My Experience Working at BEA and BookCon || Tips & Tricks for 2019

Happy Monday, friends! Am I the only one wondering how we’re nearly already halfway through the month? Honestly, where is May going?

BUT, the exciting thing about May ending means that BEA and BookCon are almost upon us! In case you don’t already know, BEA and BookCon are some of the biggest book-related conventions in North America, and, for five days, the Javits Center in Manhattan, New York becomes absolutely packed with authors, publishers, fans, booktubers, book bloggers, librarians, and teachers all excitedly talking about books.

Last summer, around this time, because of the publishing program I was enrolled in, I got an email asking me if I wanted to work at BEA and BookCon 2018. Who? Me?? Are you kidding??! Thus began arguably the most hectic and fun-filled five-day event I’ve ever experienced.

Because BEA and BookCon are coming up so quickly, I wanted to let you guys know of my experience working the events, while offering a few tips and tricks for the 2019 cons!

This year, BEA is May 29-31 (find out more about BEA here!), and BookCon is June 1-2 (find out more about BookCon here!).

First Impressions:

Honestly, from the second I walked into the Javits Center for our first training meeting, I weirdly felt at home in a place I had never been. There were enormous posters advertising my favorite author’s new releases (like the one below of King of Scars), and, rather than someone telling me to stop talking about books for one minute of my life, it’s all my co-workers wanted to talk about.

We were then taken to what would become our break room over the next five days, and we were essentially given the run-down of both events. I remember being awestruck when our boss casually started dropping names like Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli, Nicola Yoon, Leigh Bardugo, Alexandra Bracken etc,. I think that that was the moment when I realized how incredible this all would be. After the meeting, we were allowed to wander around the center to get a feel for the whole layout. And this is me trying to remain calm about one of those huge posters I mentioned earlier:

Where I worked:

For both BEA and BookCon, there are two distinct areas: the general floor and the autographing area. On the general floor, you can find rows beyond rows of different publishers all displaying and geeking out about their popular and upcoming books. But, for my five days spent inside the Javits Center, I had the absolutely unreal opportunity to work in the autographing area, which looked a little something like this:

Essentially, my job involved me standing in front of the lines, collecting tickets, promoting the author’s work, keeping the lines of excited fans organized, taking with publicists/authors to make sure we were on the same page, and writing fans’ names on sticky notes so they could get their books personalized. Working BEA and BookCon was a lot of running around, asking plenty of questions, and standing on your feet for long hours but loving absolutely every minute of it.

Plus, when time allowed, we were able to meet some of our favorite authors (eep!!!!).

Who I met:

Alexandra Bracken

Even a year later, it’s genuinely still unreal that I had the opportunity of meeting one of my all-time favorite authors. After checking with my boss and finding a co-worker to cover my position for a few minutes, I stepped into the end of Alexandra Bracken’s line and immediately lost all of my chill (let’s be honest, I had no chill to begin with). It’s no secret how much Alex’s stories have changed my life, and I finally had the chance to meet her. Thankfully though, because of my said “lost chill,” my friend came along with me to provide, in her words, “moral support.” When I walked up to Alex, I immediately started rambling about how much all of her books mean to me (the biggest being The Darkest Minds), and thanking her for her characters and worlds that I’m able to get lost in. We ended up talking for a few minutes, and she even introduced me to her editor, Laura Schreiber, once I mentioned I was interested in children’s/YA book publishing (PLUS, I ended up getting coffee with Laura a few weeks later to talk all things books and publishing and the upcoming Darkest Minds movie (STILL NOT OVER THIS)).

please enjoy this wonderfully captured moment in which I almost spilled over Alexandra Bracken’s coffee.

Leigh Bardugo

When I found out that there were going to be sampler of King of Scars and before I even knew if we could jump into author’s lines (this was on the first day of BEA), I’m pretty sure I immediately started freaking out. I’m also fairly certain that I just geeked out about Nikolai the entire time I talked with Leigh. Plus, she had some really awesome GrishaVerse swag at her signing table.

Bonus: A friend of mine was working in what we called the green room, and this was where all of the authors signed in before heading to their tables. She told me that, while she was working, Leigh Bardugo was casually enjoying her lunch break and discussing possible plot points for a story she was dreaming up.

Rainbow Rowell

As I mentioned earlier, part of my job involved me talking to the publicists to make sure that we were all on the same page, and this was mostly in reference to the personalization of books: Did the author have time for personalization? How many books would they personalize? Well, Rainbow Rowell’s publicist was busy, so I was told to “just go ask Rainbow.” As I was internally freaking out, I had to try my hardest to act natural and professional to ask Rainbow about her ability to personalize books. I’m fairly certain that I stumbled over every word I said. PLUS, just about two hours after I had talked with Rainbow, she announced Wayward Son, and I think I fell over.

