If you’ve been following BiblioSmiles since last year, you’ll probably remember the barrage of posts Gabriele, Alyson, Kim, and I wrote after attending the first ever BookCon at The Javits Center here in New York City. We had a blast! (You can read my recap here.)
I’ll be heading back this year, and I’m even more excited. Last year’s BookCon was tacked on to the final day of BEA (Book Expo America), a trade show for publishers, booksellers, librarians, and various industry members. This year? BookCon is an entirely separate event. I can’t wait to see how ReedPOP (the people who pull off the famous New York Comic Con each year) handles this awesome two-day event!
While I don’t have a down-to-the-minute schedule planned for myself (I’m a very laid-back convention attendee, I suppose), I’m sure most of you are packing your days with tons of panels and autographing lines! So as someone who got tired out way too easily last year, I wanted to impart some advice to first-time BookCon goers:
1. Caffeinate beforehand.
Last year in a rush to catch the subway and get to the Javits Center on time, Kim and I decided to forgo our much-needed coffee. “There’s bound to be a Starbucks there,” we said. And oh, there was.
But everyone else had the same idea.
We eventually decided to jump off the line for coffee and jump on the line for the show floor, where we were propelled forward by adrenaline and sheer nerdy delight. But if you’re a slave to your coffee, you’ll be grumpy when that adrenaline wears off. It’s usually when you’re standing in an autograph line full of really eager people.2. Don’t be scared to split up.
Did you come with a group of friends? Yay! The more the merrier. Plus, it’s always nice to have a buddy on hand so you can take a photo with that author you’ve been dreaming of meeting since elementary school. But the BookCon is a BIG event, and I’m sure at some point your friend will want to attend a different panel, or wait on a different line. And you should do it! Alyson wanted to wait on the massive line to see John Green at The Fault in Our Stars panel, and she got to write an incredible post on it. Gabriele attended a children’s author panel and had lots of great stories to tell. Kim and I wandered the show floor and picked up swag, because, face it: who doesn’t like swag? At the end of the day we all had factoids and hilarious anecdotes to share with each other. In that way, we covered a lot more ground than if we stuck together.3. Charge your phone.
Believe me, I know: BookCon is super exciting. As a blogger, and a book lover in general, I wanted to share my experiences on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter right from the start. But all that photo-taking and status-posting? It eats away at your battery life. And like the coffee line, the line to use the charging stations and wall plugs gets very long. You can read Kim’s hysterical (but painfully true) account of her phone battery’s life at BookCon here. So when you’re not using your phone, put it in airplane mode. If you can, bring one of those portable chargers as a backup. And try to experience at least some of the BookCon away from your lenses and screens! There are real authors and publishers here for you to see, IN REAL LIFE. That’s a very cool thing.
4. Pack lightly, but bring a roomy bag.
Listen up. One of my favorite parts of BookCon? The swag! From bookmarks, to buttons, and even some free books (!!), your arms will fill up pretty quickly. Bring only the necessities with you, and let the rest of your bag fill up throughout the day.
(There will also be vendors there that will, aside from books, also probably be selling fancy tote bags.)
5. Meet other book lovers – and network if you can!
This is something I wish I did more of last year. Alyson had made up cute business cards for BiblioSmiles, and we passed out a few throughout the day.
This year I’ll have a whole stack of business cards to hand out. Just think: we’re all in a giant room with tons of people who like the same stuff (books!) as us. We may as well all get to know each other! So even though you’re SUPER FIXATED on meeting Rainbow Rowell, it can’t hurt to smile at the person in front of you in the signing line. Who knows? You might make a new book bestie! Or maybe you’ll find a guest contributor for your blog. The possibilities are endless.And finally:
6. Have fun.
Creating a schedule of signings and panels gets stressful. Waiting on lines for those panels, or waiting on lines for the bathroom, or waiting on lines to get food can get boring. But The BookCon has so many amazing things to offer this year. Even if things don’t quite work out the way you intended – if you miss a signing or can’t get into a panel in the Special Events Hall – don’t let that ruin your day. I guarantee you’ll find something else to be happy about.
I mean, hello! It’s a convention for BOOKS. And if there’s anything that can make us BiblioSMILE, it’s a good book.
Will you be at BookCon this weekend? Let me know! And if you see me there — come say hello!