So I went to this little thing called BEA.
Except it wasn't a little thing at all.
That leads me to my first piece of post-BEA wisdom: after reading all those advice posts about comfortable shoes and meeting up with other bloggers and passing out business cards, you might be lulled into a false sense of security; a thought that, perhaps, this event will turn out to be as wide as a (small) college auditorium - that you'll be able to glide from table to table at leisure, pick up the exact titles that you've been looking for all your life, and exit stage right triumphant in your mastery of BEA.
A little back-story: I was supposed to get to BEA at least around nine-ish, or at least a half-hour after they opened the Exhibition Hall. By the time we finally reached Javits, it was around ten, and I was freaking out because I missed Sarah J. Maas' signing and oh my God, the line is probably going to be crazy and can we drive any faster?
So, we finally got there. And it wasn't around eleven, which is what I was dreading. So after Mom, sis and I get our badges and a nice lady at information pointed us in the direction of the floor, we step right in the middle of book heaven.
And I feel as though I've been hit over the head with a club.
Now, I'm pretty sure all the convention veterans are snickering, "Poor Kaye, she's never been to a convention before," but honestly, it's overwhelming. There are people everywhere. Everyone seems to know what they're doing and where they're supposed to be going and who they should be talking to. And if you're a newbie like me, expecting for one of your friends to materialize out of thin air and play tour guide, you're in for a disappointment.
So we finally managed to find the Scholastic booth, where I poured out my troubles to a really awesome lady named Chris and she took my business card and gave me a pile of titles and told me that it happens to everyone and just be myself. Which is what everyone said, but I really appreciate her taking the time to talk to me about why I was attending BEA and what I blog about.
Also, she managed to find me a copy of The Raven Boys (!!!) which I was pretty sure I was NOT going to get my hands on in this lifetime.
So if you happen to look at my blog, Chris from Scholastic, just know: you are awesome.
Anyway, after that, I calmed down a bit. We did a bit of booth hopping - Macmillan, Little, Brown (where we got nearly swept off in the crowd of Chris Colfer-adorers...note to self: avoid big celeb signings. They are dangerous for your health) and Simon and Schuster (I managed to get one of Claire Legrand's bug-postcards but STILL haven't taken a picture with it as of yet). I passed out cards and tried to make small talk whenever someone wasn't too busy and looked for ARCs I wanted, and nearly screamed when I was handed copies of What's Left of Me and Crewel!
I mean, I knew that they were around, but after all the talk about cleared-out ARCs and copies only available on Tuesday, I was really worried for a moment there.
I remembered just in time that Erin Morgenstern mentioned a signing at Random House, and she was sweet enough to sign a copy for me, my friend and our local library. Her publicist said that she'd signed over three hundred copies the previous day, but both of them were still smiling and talking and that pen was steady in her hand like she'd just sat down and opened shop for the day.
You've really got to admire authors and how dedicated they are to their craft.
After that, we rushed off to Autographing to catch Maureen Johnson's signing, and not a moment too soon, because it was long. Like, the length of a Twilight series installment long. It turns out that the Autographing section, especially when it comes to popular authors, is INSANE. If you don't get there like super early, you'll find yourself standing there for all of eternity. Fifteen minutes don't cut it. We got there around fifteen minutes before the signing was supposed to start, and we were still behind a nice strand of people. But we managed to make it up there and get signed copies of The Name of the Star and talk to MJ for a moment.
Post-BEA wisdom: You know how everyone says MJ is the coolest and no pressure at all and if you ever want to meet an author that you'll just adore, she's it?
And she loves her Twitter followers. I got a high-five. From Maureen Johnson. It was awesome.
After that, I met up with my friend Taryn of Teen Eyes Editorial/Write On Teens! She's just as cool in real life as she is online - be jealous. We tried to hang around in the Diana Peterfreund line, but it was way too long and the volunteers were starting to mention another hour for everyone to get their books signed, so we ended up dropping out.
I ended up getting James Howe's autograph for my Bunnicula-crazy brother, and then we rushed back onto the floor to catch Libba Bray's in-booth signing of The Diviners. You'd think we'd have learned from the MJ line that people don't follow those supposed rules of signing, right? The whole "stick to the official time for forming the line"? Well, it was supposed to form at 2:30. We got there at 2:15 and there was a line a block long.
