Sadly, I did not make it to BEA this year. But all is not lost because I’ll be at The Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival for my third year in a row. Book festivals and conventions have a lot in common and one of those things are the tips I would give people who are planning to attend them. So what I want to do today is share with you some of the things I’ve learned from going to these events over the years.
You can’t go into any of the larger book events without a plan. I’m not being dramatic, these events are intense and they will eat you alive if you don’t plan.
- Print out your schedule ahead of time and decide which events during the Con or Fest you want to attend and check that they don’t overlap. Then make back ups. Things happen so make sure you have a plan B. I personally like to color code my plans. If you’re going with friends make sure you discuss and agree on the plan.
- Think about how you’re going to be transporting your books before you even get there. Are you flying? Then you might want to bring an extra empty carry-on or ship them from the event to your front door. Are you taking a train? Keep in mind any problems that may come from having large, bulk pieces of luggage. Driving? Well you really only have to worry about everything fitting in the car so you should be fine.
- Business cards. Let me tell you, as a blogger/booktuber/bookstagramer/etc business cards are a must. Make sure you have them and make sure they look nice. You can even make your own with Word’s templates and some business card stock. Last year at TBF I ran out, making people write down your info can be a drag and doesn’t make you seem organized and enthused. Make sure you have them and that you have enough.
- How are you getting food? Does your hotel have breakfast? Food trucks and convention food are expensive so consider alternative options if you don’t want to do that. Pack a lunch you can keep in your bag or a cooler kept in your car. Also bringing a refillable water bottle is a good idea.
- Make lists. Which books can you not leave without? I always know ahead of time which books to buy while I’m there for each author I’m going to see.
- Have a backup phone battery or pack your phone charger into your purse or bag. Your phone will die, these events are data and battery black holes. Seriously.
Event Dress Code
- Check the weather before hand so you know weather you need lighter or warmer clothes. Bring a long sleeve or jacket along for chilly Spring or Fall days. Consider if whatever building you’re in might or might not have AC.
- Your shoes will make a big impact on your day. Heels are always a bad idea if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. I don’t recommend boots with flat insoles, flip flops, most sandals or flats either. Arch support is key to comfy feet. Also if your feet get stepped on in line (which always seems to happen to me) you might want a better barrier between you and that shoe than a sandal can give.
- For any event in which you are going to be networking I recommend dressing in business casual. You want to make the impression that you are serious about the industry. I also recommend keeping it comfortable since you’ll be moving around in it all day.
The Event Itself
- Events like BEA are nice because they have bag checks where you can keep dropping your books off throughout the day. Smaller Cons and Fests do not so I’ve taken to carrying around a SMALL rolling suitcase during the signing parts of the day. I mean it when I say small, guys, don’t be the guy with a giant suitcase getting in the way. This eliminates arm and shoulder strain throughout the day.
- Stay hydrated. Nothing will make you feel worse in a giant room full of hundreds or thousands of people than letting yourself get dehydrated.
- Know where you are going. Use your maps as much as possible. These events also often have people who are there to direct you from place to place.
- Roll with the punches. These events are crazy and you just have to go with the flow if you’re going to avoid working yourself up into a state. Remember your manners, authors and pubs are watching and they will notice you if you’re more calm and adaptable than if you are rabidly running around because you didn’t get what you wanted. It’s fine, relax.
- These events are for networking as much as they are for getting books and getting them signed. Chat in line. Socialize with other bloggers, youtubers, librarians or other industry professionals. This is difficult if you have social anxiety like I do but it really helps in the long run.
So that’s what I got for you, I hope these help for whatever event you’ll be attending in the coming months.
Got any of your own? Share them!