Preparing for BEA

Book Expo America (BEA) is less than two weeks away, and I’m getting super excited! This will be my second year attending, and although I’m by no means an expert, I have a few tips for bloggers attending for the first time!

What to Pack:

See my post from last week, in which I discuss what to wear and what else to bring.

Planning Resources:

The BEA website is a great place to start planning your days. Start by checking out the different sessions they have going on each day as well as the schedule for author signings. (Some signings are held  at “signing tables” in a kind author pen, and others are held at the publisher booths.)

  • Publishers Weekly: Around the Booths. PW’s guide to select exhibitors, this list gives you the low-down on some of the galleys publishers will be giving away.
  • Publishers Weekly: Adult Galleys to Grab. This PW list highlights the big giveaways, organized by publisher.
  • Edelweiss Books at BEA. Not every publisher uses the “official online catalog for BEA 2015,” but it’s a useful way to browse the titles that some publishers will be featuring.
  • Macmillan galley giveaways. Macmillan published this handy guide to their galley giveaways, including galley drop times.
  • Kirkus BEA Guide. Available for free download, this is probably my favorite guide. It showcases the programs Kirkus is most excited about as well as reviews of many of the big books publishers will be promoting.

Book Expo America

Scheduling Your Day:

Last year, I made a lovely Google doc with my schedule and planned on using the BEA show planner app for everything else. This was a rookie mistake. Cell service in the Javits is really hit-or-miss, so my Internet-based schedules were pretty much useless.

  • Make a schedule of session, galley drop, and book signing times. With all of the great signings, sessions, and giveaways, going on, you may be interested in two events at the same time; put them both on your schedule! It pays to be flexible, and you never know; you may have time for both! This year, I’ll be making a spreadsheet that I can print out and carry around with me.
  • Make a list of which books you want at each publisher/imprint. Including the booth number can be useful, but I was surprised by how easy it actually was to navigate the show floor. The major publishers have huge signs hanging from the ceiling that you can see from just about anywhere.
  • Don’t pack TOO much into your schedule! Or, at least be willing to skip some things and take it easy. Last year, we went back to the hotel around lunch-time each day to drop off our books, rest for a while, and have lunch. You don’t have to spend all day at the Javits, and it’s nice to take a break from the madness (and give your feet and shoulders a rest) if you’re staying nearby.

Book Expo America

How Galley Giveaways Work:

Some publishers schedule their book drops. Library Journal had a great online guide to signing and drop times before the expo last year (I haven’t found one for this year yet, though), and the publishers that schedule galley drops all have flyers listing their schedule that you can pick up. Take one, and add things to your schedule if they’re not already on it. Most of the big titles have scheduled drop times, and other books may be given away on a certain day.

Some books are available during scheduled in-booth signings. The lines for these signings can look really long, but they move very quickly. Don’t be deterred by a line that seems long! (Unless it’s for David Mitchell. In that case, you might just die in the confused melee.)

However, not all galley drops are scheduled. Some publishers have all of their titles out for the duration of the show, and attendees are welcome to grab them from the massive piles on the floor. And still other galleys are released during limited times, but the times aren’t posted. If you don’t see a book that you’ve read is going to be given away on the schedule or at the booth, ask a rep! They’ll be able to tell you the drop time.

Book Expo America

Sessions and Programs:

I didn’t attend many sessions last year, but these were my favorites!

BEA Speed Dating for Book Groups. Bloggers, booksellers, and librarians are seated at round tables that are covered in piles of books that are up for grabs, and then reps from various publishers make the rounds, speed-dating style, to pitch upcoming titles (and recent releases, and books that are coming out in paperback soon) that will make great book club reads. It’s a great way to learn about exciting new books and take home a pile of books that you’ve already been hearing good things about! You must sign up for this event ahead of time.

