Just five more days until I leave for BookExpo in New York! Since I’m a first-time attendee, I’ve been reading dozens upon dozens of recaps from others who have attended in previous years. Members of the Goodreads BookExpo group have also been enormously helpful in answering my questions.
Now that I’ve spent time researching and formulating an agenda, I feel less frazzled about the daunting idea of all those booths on the show floor. It’s amazing how many blog posts come up when you google “BookExpo recap” and “BookExpo for newbies.” The collection of links at Stay Bookish has been particularly useful.
With that in mind, I’m passing along some tips that seem to be pretty universally agreed upon when it comes to BookExpo prep. Disclaimer: I am a total n00b. These tips have worked for many in the past, so this is my game plan based on the research I’ve done.
Wear the most comfortable shoes you own.
By all accounts, the Javits Center is an enormous building. I’m expecting to be on my feet most of the day, with some respite during the sessions I’m scheduled to attend. I’ll be wearing my trusty walking shoes.
Bring snacks and water.
Apparently food and drink are notoriously expensive in the food court, so I’m bringing snacks and a bottle of water to tide me over throughout the day. My coworker and I will likely leave the Javits for lunch and come back afterward.
Bring backup power for your phone.
I have a couple power banks from Amazon and Target. I’m going to bring at least two, in addition to my wall charger.
Bring business cards.
BookExpo is about the books, but it’s also about making contacts with other professionals in the publishing world.
Make a schedule, but be ready for change.
I have a Google spreadsheet on my phone and also printed a copy of it. Others have compiled amazing spreadsheets with each day’s events; I’ve used those as a reference. My spreadsheet lists the sessions and signings I want to attend highlighted in different colors, based on priority. Having said all this…I’m ready to change my schedule at a moment’s notice.
Understand how galley drops work.
Publishers seem to handle galley (ARC) drops in various ways: some will announce them ahead of time via a schedule that they hand out every morning, other drops are unannounced and happen throughout the day, and others are posted online (see this thread in the Goodreads group for a growing list). Some publishers will also tweet about galley drops. I made note of the titles that interest me and added them to my schedule. Additionally, Publishers Weekly’s Adult Galleys to Grab list is a great resource for creating a list of titles to watch out for. Library Journal has a Galley & Signing Guide coming out sometime this week.
Save your back, use the luggage check.
I plan on acquiring quite a few books over the course of the show—more on that below—and most advice I’ve read leans in favor of using the luggage check at the Javits. Rolling bags are not allowed on the show floor, but you can store a bag in the luggage check for $3. Throughout the day as your tote bag becomes too heavy to carry, you can return to the luggage check, deposit your books, and then go back to the show floor. At the end of the day, you pick up your bag before you leave. Sounds like an ideal solution and totally worth the small fee.
Decide how to get those books home.
I’m estimating (very conservatively and probably unrealistically…so, underestimating?) that I’ll be bringing home around 30 books. (Ha, it’ll be really interesting to revisit this number after I get back to see how many I actually brought home!) Some people mail their books home, but I’ve read horror stories about books getting damaged in shipping or lost entirely. Since I’m flying, I’m just going to bite the bullet and bring two suitcases. I’m packing a smaller one inside a larger one for the flight to NY, then I’ll distribute the books evenly between the two suitcases for the flight home. I found a small luggage scale at TJ Maxx (similar to this one, except mine was cheaper!) that I’m bringing with me to ensure that I don’t exceed the weight limit. I’m happy to pay for checked luggage rather than risk my books getting lost or damaged in the mail.
* * *
Again, I’m a total BookExpo first-timer, but these are the topics that I’ve seen mentioned numerous times in the recaps and threads I’ve read so far.
I’m certain I’ll feel like Charlie the first time he walked into the chocolate factory. I just hope I don’t keel over from all the constant walking and standing. I also get freaked out by huge crowds (picture the mall on Black Friday and welcome to my panic attack), but hopefully the crowds won’t be that insane. It sounds like BookCon tends to be more hectic than BookExpo, so I think I’ll be okay. If, by chance, you’re attending also and you see me, please say hi!
In my next post, I’ll share some of the BookExpo events I’m excited about. Stay tuned! 🙂