Got a book in you? Thinking about getting published?
“Everything exciting in the world of books” happens this week in New York City. It starts with Book Expo America (BEA) from Wednesday through Friday and finishes with the weekend’s BookCon
Published authors everywhere know BEA. Book Con is relatively new and is fast becoming a great follow-up to BEA. If you’re a would-be author, an avid reader or a celebrity hound, you need to know it too. Where else can you go to:
- Meet celebrity authors
- Survey the field of traditional and independent publishers (for that book you want published)
- Meet literary agents (also or that book you want published)
- Learn about the latest in publishing and publishing technology
- Fill a suitcase filled with personally autographed books?
No place else but BEA!
If you’ve never been before, BEA can be so exciting that it’s overwhelming. If you aren’t prepared and strategic, instead of getting what you want, all you’ll get is hungry, tired and disappointed.
Here are my top ten tips for getting the most out of your first BEA experience.
1 – Make hotel reservations carefully. You can get a special room rate in NYC through the BEA website. You can also book a hotel in a nearby New Jersey town like Hoboken or Weehawken or in the Meadowlands Expo Center. These are comparatively cheaper and the bus to NYC usually picks you up right at the hotel.
If you’re driving to BEA just for the day, for about $20, you can drive to the Secaucus Park and Ride and take the bus into the city. Or park at the Hamilton or Trenton train stations and ride into NYC on the regional rails.
Both bus and train drop you off a few blocks from the Javits Center. I usually walk, but you can also take a bus or cab.
2 – Set goals. What do you really want to accomplish? Do you want to (1) network with other publishers, (2) meet vendors, (3) learn about a particular topic (4) meet celebrities, or something else? BEA publishes everything online, so it’s easy to see who and what will be one of the “main stage” events, what’s going on at the Bloggers Conference and who’s signing books. Or you can go to one of the ticketed events, like the Author’s Tea or the Children’s Book Breakfast. Want to meet Carol Alt, Lis Wiehl, Diana Nyad or Mindy Kaling? They’ll be there this year, along with hundreds of other authors.
There’s so much going on at BEA that, without goals, you’ll forget what you need and want most while you are there (before you get distracted by the size and glitz of the experience).
3 – Dress comfortably but professionally. You’ll see all kinds of dress from suits to jeans, so anything will be OK. BUT you don’t know who you’re going to meet. Business casual is the safest bet. And wear uber-comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking non-stop. Nothing will zap your energy more than tired tootsies.
4 – Bring your business cards – lots of them. Keep your cards in the pouch that holds your name badge so they’re easy to get when you need them.
5 – Bring a couple of your books. Again, you don’t know who you might meet.
6 – Study the BEA brochure. BEA is so big that it’s really easy to get lost, dazzled and distracted. It took me a couple years to really be productive. Once you decide on your BEA goals, study the floor plan in advance. When you get to the Javits Center, locate the stages and classrooms (they’re on multiple floors). That way you won’t be frantically trying to figure out how to get someplace…and then miss or get shut out of the presentation you most want. Here’s how BEA is organized and how you can plan your time strategically:
- Publishers/Agents: If your goal is to find a publisher or agent for your book, make appointments early. If you wait until you are at BEA, most people are already booked.
- Classes and events: There are some really good presentations at BEA by people you might want to learn from and/or meet.
- Signings: There are free books in abundance and two kinds of book signings: Author events and Autographing Tables. Author Events are on the exhibit floor. They might be at one of the staging areas or be part of a publisher’s booth (or both). When there is a signing you want to attend, get in line early because some publishers limit the number of books for a session. The Autographing Tables are like cattle lines. The more popular the author or celebrity is, the longer the line and the time, sometimes up to an hour. I waited that long to meet Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York, Kathie Lee Gifford and Jim Gaffigan. Be prepared, but also be focused. You can meet a lot of people in line while waiting. I’ve met book reviewers, reading group leaders, etc.
FYI2: You’ll get more books than you know what to do with…and you really don’t want to cart them around all day. So take a rolling suitcase. You can’t bring it into the exhibit hall, but there will be places you can check your suitcase; the fee is nominal. Carry books in one of the many canvas bags you’ll receive. When it gets too heavy, go back to your suitcase and empty the bag…and you’ll be glad for the wheels at the end of the day!
7 – Food. There are places to eat in the Javits, including a food court. I suggest that you eat a decent breakfast and then pack some snack bars, nuts or trail mix and bottles of water – enough to tide you over.
8 – Special Events. Some publishers hold special events, like wine and cheese parties. If they’re open to everyone, they’ll be listed – usually at day’s end. Sometimes, if they fit into your schedule, they’re fun and worth doing.
9 – Follow-Up. When you get back to your hotel at night, make a list of the people you want to follow-up with when you get home. List their contact info and write a description of your conversation, particularly what it is that you want to discuss. This is really, really important. If there is one place that I’ve missed good opportunities, it’s here. The first time I left BEA with a stack of cards and little memory of why the person whose card I took was important. Keeping a log solved that problem.
Sometime in the middle or end of the following week, make a follow-up call. Your results will be mixed. Some will go nowhere, but for me, other times it’s led to an those follow-up calls have led to an interview or something equally important.
10 – HAVE FUN! It’s easy to get so overwhelmed at BEA. But, overall, BEA is an awesome and fun experience. If you take the time to follow these suggestions and chunk each event into your own “best fit” pieces you’ll have a great time and meet some really cool people. Enjoy it!
For more information: BookExpoAmercia and BookCon
Annmarie Kelly doesn’t just listen to women, she gives voice to what they’re thinking about taking charge of their lives. Whether keynoting onstage, facilitating a workshop or retreat or appearing on lifestyle programming, Annmarie Kelly gets to the heart of what women want for their happiness and satisfaction.
Learn more: Annmarie Kelly and Victorious Woman Project