BEA 2011 Recap (Part 3)
General Reflections and Lessons Learned at BEA 2011
- The best shoes in the world won’t save you. Your feet will still hurt at the end of the week. I thought I was doing pretty well, but once I got home my feet swelled to about twice their natural size for a day. It was not pretty.
- It’s important to hang out with the right people. The days are long and positivity is key, so steering clear of drama-starters can make a huge difference. However, it’s also vital to just break off and do your own thing sometimes in order to see what you want.
- BEA and BBC are completely individualized experiences. It’s like a choose your own adventure book. What you see and do and who you meet while you are there all come down to the choices you make and the goals you have going into it. The experience is truly what you make of it.
- My favorite moments were mostly the quiet conversations that happened away from the Javits Center. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time there, but the noise and chaos often made it difficult to really connect and talk to people. I loved having dinner with small groups of friends in places where nobody was in a hurry and we could just get lost in awesome conversations about books.
- Being nice and being relaxed make all the difference in the world. Good things come to those who don’t run around Javits like a maniac. The publicists and sales people are much more eager to chat with you if you casually approach them about their most exciting upcoming titles than if you swoop in and grab every book in sight. Also, when you take the time to slow down, you never know who you might see just walking around the exhibit floor. (Plus, rumors spread fast, so don’t do anything you wouldn’t want anyone else to know about.)
- Talk to people while you stand in line. I know this has been said over and over, but it’s so true. The fact is that you’ll probably stand in a LOT of lines over the course of the week. Occasionally you might get stuck next to somebody you don’t want to be chatting with all that much, but more often than not you will be around other people who are excited about books and have interesting things to say. It’s a great opportunity to meet bloggers, authors, librarians, booksellers, teachers, etc. Might as well make use of that time somehow!
- Smartphones are your friend. I didn’t have one and it made my life a million times harder. Thankfully I spent a lot of time with people who did and were kind enough to not yell at me when I asked for directions for the millionth time. When you’re running around from one event to another all over Manhattan (and possibly Brooklyn), it is helpful to have some kind of GPS with you. Especially if you are as directionally challenged as I am.
- Stay close to the Javits Center if possible. Or plan to mail everything in between events. I was fortunate enough to stay with a wonderful family friend this year; she was very kind and understanding about the fact that I was basically never there. However, it was a little too far for me to go drop stuff off in between things, so I usually hauled all my books and belongings around from one event to another. I don’t really recommend this. It gets excruciatingly painful. I would suggest staying close enough that you can run to your hotel to freshen up and drop things off, or making a visit to the conveniently located Penn Station Post Office to mail as much as you possibly can before you do anything else.
- Taking pictures and notes throughout the week would be helpful. I was horrible about this because I thought I’d remember everything or I was just too caught up in what I was doing, but now that I’m home I wish I had kept better track of what I did, who I met, who each business card is affiliated with, etc. There’s so much going on, so taking notes and having pictures to remind you of things is probably a good idea, but not so much that you can’t just enjoy what you’re doing.