Headed to BEA-

Well kids, it’s that time again: time to pack up your junk and leave plenty of room in your suitcase for books, because BEA is right around the corner! Actually it will be over by this time a month from now, so SOBS. Anyway, last year I was brand new. And clueless. This year I am less new, and still mostly clueless, but part of that is because of the venue change and part of it is just because I am a ridiculous human being in general. So… good luck with this.

Let’s assume that you already booked your travel and got your passes and stuff. Because you have less than four weeks, so if you haven’t and plan on it, you need to stop reading this post immediately and get yourself to the BEA website and like, Expedia or something. Bye to those last minute bookers among us. 

For those of you left, I learned a few things last year. And there’s still a few things I don’t know about. Let’s start with what we do know!

Plan a hiatus.

Not scheduling one was quite literally the dumbest thing I could have done. “Nah, I’ll be fine, I’ll just schedule a couple posts for while I am gone, no biggie!” Except that I sat in horror as I realized that I couldn’t respond to anyone, comment on anything, and that I not only was going to have to make up for it all when I got home, but that I had nothing scheduled for after I returned. Such awful planning. And I seriously have been playing catch up ever since. It could be the downfall of ISAM as we know it. 😕

Bring snacks!

I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a really smart thing to do, or a really stupid and useless thing to do, but the verdict is in, and it is smart. Look, if you are the kind of person who can get up at 5am and have a nice healthy breakfast, or someone willing to skip a book drop for lunch (seriously, what kind of monster are you!?) then sure, forgo snacks. But as I fall into those categories, you’d better believe that my pop-tarts and granola bars are already sitting in my suitcase. And my first stop after the plane will be wherever sells me a nice big case of Aquafina. 

Don’t take an Uber when there are only 100 copies of Truthwitch and your friend is really jonesing for one.

Gah, and especially don’t do it when it is rush hour. In New York City. And you have to go through Times Square. Seriously, what were we even thinking!? I still blame myself, even though it wasn’t like Holly was begging to walk there or something. But she read the book anyway, so who even cares? Nevermind, take the Uber.

Don’t Pack Like You’re Running Out of Time

If you’re anything like me, you’ll hate every article of clothing that you bring. Don’t try to overcompensate and bring more stuff though, because you’ll just hate that too. Forget about it, and just think- the fewer clothes you bring, the more room you have for books, and the fewer decisions you have to make! Win! 

Bring along your friends, in spirit and in merchandise!

Look, I wish you could all come with us. But some of you live very, very far away. And it just isn’t possible. So, if you want to really symbolically bring your best blogging buddies along, just throw books in them. Fine, not actually in them, though I doubt they’d mind, but if they happen to make things, you can buy something and then when someone is like “hey, where did you get that amazingly cute and incredibly cute tote?” on the BEA floor, you can pour one out for your homie tell this nice bookish person all about your blogging friends who are left behind (and also, where they can buy the tote. It’s nice to share.) beapost1

I mean, just tell them “It’s designed by Cait!” and they’ll nod wisely, suddenly understanding everything. 

Make a schedule, but know you won’t use it (much).

Making schedules is so very fun! People went pretty much batshit crazy when the first list of books and authors was released (present company included), and ran to their spreadsheets. 

Literally what I envisioned happening on Twitter.

And sure, it’s fun, and nice to have a general idea of what you’re planning to do. But do you really follow it? Nah. I ended up spilling shit on mine the first day and it got pretty gross. And it was fine. But do know if you have something you simply cannot miss, that’s important.

Go ahead, stalk some celebrities.

I mean, don’t follow them to their hotel room or anything, but if you happen to be milling around Julianne Moore’s signing before she comes out because you know when she does things will get crazy, fast… do it. It’s a great way to make friends, because you’ll get a few pictures in before security shoos everyone away, and they will want copies!

IMG_4444 (Copy)

Did anyone really think I wouldn’t be lurking outside of Alma Freaking Coin’s signing? 

