Post BEA: What I Learned

After the whirlwind of events, meeting people, networking, and experiencing New York City in all its chaotic glory, I thought I would spend a few minutes sharing the highlights and telling you a bit about what I learned about the whole experience. For those of you who did NOT make it to NYC for the BEA and Book Blogger Convention, I hope you’ll get to go next year…and perhaps my thoughts will help you maximize your time there!

Sore Feet

Remember all those helpful posts pre-BEA about wearing comfortable shoes? Well, that was excellent advice. Despite having a great pair of walking sneakers with cushion and support, I still experienced sore and swollen feet and legs. The concrete in New York is very hard on one’s feet and even with public transportation, there is a ton of walking involved if you want to get out and see the sites. Every evening Kip and I returned back to the hotel in agony. Soaking my feet in cold water and just getting off them for a few hours helped…but I will always remember New York for the pain in my feet!

Hotel Selection

I was very, very glad that we spent the extra money to find a hotel close to the Javits Center. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton near Times Square (on W40th Street) and the hotel and their staff were excellent. It was very clean, the bed was probably the most comfortable I’ve slept in, and there was a hotel restaurant which served great coffee and full breakfast. We were 1.5 blocks away from a post office – which was awesome because it saved us a lot of money to ship books media mail (vs. FedEx offered at the BEA). The walk to the Javits was only 15 minutes. We were also within easy walking (one block) to the subway and just a few blocks from Times Square.

There were a couple of downsides, however…

  • We were only two doors away from a Probation office and had I been a female walking alone at night back to my hotel, I would have been a little nervous given some of the shady, criminal looking types lurking around. Luckily, Kip is over six feet tall and carries the attitude of law enforcement (he is an ex-deputy), so we didn’t have any reason to fear!
  • Noise. The level of noise near Times Square is unbelievable. It is constant and includes traffic, horns, police sirens (the police in Times Square were constantly screaming down the street with lights and sirens to ensure a “presence”), and chatter from the thousands of people who navigate the area.

Planning My Schedule

Although I had a very in depth schedule written out, I still did not get to do everything I would have liked to do. One of the things I did not plan for was rest time. Believe me, you need some down time to rejuvenate. I spent a fair amount of time wandering aimlessly or standing in lines…and I didn’t make it to one panel discussion at the BEA which was disappointing. Part of the reason for this was that I felt completely unprepared for the sheer numbers of people and activities. Having a schedule DID help me stay on track to get some books which I might otherwise have missed…and also to keep straight the activities in the evenings and some of the BBC organized events (like the publishing house tours).

I was really happy someone had recommended picking up the daily magazine for the BEA. I did this each morning and found books and events going on that I would have otherwise missed. Some things were added (that did not appear on the BEA site) and some things were changed or deleted.

The Volume of Books Available

This has not been exaggerated. The BEA is a mecca for book lovers. There are thousands of books to tempt you. I tried to be selective, but I still came home with probably more than 50 books (I haven’t really counted them and my box of books won’t be here until later this week so this is an estimate). I jokingly referred to Kip as my “personal Sherpa” since he was kind enough to wear a gigantic backpack and carry all the books I kept picking up. But, if you don’t have a Sherpa, you will need to figure out how to transport the books you pick up. Rolling bags are not allowed on the exhibition floor, but they can be checked…and had I not had a helper, I would have checked my carry-on suitcase and filled it throughout the day. There was also the option of keeping a box at FedEx and filling it to ship.

What I Would do Differently (or the same) Next Time:

  • I am definitely glad I attended the publishing house tours – and I would recommend other bloggers take advantage of these next year if they are offered. It was amazing meeting the publicists and editors and talking to them about the role of bloggers in the marketing of books. We also got some great books that were not available at the BEA.
  • Only stand in lines for autographs of authors you truly want to meet. Mostly, I did this – but I found myself distracted by the in-booth signings which I stumbled across and couldn’t resist. Most publishers will give you a copy of the book without the autograph if you ask (at the in-booth signings). Next time I would plan on researching the new titles from the publishers BEFORE getting to the BEA and then contacting them for those titles to be mailed…rather than stand in line to get them.
  • Go to the panel discussions. I didn’t do this…even though I had planned to…and I feel like I missed out on some great information.
  • Make an effort to contact other bloggers and meet them. This was, by far, the best part of the experience for me. I met many, many bloggers … and missed a few too. If I were to do anything differently, it would be to do even more of this.
  • Make an effort to meet the publicists you work with…again, one of the favorite parts of BEA for me was meeting the fabulous industry professionals who were very happy to talk to me and introduce me to other people in their organization. I also got to meet some of my favorite authors by connecting first with the publicist.
  • Schedule rest time and don’t over schedule. This was a big mistake I made. I burned myself out in the first three days, and then struggled to catch up on my rest. I was exhausted by Thursday morning. I over scheduled and then found I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I should have made the hard choices BEFORE I arrived. Now I know better.

