Welcome to the first day of BEA Blitz! Up first is Jenny from Supernatural Snark (one of my favorite blogs). Jenny is a perfect example of the awesome things that can happen at BEA - before BEA last year I had no idea who she was. We met at a signing for Jennifer Armentrout, and I swear I can't believe we've only been friends now for less than a year. I can't imagine life without this girl in it. I apologize in advance for the ear-piercing shrieks we will surely be emitting once reunited at BEA. She's awesome and she's agreed to share her BEA experiences with all of you!
1. How many years have you attended BEA?
BEA this year will be my third year. I started my blog in June of 2010 so I sort of celebrate my blogoversary each year with a trip to BEA because once you get past the initial shock, it’s a book lover’s heaven.
2. What was your first impression of BEA?
Oh god, what have I gotten myself into? ;-)
I talked to a lot of bloggers before my first BEA and read their posts about what to expect and how things were set up, but honestly, nothing can really prepare you for the reality of it. It’s enormous and vibrant and alive and the most fun I have each year, but it’s also absolutely exhausting and overwhelming at the same time. My second year was much better simply due to the fact that I knew what to expect going in and I had a plan of attack.
3. What's the craziest thing you've seen happen?
There was much talk my first year about someone being bitten in the madness that surrounds the in-booth book drops, but I can neither confirm nor deny that information since I received it second-hand. I’ve read many a post from bloggers despairing of poor behavior and rudeness as a whole at BEA, but that really hasn’t been my experience at all. Is it overly crowded and do you get jostled constantly wandering through the booths? Absolutely. Are there people who get a little intense in line if you step out, have someone hold your spot while you run an errand, and then get back in? Yes again. Overall though, I’ve met some amazing people waiting in line after line to get books signed, and it’s always a blast for me to talk to other people who are as enthusiastic about books as I am.
4. What's your favorite BEA memory?
I have so many!!! Meeting favorite authors and getting to chat with the publishers and publicists I’ve been talking to via email for months are right up at the top of my list of epic memories, but meeting other bloggers will always be my favorite part. Okay, and also getting my hands on lots of much-anticipated books. Books + bloggers = WIN!
My first year, Danny from Bewitched Bookworms emailed me a couple weeks before BEA and asked if I’d like to meet up since we were both getting there a day before the event officially started. I was so nervous that first year since I had no clue what was waiting for me and I’m not a huge fan of large crowds in general. I also tend to be awkward in social situations, so meeting people I’d only spoken to online was a source of concern for me as well. As soon as I met Danny and Pushy though, I was immediately put at ease. They were both adorable and funny and had absolutely no idea what they were doing either, so we all just agreed to try and tackle the BEA monster together, divide and conquer style. I’ll love them forever for that.
5. What's your best advice for someone going for the first time?
BEA is a different experience for everyone, and I think it’s definitely one of those things you just have to learn about by actually going through it. Have fun. Be polite. Make friends.
From a practical standpoint though, there are definitely a couple of things I’ve learned the past two years:
-Wear comfortable shoes – BEA is all walking and standing in line. Literally. If you get there when the doors open at 9 and stay until close, you will have stood in line for 8 hours straight. Hello blisters, welcome to my feet.
-Don’t eat at the Javits Center if you can help it. It’s absurdly overpriced. I paid $12 for the driest turkey sandwich in the history of turkey sandwiches and $6 for a coke the first day of my first year. I didn’t even get chips with it. ROBBERY! Now, this was just my experience, so other people may have had awesome food there, but I’m guessing they all paid a small fortune as well. There’s not a lot in the area immediately surrounding the Javits Center, but if you walk up a couple blocks, you will likely find something much, much better.
-Make a plan for yourself. BEA has a great website in which they post all the authors and the times at which they will be signing so you can go through and either type up your own list, or use their schedule feature to help you make a plan. When you check in and get your badge, you can pick up a printed booklet that has all this information as well, but I like to make my schedule well in advance. I’m obsessively organized like that. You will want to compare the schedule you’ve made to the booklet though, as sometimes there are discrepancies – changes in times or cancellations – so you’ll just want to double check. Many signings take place at the exact same time, and given the length of the lines, there’s often not time to make it out of one line and into another, so it really helps to prioritize your day.
There are several more things I could add to this list, but Hannah has been doing an awesome BEA tips & tricks feature these past several weeks, so she’s got you all basically covered. I hope to see lots of new faces there this year!
Thanks so much for having me on your blog Hannah!