BEA Quick Tips: Dos and Don’ts

BEA-tipsYou’ve got your first first-ever (maybe last ever) trip to Book Expo America coming up, and you are rather overwhelmed. You’re searching the internet rather desperately for tips and yet you’re STILL overwhelmed. Sound familiar?

That was me before my first trip to BEA. Now, going back for a second year, I thought I’d share a few Dos and Don’ts based off my experience there. I hope this helps those of you who are going for your first time… and – BEA veterans – feel free to pitch in your advice if you think I missed something out!


1. Use the BEA bus system!

Even if you aren’t staying at one of the BEA partner hotels, you can use the BEA buses to take you away from the industrial Javitts area and back into civilisation. This was my biggest lesson from last year – and learning it saved me from hours of New York heat exposure!

2. Bring snacks

If you are anything like me, you will be too busy to go to lunch (even if it is only downstairs!). Bring your own snacks with you or hit up the Starbucks on the expo floor.

3. Bring a carry on bag (and check it!)

When everything fizzles down (somewhat) during lunchtime, you can got put away your books in your carry-on bag and head back up for more!

4. Use the BEA app to plan your trip BEFOREHAND

The BEA app is filled with info about author signings, talks, books – you name it! It is the perfect way to plan what to prioritize (especially if it turns out one of your favourite authors is ticketed!)

5. Be a chatty Cathy

Even if you are visiting with people you know, make sure you chat to your fellow attendees. You never know who you might run into in line and you never know what great tip will be thrown your way!



1. Take the subway!

Jarvitts is a long, long walk for the nearest subway stop and there are no tall buildings provide shade! Be smart and use the BEA buses.

2. Rely on the internet for everything

There are a lot of events at BEA that you will ONLY find out about through fliers and the daily Publishers Weekly about goings on at the Expo (it’s also an awesome souvenir!).

3. Queue jump

Nothing will get you glared at more than jumping a queue – even accidentally! This is easily done at BEA, where the lines zig zag all over the place. So make sure to take a good look around for a line whenever you see an author signing. There may be a queue of hundreds around the corner!

4. Bring bags or books with you

It’s like bringing water to the ocean: 3000% unnecessary! You will be getting all the books and tote bags you will ever need, so there’s no need to be adding any extra weight!

5. Don’t be shady

BEA is an amazing experience because of the people, not because of the books. Be as nice and helpful as you can be – and you will be repaid with kindness. So do as Mother Ru asks:

Don't be throwin' no Shade - RuPaul


But above all, make sure to have fun at BEA 2014! I hope to see you there!!

What a Rush! – the (Belated) April/May Wind-up

May/April Win-upIn this month’s (double) wind-up: BEA-palooza, books continue to glare, and Marissa Meyer does the best version of Little Red Riding Hood known to man. 

The Events

April and May were the best months of my literary year: not only did I get to meet the brilliant Michael Grant, I also attended Book Expo America. My recaps of these events were numerous and detailed. Check them out:

The Reads

My favourite book of the past two months was – by far – Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I don’t know WHY I haven’t reviewed it yet, as I had so many overwhelmingly positive feelings about it. (Although, same goes for The Fault in Our Stars, which I am still trying to work out how to review coherently.) Scarlet came off of my April TBR pile and made everything else I picked up pale in comparison.

In May, I set out to read a whole tonne of books that were the final installments in my favourite series. Out of the TBR pile, I finished off the Vampire Academy series, the Soul Screamers series and… that’s it. I blame BEA for distracting me so thoroughly from this noble attempt of mine!! Still, I feel very good about having Last Sacrifice off of my TBR pile. That book has been glaring at me for years now.

The Non-bookish (ahem, TV)

I’ve been loving Elementary and Game of Thrones these past few months. The former I had hoarded on my computer awaiting my trip to New York – it was a great, Sherlockian preview of the city. As for Game of Thrones, who isn’t watching that? No really, if you aren’t watching it, let me know so that I can convince you of the error of your ways.

Summer Shorts - Dead Book DarlingSummer Shorts

I had some very intense exams early June, hence the slow postings, but I shall be on full-time this summer starting with the return of the Summer Shorts. This is my weekly summer feature (every weekend, July and August), in which I review fantastic YA and Speculative Fiction short stories. The 2013 edition of Summer Shorts will have a bit of extra engagement in it, so look out for how you can participate!

BEA 2013: the book haul

As I mentioned, I picked up a lot of books at BEA. So many so that I had to make Many. Tough. Choices. about which would go where: some went with me to France, some went to my mother’s house and some were left in London for when I go back. These photos were taken the one and only time all these books will ever be together: in the NYC hotel room! So, apologies in advance for the low quality.

Let’s break this down, shall we? Links all go to goodreads and hearts denote the books I am most looking forward to!

