Event Tips, Recap & Giveaway: BookExpo & BookCon 2019
Let me start by saying it is always such a privileged to attend BookExpo and BookCon and I couldn’t be more thankful for that opportunity. This year had so many amazing moments that I try and capture in words & photos below.
Now that event tickets are available for 2020, I wanted to give you all a chance to read what my experience was like and share some tips and pointers for what you can expect.
I also have a fun giveaway for my readers, you’ll have to read to the bottom to enter! There will be a rafflecopter to fill out due to the usually large amount on entries this recap usually garners.
I of course have to apologize for my late recap, I have found myself with this post practically written but then awaiting for my books to arrive, I just never finished choosing the giveaway, and then I turned to preparing for SDCC, and now I feel like a damn ass for never posting…so I hope you all like the giveaway.
BookExpo/BookCon Tips & Tricks
I have my fair share of mega author events under my belt. BookCon, BookExpo, YallWest, YallFest, ApollyCon, SDCC…and many more! So I am going to bring you some tips from this tried and true, signed book obsessed, old head blogger.
- Get as much scheduling information ahead of time as possible. A lot of the publishers will release their schedules a few days before and however you organize yourself best, be prepared for new things to pop up and try and squeeze into your schedule.
- The daily show mags from Publisher’s Weekly have a lot of good information from the publishers and the event. Publishers will usually have a hand out of the scheduled signing and giveaways as well.
- Make a list for each day, make sure you decide what is the most important accomplishment for yourself, prioritize, then have a backup plan for that same timeline.
- Pay attention and have contingency plans. Do not rely on the pre-published schedule because things always change. I try and hit the big booths first and grab their schedule handouts as well.
- Be prepared to wait in long lines and prepare for disappointment as you can’t get everything or do everything you want even after waiting in a line for it.
- Be ready to wake up early and start you line standing!
What to Bring
- Bring snacks and a refillable water bottle. There is plenty of food to be purchased, but it is expensive and not very good quality. Plus standing in food lines is taking away from standing in ARC drop lines.
- SNEAKERS or the most comfortable walking/standing shoes you own. My feet are always wrecked after the 4 days on a concrete floor. Nothing I have done or worn has made it better by the time it is over.
- Bring a good tote bag, or a large comfortable book bag. Nothing can roll on the floor (without disability approval). So be prepared to haul around heavy books all day.
- Bring an empty large suitcase or bag for Bag Check. Last year they changed the bag check rules in the middle of the event, so be prepared to possibly have to pay each time to actually dump books into your checked bag.
- Do not bring books to BookExpo unless it is a very specific author and they already OK’d outside books (and trust me you will get plenty there and carrying around extra books is a pain) and read the rules very carefully about books to bring to BookCon. Some autographing folks have very strict rules. Be prepared for those rules to change at the time of the event too (I have experienced in the past, when they changed the rules of having to make a purchase in line to see the author).
- Bring a poster tube! I always do this now, and it makes a big difference, even if I go home with no posters.
- Bring a sharpie as you may run into authors on the show floor who may be willing to sign for you outside of their booths or time slots. PLEASE ask nicely and don’t interrupt them if they are already doing something else. Common sense and courtesy goes a long way.
- Be selective. I know there is so much stuff, and a lot of it is free, but think about how many books can you truly read, travel with, ship home, pack in your suitcase, or will you truly read it in advance, and never ever take duplicates unless the book people are throwing them at you (yes this happened to me once at the end of the event it was take them or they are hitting the trash…seriously).
BookExpo 2019 Recap
Day 1 – Wednesday May 29th
I arrived in NYC on Tuesday late afternoon, and just hung out and vegged with my friends. We did some early planning and had some vegan food for dinner to celebrate my birthday.
I kicked off Wednesday bright an early braving NYC rush hour to have breakfast with the folx at Novl at the Hachette offices. We were treated to food and coffee and got to meet the crew behind The Novl. They had a speed dating type event with editors and designers for upcoming titles. I love these types of small group connections which allow you to ask questions and get insight into the publishing process.
Once the speed dating was over we were blessed with an introduction to Brandy Colbert, and her book cover branding from designer Marcie Lawrence, which I absolutely love. Then Brandy talked a about her books and process. She then took some questions, and I asked her if she played an instrument, like Yvonne from Finding Yvonne. She didn’t play the violin, but she definitely put a lot of research into her characters, and her books. I loved learning that, and having that insider knowledge was really fun.
