Ah, so now I have learned some lessons that I shall pass on to you, all of whom I have told must attend BEA next year.  So really, if you think about it, this post is purely for your benefit 😀 

Lesson #1: Check a Damn Suitcase

Apparently, they do not just have those luggage checks just to give nice old ladies something to do during the show. No, they are handy indeed. Had I checked a suitcase, several things would have happened: My shoulders would not have ached, and I would not have had to run around New York with seven tote bags. I also would not have had to look high and low for people giving away tote bags when mine became inevitably full.

This doesn't even include the red Shakespeare one that turned my white sweater pink :/
This doesn’t even include the red Shakespeare one that turned my white sweater pink :/

Lesson #2: Just Ship the Books

I know this is scary because of the mail reliability not being great, but next year in Chicago I won’t have a choice anyway. And even though me trying to pack the books and drag them around Manhattan made for some great entertainment for my roommates, it made for a very cranky Shannon. I have heard of other bloggers whose books beat them home, and quite frankly, that sounds good to me.ezgif-143185809

Lesson #3: When you inevitably get the sads about not being invited to cool stuff people on Twitter are going to remember: SLEEP!

I was bumming pretty hard when people were telling me about having to choose between all the parties they’d been invited to. Then seeing all the amazing pictures and such on Twitter and Instagram, I was getting full-on weepy. But… I was tired. So knowing that I could curl up in bed and sleep was a really good way to make me forget my sorrows! Having Val and Holly there didn’t hurt either 😉Sleep-GIF

Lesson #4: Public Transportation is Only Mildly Scary

Seriously, I owned the subway. Granted, we only rode it twice, but I got my metro card right on the first try AND pried open a door that almost separated me from Holly and Val AND resisted a hug from a very mentally ill passenger who did not smell good. This is a win! Also, the bus, albeit not exactly fun, was not scary either. As for Chicago? I will take a nice plane with a drink, please and thank you.ezgif-3417269921

Lesson #5: Authors are pretty much as awesome as I’d assumed.

Not one of the authors I met was anything less than fantastic, honestly! Now, I don’t know if this is a universal truth (I mean, I am sure there’s a bad apple out there somewhere!) but the ones I met? Lovely. They all seemed genuinely excited and happy to be there and most importantly, super gracious that there was a line of people fangirling (or fanboying) over them and/or their book.

Lesson #6: Bloggers are pretty much as awesome as I’d assumed.

Maybe more so. Is that even possible? Gosh, what a nice bunch. And I am not just saying that because I count myself among them. I talked to so many random people in line who were seriously so nice, and wanted to just chat! This also extends to include librarians, teachers, and basically anyone else in the industry who stood in line with me and talked just because they wanted to be nice and social with other booklovers. Just further confirmation that we, as a community, are kind of the best.185

Lesson #7: Don’t be afraid to TALK!

This goes along with numbers 5 and 6, because I met so many really fabulous people at the booths, too! Pretty much all the publishers I spoke with were super nice, and willing to help you out if they could, and if they couldn’t, they were still quite lovely about it. Plus, it’s always nice just to tell someone how much you love their books!

Lesson #8: Take ALL the pictures

I could smack myself for being so camera shy the first few days. I missed a picture with Diana Nyad, and Nori and Xander for goodness sake! (Sidenote: Nori and Xander should feel pretty special that they’re lumped in with Diana Nyad. Or maybe it is the other way around 😉 ) Plus, I didn’t get pictures with a ton of authors because I was afraid to ask, which is dumb. I also didn’t take enough pictures of the city, but I will be back this summer for The Hunger Games Exhibition, so I am not as bummed about that. But look out Chicago, because I do not have enough pictures of you!This-is-such-an-instagram-moment

Lesson #9: The Shuttle is your Friend

We didn’t even find out that the free shuttle took us literally right down the street from our hotel until Thursday afternoon! Luckily, this was right after we used all of our free Uber rides, so good timing! I think Val may remember who told us about it… Val, let me know so I can give a shoutout of thanks to this lovely being!

Lesson #10: It is all 100% Worth It!

I had some second thoughts, honestly, before leaving for BEA. Was the expense going to be justified? Was leaving the kids going to be okay? Would I even enjoy myself? The answer to all of these? A resounding, unequivocal YES. It isn’t about any one element of BEA, it is that all of it put together is simply magical. You meet people, you find books, you find yourself. And I think that the best part for me was that I realized with an absolute certainty: These are my people. ezgif-1117179447

Have I convinced you yet? Seriously, we can charter a plane for you international folks, and I mean, everyone in the U.S. could use a road trip, no? It’s only halfway across the country, no matter where you live!