Young Adult:

Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi:

Middle Grade and Graphic Novels:


Misc Adult Fiction:


  • United We Spy (Gallagher Girls, #6) by Ally Carter (signed)
  • Prodigy (Legend, #2) by Marie Lu (signed)
  • Unhinged (Splintered, #2) by A.G. Howard

Well, that took an eternity and a half to put together. Out of all the books I picked up, I took only 15 back with me to read over the next month or so – let me know if you want to know which!

BEA 2013 Recap (Part II): a tale told (mostly) in instagrams

Book Expo America a.k.a. When 90% humidity, sleep deprivation and hours in line can’t stop you from having the time of your life.

So, remember how I said I knew what to expect from BEA going in? Well, when the time came to actually go in, all of that disappeared from my brain. I wandered in 1000% lost and thank god I just stumbled into the right signing line, otherwise I might still be roaming Javits. But it only took me an hour or so to get accustomed to the layout and pretty soon I was darting all over the place.

This, I would soon discover, would become my life for the next 3 days. I was on my feet 9-5 thanking God that there was a Starbucks on the convention floor. I was powered by adrenaline and caffeine – and the kilos of books on my shoulders meant nothing. It was friggin’ Disneyland.

One of the best things about BEA: the bloggers. I met the lovely Mara (Girls in Capes) that first day, who introduced me to both Susan (Read This, Eat That) and Feliza. It was a lot easier to approach publishers in pairs, so some of the best publisher experiences I had were with them and Tania (Literary Cravings). (Excluding one awesome argument about Sansa Stark over at Source Books – nothing gets the blood boiling better than the Game of Thrones!)

So, yes, you do have to stand in line a lot at BEA – but that is one of the best parts. It gives you an opportunity to talk to fellow book lovers, learn the gossip, find out about books that you might not have otherwise heard of, exchange ARCs and, well, have someone watch your bag while you pop over to grab a coffee and/or publisher. Seriously, people, even if you aren’t British, you’ll quickly love the BEA queuing.

I followed the advice online and checked a bag the first afternoon. On days 2 and 3 I made sure to bring along a wheelie bag as I had to walk a lot after the convention to get back to my hotel and on to the theatre. NYC may be walkable, but it was rather like walking in an oven while carrying your own coffin. 

… I don’t do well in the heat.

Anyhow, I met so many authors while I was there they’ve actually rather blurred in my mind. Though I know the US often sends dozens of authors out on tour together, we have nothing like that in the UK. To see 2 or 3 at once is highly unusual – but at BEA? Well, Harlequin had Elizabeth Scott, Julie Kagawa, Amanda Sun, Katie McGarry and Dawn Metcalf together not once, but twice. That’s kinda amazing

So, for the record, I met: Victoria Schwab (super lovely), Amanda Sun (super, super lovely), Richelle Mead (!!), Ally Carter, Brandon Sanderson, Maria V. Snyder, Jonathan Maberry, Eve Silver, Teri Brown, Holly Black, Anna Jarzab, Leila Sales, Jennifer Castle, Sarah Dessen (!!), Marie Lu, Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan, Elizabeth Scott (sweetest person ever), Amy Tintera, Ellen Datlow, Alice Hoffman, Kendare Blake, Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young, Romily Bernard, Lauren Myracle, Dan Krokos, Elizabeth Norris, Katie McGarry, Dawn Metcalf, Dot Hutchison, Ted Dekker, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, Julie Kagawa, Sean Williams, Deborah Noyes, Michael Pocalyko, Amy Herrick, Faith Erin Hicks, Sarah Jio, and Tyler Whitesides.

*wipes brow*

In case you hadn’t noticed: I had an amazing time. I met so many amazing people and would highly recommend that you all give it a go sometime – whether as a blogger or as a power reader. However, I’m also glad I took the evening off from author events: it gave me much-needed time away from the chaos and the opportunity to bleed money on Broadway (Matthew Broderrik! David Hyde Pearce! I couldn’t possibly keep away.)

BEA 2013 Recap (Part I): the infamous Book Blogger Conference

The infamous Strand Bookstore, NYC

The infamous Strand Bookstore, NYC

The Intro

So, this year I attended Book Expo America for what will likely be my first and only time. Living across an ocean is a bit of a barrier – to put it mildly. This trip was also a big holiday for me and my mother (who found a conference of her own while I was at BEA), so it also featured plenty of Broadway, museums, trips to The Strand (which was a-ma-zing) and cocktails!

I went into the Expo expecting a lot of different things: I knew it would be overwhelming, I knew I’d meet a lot of bloggers and I knew people got a little crazy. All of that was true – and all of it was amazing. I met so many amazing bloggers, publishers and authors – (almost) all of them generous with their time and knowledge. Even the few not-quite-perfect experiences I had were quite mild. In short: my experience at BEA was wonderful and I was this close to setting up camp on the expo floor.

Now, on to the recap!