Prepare for anything

Last year, it was pretty simple. Granted, I almost missed the last bus into the city, and it was nearly 100 degrees, but hey, minor details. This year… what wasn’t complicated would be a better question. Hotel issues (there was one point during which I had four rooms booked- long story), fighting with people about passes, letters to foreign embassies… there is seriously not a thing about this year that is running smoothly. But, it’s still worth it!

Make sure you meet your bookish friends!

Last year I missed so many people somehow! I think maybe I was overwhelmed, or in my own little bubble, or who even knows? But I didn’t get to see a lot of people, but this year I hope to remedy that. Send out a desperate tweet if you need to, just find your people. 

Don’t be ashamed about sitting in a corner.

I panic sometimes. I get overwhelmed. It’s not great, but it happens. And there were a few times that I just went off in a corner to sit. And it was nice. Take a few minutes to just cleanse your mind if you need to. Get some space, get away from the crowds. Basically, just make sure you remember to take care of yourself, it’s easy to forget to!

There’s some stuff I still don’t know about though! I’ll make a list! Feel free to answer any of these if you are in the know!
  • Different venue so… where are all the Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks located? This is of utmost importance.
  • What the hell is a Reader’s Pass? I still don’t get it.
  • How do I behave like a normal person around authors? Especially the ones who are younger than me and make me sad about my life choices?
  • What color should I dye my hair? I don’t know. I have to dye it because my mom bestowed some nice early grey hair genes on me. It’s like the only genetic thing I got from her, but there it is. This isn’t even really a BEA question, but more of a random one.
  • How does one ship books? I feel like since I am flying this time, I will need to ship the books. But… how?

So, are you joining us in Chicago? I really hope so! If not, just think about like, how tired I will be and how much my feet will hurt or something. You can even wish rain on me, though I’d rather you did not. But I understand. And hey, have you been to Chicago? We can talk about the city in general! 


Posted April 14, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in BEA, Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 71 Comments

71 responses to “Headed to BEA? Stuff I Learned Along the Way!

  1. I am not planning to go to BEA for another 2 years – because you know living in Australia and trying to get to the US is quite a lot of $$ since I won’t just being going to BEA. However I find this so useful. Thanks

    So, least to say, I am not going to bEA. (HEY! That rhymed! Award me, somebody!) Half of me dreams about it? the rest of me is like “NOPE” because I am a shy awkward turtle and free books sound cool, but meeting people and crowds and trying to look intelligent in front of authors = emphatic no. So I shall probably not even dream of this. BUT STIIIIILLL. An event for only BOOKS is just amazing. AFJDSKALDFAJSDKJ
    (And fjkasldjad thank you for the shout out about my store!! :’)

    • AW YAYYYYY I love being a favorite!! 😘

      I feel you with the BEA stuff- I had mixed emotions too. I only made as ass out of myself in front of one author I think (Marissa Meyer though, so kind of a big deal) and only made two enemies (this guy who yelled at Nori, and the dude in the SoHo Teen booth), so it was an overall success maybe? Though I DID spend part of my time barefoot too but… well I don’t think you’d do as many odd things, so you’d be okay 😉

      And THANK YOU for the coffee wishes. NEED. COFFEE. 😀

  3. BEA sounds freaking terrifying- I don’t know if my unfit self will ever be able to survive there, even if I did miraculously get enough money and time off to make it. I will be sitting here seething in envy but absolutely wishing you all the very best. May the odds be in your favour, may your favourite authors sit next to you in cafes, may your most wanted ARCs fall onto your laps without queues! And hug all the other bloggers on my behalf (the ones I like anyway :P)!

  4. I met…nobody last year. Blogger wise I mean. haha It was still fun as I had my sister. Granted, my feet hurt like crazy and I had blisters on the bottom of them like EVERYWHERE. so yeah, those of you who have never been to BEA, just think of that misery! haha

    I really really really want to go to BEA this year. I know, it’s so last minute. Granted, it’s not as far as NYC so I don’t need to fly. It’s really about finding a place to stay at this point, and if my friend, Amy can go with me. So yeah, I’ll update people if I can make it. haha Otherwise, I’m so jealous but I hope you have a grand time.

