As you may know, I went to BEA (Book Expo America) this year! AND IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME.
I’m going to be doing a couple of posts about this trip.
Here’s how I am going to break it down:
1)This post is my wrap up/summation of my Blogger Con experience. Here I will tell you what it was like and what I thought of the BEA Blogger Conference!
2) I’ll do a separate post wrap up about BEA itself and what I learned. I’ll post any tips I have and what tips I read that actually panned out.
3) OBVS I’ll also do a book haul, but I’m thinking this will be a video on my BookTube channel.
4) I’ll also do a post talking about my trip and all the touristy shenanigans we got up to.
SO HERE WE GO.
If you spend much time on the bookternet, you’ll already know all about BEA. However, if you don’t I’ll fill ya in. Book Expo America is the largest publishing trade event in North America. Here publishers, authors, and related vendors come to show off their upcoming titles and authors. This event is attended by people that work in the industry, such as librarians, educators, booksellers, publicists, publishers, authors, the press, and yes, BLOGGERS! A recent addition to this event is the the BEA Bloggers Conference.
BLOGGER CON 2015
My parents and I arrived in NYC the day before BEA began. It was pretty great! We became super tourists, and also made our way to the Javits Centre! We figured out how to get to and fro from our loggings! That helped the next morning so I wasn’t as stressed out 🙂 That being said… being not as stressed out doesn’t mean not stressed out. But I’ll get to that in a second.
The first day of BEA is Blogger Con. This is a conference devoted to us lovely bloggers and how to make our spaces better. This was held in “Hall A” of the Javits Center. I knew this and had a rough idea of where this was from out visit the previous day. However, my knowledge of its location was “down that hallway.” We didn’t go all the way down the hallway in our pre-show visit because, well, we were tired and hallway was long. I thought it would be okay though. Down the hallway. Hall A. Easy enough.
The day of the show, either we didn’t get up early enough or we miscalculated how long it would take us to get there (we stayed in Brooklyn), or whatever, but in any case, I was running late. Never having been, I didn’t know if this was going to be a big deal or not. To air on the side of caution, I decided to freak out just in case. Since I was freaking out, I lost most of my common sense and logic. I went down this hallway and frantically looked around for “Hall A.” I had no idea what this looked like. Was it a room? Is there a SIGN? WHERE DO I GOOOOOO. After a while of spinning around and looking like an idiot (no one asked me if I needed any help, by the way), I noticed a sign in the distance that had the word “bloggers” on it. It was obscured by an escalator and other signs promoting an ALA conference. Or was it ABA? Or AAP? I don’t know it was an American Association of some kind. I sped over to the registration table… And got my badge. And then went inside the big room behind the table. And then got a coffee. And a pastry. And it was really chill.
But then, BUT THEN, I turned around to the greater room… and there were dozens of round tables surrounded by bloggers chatting with one another. I mean I saw these when I came in but I was mostly focused on the promised coffee and continental breakfast. When I took in all the people, I became painfully aware of the fact that I am not a social being. Not really in person (like right then, eeps!) and also I haven’t been that much online. These people were meeting up with FRIENDS. I didn’t have any there. I didn’t know a soul, online or off. I walked around a bit, pretending to know exactly what I was doing and where I was going. I ended up awkwardly perching on a chair at a half full table. They didn’t talk to me. I didn’t talk to them. But it was okay. I made it. And I had caffeine.
After the initial shock and awkwardness wore off (who am I kidding? It never wore off), I made my way to the panels I thought would interest me. After a while, I looked around and saw that people were taking notes. And they all had the same pamphlet thingy that they were writing in. Where did they get those? And did they all just bring pens with them or something? I didn’t have a pen or anything to write with. So… I just became a sponge of sorts. An easily distracted sponge.
|Hey look! It’s Chritine Riccio from PolandbananasBOOKS!
After that first panel, I went in search of this pamphlet. That mission was a success! I had hoped that they were also maybe giving away pens too? But no such luck. On to the next panel. The panel I had planned to attend was completely full at that point… So I moved on to the other option. During each session they had two different panels going, each on a different “track.” One was aimed more toward beginners and the other a more advanced set. This panel that I went to didn’t really have anything to do with me, and wasn’t really what they made it sound like it was going to be… but it was okay.
After that, it was time for lunch. They handed out $15 lunch vouchers to be used in the food court. And let me tell you, that place was a ZOO. Not only that, but a $15 voucher just barely covered lunch. The food is SUPER pricey (ex. $10 for a premade tuna salad sandwich). And just so so, really.
One of the best things about the day was that Amanda Nelson of Book Riot was moderating a panel. I love the YouTube videos she does for BookRiot! She just seems so funny and nice and quirky. We don’t seem to have exactly the same taste in books, but I’ve definitely got some great recommendations from her! Before and after the panel I was tweeting about it (obvs) and my excitement. As it turned out, she read my tweets and recognized me from my picture! Afterward she came over to say hi and hugged me! Obviously my brain fell out and I lost all ability to form sentences and move my facial muscles, but the next panel started so I didn’t embarrass myself too much. But I also didn’t have the opportunity to redeem myself… She probably thought I was nuts… ANYWAY, she was really nice and it was AWESOME.
At the end of the sessions, there was a sort of a drinks and networking hour. Although, it was more like a half hour… Anyway. At the end they were doing a galley (book) giveaway. THIS WAS A HUGE UNORGANIZED MESS AND I WAS NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT. Apparently they had more books last year to give away. And apparently there were not enough copies of each book for everyone to have one. Etc, etc. But instead of implementing any organization or guidelines or limitations, they were just like, the books are back there. And it was a MAD DASH. And people just grabbed anything and everything. There were people coming out of that mess with at least 15 books, and just grinning. While people like me stood back from the beast and waited for an opportunity to get even one book… I was pleased and lucky to be able to grab three.
Overall it was a great opportunity to learn and to network! I’d heard mixed things about this in previous years, but I enjoyed it this year. There were some things that I already knew, or didn’t care to know, but I thought on the whole it was a decent experience. However, there is definitely room for improvement. One thing that I decidedly did not like was that Blogger Con overlapped with the opening exhibit hall hours in the afternoon. Apparently in previous years Blogger Con was on a separate day. I think that is a much better idea! Do you want bloggers to actually attend your conference in the afternoon? And be happy about it? THEN DON’T MAKE THEM CHOOSE. I think it would also be a good idea to survey the bloggers that attend to see what they liked, didn’t like, etc, and what they would like to see in the future. Because we’re the ones paying to attend, and we’re the ones it is supposed to benefit. But, like I said, I did enjoy it this year overall
I had spent most of the day hopping about by myself, but I did end up making some friends by the end of it! I met the wonderful girls of Lovely Literature and they were kind enough to let me tag along with them. After the drinks/end of day thing, there was still some time left of exhibit hall hours! So, we made our way upstairs and poked around. It was great!
If you’re a blogger and are thinking of attending BEA 2016, I definitely do recommend giving Blogger Con a try. It may be hit or miss at times if you learn something, but you’ll definitely meet some other bloggers!
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.