BEA 2011 Recap (Part 1)
This blog series will be coming to you in three parts. That is primarily because I am long winded and what started out as a highlight reel turned into something much, much longer. Part One will take you through my experiences from Sunday to Wednesday, Part Two will cover Thursday through Saturday, and Part Three will cover some of my overall reflections and lessons learned from the week. You can also see some of my pictures from the week here (there aren’t tons, though, because I was too busy being overwhelmed most of the week to really take pics).
I took a Campus to Campus bus from Ithaca to NYC. It was quite swanky: wi-fi, snacks and beverages, fancy leather seats. Unfortunately it was also very bumpy. And I have motion sickness issues. It took about five hours to get to the city. I took a cab to the place I was staying on the Upper West Side. I had a couple hours to get settled and grab a Metrocard before going out to meet up with a group of bloggers for dinner.
A fairly large group of us went to Pala Pizza; it was delicious, and it was a fun way to start putting faces to names before the rest of the insanity ensued. After dinner, a smaller group of us went out for drinks. This turned into nomadic wandering in search of a good dance bar, which we basically couldn’t find on a Sunday night, and ended with people literally dancing on the bar at Coyote Ugly (which is nothing like the movie). For the record, I didn’t do this because I’m either a) lame and boring or b) smart enough to know I don’t want that picture on the Internet. After that, we all headed back to our respective hotels/apartments.
I did not have anything scheduled until 11, so went before that to pick up my badge at Javits. It was nice to have that out of the way, particularly because I was planning to attend the Children’s Author Breakfast the next day. Registration took about two seconds, so I would definitely recommend taking care of this ahead of time.
I met up with some bloggers at Javits and we made our way to the Simon & Schuster office for a preview of some of their most exciting titles. Huge thanks to S&S for the invitation to that event! Throughout the week I was consistently impressed with their commitment to working with bloggers and forming partnerships that will benefit both parties. There were presentations from publicists and marketing people (Lydia, Dawn, Sooji, Chrissy, and Lucille) as well as authors (Elizabeth Miles and Ellen Hopkins, with a brief guest appearance from Lauren Oliver).
I tend to prefer contemporary realistic fiction over paranormal, and BEA showed me clearly that the trend this year was more in favor of paranormal and dystopian, but I have to say that the enthusiasm of the people at events like this has made me much more interested in picking up titles that I would normally not choose to read. Passion and hype are effective, which speaks to the power of bloggers and publicity efforts all around. We were able to take a fun grab bag of some of the titles that were talked about, and I’m truly looking forward to reading them.
Also, we were given a surprise at the end of the presentations: the opportunity to go up to the top of Rockefeller Center. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and we couldn’t see much from up there, but it was a really kind gesture and one of the only opportunities I had for touristy activities all week.
After that event, I went to the Teen Author Carnival. There were some truly amazing panels lined up there. It was a little hard for me to sit still after sitting for so much of the day already, plus the place was crowded and hot, and I was getting really hungry toward the end. Discomfort took away from the event a little, but it was still amazing to listen to people like David Levithan, Hannah Moskowitz, Gayle Forman, Susane Colasanti and others talk about their books, characters, and writing processes. As soon as the panels were over, I took off to Chipotle with a few other people who were ready to eat and get away from the crowds. It was my first Chipotle experience and it was delicious. I now understand the fanaticism.
I got up REALLY early for the first day of BEA. I had been told that I should arrive about an hour before the Children’s Author Breakfast. (This is totally unnecessary, but that’s ok.) I was pretty much up and ready to go early from the excitement anyway—if only that had lasted all week. I made it to Javits a little after 7, stood in line for about an hour, and then joined a group of bloggers plus one lonely author at a table. The breakfast was basically bagels and muffins plus coffee and orange juice (there were also tea bags but no hot water, which was quite mysterious), which was fine for me, but not great for the gluten-free folks among us. (Sorry Anna!)
There were great speeches all around, but the highlight for me was definitely hearing Sarah Dessen, who was unbelievably charming. (You can watch her speech and tons of other panels/events from the week here. I’m really excited about this because it allows me to catch up on some of the things I couldn’t make it to because of time conflicts.)
From the breakfast, I went onto the exhibit floor and wandered booths and went to some signings. I spent a lot of my exhibit floor time on my own or meeting up with people for brief periods of time; it’s great to meet up with people, but important to let your interests dictate what you do because there’s just so much going on. I began to get really comfortable with standing in lines, and I started getting braver about approaching people at booths. I met Marianna Baer in my first line and embarrassingly could not place her name; I got to learn more about her upcoming book, though, and I’m now really looking forward to buying it. The folks at Bloomsbury and Sourcebooks were particularly nice to talk to about upcoming titles; I learned about a lot of books that were not previously on my radar.
I did not have any plans for Tuesday evening, but I was lucky enough to run into Heidi, Erica, and Dani on my way out of Javits. I joined them for dinner (and milkshakes). Erica had a play to go to, but the rest of us went back to their hotel room and just talked for hours. It was so much fun to be able to talk books and blogging with people who get it; this was the perfect way to decompress from the first day.
Tuesday had been kind of a frenzy of noise, lines, stress, and trying to fit things in. I had some first day jitters and anxiety, and I was still learning the lay of the land. When I went in on Wednesday I decided that I was just going to take it easy, try to be more comfortable approaching people, and let whatever happened happen. After all, I knew that whatever books I didn’t get I could buy later, and the week was really about meeting people. This made the day infinitely better. Truly, good things happen when you let go a little.
I still managed to get pretty much all the titles I was interested in, but I also ran into Laurie Halse Anderson on the exhibit floor (who remembered me from the Speak Loudly campaign and gave me a hug….AMAZING), and I got to exchange information with a lot more people at booths. A sales rep at Scholastic was particularly kind and took the time to talk to me about her favorite upcoming titles. Again, some of these books were ones I was already looking forward to and others were ones I had never heard of before, but just having the opportunity to chat was wonderful and I walked away with some of her favorites without even asking for them (and I’m now incredibly excited to read them all).
When I was done wandering the floor for the day, I met up with Heidi and Kristi for dinner at Shake Shack. They are two of the nicest people ever, and again it was really nice to talk in a slightly quieter and less hectic environment. They then went off to a signing at Books of Wonder and I joined up with Anna, Tara, Tara, Jamie, April, Shanyn, Carla (and probably others who I’m forgetting—sorry!) for a party sponsored by Harper Collins. Thanks to them for the invitation! It was a little overwhelming for me, but I did get to meet some new people including Michelle, Heather, and the ladies of Forever YA.
Stay tuned for Part Two of my BEA adventures tomorrow!