What Surprised Me

  • How friendly New Yorkers were…people are very happy to help uncomplicate the maze which is the subway system; or give directions. The postal worker who helped me pack off my books to California was so nice and friendly, I wish I had gotten her name so I could tell her supervisor how great she was.
  • How much impact bloggers are having on the publishing industry. Publishers are starting to see bloggers as the new marketing for books – and they are really eager to work with us. This came across loud and clear everywhere we went at both the BEA and BBC. Bloggers are going to have to re-think how they accept books, the expectations for reviews, and the relationships they foster with authors. If you think we are inundated now with review requests, just wait – my prediction is this is only going to get bigger. Personally, I would prefer to work directly with publicists vs. getting books from authors…to me it is the more professional way to go, and allows us to keep our objectivity and integrity. Just something to think about.
  • Bloggers in person are exactly like they are on line. The people whose blogs I have loved and read were just like I thought they would be – wonderful, friendly, smart, interesting…I guess I should not have been surprised!

My Overall Impression:

AWESOME!

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22 comments

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  1. I like how you wrote your post Wendy. I did miss out on the publishing house tours – I didnt even know they were offered so apparently I missed some info somewhere (I was so busy prior to leaving for BEA that I am sure I just missed the info). That is something I would love to do.

    I did take time to meet the publishers I work with, but did not stick to my schedule and would try harder to do that next time.

    Thanks Wendy and nice to meet you at BEA/BBC!

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! One of these years, I hope to join you all there. 🙂

    • Megan on June 1, 2010 at 19:41

    Excellent post! Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I also was very surprised by just how much attention publishing professionals are paying to bloggers now. If there was any doubt in my mind of bloggers’ growing importance to marketing books, it was certainly dispelled by the immense numbers of publishing people that turned up to meet us at Book Blogger Con and its reception. I was more than a little surprised to meet so many people who were genuinely curious about what we do with our blogs and how they can form better working relationships with us.

    On a slightly lighter note, I think, if I’m able to afford to attend again next year, that I will definitely need to acquire my own Sherpa. Definitely a great asset for the show floor *and* for the train ride home. 😉

    • JoAnn on June 2, 2010 at 02:24

    This is a great post, Wendy! I sure hope to attend next year…

    • Amy on June 2, 2010 at 02:47

    Great post, I agree with all that you’ve said!

    • Molly on June 2, 2010 at 04:43

    What a fantastic wrap-up review! I love the idea of mailing the box of books via media mail if at all possible (and the hotel recommendation is a good one!)

    I would love to go on a publishing house tour – or two – but I am just not sure I have the self-confidence as a blogger to pull it off. Perhaps if I find someone to go with it would be easier.

    Are you planning to go in 2011? If so, perhaps we could finally meet in person. I would like that.

  3. Thank you for all the wonderful advice. I am def. going next year, and I am a little surprised about how the publishing industry thinks bloggers will need to change. Do you have any specific ideas about how we will need to handle ARCs differently.

    Similarly, I agree with you about books from authors vs publishers. I just did a DNF review, and the author signed the book and contacted me. It made more difficult to do an honest review.

    Thanks again! Hope to meet you in person next year!

    • Aths on June 2, 2010 at 07:22

    Thanks for this great post and excellent advice. I don’t know if I can go next year, but I am all for trying! I have taken some notes from your post.

    Glad that you had a fabulous time. After following all the BEA tweets last week, I got all burned out as well, so I can easily understand how exhausting the whole thing must have been.

    • Wendy on June 2, 2010 at 07:38
      Author

    Sheila: The publishing house tour sign ups happened just before the BEA on the BBC blog…I can see where some people might have missed them. It was great to meet you too!!

    Carrie K.: I hope you’ll get to go one year – it really is quite an experience.

    Megan: I was blown away by how much attention the bloggers were getting – in a good way! Yes, a Sherpa is definitely the way to go 😉

    JoAnn: I hope you do too!!

    Molly: I think Media Mail is definitely the way to go (so if people are looking at hotels, they should also look at how close they are to post offices). You would do find on a tour…they were very laid back and helpful and you are not alone (in two of my tours there were six of us, on the last one there was probably 15 or 20 of us). I would LOVE to go again in 2011, but will have to see how finances are. This was not a cheap trip by any means. BUT, if I go, I would definitely like to meet you!

