For What It's Worth

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BEA 2011 - tips and advice

Last year I went to to BEA for the first time and it was an overwhelming experience. Here are a few things I learned. Keep in mind that all advice is based on last years experience, things may be a little different this year.

The Basics:
*You do not need to bring any books or pay for books once you are there. They are all free. There are a few booths and publishers that offer networking opportunities and don't have books to hand out or have limits as to how many books you can take. A good rule of thumb is to ask first before you start grabbing.

*All signings are free, however, at the table signings a $1 donation is suggested - proceeds go to charity.

*If you are able to - pick up your badge/pass the day before at Javits. That way you don't have to wait in line Tuesday morning checking in - you can go right to the floor. (they were open until 5pm last year)

My Tips:
*You will hear this advice from everyone who has ever attended BEA and truer words were never spoken. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. You will be standing and walking a lot.

*Try to bring a bottle of water and some munchies like a granola bar or crackers. Food is very expensive at Javits and you'll be stuck in lines a lot so it's nice to have a quick snack.

*Don't be shy! I know I am but really we're all in the same boat so relax and have fun. Meet your fellow bloggers.

*Find other bloggers to team up with. There are often several coveted signings at the same time. Since human cloning has not been invented yet - having someone who can help you navigate is essential. If you can, exchange your text info before you go. It's difficult to hear on the phone there so texting works much better.

*If you are attending any of the author breakfasts eat breakfast BEFORE you go. They give you a muffin and maybe a bagel. One basket per table - no refills. You will be starving afterwards. Also it's first come seating so get in line early for the best seats.

*Business cards. I brought a ton last year but really 50 or so should do. Most of my cards went to other bloggers rather than networking with publishers. I'm sure everyone has a different experience with this so use your own judgement but don't go crazy worrying about it.

*Several authors were told by their publishers to network with bloggers more but weren't familiar with blogging so this is a good opportunity to introduce yourself and exchange info. You can set up guest posts or interviews after BEA

*Which leads me to....believe me - I understand how exciting it is to meet your favorite authors. BUT these are long lines with time limits for the signings. Now is not the time to take 100 pictures, discuss your WIP, plan interviews etc. You can have a really great conversation, get a quick picture and set up something for later fairly quickly and keep the line moving. By day 2 it starts getting really ugly in these lines - keep it moving!

*Bring a rolling luggage bag. Mine was a 21" carry on bag. They have an area downstairs to check it. They will give you a ticket and only you can get in the area to drop off or pick up your books. LIFESAVER! Those books get heavy.

*There will be lots of bags being handed out to carry your books. Try to find a larger, sturdy one rather than the smaller cloth ones. Again - those books get heavy! Harlequin had a fantastic bag last year and I'm bringing it with me this year.

* This is really difficult to do when free books are being flung at you from every angle but TRY to be discriminating in your choices. Keep in mind two things: you have to read all these books and you have to get them all home. I freaked out last year when I had over 80 books to read and NONE of them interested me. I was overwhelmed. It doesn't seem possible I know, but it can happen.

*Have a schedule. Prioritize. Be prepared to adjust your schedule. Some of the signings are timed so closely together that there is no way you will make them all. Between the long lines and scrambling to make it from one side of the building to the other you're going to miss a few things.

*Have lots of patience. There are big crowds, long lines and long days.

*Keep in mind the publishers of the books you want. Last year the schedule had booth numbers but not all booths were marked clearly. The publishers have huge signs so it helps you navigate a little easier.

*For the ticketed authors you have to get up early (6am last year) to pick up your tickets. Get there early. Loooong lines.

**My biggest tip is that if you have to ship your books home use the USPS. It's about 2 blocks away and open from 7am - 10pm. The supplies are cheap and you can send using media mail (cheapest) all the way to flat rate priority (most expensive).
(I got 80 books last year - used 4 large flat rate priority boxes and had my boxes at my doorstep when I got home for just over $40) I would probably go with the cheaper media mail this time.

The Fed Ex rates at Javits are insanely high.

USPS is located on the corner of 8th Ave and West 33rd Street - you can't miss it. Warning: there are a lot of steps!


*Bring cash - a lot of great restaurants only take cash. Plus you'll need it for taxi's, tips etc.

*Catch a cab in the direction you are headed - it's cheaper. Walk one block over if you need to.

-Avenues run North to South - even avenues run north, odd avenues run south.

-Streets run East to West - even streets run east, odd streets run west.

Here are the links to all my BEA posts from 2010. There are lots of pictures to give you an idea of what you are in for.

Part one - the books and swag
Part two - pictures, author breakfast
Part three  - authors and signings
Part four - NYC

Feel free to leave a question or email me at fwiw(dot)kea(at)gmail(dot)com if you have any questions.


  1. I know what you mean about grabbing too many books. I went to RT last year and all the free books were too hard to resist and then I got home and ended up giving away a lot of them xP.

    I want to go to BEA next year and will have to remember to only grab what I really want because I'll either have to carry it all back with me on a plane or ship it internationally which does not do media

    Thanks for the tips! I'll be heading to the Javits Center in Oct for the Anime Festival and Comic con, I will remember the snacks and shoes!

  2. Hey there, great post. How do you know what is ticketed and what is not? I didn't see on the BEA site. (I didn't even see them when I went to BEA last year.) It seems that the Autographing Tables are not ticketed.

  3. Autographing tables are not ticketed. I'm going to email you the list I got - it has everything.

  4. you're the best! love this post. I'm a newbie this year and have been hording every piece of info I could get. I keep reading that people lost books from thier suitcases, did you hear of that as well?

  5. Great post! Looking forward to going, and you're SO right about having a plan! So much to see and do that it can be overwhelming!

  6. @Rhiannon - I had heard that happened in 2010 (I didn't go that year so I don't know) but last year I didn't hear anything about lost books. They give you a ticket when you check your bag in (last year it cost $3 for the day) and you need it to get into the roped off area. They wouldn't let me go in with my husband either. Only one person per ticket and they were limiting how many people could go in at a time. Hope that helps.

  7. All of the cabs I took at BEA last year had it so you could use your credit card in the back and even add tip, so really you don't need cash for taxis.

  8. Great advice overall! I don't know if I'll be bringing a rolling bag the first two days I'm there since I can only come for a few hours in the afternoon.