BEA 2013 Tips & Tricks
Part 2: Take It On The Floor
Remember that scene in The Hunger Games when everyone bum rushes the cornucopia, brandishing weapons and… No, just kidding.
7 am is the magic time. Usually around 7, a line to get into the exhibit hall floor starts. 7 is also when you can check a suitcase/bag with the awesome ladies on the lower level to stash books and whatnot in you acquire. This is also the time you can get your badge for BEA (although I recommend getting it the day before if at all possible). After you line up, you wait. You don’t have to get there at 7. You can wait until 9 when the doors open, but keep in mind all the people who lined up get to go in before you.
You also may want to show up early if you need to get a ticket for a certain signing. Tickets are free place markers for signings that the peeps at BEA think will draw a huge crowd; these are usually celebrities or big name authors. Again, tickets are free, but limited.
Doors open and everyone floods inside, mass pandemonium ensues for about 10-15 minutes, then people mellow and you walk around. You can line up for signings, chat up the people in the booths, etc. Everyone said last year was pretty mellow compared to previous years and last year is all I have to go on. Hopefully 2013 will be just as cool.
2. Free books?!
Yes, there are “free” books. Keep in mind these books are not free to the people publishing them. ARCs actually cost about twice as much as a regular book to print. The idea is if you take this book you will review it, tell your family and friends about it, and help promote it. Don’t go nutty and just grab, grab, grab.
Look, I get it. I’m one of those people that have a hard time saying no to free things. People could offer me a free Diet Coke and I’d say yes … even though I have a deep abhorrence of Diet Coke. I always justify it saying I can use it later or someone else can! Free is hard for me, and it kinda got me in trouble the first day last year. By noon I had filled my suitcase with things I had to have.
Bull. OK? Bull crap. I got greedy and carried away. I inventoried my bag and got rid of the shiny things I knew I would never read or use and set them in a stack on the side for someone else to grab. I think they were gone when I came back a few hours later and hopefully found a good home.
Don’t be greedy. Take what you can realistically read. If you’re a person who reads 15 books a year, don’t grab 78. Unless you don’t plan on going back to BEA or a bookstore for another 4 years and this is your last shot to get enough reading material to carry you through. If that’s the case? Carry on, my friend.
3. The taking of multiple copies (AKA How to get death glares at BEA):
Lemme tell you a story about while I was at BEA in 2012.
I’m sitting in line the last day of the expo, waiting to get into BEA, and I overhear these five girls (women) making a game plan about who was grabbing which book at which booth when the doors opened. I immediately got pissed, thinking, These chicks are going to each grab five copies of a book for each other? That’s so messed up. I was irritated and may have rolled my eyes and I may have been totally WRONG.
The fact of the matter is, I was plain old jealous I didn’t have a group of people that would enable me to essentially be in 5 places at the same time. I know some of you are shaking your heads right now, thinking that these women were just being bad examples of people at BEA, but chill out a sec before you start unfollowing or defriending me and think this through:
Did these girls really do anything wrong? They all paid to be there. They had as much a right to be there as I did and they had a right to the same books I did. It just happened to work out that they could divide and conquer (such a nasty metaphor, but appropriate). It’s not like they were getting multiple copies of the same book to go home and swap for other books or using them as giveaway books while keeping a copy for themselves. BTW? We all saw the posts go up on Goodreads the night of BEA from people who wanted to swap titles they got that day for books not going to be there. So not cool. These books aren’t bargaining chips.
Wanna know a secret? I sometimes grabbed more than one copy of the same book … because I went with a friend and I gave her the second copy. There was no need for us both to get trampled in the morning, so I might go get us a book while she stood off to the side and waited. Or one of us held a spot in line while the other went to a galley drop for something we really wanted. At one point, I saw a girl who was barely five feet tall and maybe 95 pounds soaking wet getting constantly pushed to the back of the crowd for a book she really wanted so I went and got her a copy and then immediately handed a copy to her and my friend. So if you were in that crush with me it looked like I snagged 3 copies of the same title … But I didn’t. And I know for a fact I wasn’t the only one who did that.