Brandy then signed ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of her upcoming title The Revolution of Birdie Randolph. The Novl also made a gorgeous instagram worthy backdrop and took a photo of the whole group!
I hustled to Javits Convention Center for the 12pm floor opening, in hopes to get a coveted ticket for the Leigh Bardugo in-booth signing of her upcoming ADULT book Ninth House. Leigh is one of my FAV authors so it was a huge priority for me, yet, I had already resigned myself to be OK if I didn’t get an ARC at this one and only opportunity. I didn’t push or run, I did walk swiftly, and went directly to the Macmillian booth, which I had already planned out my route and studied the floor map. I then found myself in a long line … and Friends … I got an ARC! Not many people behind me did … maybe 5-10 people at most. Luckily, Macmillian counted it off really quickly so people could go on with their show floor drops.
Sidenote: Please don’t ask me for it…it’s personalized to me and nothing in my control will take it away from me. Also, it’s crass to ask anyone for their copies of any book they own or show off on social media. This happens to me all the time. If I am offering books or ARCs, which I do, I will say so, like in this post’s giveaway.
The rest of the day was really awesome. I am so happy we have a half day back in the schedule. I do think it was pretty chill because a lot of attendees didn’t know they added a show floor day back into the schedule. Personally, we had to add a hotel night onto our reservations, because we were not expecting it when we made our initial reservations, but we were not missing out on the Wednesday festivities.
Highlights were meeting Phil Stamper, Meg Cabot, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Maya Motayne.
Wednesday night I was invited to the Quirk Books’ BookExpo Celebration at a really cool bar, The Wayland, where the drinks, food, and atmosphere was perfect for the ghastly story performed by Clay McLeod Chapman, the author of the upcoming book The Remaking.
Day 2 – Thursday May 30th
Today was the first full show floor day, and of course all the booths drop the most excellent things at exactly when the show opens. Today’s top priorities are The Storm Crow by Kayln Josephson, The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy, How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters, Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman, Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi, and Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite.
Today was a great day on the floor. I weaved in and out of signings, in-booth and in the autographing area. It was really fun! I knew today was author signing heavy and so that was where I focused all my time. I also got to meet a lot of online blogger friends, some old some new, as well as a bunch of bookstagrammers whom I adore, and they are just as awesome in real life.
I was very excited with the DC INK and DC Zoom line launches at BookExpo! Lots of authors you may know and recognize are now writing awesome comic book characters! Super excited for these and what’s to come!
Day 3 – Friday May 31st
Friday was by far the most hectic day. It was also a shortened day with the floor closing at 3pm instead of 5pm. I really do like the new scheduling and I hope they keep it this way (UPDATE: they are not keeping this timing, it will be 2 full days Thursday & Friday). It made way for multiple publishing parties on Friday night, even though I bailed on the late one, because I was exhausted.
Friday highlights were definitely all Macmillin. They had the best lineup and made it very hard to see all the authors, but I managed to see Jennifer Armentrout, Cora Carmack (due to a friend giving me her ticket – which made me late for the Fierce Reads Blogger event – but RAGE is worth it!), and best of all was getting to witness the buzz for debut author Tamsyn Muir and get a signed ARC of Gideon the Ninth.
I was really impressed with the diverse authors and titles at BookExpo this year. Each year there are more and more offerings, and I am so thrilled that not only is publishing making these titles more available but they are promoting them at these massive events. The selection is getting so big that they are bringing in professionals and readers who are solely interested in these diverse books and my heart was full.
Funny thing though, I heard a lot of librarians (like each and every day) complaining that YA was too big a focus at the expo and their libraries don’t really fund YA titles. So me with my big mouth, of course asked how many YA titles they do buy a year, and the answer was minimal. So I said if you don’t buy them, then of course no one will be interested in the section of the same books that you’ve been offering for the last 10 years. Readers aren’t going to read the exact same books over and over to make your YA section worth while. I believe the saying goes, “IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME.”
I did had some real issues with Javits though. So every year I have been going to BookExpo there has always been a bag check, and included in the cost was the ability to do drops to your bag. Since no rolling bags or carts or anything are allowed on the floor, this bag drop has been the only thing allowing me to physically be on the show floor for a full day. To be ABLE to drop off books into my checked bag has been a lifesaver for my specific disability.
