BEA is Coming Soon! What You Need to Know. (BEA Tips)

Posted April 19, 2016 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in BEA, Blogging Tips, Let's Discuss / 28 Comments


So, this will be my second trip to BEA (I headed to NY in 2014), and I thought it would be good to share some of the wisdom I gained from going last time. I realized that there will be a lot of newbies headed to BEA this year, since some people who haven’t been able to make it to NY will be able to make it to Chicago.


BEA is mostly waiting in lines. I just want to set this expectation for all you newbies. You will be waiting in lines for autographing, waiting for galley drops, waiting to get tickets for autographing sessions … 99% of what you will be doing at BEA is waiting. For really popular authors or signings, lines start forming an hour and a half ahead of the autographing time. Even for galley drops, lines often start an hour ahead. You’ll start out sitting down in line and eventually stand up once the lines start moving.

But wait! That doesn’t sound fun at all! Why would I want to do this to myself, you ask? What makes the waiting fun is the people you’re going to meet (or meet up with) in those lines. While you’re sitting there for an hour and a half, you’ll have plenty of time to chat with the people around you. Trust me, you’ll bond. You’ll leave BEA with some great blogger friendships! (Here’s a shout-out to Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows and Tonya @ Lilybloombooks, who I met at BEA in 2014 and still “hang out” with very regularly – and I could give you a laundry list of LOTS of other people who I met who I’m still in contact with a bit more sporadically.)


Don’t do BEA alone. Even if you’re going alone, arrange to meet up with other bloggers while you’re there – be intentional about this. You’ll probably bump into them, but why leave it up to chance? If you haven’t already, sign up for the BEA Blogger Dinner that Octavia over at Read. Sleep. Repeat. is organizing!


This one’s a bit more controversial, but you’ll also want to buddy up with people for the lines. There will often be multiple galley drops and autographing sessions going on at once. Oftentimes, you’ll want to leave a friend in one line and head off to another for a little while. For the most part, this should be fine. Just try not to have one person hold ten spaces in line – that will start to aggravate people. Either way, there could be someone who will argue that you’re cutting – but I never had a problem with that. It was mostly understood that people would hold your spot in line for a while – just don’t be gone the entire time and then show up two minutes before the autographing. Some people might frown on that. (By the way, even if you don’t know the people around you in line, feel free to ask one of them to hold your spot for you while you run to the bathroom, etc. People are nice and will almost always say it’s fine.)


Most people dress something akin to business casual at the conference. Make sure that you’ve got comfy clothes that you won’t mind sitting on the floor in, but don’t wear your plain jeans and a t-shirt. I think I read somewhere someone called it comfy chic, and I thought that was a perfect name for it.


Make sure that you wear comfortable shoes!!! Don’t use BEA to break in that new pair of heels (or even flats) that you just bought. Your feet will be weeping by the end of the first day (metaphorically – but actually, probably literally too because you’ll have weeping sores from all the blisters that have formed). You would be AMAZED at the amount of time you will spend standing and walking around at BEA. You think you understand this, but you don’t really. You won’t understand it until you’re ready to collapse at the end of the day.


Okay, people, Chicago weather is insanely hard to predict. It is now April – yesterday was over 80 degrees here and today it’s only 50. I’d love to tell you that’s an unusual swing in temperatures, but it’s really not. My instinct is to say that by mid-May we should have pretty warm weather, but … yeah, I can’t really tell you that. The best thing I can say is to bring layers so you’ll be prepared for anything. (Layers are also great because, even when the weather’s warm, sometimes conference centers are chilly!) Also, check the weather reports right up until the day before you come, in case the weatherman decides he was totally wrong when he told you it was going to be bright and sunny all week long.


Lots of them. And water too. Here’s what’s going to happen – You’re going to plan to grab lunch somewhere, and then, at around 2:00 or 3:00, you’re going to realize that you never did … and you’re starving … and you have a headache. (Bring pain relievers in your bag too!) I brought power drinks and granola bars and trail mix and pretty much survived on them the entire BEA. Finding food just wasn’t worth it during conference hours. (Just eat a good dinner! And something for breakfast before you go into the conference!)


Make sure you have plenty of business cards with you. You’ll either want cards with your address on them (for publishers, etc) and cards without your address on them (for random other people) OR you’ll want stickers with your address printed on them that you can easily put on your business cards when you want to provide that info. Vistaprint is a great, relatively cheap resource for business cards. Bring lots of them! You’d be amazed at the number of business cards you’ll give out. Make sure that, at the very least, all of your cards have the name of your website and your Twitter name on them.

