC and then our adventure is here. (Go read her! She’s amazing!)
    • The books, of course! (I’ll be posting later this week about some of my most anticipated BEA books so look out for that!)

Finally, the week culminated with Friday’s Book Blogger Convention. I loved the sessions, but I was more impacted by the contacts I made and the bloggers I met.  Meg and Kim had great roundups (linked to their names) of the actual sessions and other events. I will say, keynote speaker, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has made me think just a little bit harder about adding romance novels into my repertoire. Maybe. She was funny and smart (obvi) and a really fantastic choice to keynote the day. Quote of the day (about having an opinion or idea): “Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.” Swoony face. (BTW, I’ve now got that on a Post-it at work. Excellent advice for all aspects of our lives, don’t you think?)

For me, this BEA felt really different from last year’s. I was there for books, yes, but it was much more about the people – the authors, the bloggers, the publicists and other publishing professionals – that I got to meet and interact with and learn from. I gave out far more business cards this year than last, proof that I was doing more networking than ever. I also got to meet the (ever elusive and not nearly as scary as he seems on the interwebs) Reading Ape, who recapped his BEA experience here and BBC here.

All in all, I had a wonderful week. I brought home more books than I would like to admit to, but I’m genuinely excited about all of them. I met some wonderful people who I look forward to working with and collaborating with and squeeing over some squee-worthy books with.

Did you go to BEA and/or BBC? Did you have totally different highlights than me? What did I miss??

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? 🙂

And just like that…

4 Apr

I’m going to Book Expo America and Book Blogger Convention 2011!

I was seriously thinking that this year was going to be a wash, and I’d have to miss out. But then I got a lovely comment from Lisa at Baffled Books who was also dying to go to BEA and was looking for a roommate. Admittedly I’d never read her blog (Sorry, Lisa!) but we share very similar tastes in books, which obviously means we’ll be good roomies right? Her enthusiasm is so infectious that before I had time to blink, we had a hotel, travel plans and registration done. And as of this morning, I’ve got the time off of work and my train ticket and BEA/BBC registration is complete.

So I’m in! I’m coming to Book Expo America and Book Blogger Con! Time to order more business cards and maybe do a redesign of the blog in preparation :).

Are you going?