This is our fourth year attending BEA and as you can imagine we’re super excited … not only for the books and authors, but also to see our blogging bff’s Meg & Kass. This year, BEA is happening in our neck of the woods – CHICAGO!! We’re excited that we’ll be familiar with the city and the location, but a little sad to miss our annual trip to NYC!
The first year we went, we were so lucky to have the girls to guide us and provide tips… I honestly don’t ever want to do this without them! So to hopefully help those of you who are new to BEA, or even some of you who have been going for years, we’ve compiled a bunch of tips for those of you who are looking for them – hope something here helps you out!
What To Bring
POWER STRIP – There are four of us staying in one room… that alone should indicate that we won’t have enough plugs for all our stuff – The last few years we have brought a power strip with us and it was the best thing ever. We had all our things charged and ready to go each day and there was no fighting for plugs! This year we are bringing two, because can you ever really have too many plugs?
SPECIAL BOOKS – last year we brought a handful of books by authors we knew were going to be there and we wanted to track down and get a signature from. I’m not sure if I’m bringing anything this year, but it’s definitely a great opportunity to get those books signed!
SNACKS/WATER BOTTLE – pack them in your bag so you don’t have to spend a million dollars on the food that is sold in the convention center. I’m not even lying when I tell you it is pricey. Plus you need to stay hydrated, our first year we really didn’t and we paid the price, last year we grabbed a huge pack of bottles to keep in our hotel fridge and we made sure we didn’t leave “home” without one when we headed out each day!
PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER– You will absolutely need this while you are in the Convention Center. If your phone is like ours, it will spend time searching for a network and drain your battery and you won’t want to be stuck finding a plug when you should be in line to meet authors and grab books!
A ROLLING SUITCASE – This is the best thing ever. You are allowed to check a bag at the front of the convention center and between signings and book drops etc you can run out to your bag and drop things off so you’re not stuck lugging 100 lbs of books around the entire day.
BUSINESS CARDS – We can’t stress how much you should have these. It’s the easiest way to get publishers your information BUT it’s also an amazing way to connect with other bloggers! You’re going to have so much going on that it’s easy to forget who you talked to or what their blog address is. By providing a business card you can reconnect once you get home. We ordered ours through MOO but Vistaprint has a much less pricey version if you don’t want to spend a bunch of money!
What To Wear
You want to be professional, but comfortable. Layers are always a good idea. Sometimes you will need an outfit that can be worn during the day and then to a cocktail party at night. Or you can do what we do and pack a change of clothes in your rolling suitcase. We are nothing if not practical.
Comfortable shoes!! You are standing practically ALL day and walking around and you seriously don’t want to be stuck in a pair of uncomfortable shoes or you’ll pay the price at the end of the day! Everyone says this, but we can’t stress enough how important it is. We are in awe of the women in heels every single year.
What To Do
MAKE A PLAN– This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to make sure that your trip is less stressful. There is so much going on during BEA. Signings at the autograph tables, signings in the booths, galley drops, meetings, panels, and parties. You need to be organized so that you don’t miss anything that is important to you. It’s also important to remember to be flexible. There are times when we plan something and then find out it’s canceled. As long as you back-up your back-up plan you will be good to go.
GET EVERYWHERE EARLY- The thing that you will do the most at BEA is wait. Lines, lines, lines. They are everywhere. Be prepared to get in lines early, especially for authors that everyone is dying to see. We have lined up hours before certain events to make sure we are toward the front of the line. But be patient and kind and please adhere to our motto “don’t be an asshole”. Remember everyone is just as excited as you are, and it’s not worth the time or effort it takes to be a jerk about where you are in line or who got where first.
BE SELECTIVE– There are books everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to pick up all of them. Don’t be afraid to say no or to walk away without taking a copy of every galley or finished copy you see. We learned this lesson the hard way. The first year we went we were a little overwhelmed and majorly book crazy. We grabbed everything we could get our hands on. The problem is that most of the things we took we didn’t read so then we had to figure out a plan for them. The last couple of years we have been much more selective which makes it easier to get everything home.
MAKE FRIENDS– We obviously love it when we get to stand in lines together, but it doesn’t happen as often as you would think. Even with four of us. One of the great parts about being in lines is that you are surrounded by fellow book lovers. Take the time to say hello to your neighbors, let them know if you are saving a spot from a friend and offer to hold their spot if they need a potty break. It’s not only the right thing to do, but sometimes it can result in meeting someone awesome that you will see year after year.
EXPLORE CHICAGO! Since BEA has changed venues this year, we’re excited to explore a new city. We here at Fiction Fare are pretty close to Chicago so while it won’t be really new to us, it will be tons of fun showing our lovely girls Kass & Meg around… plus it will be so much fun getting to experience the city with them!
USE UBER- What a timesaver Uber has been for us in big cities. Instead of trying to flag down a taxi or fight crowds who are also trying to get a taxi, all you do it use your Uber app and get a ride that is guaranteed.
There you guys go! These are all our BEA secret tips and tricks! (Not so secret anymore) We hope that if you’re going, you’ll find us and say hello! If you’re going let us know in the comments and we hope that this post has helped you in some way! Watch for our post next week where we talk about all the things in Chicago you don’t want to miss out on!