Here’s a pic of mine as an example. I got two sets of cards. The first picture is of the cards that have a blank back. It includes just my name, blog address, and Twitter handle.


This second picture is the back of my cards that have my address on them. For these, I took my Twitter address off the front of the card and added it to the back, along with my email address, phone number and address (both of which I blanked out, for obvious reasons).


One more fun piece of advice. Put a business card in your badge holder in the front of your badge so people can see your blog logo – lots of us know each other better by our blog logos than by our names, so that will help people recognize you. Also, put storing some of your cards in your badge holder is a great way to keep them handy!


You’ll want one of those little portable batteries along with you. Pretty much every conference center I’ve ever been in sucks cell phone batteries like mad (especially if your signal is low and it’s searching a lot).


Media mail is definitely the cheapest option for getting all your books home. I know some people don’t trust media mail, but they do have tracking and insurance, and I’ve never had a problem with it. However, you can only send books that way, so don’t pack your boxes with random totes or swag – those will have to go in your suitcase. According to the USPS website, the closest post office to McCormick Place is about 3/4 of a mile away at 2035 S State St, Chicago, IL 60616. To me, that’s walking distance, but remember that you’ll be wheeling suitcases full of books along with you!

There will also be shipping options at the convention center, but those are guaranteed to be way more expensive than what you’d pay if you get yourself to a shipping facility (even if it is UPS or FedEx).

When I went to RT, I just brought along a bag that was way bigger than what I needed for clothes and filled it with books for my return trip. I also brought a smaller bag that I stuffed with books and carried on the plane with me. Remember, weight doesn’t matter for carry-ons, so you don’t have to worry about that. I just made sure the big bag that I checked wasn’t over the weight limit. I came home with something like 70 books and managed to fit them all in my bags without paying anything over the regular checked bag fee. This was WAY cheaper than what I paid at BEA for UPS and FedEx in 2014.


Other people have tons more advice – especially on things like organizing and scheduling (I won’t pretend to give advice on those topics since I’m horrible at it ALL and basically end up flying by the seat of my pants even when I plan to plan.)

In 2014, I collected all the Tips & Tricks posts I could find to help you us all  out. Surprisingly, I had a much harder time finding them this year (at least current ones for 2016), but I DID start a list and I’ll update it when I find new posts.

My 2014 list of links – Lots of these will still be plenty relevant!
Once Upon a Twilight – Tips and Tricks (and lots of links to posts from last year that will be very helpful!)
It Starts at Midnight – Headed to BEA? Stuff Shannon Learned Along the Way!|
ISmellBooks – This booktube video gives great advice!
Riley Marie – Another booktube tips & tricks video!
FictionFare – BEA Tips & Tricks (and also a post on Chicago sightseeing)
The Book Addict’s Guide – Lots of info on Chicago sights you might want to see!
Bang Bang Books – Dawn and Elise share their schedule and Chicago info!
About to Read – Tiffany’s booktube video shares BEA and BookCon Essentials.
Polished Page Turners – Another Chicago specific post that focuses a lot on FOOD! You all need to eat Giordano’s Pizza!!!
Shelf Addiction – A podcast called BEA, Go Hard or Go Home with Tamara’s top ten tips for BEA (and conventions in general)

Ashley @ Nose Graze created this Floor Plan

BookExpo America Goodreads Group – Tons of great info here! Join!!

BEA Blogger Dinner – Sign up here!

Publisher’s Weekly list of BEA 2016: Children’s Galleys to Grab –  Kids’ & YA Galley Drops
And PW’s list of Adult Galleys too!
Reading the Past created this guide to historical novels at BEA 2016

MacMillan Galley Drops and In-Booth Signings can be found on the MacMillan site or on their #Bookbrag (the Bookbrag one has a nice sheet that’s a little easier to read and see the info, but MacMillan’s site has clickable links so you can read about the books).

Hachette’s schedule of in-booth events

Bloomsbury’s schedule of signings and galley drops

Simon & Schuster’s schedule of signings and galley drops

Knopf Doubleday schedule of signings and galley drops

INGRAM schedule of signings and galley drops

Disney’s schedule of signings and galley drops

Month9’s schedule of signings and galley drops

ABRAMS’ schedule of signings and galley drops

MASTER SPREADSHEET OF ALL SIGNINGS & DROPS!! – This was created by a BEA attendee (not an official list)
ANOTHER MASTER SPREADSHEET – Again, not an official BEA list, but really helpful!


Are you headed to BEA 2016? I want to see you there, so let me know!!


