Hi everyone! With BookCon 2019 just around the corner, I wanted to take the time and share some helpful tips I learned during my time at BookCon last year. And also because I’m getting massive FOMO because I can’t attend this year (damn work schedule) so this my way to express all of my frustrations. Not salty at all.
- WEAR COMFY SHOES
This is tip number one. If you do absolutely nothing else, please for your feet, wear comfy shoes. Wear your comfiest shoes. Memory foam soles, three years old, what ever works. You’ll be standing pretty much all day, two days straight, carrying an increasingly heavy bag (or bags) of books. Your body will hurt, your back will hurt, but most importantly, your feet will hurt. You’ll start visiting the Penguin booth just so your feet can feel reprieve on their 6″ memory foam (not actually, but that’s what it’s going to feel like). So no matter how cute your outfit and how badly your shoes will go with the outfit, do yourself a favor and wear comfy shoes.
- Bring lunch/snacks to the convention center
Like any convention, food at the actual convention hall is going to be both expensive, not that tasty, and backed up with an hour-long line. Skip all the hassle and bring lunch/snacks with you when you enter the con. No one checks for bags or food, so this is perfectly fine to do. Last year, my friend and I stopped by a sandwich shop right a block or two from the Javits and grabbed sandwiches that we ate half for breakfast and half for lunch. I don’t know if the store’s still open, but there’s loads of quick to-go food options nearby.
- Bring a power pack/battery charger. Maybe several.
One of the most important items you’ll carry with you is your phone. You use it to keep in contact with friend and family that attend with you, check Twitter for arc drops and surprise author events, and maintain your busy busy schedule. Bring a battery pack to make sure it never runs out of power.
- Turn on Twitter alerts for publisher and authors of interest
Probably the most important site for BookCon (yes even more so than the actual event page) is going to be Twitter. Literally everything is communicated through Twitter: ARC drops, publisher schedules, author schedules, etc etc. During BookCon, at lot of unannounced information is going to show up on Twitter. Publishers will tweet out surprised ARC drops or other exciting events. Penguin is particularly fond of this, where they’ll tweet things like, the first X people to say this secret password to the person working at the Penguin booth will receive a certain (even unicorn!) ARCs. Authors will also sometimes post new information. I learned through Twitter, a little too late, that for Naomi Novik’s signing, only the first 40 people in line would recieve Spinning Silver ARCs and not everyone, contrary to the autographing information. So make sure you turn on notifications for individual accounts to stay updated with the latest information.
- Panels are probably posted on YouTube
When making my schedule last year, I faced a huge dilemma: There were interesting panels and important ARC drops happening at the same time. How was I supposed to choose? Luckily, my friend and I met someone in the morning who told us the majority of panels are posted to YouTube, either by the convention, publisher, or diligent fan. I ended up attending 0 panels. So for anyone facing a difficult choice, keep this in mind!
- Trawl Twitter for information through the night before
Like I mentioned earlier, Twitter is a goldmine of information. Like a goldmine though, it takes a lot of sifting to get the important bits. While the BookCon website will have a basic schedule, publishers and even authors will post MUCH more detailed information on Twitter, and it’s up to the attendee to find everything. To their discretion also tends to mean posting at whatever time they please, and I was finding new signing and drops, such as Harper’s Poppy War drop (the first drop of the entire event), 9PM the night before. Personally, I recommend religiously checking #BookCon for anything new, as well as any authors and publishers Twitter accounts you know will be attending.
If you find yourself with an ARC that you know you’re not interested in, they might be worth holding onto until you get home. The Twitter tags #arcsfortrade and #booksfortrade will be filled with other people trying to trade ARCs and there’s always a lot of good choices after BEA/Bookcon are over. Last year, I traded my copy of 4 Dead Queens (2/5) for an ARC of The Poppy War (5/5), so its definitely worth a check!
- Limit your water intake (WITHIN REASON)
YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. Please only do this if you know your body’s limits. The reason I say this is because this con is massive. As such, the bathroom lines, especially the women’s bathroom lines, are also massive and it’s always annoying to have to spend an hour in line for the bathroom instead of an hour in line for an ARC or author signing. I did bring a water bottle with me, but I only sipped it when I really needed to (also water adds weight to your already heavy bags). Please know your limits however, and watch for signs of dehydration.
- Talk to people in lines
Like I’ve said before, you’re going to be in A LOT of lines. Why not pass the time by chatting with the people in front or behind you. They’re at BookCon for the same reason as you are and it’s always fun to geek out with a fellow fan. And you never know who you’ll end up meeting. Last year, I gave my resume to someone who worked for NASA, swapped complimentary prizes we both got from the OwlCrate booth, and even got a signed copy of The Kingdom of Copper from another attendee! For bloggers, booktubers, or anyone else in the industry, this is also a great opportunity to hand out business cards and bookmarks to those interested!
- Check out the smaller booths!
While the Big 5 have a large presence at BookCon, there are also plenty of smaller independent publisher that will have booths and they have really cool things too! There’ll be books you’ve never heard of (because the publishing industry runs on marketing and the Big 5 completely dominate that) that sound absolutely fascinating. My personal favorites were the foreign publishers, especially the Chinese and Korean ones, because of all the artsy prints and bookmarks they gave out!
And that’s all I have! I hope everyone who attends has a ton of fun and their ARC hunting journeys end fruitfully! Let me know if these tips were helpful and feel free to add your own in the comments!