    Jen: Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that the publishers wanted us to change…I was speaking my own opinion there. I think bloggers are going to have to really recognize that we are now considered professionals in the industry…and we are also going to have to get very selective and figure out how to manage the volume of books. The publishers are telling authors to connect with bloggers – and although that is nice, I think it becomes hard to be objective when we are then reviewing their books. For me, if a relationship happens, I want it to evolve naturally; and then I would feel as though I would have to disclose that relationship if I were to befriend an author whose book I reviewed. Does that make sense?

    Aths: I hope you get to go next year – you would love it. It is exhausting, but very satisfying.

  4. Fantastic summary! Although I’m even more intimidated by this event now than I was before. 😉 Still, I hope to get up the courage to make it next year.

    • Amanda on June 2, 2010 at 09:50

    Honestly I don’t think it matters how comfortable your shoes are – you still are going to have sore feet by the end of the day! I was completely worn out by Thursday and spent much of it down in the lounge area reading (and sitting!). I wish I’d gone on one of the publishing tours, though. It sounds like those were wonderful and I missed them completely.

    • Andi on June 2, 2010 at 11:59

    Great post! I hope to go next year, and I’ll definitely refer back to your tips.

  5. This is all really good advice and observation. I didn’t have any plans when I got there and wish I’d been more focused. Next year though, I’m on it 🙂 Lucky you, having a sherpa to follow you around!

  6. Very nice wrap-up post. I agree with Kim – it’s a great idea to bring along a sherpa! :–)

    • Teddy on June 2, 2010 at 21:10

    I’m kicking myself for not going. I felt guilty spending the money because we are getting our kitchen re-done and a hardwood floor in the living room. I have to also admit that I’m a bit afraid of going to New York alone. I know it’s silly. I’m determined to do it next year.

    • Beth F on June 3, 2010 at 02:55

    Fabulous post — and I agree with everything here. Good shoes are your best friend — that’s why I wore light hiking boots. I’ve learned that lesson over and over.

    I’m glad they are going back to the 3-day format — that gives you more time to attend panels without missing out on meetings and visiting booths.

    It was wonderful to meet you in person!

    • Serena on June 3, 2010 at 06:58

    I’m glad that New Yorkers left you with a good impression and that you accomplished most of what you set out to do. I heard only part of a panel at one of the stages and completely missed all the others I planned on…I guess that’s what happens with the long lines and the distractions…lol

    • Lenore on June 4, 2010 at 07:28

    It was so lovely to meet you and your sherpa 😉

    Daniel was a bit of a sherpa for me on the pub tours and on Wednesday. I really tried to limit my book gorging too, but it is sooo hard!

    I stayed at the New Yorker on 34th and 8th. I love it. It is quiet and only 3 avenues away from the Javits. Plus it is right next door to the PO.

    • Anna on June 4, 2010 at 09:51

    Oh, the foot pain was the worst! But I really enjoyed getting out and walking around the city. Last year, people didn’t know what a book blogger was at BEA. It was great that people actually acknowledged us and what we do this year!

    • Wendy on June 6, 2010 at 08:09
      Author

    Kristen M.: NO, don’t be intimidated…it was great. I am not one of those people that relish crowds and meeting tons of new people, but it was really easy here because everyone loves books, and that is pretty much what everyone talks about!

    Amanda: I agree about the shoes – my shoes were great, but still my feet hurt. I’m sorry you missed the publishing house tours…maybe next year?

    Andi: I hope you get to go next year!

    Kim: Having a sherpa was definitely a good plan 😉

    Rhapsody: LOL … that sherpa was very helpful!

    Teddy: It is an expensive trip…you really have to plan early for it, I think. If you go alone next year, try to hook up with other bloggers. There were lots of bloggers going around in big groups together which makes things safer.

    Beth: I loved meeting you! Light hikers might have been better than what I wore…I’ll know that for next time! I think the 3 day format would have worked better for me…there was so much I missed because everything was so packed into Wednesday…

    Serena: I think if I were to go next year I’d focus more on the panels…having 3 days would make it better.

    Lenore: Thanks for the hotel recommendation (I’m making a note for next year!). Those sherpas are really great, aren’t they!?!?? My book gorging was really out of control! Great to meet you too 🙂

    Anna: It was a very welcoming time for bloggers, wasn’t it? You could feel the excitement in the air all week!

    • Amused on June 6, 2010 at 18:43

    This was fascinating! I didn’t get to go this year but am seriously considering going next year and this will be a great help in my planning! Thanks for such a thorough post 🙂

    • Wendy on June 10, 2010 at 06:54
      Author

    Amused: Thanks! Oh, I hope you’ll go next year…it is such a great thing to attend.

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