    As for shipping books, in NYC they had a spot on the bottom floor with boxes and all that stuff. You grab one, fill it up, and helpers taped it for you and weighed it and then you filled out the form and went to an area where people took your form and you paid. The box stayed on a certain side of the area. Does that make sense? haha So yeah, I ended up mailing two boxes last year, one for each day I was there. the ones I didn’t want to mail, I kept in my backpack.


    • Comfy shoes are suuuuch a must. I mean, I won’t like and tell you I didn’t run around barefoot a time or two, because I did. And I had on comfy shoes- but sometimes you’re in the line for Six of Crows and you hear about a galley drop and no one has time for shoes, okay?

      I REALLLLLLY hope you can come this year! And we will hunt you down if you don’t find us yourself 😉

      ALSO- how much was the shipping? Because it seems SO much easier than finding a post office but if it is SUPER expensive… ugh.

      • Oh gosh, I wish I could remember how much. I’d say no more than $20 a box, but again, that is pretty expensive. I just didn’t have much of a choice and no real way of leaving with all my books and finding somewhere else to ship. hah Check out Nicole’s post though – she mentions a local place to mail if you can get from the center to there. I DO hear it’s much cheaper that way. hah


  5. oh I love this post so much! I’m so happy (but jealous) for all my kid blogger friends that are going to the party! 🙂
    I feel like the kid that wants to ask “can I play, can I play” lol
    I long for that day I can finally go and be “brand new and clueless” too 🙂
    These tips are so fun and I bet they’ll be super helpful Shannon! Especially the scheduling and hiatus planning. Kimba asked people to write guest post for her 🙂 “It’s designed by Cait!” yup I can nod in understanding. Love Cait’s designs 🙂

  6. Find the local post office and ship via media mail. If you have Paypal you can search for “paypal ship now” and even print postage at the hotel assuming they can hook you up with a computer/printer and a scale.

    PS: Nicole and I are adamant that we have to meet up this year with you and Val. So plan for that!

  7. This is the first time in years that I won’t be going 🙁 But ALA is right near me so I’m going to that instead.

    For me it was the scheduling when I got back that kicked by butt. I was SO exhausted and booked out lol

    I don’t know the details of the reader’s pass this year but it’s meant for non industry people to be able to attend and get an inside peek – It was on Saturday last year. Every year it changes a little. The first year they had access to the whole event and that was a nightmare – so they changed it to one half of the venue last year. I think it’s still evolving lol

    I always shipped from the nearby PO using media mail. MUCH cheaper and easier than using the BEA shippers in the building. I pack labels and tape so I’m ready to go.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

    • AWW I am so sorry that you’ll be missing it 🙁

      And I agree- when I got back last year, all I wanted to do was sleep! But I had to schedule new posts, and respond to the comments on all the posts I’d scheduled ahead of time… ugh. Such a mess. I swear, I am STILL backlogged because of it!

      SUCH a good tip about the labels and tape! I am absolutely going to do that!! Thank you!! And I hope you have a great time at ALA!

  8. I wish SO MUCH that I could go to BEA this year, but funds were tight because of 1,000 mile move in October and then Baby due in September. Big Guy and I had a lot of plans to go to several conventions this year and we had to put almost all of them on hold. :/ Margh! Well, at least I’ll be DOUBLE looking forward to next years BEA!

    I’ll be a total newbie that year, so I’m already getting a head start on reading BEA advice posts so I don’t flail around like a total weirdo.

    Have such a good time!

  9. Ahh! I wish I could go to BEA this year, but apparently my school doesn’t like me because they decided to schedule final exams the week of BEA. 🙁 Maybe next year though? But these are some amazing tips Shannon!