My point is, give people the benefit of the doubt. Unless you have a badge that says: BOOKEXPO AMERICA POLICE, I don’t want to see you griping about people grabbing multiples. It just makes you sound petty and jealous and whiny. There are still hundreds of books for you to grab, and that book that you missed out on will be published one day. You can get a copy then. Or chat up one of the nice publicists and see if they will be dropping more copies later. Some publicists will take your card and mail you one.
On the flip side, if you do buddy up with a group to “divide and conquer”, then keep it simple. Don’t think you can have a group of 20 who each get a different book and no one will stop you when you load three totes full of the same title. Snag a copy or two for your buddies holding your spot in line or whatever. I honestly don’t see the harm in that, but use discretion and mind your own business.
4. Walk It or Move It.
One of the things that irritates me in everyday life is people who walk insanely slow or just stop in the middle of an aisle. The exhibit hall floor is insanely packed and there is just no room for people to congregate in groups of four or more to shoot the breeze—at least not in the aisles. Move it to the side, guys. The floor is not the place for a Sunday stroll with your bestie.
This is good advice for NYC, too. If it’s your first (or second) time to the Big Apple, I get wanting to stop and take pictures or get your bearings with a map … But you will get mowed down, my friend, if you stop in the middle of the street. And people may curse at you or pushing you into oncoming traffic.
5. Be polite, respectful, and understanding at all times.
Fact is, BEA is as crowded as WalMart on Black Friday. Difference is, most people dress a little bit nicer and we all love books.
You are going to inevitably step on someone’s toes and have your toes stomped on by a random stranger. You will be pushed, jostled, and knocked around like a bumper car driven by a ten year old on a sugar high. Accept it and go with it.
I apologized more in 3 days than I did all year, and that went both ways. If you’re someone who deeply values personal space and your 3 foot bubble, please reconsider coming here. You will be surrounded by people wielding overstuffed bags that bang into you repeatedly while they simultaneously step on your swollen feet and push you into a wall. They won’t mean to, but you may come home with some pretty bruises to match the books you get.
6. Understand that there are people who are working.
It’s easy to forget that not everyone at BEA is in the city for vacation. The people manning those publisher booths aren’t there on holiday—they are there doing their job. Don’t disrespect them by interfering or assuming they owe you anything.
If you try chatting up a publicist and find them in a less than cordial mood, remember that they were nearly trampled to death when the doors open and have had a million people demanded or asking books from them all day. Try grabbing one when it’s the end of the day and things are winding down. Or let your favorite publicist know you’ll be at BEA and ask if you can meet up.
Yes, there are a ton of signings at BEA. You get to meet those authors you’ve been
admiring for years. But what if you already bought a copy of the book they’re
You have a decision to make: Get the new copy signed or miss it. Honestly, I would get the signed copy (especially if it’s an author I really want to meet) and then donate or give away the extra copy at home. There is always something you can do with an extra book.
Keep in mind a lot of signings line up well in advance, so plan accordingly. It’s not at all surprising for lines to start forming 45 minutes to an hour before a signing starts.
8. The dropping of the galleys.
You may have heard the term “galley drop” by now. A galley drop is something publishers do when they (you guessed it) drop a pile of galleys. They can be ARCs, finished copies … There can be one or several titles dropped at a time.
The first set is when the doors open. Most publishers have a few stacks of upcoming titles laying around in massive piles. You will see people grabbing these like they’re freshly minted Benjamins.
Publishers also drop galleys at specific times of the day. Some will give you a schedule of when these drops will occur, others won’t. This is when you should make sure your phone is charged and your social media apps up to date. People will tweet when they see a drop.
There are also varying ways I saw for getting galleys. Most put a stack out on the floor and let people have at it. I believe HarperCollins made people line up and handed out copies one by one (this also kept people from grabbing multiple copies). Ask someone working the booth if they have a galley drop schedule, or if there’s a specific title you want, ask if they can tell you when it will be available.
9. No butts!
When you see a massive line formed for an author you really want (Dark Days signing or Harlequin Teen Hour, anyone?) and you see your friend standing at the front, don’t go up and start talking to score yourself a spot in line. Get behind the other 150 people like a good little book addict.
