Plan and Pace Yourself
Long before you think about packing for the show, work to create a schedule for how you are going to spend your time. The first couple of years I created a schedule on a spreadsheet but now the BEA website has an easy way to create a schedule, plus there is a nifty mobile app that will transfer the schedule to your phone. Here is a checklist of what to research and note on your planner:
1) Any sessions, special meals, and receptions you wish to attend. Even if it’s not sponsored by BEA, you can create an event and add it to the schedule.
2) Publisher appointments. Make sure and note all of your appointments, making sure nothing overlaps. When making an appointment, try not to do them one right after the other, such as 10:00, then 10:30 as the first one could run over and it can take some time to navigate the floor to the next booth.
3) Autographs and author events. Unfortunately the final autographing and appearance schedule isn’t published until a few weeks before the event and I have been known to frantically finalize my schedule on the plane (don’t even think about doing this once you arrive in NYC, you’ll be way too busy).
4) Exhibits and publishers’ booths. It’s a good idea to make a list of the booths you wish to visit beforehand and check the floor plan for locations. Once you are caught up in the crowds, it is difficult to find the booth you want and trust me, it’s a big place so you won’t want to backtrack.
5) Check the various galley giveaway schedules and note on your timetable. Most publishers have set times when specific galleys/ARCs will be distributed and you may not get what you want if you miss the scheduled times.
6) Lunch and rest times. Be sure to leave time for lunch and visits to the LJ librarians’ lounge. — UPDATE. This year, it’s sponsored by Publishers Weekly, Booth R420.
7) Restroom visits. OK, so I’m kidding–sort of. Restrooms are an issue and many times there are lines, so my advice is when you see a restroom, make a stop. There are additional restrooms in the rear of the exhibit hall and on the bottom level which aren’t as busy as the ones in the front of the hall.
Be forewarned you can’t do it all and will for sure miss something you really wanted to do; it has happened to me every year (I’m still chagrined I missed Tim Conway in 2013). My colleagues may have some additional tips for creating a schedule. And it you opt to print a copy, have an extra in case one is lost.
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