Editor’s Buzz Panel. I believe this is the most popular panel. Six editors speak about a big buzz book they each have coming out, and then there is a riot as 300 people try to snatch copies of the six books off of two tables. I had no idea grown-ass adults could be so badly behaved. This year, I’m going to skip the panel and try to pick up copies of some of the books from the marginally more controlled settings of the publisher booths, but it’s worth attending if you want to learn about some exciting books and also see just how wild book nerds can get when free galleys are on the line.

Other buzz panels. There are also smaller panels highlighting books in different genres, including graphic novels, travel, small press books, etc. These are much less chaotic, and I believe some of them give you tickets to pick up the books from the publisher booths.


The fun doesn’t stop when the expo closes for the night! There are tons of parties to go to! Some are open, and some require invites, but they’re all a great way to mingle with book people after hours. These two are open to the public, and they are not-t0-be-missed.

Bookrageous Bash. The Bookrageous podcast may be nearly dead, but their party is still going strong! Held at the fabulous Housing Works Bookstore, there are free drinks, a raffle, and appearances by authors such as Megan Abbot, Jami Attenberg, Christine Heppermann, and Daniel José Older.

Tumblr Writers BEA Party. Also held at Housing Works (because it is the best, clearly), this party will feature readings by Katie Coyle, Ashley C. Ford, and Julie Buntin.

bea parties

Getting Your Books Home:

Last year, I flew to NYC with just one carry-on weekender bag and a backpack. For the flight home, I hoped to check the weekender and carry my backpack and a tote bag onto the plane. I picked up far too many books for this plan to work and wound up spending $30 to ship the books I couldn’t fit into my bags home via USPS flat rate boxes. It was a huge pain, and I won’t be doing that again.

There are shipping options available at the Javits, but they are not cheap. It seems that the best way to transport books home is to bring an extra, empty rolling suitcase with you to New York. I believe Javits allows attendees to check a suitcase at the expo, so you can drop off your books throughout they day. This way, you can fill your rolling suitcase with heavy books, check it for your flight home, and bring everything else home in your carry-on bag. Most airlines allow travelers to check one bag for free, so this won’t cost you anything, and you won’t have to wait a few days for your books to arrive, as you would if you ship them.

Final Words of Advice:

Exercise restraint. It’s super hard to limit the number of books you pick up when people are literally stuffing them into your hands, but try. If you know you can only read and review 6 books in a given month, try not to pick up 17 books that are being released in a single month. (I fell into this trap last year because ALL THE BOOKS are released in September, but a year later I still haven’t read all some of those books, and I feel guilty every time I look at my bookshelf.) Be realistic about how many books you can read.

And lastly, don’t be shy! BEA is a great event for meeting people you know online and nerding out about books. If you see someone you recognize from their blog or Twitter, say hi! No one’s going to think you’re weird. Everyone is super nice and excited to meet the people behind the avatars.

Are you going to BEA this year? I’d love to meet up with fellow bloggers!


18 thoughts on “Preparing for BEA

  1. I’m soooo jealous that you are going to BEA again this year! I’m so sad that the timing and money thing didn’t work out for me so I won’t be going 😦 This is a great resource and I loved reading it – I’m definitely going to live vicariously through your blog!

    • I wasn’t planning on going this year, and then a week ago I decided to make it happen. Train tickets to NYC from Buffalo are fairly cheap, I’m staying with a friend for free, and I got a free press pass for BEA; I realized I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to say “Hi, I’m awesome and I’m looking for a job” (or something more eloquent) to a bunch of publishing pros.

    • I just decided to go like a week ago! They boyfriend and I have been wanting to visit NYC, we have friends we can stay with for free, I got a free press pass for BEA, bus/train tickets are pretty cheap, and it seemed like a great opportunity to say “Hi, I’m awesome and I’m looking for a job” to some publishing professionals. I’m glad we were able to make it work!

  2. I’m heading there for the first time this year.I live within driving distance so I’ll only be there on the Friday, which means I know I won’t get to see and do everything! I have a list of some must-have books, and the mail publishers I want to swing by, and I signed up for the speed dating thing. Other than that I’m going in without a plan!

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