    And I lived in Chicago for most of my life, so I can safely say that you will not be lacking any Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts while you’re there. 😉 (Unlike New York, because they think they’re too cool for Starbucks. ;))

    • That is so SAD 🙁 Your school is a jerk, if that is possible. BEA is also a LOT earlier this year- next year I don’t think it is until May 31 or something crazy, so hopefully it will work out better!

      And YAY I need coffee! Actually, where we were in NY, there were a few Starbucks along the way, but they must REALLY hate DD because I only saw one the entire time!

  10. I am so damned excited to be going. I am absolutely sure I will make a complete ass of myself, (hopefully it will be like falling up stairs or something and no one i ever want to know will see it). Can I wear like, tee shirts and jeans? What about like holding stations for books I obtain but can’t possible carry around with me all day? How can I seem less obnoxious and more cool around people? Feel free to answer any/all of these questions. I am really looking forward to meeting you in person.

    • I would recommend NOT wearing T-shirts and jeans. Most people dress up kind of business casual or at least cute-trendy casual. I’m confused about the holding books thing too – in previous years they had a place where you could check a rolling tote, but reading the BEA website, they have no mention of that this year. I WILL have my car with me this year (you will too, right?), so I guess we could use our cars if we’re desperate, but it probably won’t be that convenient. Um, I have no idea about the obnoxious thing – honestly, I’m stressing about that myself – I swear, the last couple book events I went to I felt like sort of a flailing mess, so … yeah, no advice.

      I’ve been planning to write a BEA post this week too, so I’ll remember to try to answer these types of questions!

    • Aw Karen, you’ll be FINE. I hid in the corner during our first night there (there was a Teen Author Carnival at a local library, and I lost my shit and hid in the corner- no lie), and I also walked around barefoot, blended in with paparazzi trying to get pictures of Julianne Moore, and got into an actual verbal altercation with a guy in line. Like I said, you’re good 😉

      There is a bag hold place. I didn’t use it last year, but that was stupid of me. This year I think I shall take advantage. Or use Nicole’s car 😀 I think a bit dresser than t-shirt and jeans- think business casual? But it’s also like, artistic people, so you really COULD do jeans or a tshirt- but I probably would do like, a dressy pair of jeans, or a more fitted tshirt, etc. (And I saw people wearing all KINDS of things- including the jeans, so don’t stress too much!) Comfy shoes are a must though!

      I really don’t think you’ll be obnoxious- but remember, we’re all a little weird, so you’ll fit right in 😂 I cannot WAIT to meet you toooooo!

  11. Slightly jealous I won’t be at BEA this year, but I ASPIRE to go next year. Especially since I live so close. If I can wake up super early (lol unlikely, considering a certain sleep schedule), I

    I’ve been hearing so many Uber horror stories lately omg. BRING SNACKS (AND ICED COFFEE!) I make my own iced coffee at my local Quick Chek and it’s practically a sugar rush. Whipped cream and mini marshmallows and chocolate syrup. Okay, losing topic. I’m a terrible packer & scheduler. That Zooey Deschanel GIF is literally me, regarding anything important.

    I KNOW THIS. USPS: Media Mail! I’ve shipped through them frequently before, and they’re inexpensive and quick. Have great fun, Shannon! 😀

    • You MUST come next year!! How close do you live? I live less than 2 hours away, so it was perfect. No flights, etc. Of course, NOW I had to shell out the money for flights, and baggage, and shipping books home, ugh.

      Snacks and iced coffee are KEY. Basically I lived on those. I used to be an awesome packer, but the small humans have derailed me. Now I am still not packed, or ready in any way. Oops? And my only worry with USPS is that I will have to find a place to mail from- and since the conference doesn’t end until like, 5 on Friday, I am worried!

      I really really hope you can come next year!!! Thank you SO much!! 🙂

  12. Silver hair is a thing now. I say you rock the grey, and let those who have to bleach and dye be jealous. 😛
    Have a wonderful time! And ship books USPS media mail (with insurance). They’ll take forever to get to you, but it’s the cheapest option.

