If you missed Prepping for BEA Part 1 click here.
You have registered, booked your hotel, and got all your travel arrangements in order…etc. Where do you go from here?
1- Arrive to the Javits EARLY– This is crucial if it’s your first time there (so you can get the lay of the land), if you are going to stay in line to get tickets for the “TICKETED” authors signing at the autograph area ( In-Booth ticketed authors are a whole other realm of ticket…which you get from the publisher’s booth…more on this in a later post) or if you just like being there early to get the best place in line. I would recommend you arrive at least by 7-7:30am (make sure you have a print out of your email confirmation and badge number you will have to pick up your badges at a different location the level below). Once you are there take this extra time to just relax, plan out your day, go over your spreadsheet/game plan for what you need to do for the first few hours. Find out where the bathrooms are, take some early morning pictures, make friends in line, etc.
2- Pick up your badge as early as humanly possible– The lines will start getting really long, so do this as soon as you can. Last year they did not provide us with a lanyard to hold our badges, we had to pin them on (which was a pain). You might want to consider bringing your own lanyard just in case. You can get them at Staples or Amazon.
3- Bring coffee with you– The Starbucks at the Javits is nuts in the morning. The lines are unreasonable and they don’t open until 8am/8:30am (by this point you should be in line for admittance to the exhibit hall and not getting coffee. In the past I have had to get coffee here, and it’s okay…but seriously it’s better to just avoid it and get it from one of the many Starbucks or coffee shops all over NYC when you are heading in.
4- Publisher’s Weekly Show Daily magazine– While you are waiting in line to get your badges, or sitting around near Starbucks, you might start seeing people handing out magazines, or putting these magazines in stands all over the Javits. Do yourself a favor and pick one up. You don’t even have to keep them for the whole day, but read them while you are waiting for the floor to open. There is valuable information inside. There will be articles about the books, special guests and other information specifically galley drops, totes and other swag that you might not have heard about. There will be the times and the booths where such items will be available at.
5- Check your Luggage– There is a special place right near Starbucks that you can check your rolling luggage for the day for under $5 per bag. Do it! (Make sure to tip the nice people taking care and watching over your luggage). You will not be able to bring rolling luggage on the exhibit floor. Trust me when I say you will want to bring a large rolling suitcase with you. The last thing you want is to be carrying heavy tote bags on your shoulders all day. You can come back to the luggage check and drop off your books as many times as you have time into your suitcase and your shoulders and feet will thank you for the relief.
6- Food/Snacks/Water– Bring a smaller bag/tote/or backpack (SMALL) with you. Fill it with at least one water bottle, snacks like cereal bars, granola bars, and maybe a sandwich. The floor does not “close” for lunch. There will be signings happening at lunch time, or you might want to get in line early for a coveted ARC being given out just after lunch. Therefor you might not get to the cafeteria downstairs (which is not bad, or too pricey) and actually have time for lunch. The best thing is to have snacks that you can take with you into the exhibit hall. If you do have spare time, by all means grab yourself some chicken fingers or a burger and chill out in the cafeteria for a bit.
7- Bathroom Breaks– The bathrooms are spread out all over the place at the Javits. I recommend you take some time in the morning and look for those sort of more “hidden” ones. These will have the smaller lines.
8- Cellphone Portable Chargers/Outlets– People say you don’t really get cell reception at the Javits, this has been hit or miss with my phone. I have Sprint and it has worked fine in the past. What you will hardly find is outlets to charge your phones. Do yourself a favor, spend the extra cash and get a portable battery/charger. Even if you can’t make calls, you will still want to take pictures, or take notes, or look at your digital spreadsheet on your phone, or play games if you are trying to pass the time while waiting in line for a signing.
9- Shipping– I have never shipped my books, but that’s because I have always just taken the bus from Boston to NYC and checked my luggage. For those coming by plane it might be cheaper to ship your books than pay the fee for the over 50lbs baggage checks at the airport. There is a place in the Javits that you can ship your books from. There is also a Fedex relatively close to the Javits, with flat rate boxes under $30 (I might do this year depending on how heavy my bag gets).
10- Taxis/Shuttles– Most of the hotels booked through the BEA site will have shuttles that will pick you up in the morning and deliver you to your hotel or within walking distance at the end of the day. These signs and schedules are posted near the entrance to the registration area. If you are trying to get in early have the hotel doorman hail you a cab. Getting a cab from the Javits back to wherever you are going might be a little harder. I suggest walking at least a least one to two blocks away from the Javits and hailing one.
11- Twitter– I highly recommend setting up a list for all the publishers, and authors you want to meet and visit with. Sometimes information is tweeted out (surprise galley drops, swag signings etc). Have this list automatically send you notifications when they post to your phone.
12- Be Flexible– You won’t get to everything on your schedule. Be prepared to accept that you probably won’t make it to ever signing, get every ARC, or actually stick to your schedule. Accept this now, and just LET IT GO. This will allow you to have a much more relaxed and happier experience over all.
13- Be Polite– Sometimes it can get a bit crazy out there (I heard someone actually bit into a person’s arm/shoulder one year over an ARC). There is no need to push, be rude or violent. Do not cut lines (if you are saving a spot for a friend or two let those around you know this so that you don’t look like a tool). Also don’t hold up the line because you need to tell the author your life story or taking multiple pictures. Do not take a zillion copies of the same book during a “DROP”…other people would like the book too. It’s one thing to take an extra copy for a fellow blogger who had to go to the bathroom, or is waiting in a signing line, but taking books to later go sell them on Ebay or something similar is WRONG.
14- Have Fun and Make New Friends– Remember you are there with thousands of other bookish people. These are OUR PEOPLE, and there should be no reason to not be friendly or say hello. Try to chat with the people in front or behind you at a signing line, or say hello to people you might recognize from blogs you follow (If you see me, please say hello and introduce yourself) . Chat it up with the people working the publisher booths and make contacts for future events and books. We are all here because of our love of books.