April 24, 2015

BEA Prepared - Part 1: Scheduling Your Day

So, you’ve got your hands on a ticket to BEA/BookCon. You have made transportation arrangements and know where you’re staying once you get to the Big Apple. NOW WHAT?

This is my third year attending BEA, and will likely be my last. So, through a series of blog posts, I hope to impart upon you, my little grasshoppers, some insight I’ve gained over the past two years as you make your plans over the next month. I’m calling this series BEA Prepared. The schedule of posts you can expect include:

I have seriously had nightmares both years about arriving at BEA and realizing that I totally forgot to do a schedule for my days. I was panicking when I had no idea what was happening or where I was supposed to be.

I am a planner by nature, so multiple copies of color-coded spreadsheets make me happy and soothe my soul. But, even if you are a pantser, you will benefit from doing a little pre-planning before you arrive in New York. There are, literally, HUNDREDS of signings each day, and booths have special giveaways and galley drops at various times. Some sort of visual reminder of where you want to be at what time to get the things you want the most will help you hold on to your sanity.

So, yeah – I wasn’t kidding about the color-coded spreadsheets. This was what my schedule looked like for day 1 of last year’s BEA:

As you can see from the tabs at the bottom, I had one of these for each day of the expo. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Signing Times
I guarantee that there will come a time when you will wish there were three of you. Between the in-booth signings and the author autograph area signings, there will be a lot of overlap. This is where you will need to make the hard choices. Which book do I want the most? Which author must I meet before I die? It sucks, but it’s a fact of BEA – you will not get to do everything you want. And, this is where my color coding system comes in handy.

Notice on Thursday the 10:00 hour and the 2:00 hour were both really ugly for me. There were nine authors I wanted to meet between 10 and 11 and six between 2 and 3. As it turned out, I got to meet four of the nine authors in the 10:00 hour (Caragh O’Brien, Jeaniene Frost, Ann Aguirre and Suzanne Brockmann) and only one (Jennifer Armentrout) in the 2:00 hour.

I recommend you put EVERYTHING on your schedule – even the signings you are on the fence about. You never know what you are going to have time for and what might pop up at the last minute.

Signing Locations 
After only an hour on the floor, you will learn where all the major booths are. You don’t even really need the booth numbers, because they hang HUGE signs from the ceiling that you can see from all over. Use them as markers for the smaller booths.

For example, I attended a few signings at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) booth. I knew from its number that it was one row over from the Simon & Schuster booth, which I could spot from a mile away.

You’re also going to need those table numbers for the signings at the author autograph area. There are 25 tables, and that area is always a madhouse. The table numbers on your schedule will give you a general idea of where you need to be. When you get there, look for the volunteers and ask if a line has been started yet.

Personalize or No?

I added a column to remind me of whether or not I wanted an author to personalize my book. Many times if I’m getting an ARC that I know I will end up purchasing a finished copy for, I’ll not get that author to personalize the ARC. I’ll get it home, read it, post my review, and then do a giveaway on my blog. It’s a lot easier to give away books that don’t have my name in them.

Drive-By Pictures
In addition to amazing authors, BEA hosts tons of other celebrities. Most of the time, I don’t really have a burning desire to read their book, but it would be super cool to see them in person and get a picture. I added notes to my schedule of where and when a celebrity was signing a book so that I could wander by and snap a picture. Most celebrities will do in-booth signings, so that makes this easy.

Neil Patrick Harris!
I've already started my spreadsheet for this year, but until the autograph signing area schedule is out on BEA's website, it will continue to look pretty bare. Even so, if you'd like for me to e-mail you my schedule for either this year or last year, just send me an e-mail at kristasdustjacket@gmail.com. It's an Excel file; once my schedule is a bit more populated, I will upload it to Google Docs.


JennRenee said...

wow. I am a planner too and love color coded spreadsheets. I am so very jealous but a little overwhelmed for you too. I hope you get to all the signings Can't wait to see who you get to meet.

Val said...

You take planning to a whole new level, girl. I just hung on for the ride last year. Gonna try and plan better this year.

Lexie said...

:D I didn't even think of having a column for personalize or not...hmm...

Unknown said...

Awesome post! Really excited to see your spreadsheet when it goes up on googledocs. Trying to be more organized about going this year too. :)

Britt said...

This is an awesome post girl!Cant wait to read the rest!!
<3 Britt

Hannah said...

This is why we're friends. <3

Fallon said...

I am such a planner but I feel that I am not prepared enough. This is my first year going. I wish I knew what all the galley drop times were, that would help with my scheduling.