    • Bwhahah if it were actually grey I might! But with like, a few random strands, it just looks weird! 😀

      And thank you! I definitely don’t mind waiting, as long as it;s not super expensive and I can reasonably expect them to show up 😉

  13. I am SUPER excited to go! I’ve never been to Chicago (minus the airport). I went to BEA two years ago but couldn’t go last year and am just so excited to see all the bloggers and all the authors and all the books! Snacks are so important. I brought so many things of trail mix and granola bars and fruit snacks. I also really need the answer to where the nearest starbucks is because that will be a necessity. as far as shipping — when I went two years ago, I didn’t ship anything! I checked one large suitcase and had one carry on and all my books fit! (and i had a lot of books)

    • AWW I am so excited that you get to come too!! I have been to Chicago once, about 12 years ago or so, and loved it, so I am excited to go back! And wow- you fit them ALL in your suitcase!? And it didn’t go over the weight limit!? That is my biggest fear. I know they’ll fit, but I don’t want to have to pay the surcharge if they go over the limit because it is a LOT. I hope I see you there!! 😀

  14. I am also terrified of the enormity of BEA. Since it falls ON the days of our state testing, there is no way. Not if I want a job still. I do want to go someday, but I want to have a veteran bloggy friends to run around with. I also think I’ll have to do a changing of jobs if state testing stays in May. I’ve never been to Chicago, but just thinking about it makes me cold!

    • Awww I am sorry 🙁 That is really crappy. (Well, so is the testing in general, but that is a whoollleee different blog post hahah) I do hope that you get to come some time! Next year it’s actually much later- I think it starts on May 31? That could help! And then you could run around with us!! 😀

  15. So many fun tips for BEA Shannon! I would be so overwhelmed with so much to do and so little time! I mean between stalking celebrities, collecting all the ARCs, meeting bloggers and author signings, it seems pretty overwhelming but also like book heaven. Thanks for the recap, I can’t wait to hear about your BEA experience!

    • Aw thanks!! It was a bit overwhelming, but really NOT as bad as I had expected. I was sure that I was going to lose my mind, and I didn’t- only at the author carnival thing, and that is mostly because it was in a tiny un-air conditioned room and it was 98 degrees!

  16. I’m trying to figure out if I should take my tiny suitcase and ship books home (better for public transportation to/from airport) or take a mostly empty big suitcase and carry books home. Opinions?

    • I am kind of wondering the same thing! Last year I got about 64 books, and I took a bus, so I shoved them all in my suitcase, but it was SO heavy- I know it would have gone over any airplane weight limit. I feel like shipping would be a LOT easier, but only if we could find USPS because I think FedEx on site would cost a fortune.

  17. Okay, Shannon, I just acted all stalkery and replied to comments on YOUR post – hopefully you don’t mind me butting in! This is especially ironic since I haven’t found the time to respond to any comments on my own blog. Um, yeah – I have no logical explanation here, except that I’m excited to see who’s coming to BEA!

    As for your questions. Wait, isn’t your hair red? It’s red, right? Or at least reddish? Seriously, I think you should go for a color that’s closest to your Twitter picture because otherwise you’ll totally throw us all off and we’ll walk right past you on the BEA floor! 🙂

    I’m planning on writing a BEA post this week too – two years ago when I went, I was super-organized and researched ALL the BEA tips posts. Not sure I’ll have quite that much time this year, but I’ll definitely link up your post!

    Oh, and did you sign up for Read. Sleep. Repeat’s BEA Dinner? I’m trying to help get the word out about that!

    • Well, they would have missed BEA waiting for me 😂 So no, I do not mind at all hahah. Glad I am not the only one who is wayyyy behind on her blog comments though!

      It isn’t really red, it’s just brown basically, though it does show up reddish in pictures, I have NO idea why- maybe it is the lighting in my room?

      And thanks for linking to mine, that was so nice!!

      I did sign up for their dinner! When is the info about that going out? I am really looking forward to it!!