This does bring us to the end of my BEA adventures! And yes, there will be a giveaway, but I am going to hold off a bit and post it with a really huge (and international) giveaway if/when I reach 1,000 Bloglovin’ followers. I am kind of insanely close, excited about it, and want to give you guys more stuff 😀

Posted June 5, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in BEA, Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 35 Comments

35 responses to “BEA Lessons from a Not-So-Newbie

  1. Argh, you make me want to go to BEA so much. (I swear I’ll go someday. Maybe during uni, since the term ends before May I think.) But seriously, these tips? Are THE BEST ever.

    Oh wow, that must have been one heavy red Shakespeare tote bag. I’ll probably have no choice but to have the books shipped anyhow, which does seem like a wise if heartwrenching decision. And I shall note down your transportation tips ;P

    • Awww I hope you can! It is just so fun! And the red tote was evil. It looked cute, at first, until I got back to the hotel and saw that my clothes were red! The good news was, it DID come out in the laundry, and the cleaning lady at the hotel has a new red Shakespeare tote bag 😉



    Sorry, I couldn’t resist that outburst. 😉

    Aw and I’m sorry about the people making you sad about the parties. Goal for next year? Get invited to all the parties. Hahaha. I wonder how that happens…

    I would totally take public transportation in NYC. Yep. Then again, I take the bus around here a lot….though it’s nothing like NYC, ha.

    YAY! I’m glad none of the authors were mean or anything, that would have sucked. And I’m glad everyone else was nice as well. <3

    Ooh, THG exhibition? That sounds so cool! You're so lucky! Definitely take more pictures in Chicago.


    • Sorry! The subway gifs were incredibly hard to find. 😉

      I don’t know how it happens! You must have to know people in high places? Which I do not. In fact, I don’t even think I know people in LOW places. (Even Garth had friends in low places, amiright?)

      I WILL take more pictures and I WILL talk ALL the pictures of the THG Exhibition for sure. And none of this “hopefully” crap… you’re going!

  3. Great tips! I would be so awful about asking to take pictures I know it! I would love to go to BEA but Chicago won’t be an option but when it comes to NY hopefully I can swing it – Thanks for sharing about your time there and the tips!

  4. It’s in Chicago next year? What! I so wanted to go to NYC for BEA. Dammit! I will definitely be going next year. Finances made it impossible this year, but next year will be very different, I am sure of it. I have been really enjoying all of your recaps. You have convinced me that it is totally worth it. (just the books that you snagged could have convinced me!) It sounds like you had a great time. Tell me all about the Hunger Games Exhibition! I am on board to go to that.

    • Awww I am sorry! It is in Chicago (May 11-13!) and I am SOOO excited. Chicago is more my speed 😉 And I am SO glad that you’ll likely be able to make it next year, we obviously HAVE to meet! And I will definitely let you know about the exhibition, I should really get my tickets and decide when I am going soon! 😀

  5. I’m planning on going next year! I like the idea of Chicago a lot more than New York. That’s an easy drive for me and I can fill the car with all the books.

  6. I’ve been seeing a lot of BEA related posts this week and it’s so fun to read about it and hear what it’s like. Even though I don’t think I can ever visit BEA (too far away, too pricey and I am terrfied of planes) I would love to, it sounds so amazing to meet all those authors and bloggers in real life and ofcourse get some new books. And taking a suitcase is a good tip, I can’t imagine how much your shoulders and arms must have hurt after carrying all those books around. Thanks for sharing your tips and BEA experience with us!

  7. Girl, I swear you should get a job doing BEA promotion or some shit because OH MY GOD I JUST READ ALL OF YOUR RECAPS (and this post) AND ALL I WANT IS FOR BEA 2016 TO COME RIGHT NOW SO I CAN HAVE JUST AS MUCH FUN AS YOU DID.

    Like I feel you need to be my BEA guide now because I had no idea about some of the tips you mentioned. You can check luggage there??? That makes so much sense and really would be beyond helpful for my weak arms haha. And shipping the books really would be a must for me like, my suitcase will likely already be overweight from all of my clothes. Haha, I always end up packing pretty much everything because I’m so damn indecisive.

    Just seeing some of those BEA parties got me feeling so jealous girl, so I know how you feel. Lol I hope to maybe attend one myself but if not??? I’ll just throw my own party with fellow bloggers [; Sounds like a fantastic time to me. You better be there Shannon hahaha.