Books are heavy, and every year prior at the bag drop the attendants allowed you to enter and deposit items into your bag. Well on day 3 of the show, the Javits decided to change their policy. LIKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOW!!! So on Friday in order to drop items in my bag, I had to repay for the bag check EACH TIME. If this was always the policy then fine, but you can’t make these kind of changes in the middle of the expo. I was furious. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the policy. The bag drop is one of the only accessible things the show had going in its favor. Books are heavy, and this is an expo about books, how can BookExpo allow the convention center to change their policies on the last day, and of course it stayed that way for the 2 days of BookCon.
Also, I think what exacerbated this issue, and caused the change in policy, is a lot of the attendants this year, tried to haul your bag out to you. They did this instead of allowing a few people to enter at a time to deposit books into their bags, where they are stored. If they just stuck to what worked in the past, not having the attendants haul bags in and out of the area, everything would have been easy. Plus I am pretty sure these attendants are used to working with coats, and suitcases of books are not the same as coats. The Javits Center needs to do better next year. I propose they charge one larger fee, and allow us to drop as many times as we want, and allow the people to do their own drops, check the tags, let only a few in at at time to protect other people’s bags, and be done with it.
So BookCon is a whole different experience. Since I tend to get all the books I could ever want and need at Expo, I tend to go to BookCon just for the authors. The authors signing at BookCon are usually different than the authors who have been to Expo. Plus, BookCon brings in more celebrities which is usually fun to see! Also, I have mad props for the changes over the years at BookCon, there are so many diverse authors these days, and I swear my Saturday was filled with (almost) all queer authors! It really makes it worth it for me to brave the immense crowds of the general public that the Con brings.
Of course this is my take, since I only do a few things during BookCon, I can’t speak to all of the other stuff. I don’t go for giveaways or ARCs at the Con, I literally hang out mostly in the autographing area, with my signing tickets and visit some of the authors who open their lines to those without tickets.
This year I was thrilled to get to meet and get signed books by Tegan & Sara, Mason Deaver, Kacen Callender, CB Lee, and Sandhya Menon. My friend was also stuck in Rainbow’s line so I took her ticket and got her books signed by Victoria Schwab, which was great since I was wearing a Jordanene As Travars shirt, and I didn’t even plan it that way!
Also huge thanks to Penguin Random House for inviting me to the bookstagrammer ice cream social! I had a lot of fun taking photos and meeting other bookstagrammers!
I did not stay for Sunday’s events because I was just too exhausted especially since I went to see Bikini Kill on Saturday night and went right home afterwards with my spouse.
Things I was not a fan of this year…most of all the author signings at BookCon required you to buy a book or preorder an upcoming title. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me, but this event is more geared towards teens and the general public, and you know what is expensive, going to BookCon, getting your two author signing tickets (free), but having to buy a book you may already own just to get in that line, or preordering a book and PAY SHIPPING for that book, and for it to not even be a signed edition, which is the whole reason you are standing in that line to begin with is to get a signed book from your favorite person or author. I can 100% guarantee that next I will not pay a preorder price plus a ridiculous amount of money to have a non-signed book shipped to me more than a week after it was released.
I do love the ticket system in advance, in years past it was like a running event to try and get wristbands for authors for signings, and clearly this wasn’t fair or good system especially for the disabled. But honestly I am still mad about this situation, you barely know any details about the signing in advance, and in some years they turn a free signing into a buy a book situation which also sucks (says you don’t have to buy a book, into a you MUST buy at book on the day of – SO WRONG!). Or how there are details like TBD, for example a celebrities book isn’t out yet, and they have strict signing rules, and you aren’t giving away their ARC, then you need to not force people to buy their book ahead of time just to get in their line.
So yes some of the new things that occured this year at BookExpo and BookCon did make me mad, and honestly I feel worse for the teens who had strict budgets and choose authors lines who were not going to charge anything extra to meet and get something signed, but then to change the rules on the day of, really hurts those fans.
Will I see you at BookExpo or BookCon this year?
Or leave a meaningful comment about the post, our experiences, or your event experiences! Must leave a comment, and fill out the Rafflecopter in order to be eligible to win.
Open to the US/PR only – Ends 2/7/20. Large Flat Rate Mailing box filled with a mystery group of 2019 & possibly 2020 ARCs, plus swag!a Rafflecopter giveaway