I’ve been to BEA 3 times now. I like to think I know a bit about what to expect. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m no expert, but compared to the people who’ve never been I feel like I know something.
1. Your schedule might get messed up. Don’t consider it set in stone.
There is the chance that you will add or remove things from your schedule for BEA. The publishers have set times when they drop books and they don’t usually put those out until the beginning of the show. That carefully constructed schedule you made may get messed up because of publisher drops. There is also the chance that you may get a book from a publisher before a signing and decide not to go to that signing after all. That happens.
Also, you may make tons of plans for the nights after you’re done at the show. However, the show is extremely exhausting and you may find yourself just wanting to go back and crash at the hotel. Don’t overdo it!
2. Don’t expect to be able to get everything or do everything while you’re at BEA.
There are a ton of events during BEA week. Don’t expect to attend them all. It’s sometimes impossible. Some events take place at the same time. You just have to pick the one you want to attend the most.
Also, don’t expect to get every book at BEA. There are so many people at BEA and only so many books available. You will miss out on some but just remember, the book will be available eventually even if you don’t get it at BEA.
3. Not all people behave like adults at BEA.
I’ve seen some horrible behavior from people at BEA. You would think some people were toddlers the way they threw tantrums when they didn’t get what they wanted, when they wanted it. We are all adults and most of use are there for professional reasons. Keep that in mind at all times at BEA. Don’t be rude to publishers or other attendees. If you see bad behavior, don’t let it influence your own behavior.
4. Everyone at BEA is basically a giant nerd.
Be yourself at BEA. It’s one place where being a total nerd is completely okay. Feel free to fangirl (or boy) over a favorite author. Feel free to gush about books with anyone and everyone. Talk to the strangers in signing lines with you. You never know who you’ll meet.
5. Expect to spend time in lines.
There are lines for everything at BEA. Some of the more popular author signings start lining up over an hour before the signing. Don’t expect to be wandering the floor the whole time because that is totally not realistic. Lines can be fun though and they give you some time to start reading if you’re not too busy chatting.
6. Your whole body will ache at the end of the day.
Carrying books, standing in lines, walking around NYC; all these things will lead to sore body parts. I always bring Salon Pas (basically icy hot) patches as well as portable heating pads. They work wonders on sore muscles. I put them on at night when I get back to the hotel and sleep with them on. The next day I feel so much better. Don’t forget comfy shoes/clothes as well as at least one good/sturdy tote bag or backpack.
There is also a place where you can check a bag for a couple dollars a day and I highly recommend doing this. You’re able to make as many stops as you want and fill that bag up so you don’t have to carry your books around all day. I usually bring a bag with wheels (or a suitcase) to check and then I don’t have to carry that bag when I leave the convention center at the end of the day. (TJ Maxx has great rolling bags for around $16.99 if you don’t already have one)
These are just a few things I’ve come to expect at BEA. It’s a fun event but it can be extremely overwhelming. If you have questions feel free to ask them in the comments, shoot me an email, or even just tweet me. I’ll answer them all to the best of my ability!