I was ready to give up. Instead, I stood in the line, and managed to grab one of the tickets that made their way to the back. That was enough to make me a little bit more calm. I mean, I have a ticket, so that means I'll get a book, right?
The line just stood there.
My mom went down to pack some of our books in the suitcase.
The line just stood there.
At one point, my mom held our place in the line and sis and I ran off to explore a bit. We were trying to make our way back to Bloomsbury to snag a Throne of Glass ARC, but it was like the booth was in a time warp or something. NO ONE could tell us where it was. So we ended up coming back.
The line had moved. An inch.
It felt like an hour before we finally got to the front, but let me just tell you - it was so worth it. Libba is like the most hilarious thing to happen to YA since...well, since ever. She was actually doing these coy little poses with the Diviners ARCs and biting her lip and flipping her hair and just being awesome. And she was so genuinely encouraging when I told her I'm an aspiring author, not just telling me that I can do it for the sake of keeping her fans happy.
So that's how I got a signed ARC of The Diviners. Just so you don't think these books were falling out of the sky like manna. It's hard work being a blogger, man.
After that hot mess, we pretty much wrapped up our time at Javits. A brief visit to Egmont (if you missed out on the tote bag... Dude. It's the most useful bag that was being passed out. True story) and we finally managed to find Bloomsbury again. Happy endings all around.
So I can definitely say that if I can, I will be heading back to BEA next year. Sure, it's very hectic and there's a lot of walking (and no matter what shoes you wear, it's gonna hurt afterward. Believe me), but coming home to count up more than fifty books and a small hill of swag is totally worth it.
Okay. So for the sake of posterity (and next year-Kaye who might forget the trauma she put herself through this year), here's five things I would do differently.
1. Perfect the schedule. I used MS Word, a lot of cross-referencing from the BEA schedule and announcements on publishers' Twitters, and ended up transferring it to my Kindle because I had no time to print it out the morning of. It was pretty helpful overall - I attended the signings that I really wanted to catch, and got a few of my most-wanted galleys. BUT, for next year, I want to refine it a bit more...cut out the lines that are just time-eaters and list only the ARC drops that I really have to catch.
I loved the fact that Penguin Teen listed their galley drops for each day of BEA. It made it so much easier to just make my way there and see the titles I wanted right there - no waiting, no guess-work, no "Sorry, you missed it! It was this morning!"
2. The signings will eat you alive. I had quite a few signings listed on the schedule, but I only made three. If I want to catch more next year, I'll be making sure they are the ones I really will regret if I miss, for books that I actually read (see below for more about books you need as compared to books you want), and give myself a nice period of time before and after in order to beat the foot-blistering line from Hades.
3. Take only what you need. Not just what you want. In case you haven't read all those advice posts/BEA schedule posts listing the glorious array of books/been anywhere near the publishing industry at all, there are free books at BEA everywhere. No money needed. Nada. Zip. Zilch. However (and you've probably heard this before), that does not mean you need all of them - especially if it's in a genre you know you'd rather eat a banana-turkey-pickle sandwich than read. Pace yourself. Take what you need and think of others, and ask before you grab doubles of anything.
4. Wear shoes that aren't flats. 'Nuff said. I think it's a lesson you have to learn for yourself.
5. Yes, you do need that suitcase. As a matter of fact, you might even need two. We actually had to utilize that Egmont tote I was talking about and another tote from National Geographic, along with that rolling suitcase, to get all our books out of the Javits. So don't laugh and take it lightly when someone mentions taking along a suitcase. They are totally serious.
Kaye's random BEA factoids
Authors spotted on the floor:
- Victoria Schwab
- R.L. Stine
- Jessica Khoury
- Julie Kagawa
- Sarah Beth Durst
Agents spotted on the floor:
- Melissa Sarver
- Kristen Nelson (this is totally a guess...but it really did look like her)
- Jennifer Laughran
Galleys I missed out on:
- Let the Sky Fall
- Keeper of the Lost Cities
- Level 3
Any questions? Comments? BEA moments you'd like to share? Suggestions for a fun way I can share the BEA love through a giveaway (hint, hint)?