    <33 Loved this post girl. Got me even more pumped for BEA 2016 ahhhh

    • Awww thank you! And please, tell the fine folks at BEA that so I can score a press pass next year 😉

      You are coming next year!??! AGH I am so excited! I can be your BEA guide for sure! I cannot even imagine how funny it would be trying to get on a plane with all those books- they would charge you like, $500 in excess baggage fees haha.

      I am totally coming to your party, it sounds fabulous! But I have a feeling you would be invited to them, so I guess it’s back to me hosting the party alone 😉

  8. I have enjoyed reading all your posts, and I totally agree about BEA! It was my first time too, and I am still processing. And yeah, the parties. How do people get invited to parties?
    BEA was incredible, crazy, and something I can’t believe I’d never looked into before. I am super excited about it being in Chicago, as I have family in the area and it is only 4.5 hours away!
    Tell us if you figure out how people get invited to parties. (Though I am really boring at parties. I hide in corners and want to go home and read)

    • Aw thank you so much!! It really was so amazing! And right, with the parties? I feel like so many people get invited, but I just have to assume they know all kinds of people and I just do not? So basically, it is because I have no influential friends, I suppose 😉 I am glad you’ll be able to go next year too, I am excited as well 😀

  9. Awesome tips. I live in NYC. So I will not be attending BEA next year in Chicago cause it just is too expensive. I hope you had a good time. It was awesome hanging out with you on the second day. The party invites are fun, but not everything. You got sleep which is important.

    Grace @ Books of Love

    • Aw, I am sorry that I won’t be seeing you again next year, that is sad 🙁 I live quite close to New York too, but the flights are so cheap that it isn’t much of a difference for me- but you’d have the added hotel costs, which would be a nightmare I am sure. Well, hopefully it will be back in NYC before you know it 😀

  10. Amazing post, Shannon!!! I’ll be coming back to this when #BEA2016 happens 😉 I can’t wait! I’m already planning as early as now! Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I should use a mail thingy since I’d be flying halfway across the world when I go home! Thankfully, I think I’ll have family friends coming so… there’s that. Maybe. If there is no other choice, I’d use DHL since they’ve been reliable so far! I can’t wait to meet everyone next year!!! CROSSING FINGERS THAT WILL HAPPEN!! WE WILL TAKE ALL THE PICTURES! TALK TO ALL THE AUTHORS! ATTEND ALL THE PARTIES (even if we just make our own if we’re not invited, bahaha!)

    • Awww thank you! Will you be at BEA16? I really hope so, that is SO FUN! And with family and friends, you can shove a few books in everyone’s bags and no one will go over the weight limit! Problem = Solved!

      You will totally be invited to all the parties, but either way, we should still make our own! Because that would be epically fun!

  11. HOW DID I READ THIS AND NOT REPLY. You definitely are going to have to mail books next year. OR JUST RESTRAIN YOURSELF. Ha like that will happen. Oh and it was Tzivi that told us about the shuttle, she is a booktuber I think? I’m not sure hahah. I only found her on twitter 🙂

    • Bwahahha restrain myself? Please. The only thing I will be restraining from next year is slapping someone when I don’t get enough coffee. Ah hem. 😉

      Ah well, sorry Random Booktuber, guess a shoutout just wasn’t in the cards for you this time around.

  12. I’m sorry to hear about all of your book lugging struggles. You must be so strong now though! I’m so not a party girl, I’d have slept too. Besides how could you have fun the next day if you were exhausted. Chicago is actually probably the only location other than Detroit that would be somewhat doable, but I’m a broke coward lol. Ah well a girl can dream.

    • Hahha thanks! I DID feel pretty strong after I got back 😉 And I would have forgone sleep for the party, but at least if I tell myself I needed sleep, I feel slightly (but not really) better. And Molly- DO IT. It is not that expensive, especially if it is close, and it is such an amazing experience! I am a coward too, and I somehow managed to not only do it, but LOVE it!! I have faith in you 😀

  13. This is so helpful and just makes me want to go next year so much more! If only I can talk my mom and brothers into a road trip… =)

    One question though, how do you not be afraid to talk to people? I don’t understand this at all! I know people are nice, especially bookish people, but what? You just open your mouth and words are supposed to come out!? How does this magic work? I’m seriously only exaggerated a little bit. 😉

    I’m glad you had so much fun, Shannon!

  14. It sounds like you had a great time at BEA, Shannon! I’m still kind of debating with myself about going to Chicago next year… This year, I went to RT, and one of the things I really loved about that is that most of the people participating in the convention actually stayed at the hotel where it was at. So hanging out in the bar in the evening, the authors and the readers shared space that was more relaxed than the panels…
    I want to meet many more bloggers, though, because you are right! Bloggers are the best people ever 😉

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