On the other hand, do not freak out if some people get in line with the girl/guy standing two in front of you. This happened the first day last year when a group of my friends and I lined up for the Andrea Cremer signing. We were literally the first 7 people to line up … 90 minutes before the signing. During these 90 minutes, we traded off holding spots for each other so we could drop books off in our suitcases, walk around, and go to the bathroom. Twenty minutes before the signing we all came back and stood together when someone three or four people back had an attack of the bitchies and starting whining about us butting.
No, honey, we didn’t butt. We saved each other’s places. Don’t be mad because you stood in line the whole time and didn’t ask anyone save your spot so you could go potty. But you know what? Had you asked, we gladly would have saved your spot as well if you wanted to walk around a bit. I happily held places in lines for people who were winging it solo but needed to run to the bathroom or wanted to walk around while waiting in line. You’re in line for an hour, so make friends with the people around you and ask them to save your spot while you do a couple things.
This is why you don’t need to blow a gasket when you see people get into line ahead of you. They may have been there the whole time. Again … you look silly and childish for whining about someone cutting the line, especially when that person had every right to the spot they claimed.
You’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to police all the bad, rude or unprofessional behavior you see. This is doubly true for bloggers. It’s not secret we frequently get a bad rap at events, but we bring it on ourselves. I’m not saying people won’t genuinely cut a line or do some ridiculous things, but try to be gracious, kind, and courteous. Take the high road when given the opportunity.
You will see lines everywhere in BEA. They will wind up and down aisles, through booths, blocking aisles, and some of them will tangle together worse than Rapunzel’s hair. If there is a signing you really want to hit, get there at least an hour in advance if you want to be up front. If it’s a group (like HarperCollins did with the Dark Days authors or Harlequin does with their authors having 4-5 signing at a time) you may need to allot more time. People starting lining up for the Dark Days signing 2 hours in advance. I lined up more than 90 minutes before and was still #68 in line.
It’s kind of cool to start a line, I’ll admit. At one point my friend was waiting for a signing to begin at the Penguin booth and the publicist asked her if she wanted to start the line, so my friend wound up holding a sign for the signing that she was waiting for and directing other people to the line for the signing currently going on. Everyone thought she worked there and kept coming up asking her questions. It was all rather amusing.
Accept you will spend the majority of your days in line. You wait to get in to BEA. You wait in lines for signings, finish, and then run to the next line. It’s a rather exhausting process. Kill time by chatting up people in your line.
10. It’s OK to say, “No, thank you.”
I thought it was a myth that people would literally shove books into your hands, but was I ever wrong. However, a lot of books being pushed at me were ones I knew I would never read or review. It’s absolutely all right to tell someone “No” as long as you do it politely. Don’t think you have to take everything you see. Remember what I said about being greedy?
Plus, you’re taking a book away from someone who might have really enjoyed it. There are limited copies available of each title.
11. Business cards!
Business cards are a must. I will admit I didn’t pass out nearly as many as I could have. I met a lot of awesome people in a short amount of time and I know they met just as many people. This is not just publicists and authors—fellow bloggers! Passing cards out and getting them back was a great way to keep track of people I met. When I got home I made sure to check into each blog I had a card for and follow them. I’ve met some insanely cool people at BEA and this helped me keep track of them (hey, Jenny!). Don’t be afraid to say, “Here’s my card!” even if you don’t get a card back. Put your name and your blog’s name in as many minds as possible.
I had so much fun making a game plan of which signings I was going to go to at what time. I mean, I planned for weeks before BEA and that plan evolved and changed at least a dozen times … And I might have hit half of those events/signings/meetings I planned.
Expect that things will get crazy and you simply can’t do everything you want, meet everyone you want to meet, or get all the books you want. You will drive yourself crazy trying to. I don’t want to walk by and see you in the fetal position, clutching schedules and crying about missed opportunities.
Have fun and go with it. Don’t get so bogged down with planning that you forget the awesome spontaneity that comes from being in the wrong place at the right time and meeting a really cool author or finding a friend you’ve only every known online. Enjoy the experience.