For those of you unaware of BEA, this year will be my first time going, so I don't have any major tips or insights as to what the conference/expo will be like. However, seeing the author list alone is making me embarrassingly giddy.
BEA, or Book Expo America, is one of the largest book conferences EVER. There will be loads of industry professionals there, as well as a TON of authors signing. If you are looking for a conference where you can pitch your manuscript or get a query critique, this is probably not the one you want to go to. However, if you want to be surrounded by book lovers and receive armfuls of free books and meet your favorite authors ever, chances are you can do it at BEA.
BEA Main Website: This is going to be your home base for learning more information about BEA. Most of the site is well-organized, so you should easily find what you are looking for. If you are still having trouble, they have a great FAQ section or you can contact their support at firstname.lastname@example.org. They respond within a day. (Trust me, I might have emailed them once or...one hundred times.)
YA Author/Events Spreadsheet: I stumbled upon this Google Doc someone started of all the YA authors and events that will be taking place at BEA. If you are mostly interested in YA, I highly recommend reviewing this document to prepare your schedule. There are going to be SO many different authors at the conference writing for all different age-ranges, that having a list already narrowed down will help your sanity immensely. Just keep in mind that this is constantly being updated.
Twitter Friends: A fellow writer on Twitter, Lauren Spieller, recently started up a list of people on Twitter who will be attending BEA. This is a great way to see if any of your other friends or Twitter acquaintances will be in attendance as well. Twitter party meet-ups are the best!
BookCon: Originally called Power Day Reader, BookCon is an extension of BEA. If you purchase a BEA pass, you automatically get admission into BookCon. BookCon is where a lot of celebrities will be featured on panels, as well as a huge line-up of rockstar authors, including Maggie Stiefvater, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, John Green, James Patterson, Rick Riordan, and John Girsham. SQUEE!!
Tips I've Learned So Far:No Rolling Carts Allowed: Yep, you heard me. Apparently it is a security rule, so you're going to have to find another way to carry around the stacks of books you receive while attending BEA. I've already been scoping out large beach-like bags and testing how many books I can reasonably carry in it. Come prepared if you want to make out like a bandit in free books at this conference.
Having A Schedule Will Be Essential: Okay, maybe this doesn't apply to everyone. But for me, I want to hit as many authors as I can and check out all the great new releases. What better way to do this than to meet them author in person and have them personally sign their book for me? With that said, you're going to want to go through the schedule and make an itinerary for yourself so you stay on task and hit all the speakers and booths and author signings that you want. It may come down to you having to choose which events are most important to you because there is just TOO MUCH going on to do it all.
All Books At Signings Are FREE: Okay, I wasn't sure how it worked at BEA, so I emailed their support on this question. They confirmed that all books at the author signings are given to each person FOR FREE. So whether it is an ARC or an already published book, if you get in line for an author signing, you will get the book they are featuring FOR FREE. To see what books each author is featuring, click into the schedule area and then on the author signing event. TIP: Some authors are signing at more than one session BUT they are doing different books at those sessions...so if they are a favorite of yours make sure you show up for each session!
Bringing Your Own Books To Be Signed: You are allowed to bring your own personal favorite books to the signing for the author to sign. However, the author will only sign ONE book at a time. If you have three books you want them to sign, you will have to get back in line for each one. They might not be super strict on this if there isn't a huge line for the author, but assume that for big names, you will be limited to one book per wait in line.
Book a Hotel Sponsoring the Event If Possible: BEA has a list of hotels they worked with to acquire special rates for the event specifically. You will want to try to get a hotel on this list for one major reason: BEA will be supplying a shuttle to the conference from these sponsored hotels. Even though the route has not been confirmed yet for the shuttle, I have emailed their support who confirmed that any hotel on the list will either of a shuttle coming directly to the hotel or the shuttle stop would not be more than a few blocks walking distance away. I'm pretty sure after walking around all day with twenty-something books in my arms, I am not going to want to walk far to get back to my hotel to collapse.