The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: BookExpo America (BEA) Weekend!

BookExpo America or BEA is an annual event that is basically book heaven. It’s a time when publishers and industry experts come together to discuss the state of the publishing world, as well as the amazing books that are being published this year. There are panels, author signings, presentations, and best of all – advance reader copy giveaways. BEA is the best 3 days of my year. It’s exhausting but exhilarating, and I can’t wait to go every year. It’s my fashion week. This year, BEA is back in New York, and I could not be more ready.

What is the difference between BEA and BookCon?

I’ve never been to BookCon, so here are the differences from what I understand:

BEA is an industry event. Is is a chance for publishers to connect with booksellers, agents, librarians, etc. – people who buy and promote books. The intention is to show off what is being published within the next year so that they can make sales. BookCon is open to the public, and is designed more towards the reader. This is a chance to meet authors, talk about books, attend panels, and make friends. I also hear that BookCon is crowded and tends to have a younger, louder crowd.

Why does Muse Monthly go to BEA?

The first year we went mostly to network. We wanted to introduce the company to publishers and get some face time with people we’d been emailing with so that Muse Monthly could grow and thrive. But I also learned that the books I find at BEA usually set up boxes for the rest of the year, so now we go with the intention of filling out our fall/winter season.

Tips for BEA

1) Have a plan

Theoretically you could go into BEA with no plan at all and just pick up whatever ARCs you see, wander around and meet people, visit booths and talk to publishers about what is coming up for the rest of the year. But my feeling is that there are so many things going on that you’d miss something if you didn’t at least have a little bit of a plan. The BookExpo team release information about author signings and appearances that you can put on a schedule right on their website, but here’s the real trick: somewhere, some time before the convention, some entrepreneurial spirit on the internet will have miraculously created a google doc featuring all the signings, galley drops, and other special events that will be going on at BEA. How do they find this information? I have no idea. I’ve been going to BEA for three years and I still have no clue. I’m assuming they’re a wizard. It’s different every year and you have to go hunting for it, but it always happens. Keep an eye out for that, and then make yourself a little calendar so you can make sure to get in line for all the important things.

2) Bring an empty suitcase.

Here’s a photo of the dent in my shoulder from the first year. We didn’t know we could bring an empty suitcase the first time around, so I was in pain. A lot of pain. Books are heavy, y’all, and your shoulder can only take so much. Bring an empty suitcase and check it at the door, then you’ll have somewhere to dump your loot so your arm doesn’t fall off. Also, bring the biggest effing tote bag you can find. Trust me. I’ve seen people carrying stuff in their arms and it is not fun.

3) Wear comfortable shoes.

You will die. There is no place to sit, your feet will fall off.

4) Bring an extra battery for your phone.

In the Javits center there are actually plugs and sometimes one of the publishers will have a charging station, but EVERYONE needs juice and it’s so rare that you’ll actually find a space. Plus, being in New York will eat up your charge. Invest in an external battery and that way you’ll be safe.

5) If you’re a little shy, make a business card.

I know this seems weird but it’s actually a good idea for people who may have a little trouble with conversations and connecting like I do. Bring something to give people with all your information – social, email, etc – so that people can find you on the internet in case you forget to tell them. Also, there are a lot of people at BEA so it’s a good idea to have them for exchange, that way they remember you!

I am so excited to be going this year with our brand new team member, Kate! If you’ll be there, let me know so we can meet up! Happy book hunting!

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