28 responses to “BEA is Coming Soon! What You Need to Know. (BEA Tips)

  1. Great advice. I’m a first timer this year. I’m debating whether to bring a big suitcase because I’m going to taking a train from the airport to my hotel. I may just plan on shipping everything.

  2. Okay, I’m not saying this to be mean or whatever, but I found that when I went last year, people really aren’t that talkative in line. Maybe I need to be more outgoing and start conversations, but just putting that out there for people that are shy in person, like me. I did notice that people tended to know other people with them. Granted, it’s not a big deal for me. I just kind of wait around and listen to other people chat. hah

    I really really want to go this year. I’d be able to drive, so no shipping books back home at least. But I need someone to go with, and I’m still trying to figure that out. If I DO go, I’ll post it on my blog though. I didn’t meet any bloggers last year at NYC. Granted, I had other things to do after BEA so I couldn’t really join in if people had get togethers or whatever – like the BEA dinner this year.


    ShootingStarsMag recently posted: Dirty by Kylie Scott Release Day Blitz
    • Okay, Lauren, here’s the deal. You are coming. 🙂
      If you can drive here, it’s perfect. And I PROMISE that I’ll talk your ear off – you can totally hang out with me lots of the time, and we’ll have so much fun! I’m really sorry that people didn’t talk in the lines last year – that wasn’t my experience at all. I’m a kind of talkative person, though (sometimes too much so – you might get sick of me), so maybe I just always struck up conversations? I found my sitting in line times to be so much fun – didn’t mind them at all!

      • I mean I COULD drive since it’s only about five hours away but I don’t personally drive so I still need to go with someone. Plus, we have to get somewhere to stay. So I don’t know…

        I really do want to go though. I feel like I’d know more people this year, and if it goes back to NYC next year, I doubt I’ll be able to go again. Not for a very long time at least.

        ShootingStarsMag recently posted: Dirty by Kylie Scott Release Day Blitz
      • Wow – that wasn’t my experience at all. I honestly don’t remember a single line where people were mean. The closest I came to that was the line for Jason Segal, which could have gotten nasty because they wouldn’t “officially” let us form a line until one hour before his signing and two unofficial lines ended up forming. I thought we all handled it pretty well, and we agreed to merge the two lines fairly – and then the organizers just stuck a sign in the middle of the hall, completely ignoring the line (which they knew was there) and chaos ensued. Sigh… I blame this way more on the organizers than the actual line dwellers, though – I was quite proud of how we worked together!

  3. Lucky you getting to go! One day I have promised myself that I will attend and I will definitely keep these tips in mind when going. I hope you have a fabulous time, although I already know you will. 😛

  4. Great tips, Nicole! I’ve yet to make it to BEA – largely because NYC and Chicago are just *so far* from FL. Plus, this year BEA coincides with my yearly R&R getaway with The Husband and given the choice between standing in line at BEA or sipping fruity drinks poolside with my sweetie… well, y’all have fun! LOL Plus, I was just at ApollyCon in February, will be at Sassy in Jacksonville in June, and will most likely be at Shameless BookCon in Orlando. So I;m not hurting for book events. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear the post-BEA lowdown!

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books recently posted: The Sunday Post #12 (even though it's Monday)
  5. Ahhh the excitement, anticipation, anxiety, madness, and joy that is BEA! Reading your post made me nostalgic for my trips to attend. Thanks for the shoutout girl, I’m SO happy I got to meet you, hang out and stay connected. Truly, meeting bloggers is the best thing about these types of conferences! You’ve given excellent advice for those noobs out there. I can’t wait to hear ALL ABOUT your trip 😀

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted: Review: The Bands of Mourning
    • This year’s going to be a lot different for me because I’m going to commute back and forth to the conference instead of getting a hotel downtown. I think it will work out pretty well, but I’m nervous about some of the logistics. We shall see!

      And yay for friends met at BEA! I’m really happy that we met too – blogging is much more fun with friends!

  6. Yay so excited!! Thanks for all the tips!

    So I’ve read in other posts that when dressing business casual, it’s okay to be wearing the “awkward” tennis shoes for comfort reasons. I have plenty of nice clothes and such, but yeah, I got bad feet. They’re flat and with little arch support so when I wear my work shoes, those even start to hurt after a few hours. So the running shoes or whatnot is fine to wear with the nice dress or whatever?

    And I am totally with you on the weather! I’m in St. Louis, so we practically have the same weather, though I think you sometimes have it cooler if we’re hot. But yeah, being inside basically depletes the weather outside! Lol!