Day 1: Book Blogger Conference

Despite the criticisms I’d read about the last Book Blogger Conference, I decided to give the convention a go. I figured the organisers would have learned from the extensive feedback they’d received and – after checking to see that a bunch of bloggers would be on the panels – I knew the conference could be quite entertaining.

I was kinda nervous turning up the first day as I didn’t know anyone else in attendance. But I quickly found that a lot of people were in a similar situation. It didn’t feel clique-y at all, and I managed to chat with a lot of different bloggers – some of whom I’d heard of, some of whom I hadn’t. It was a great intro to the convention, I thought.

The keynote talk – delivered by Will Schwalbe – started off really well. As a former head of some of the Big Six publishers, I was rather touched when he credited bloggers for saving the book industry. It was an exaggeration, sure, but a nice one. But then the room got rather tense when he criticized negative reviews (which, as Thea from The Book Smugglers put it later that day, should really be called “critical reviews”). I wasn’t too pleased, but as it was such a small part of his overall talk, it didn’t affect my overall positive opinion of the keynote.

Next up: decision time. The convention separated into Adult and YA and, as someone who reads and reviews both, I was super conflicted. In the end, I decided to head to the Adult Editors Insight panel and then go over to the YA Blogger panel. But once in settled into the first room I discovered – via twitter – that they were giving out a tonne of YA galleys in the other room. In the Adult room? One galley – which I really wanted, but those copies went fast! Luckily I picked up some of the YA titles when I went to the next session but most were already gone. I was later told that quite a few people at the YA panel had grabbed 2/3 copies of the same book while other people were still waiting in line, so I wasn’t the only one who missed out.

Anyhow, I enjoyed the Adult Editors panel – but, in retrospect, I realise that the panel should have been called a “buzz panel”. The editors offered no “insight” about how they work with bloggers, or how they view bloggers within their professional arena, but they did give me a bunch of titles to add to my goodreads wishlist.

The YA Blogger panel, on the other hand, was exactly what I was hoping for. The bloggers on the panel – Cindy from Nerdy Book Club, Thea from The Book Smugglers, and Danielle from There’s A Book –  gave examples of the types of posts they do; talked how much work they put into their blogs; discussed critical reviews, the pressures of blogging, ARCs and other topics that were actually relevant to bloggers. Thea made some of the best points, I thought – probably because she said out loud everything I agree with: you are under no obligation to review a book, blog because you enjoy reading, and if you hate a book write a critical review – somebody has to.

After lunch, however, things went downhill.

The afternoon started with an ethics panel, chaired by Jane (from Dear Author). I expected great things from this, as I have always found Jane’s posts about the various legal issues surrounding blogging and publishing to be extremely informative. And while Jane was very well spoken and made many good points, I was very disappointed with the panel. For starters, the speakers didn’t seem to understand book blogging at all. They didn’t understand what an ARC was and, as such, gave what I believe to be incorrect information about the legal guidelines surrounding their receipt. (The Book Smugglers cover this in their BEA recap here.)

There was some interesting discussion about copyright of book covers – at least, interesting to this LLM student – but it wasn’t even remotely useful. Telling bloggers that they could be sued when we all know they never will be sued is completely useless. Also, considering the title of the panel included the word “Ethics”, I was hoping for more discussing about the grey moral areas of book blogging. Instead, it was all about FTC disclaimers.

The panels in the afternoon were even worse. I attended “Taking Your Online Presence Offline” which – as you’ll see from my tweets – was beyond bizarre. It was basically a promo panel for independent booksellers. All well and good, but not appropriate for the convention. I left early and didn’t bother attending the “Blogging Platforms” session – mostly because Aja’s tweets about it made me think I’d explode from a mad rage if I went in.

Bryant Park on one of the many horrifically hot days BEA fell on.

Bryant Park on one of the many horrifically hot days BEA fell on.

Then came “Extending the Reach of Your Blog Online”, which would have been so much better if it hadn’t mainly featured app developers and publishers trying to push their content. I thought that Mandy from The Well-Read Wife made some interesting suggestions about which social media platforms to explore. Many of these were new to me – like Vine, for example, which lets you make/edit/publish 6 second videos and tag them like tweets. The fact that, once again, no one talked about tumblr was both bizarre and disappointing.

To wrap it all up: the infamous speech by Randi Zuckerberg. It was a train wreck – or so I’m told. As she didn’t bring along a laptop (one had to be lifted from the crowd) she started a whole 30 minutes late. I stayed for the first few minutes then slipped out because a) nothing she said was at all relevant to me, and b) I had NYC to take advantage of! The one and only good thing about her talk? Chatting with the lovely Tania from Literary Cravings while we waited. So… thanks, Randi?

Bottom line: the conference was a great chance to meet other bloggers and to hear BNF bloggers discuss how they work and what they recommend. There was, unfortunately, a lot of industry-focused talk that felt like advertising and a disturbing amount of criticism of critical reviews. I really hope newer bloggers in attendance didn’t take that to heart!

Tune in tomorrow for the rest!