  18. Reading all your lovely tips here takes me back to my previous years attending *sniff* As much as I told myself that it was ok that I wasn’t going this year because I still have piles of unread ARCs but the closer it gets, the MORE I WANT TO GOOO!! I’m going to miss the insanity, the bloggers, the exhaustion, the excitement and EVERYTHING. I hope it comes to NYC again before I’m old and grey so I can go again LOL! Enjoy Shannon, I shall be living vicariously through you this year ♥

  19. Thanks for sharing some tips, Shannon! I’m going for the first time, and I’m coming all the way from Switzerland. I’m so excited to meet up with fellow bloggers, I can hardly sleep already! I booked my plane ticket and got my passes in September or October last year 🙂
    The reader passes is for the ticketed author events, some authors have those, so that there won’t be too much chaos on the main floor, apparently.
    I really hope we’ll be able to meet, and just in case you want to make sure you know as many bloggers as possible, you can request to be a part of my BEA Facebook Group – it’s open for all BEA bloggers (and some indie authors have been added as well.)
    Three more weeks!!

    • Oh WOW that is wonderful, I am so excited that you’ll be coming! I will definitely check out your Facebook group too- I am like, never ON Facebook, but I will try 😉 I hope we do get to meet! I can’t believe it is so soon, it almost doesn’t feel real.

  20. I had fun reading all this… never mind the fact that I won’t even be there. Bahaha. But my travel dollars are going elsewhere this year. When I have the choice between BEA or sitting poolside with The Husband at our fave resort… yeah, y’all have fun in Chi-Town. *smooches!* Plus, I did AppolyCon in February, I’ll do Sassy in Jacksonville in June and probably Shameless BookCon in October. I know none of them are BEA, but I’ve got my book game covered. 🙂 Still jealous of all of you who will be there. But Chicago is soooo far from FL. Whaaa!

    • Awww I am actually kind of jealous of the poolside with someone you like thing! 😂 Chicago is also far from Pennsylvania, but… Idk. I wasn’t even sure I was going to go, because it is NOT as easy as taking the bus was! But then I convinced myself that I would try to get a press pass to offset the cost. That was a comedy of errors, and a LONG story, but hopefully worth it! And I hope you enjoy the pool AND the other events!!

  21. I will of course be taking all your learned lessons to heart. Especially the hiatus. Which I seem to have no problems with already. 😉

    i can definitely understand how snacks would be essential after waiting in lines and walking somewhat all day in a crowded, probably hot place.

    I’m so glad that I know exactly what I’m packing, haha. So I’m not worried about that, fortunately. I don’t even think my suitcase will be full. I could probably take just a bookbag at this point. Ha.

    Ah, the schedule advice. So it’s true. They don’t really help, but just give you more of an idea. That’s fine with me since my schedule is quite empty atm. And even for the things I have on there I’m like “Meh”.

    I fully intend on stalking Jamie Lee Curtis down at BEA. Oh my gosh, I just found out she had a little cameo in the Veronica Mars movie, omg.

    Blah, this BEA year preparation was totally sucky and this was only my first time, ha. Lessons learned though.

    I will most likely be found in corners at times.

    Okay, so with the young authors, SURE they may have written a book or two or five, but have they spawned small HUMANS THEMSELVES? NOPE! No small humans for them. Not everyone can spawn small humans. Especially not two that are as adorable as yours. 😉 Granted, you could spawn humans and then made different life choices, but that is also very “Meh”. Not sure how well that helps, but yep!

    Dye your hair blue.

    • I bet a lot of them HAVE spawned humans though. Like, probably most of them? They always thank their kids and their loving spouses in the back of the book, and I always get salty and give them the side eye 😂

      Mildly stalking celebrities is always a win. I mean, Julianne Moore did not have her day ruined by me, I did not… well do spoilery things that I won’t tell you about from Mockingjay, although seriously, read the book. Plus, a ton of our childhood heroes will be there! Ann M Martin, Kristi Yamaguchi, Judd from The Real World (okay, that last one is playing fast and loose with “hero”, but you get the gist).

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