    Sadly my business cards came before I was on twitter and I never put my address on them since I mostly handed them off to other bloggers. It does have my website and email. I think I might write my twitter handle on the back (possibly) and use my address labels to stick on the back for some of them. As a guess, how many would you recommend I have my address label on? I have too many business cards left that it doesn’t feel right to order a whole set of new ones just to add my twitter handle on it. I have that on my blog near the top which can be found once people use the website on the card to find.

    Can’t wait to meet up with you again! Love hanging out with bloggers and am super excited about the dinner!

    • You’re better off wearing comfy shoes that don’t look ultra stylish than pretty shoes that kill your feet – you won’t be the only one!!

      And I definitely wouldn’t bother buying new business cards just to add your Twitter address to it. I’d just write it on some of them and make sure to give those to people you’re seriously chatting with. When I went to BEA the first time, I didn’t have my Twitter address on there either – I’d just barely dived into Twitter and barely used it at the time – I was shocked to realize it seemed to be THE way that bloggers communicated and everyone asked me for mine, so I just wrote it on.

      As far as the numbers of labels, I’d go with maybe 50 or 100? You can always only actually put them on like 25 cards at first and just have the labels on-hand to put more on if you need them. I know I had way more business cards than I needed, but I was still amazed at how many I gave out! (Then again, I often initiated that by asking bloggers for their cards if we’d chatted.)

  7. Joycedale

    I’m not going so I’m totally jealous but this is awesome advice. I would have never thought about a portable charger or snacks. I also would’ve shown up in jeans and t-shirt lol.

  8. Wait wait wait- you got 70 books, didn’t ship, AND didn’t go over the weight limit!?!?! Okay, we need to have a talk. Because ummm you can ask Val how much my suitcase from BEA weighed last year- easily 100lbs- and we drug it over a mile to the bus station! In 98 degree heat! And then it broke! (True story)

    I feel like even if it is chilly, I like cold, so I am fine. One sweater should do the trick. It absolutely will NOT be 100 degrees like it was last year, thank goodness! The shoe tip is important. No shame in scruffy old shoes, no one wants a blister! And I agree with snacks of course! And I didn’t use my portable charger last year, BUT I had a shitty phone, and this year I have a normal human being phone so I might use it more often.

    I like your tip about dividing and conquering- that worked for us a lot! Especially when they hand out tickets ahead of time, because like, you were already waiting, so it’s easy to go to a galley drop (sometimes you might not even bother putting your shoes back on, because you heard a rumor that they were dropping This is Where it Ends, and no one has time for SHOES that you had taken off while hanging out in the Six of Crows line!)

    Also, your business cards are ADORABLE. Mine have been a mess. They were jacked up the first time I ordered them, so then I redesigned them and who even knows what they will look like- or if they will show up in time hahah.

    And YES come to Octavia’s dinner!! I sure am!

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: Meet the Newbies: Kim Savage
    • I was very strategic about packing my carry-on with as many books as possible since there was no weight limit on that. (I think I also had some in my backpack to keep the weight in my main bag just below the limit.) It worked out great for me, but it might depend on the size of your bags, the size of your books, etc.

      I was really happy with how the business cards turned out! I basically just took the template for my old one and changed it up. (For some reason, I couldn’t find this design as an option anymore until I did it that way). Hope yours get here in time and turn out great!

  9. OMG, THIS POST IS LIKE A GODSEND!!! I am planning to go to BEA for the first time this year, and I am so excited yet scared! Well, it all depends on my VISA, I have my interview this Wednesday, let’s keep our fingers crossed! Anyway, it’s all going to be so new and fascinating for me, and I ma so thankful for posts like these! And I am so excited to meet you there!!!

    Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales recently posted: Nefarious Tales #5 || Types of Villains
  10. YAY so happy for all the people that are going! you guys go and rock it! this is all great advice! I especially liked the Divide and conquer, what to wear and the snacks. It makes em feel you guys are going to Disney World. 🙂 which is kinda comparable Book Blogger Fantasy Land 🙂

  11. I’m not going to BEA this year, but this is still helpful advice for any book convention, to be honest! I’m going to YALLWest, and I’m sure it’s going to very busy and very hot (especially considering it’s a free event). I asked a few friends of mine what their advice is and it’s similar to yours–utilize your companions (in my case, my parents), dress comfortable, and get organized. It’s actually this weekend and I still have a few more things to do. Thank you for the tips! I haven’t really thought about having to mail books back home and all that.

    Jess @ POB! recently posted: May Releases I Look Forward To

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