Conferences are coming!

May 18, 2014

Hi, everyone. It’s that time of year! Spring/Summer! When all the publishing conferences are happening. I have already been to two writers’ conferences this month, and more to come with BEA (BookExpo America) at the end of the month.

We really want you to get the most out of your conference experience. Gordon has already done some great posts about preparing for writers’ conferences, pitching agents, and getting the most from a critique. So we’ve prepared you for a writers’ conference, I think.

But this year BEA is expanding it’s consumer/reader program to create The BookCon. I think it’s pretty cool to include readers at industry trade shows. Readers have been flocking to the Bologna Book Fair for years. It’s great for authors and publishers to interact directly with their fans. And, honestly, BEA can be a bit boring so it’s nice to have a change of pace!

If you’re going to BEA or the Bookcon for the first time this year, I’ve compiled a list of tips because I want you to have an awesome time!

1. Good Shoes. Shoes are the single most important decision you will make. See, the Javits Center is actually quite far from any Subway so there is walking to get there. And there is also walking around the building and standing all day. So you need comfortable shoes. Every year, people are tempted to wear heels but you must resist this temptation.

2. Eat Before/Bring Snacks. The food at the Javits Center is not great. It’s expensive and there are always lines. I usually bring a granola bar or something for lunch in my purse, and eat a big breakfast before I leave.

3. Don’t Bring Too Much Stuff. Conversely to the above, you don’t want to bring too much. People are going to be handing you stuff all day, so you’re going to accumulate a lot of swag. You don’t want to be like me, during my first BEA, when my bag got so heavy that it cut into my shoulder. (I still have a scar. Jealous?) Maybe pack some professional business cards, and the aforementioned snack, your wallet/phone, and not too much else is necessary. Also, when offered a free galley of a book, consider if this is something you’d actually read before taking it.

4. Plan Ahead. Really consider what panels and signings are “must see” for you and what you might be willing to miss. It is going to take you longer to get places than you think. It’s crowded and easy to get turned around. And be sure to allow yourself some time just to walk around and stare at random things!

5. Wash Your Hands. Whenever there is a lot of people in one space, there is bound to be illness. Con crud happens. Take this simple step to avoid having to take some sick days from work.

That’s my list. Does anyone else have good convention tips?