Veronica Roth

I’ve said it time and time again, but I used to hate reading, and Divergent was the book that changed it all for me. Veronica Roth was at BookCon promoting the sequel to Carve the Mark, and I rushed up to her table once her allotted signing time was over and there was no one else in line. Straight away, I started thanking her for making me love reading because it quite honestly changed my life and, you guys, her face was so genuine and sincere. She looked as if she was holding onto every word I was saying, excited that I discovered the beautiful world of reading through her story, and she was the absolute sweetest.

Peter Hermann/Nico Tortorella

Both Peter Hermann and Nico Tortorella are actors on Younger, a show that I’m beyond in love with, but they both had books coming out last year! Peter, a children’s book, and Nico, a book of poetry. I first met Peter, in which his publicist tried to convince him to tell me the ending of the new season that was premiering just a few weeks later, and he was so kind. Then, my co-worker somehow talked Nico’s publicist into letting me take photos of them and their fans. After doing so, I prompted Nico with a “it’s only fair if I get a picture with you because I’ve been taking pictures for you!” (I have no idea where this sass came from, but it’s what happened). I then told Nico that I had met Peter the day before, and Nico scoffed and said that they’re “so much taller than him.” (Nico: 6’0′, Peter: 6’5′.)

Christine Riccio/JesseTheReader

While writing names on sticky notes for everyone in Tahereh Mafi’s line, I met a “Jesse,” of which I looked up and saw none other than JesseTheReader. I don’t even think that I said anything coherent, and later on, while indulging a co-worker in the embarrassing story that is my life, Jesse and Christine were walking past us. This then prompted my co-worker to shout, “Aye! Jess!” Long story short, I was able to chat with Christine and Jesse for about 15 minutes, and after mentioning that I was reading Harry Potter for the first time, Jesse warned me to stay away from Christine because she’s unable to keep any spoilers a secret.

What I think of BEA & BookCon, one year out:

Honestly, I look back on my days spent in the Javits Center, and I’m immediately overcome with happiness. I was able to not only meet some of my favorite authors, but I was able to watch the magic that is other people meeting their favorite authors. I’m so beyond sad that I’m not able to attend this year, but I cannot wait to hear everyone’s stories that are able to make it! And, with that (and because you sat through my unnecessarily long reminiscing post) let’s to get to my tips for this year’s events!

Tips & Tricks for 2019:

  • If you’re going to BEA, visit new authors in the autographing area if they don’t have a line! Share the love!
    • I cannot even begin to tell you just how much new authors’ faces lit up when someone stepped up to their previously empty table. Plus, think of it this way, you may meet your new favorite author, right? We wouldn’t love the authors that we do now if we didn’t take a chance on their stories.
  • If you see someone walking around that you like to watch on BookTube/enjoy reading their blog posts/love their instagram feed, don’t be afraid to say hi!
    • From both my interactions and watching others’, influencers really love meeting the people that enjoy their content. Even more so, have you really met a book nerd that didn’t want to talk about books and their love for them? (PS: please be aware of personal boundaries and do not bombard people!)
  • Save your post-it note! (Unless it’s torn, dirty, terribly disgusting, then please feel free to toss it.)
    • While you’re waiting in line in the autographing area, you’ll most likely be asked what your name is before you’re handed a sticky note. This happens in nearly every single line so, to be a little more earth-friendly and to save a little bit of your time, save your post-it note! I saw a lot of people sticking it to their name badges so they wouldn’t lose it.
  • When you’re in line and if the author is taking pictures with fans, have your camera at the ready!
    • As silly as it sounds, having your camera app open really saves time in the grand scheme of things because you’ll just have to pass it off to the worker or someone standing behind you.
      • BONUS TIP: if you’re an iPhone user, have your “live” photos turned on! Later on, you can look back at these pictures and things you said will be momentarily captured through the live feature.
  • Plan, plan, PLAN!
    • My friends, time is both your friend and your enemy at BEA and BookCon. Before you know it, your two favorite authors are signing at the exact same time and a publisher on the general floor is having a contest that you were dying to participate in. What are you supposed to do?? To preemptively avoid (some) stress, visit both BEA’s and BookCon’s website, download their schedule, and book your times. Know where you want to be and when, and try your best to understand that you (unfortunately) may not be able to make it to every place you want to.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for making it through this post—I think it’s definitely my longest one thus far, but I had way too much fun reminiscing (I hope you didn’t mind!) If you’re going to BEA or BookCon or both, I hope you have the best time and that some of my tips help!

Are you going to BEA or BookCon this year? Who are you looking forward to meeting the most? Are you more excited for the autographs or the panels? Let’s chat!

12 thoughts on “My Experience Working at BEA and BookCon || Tips & Tricks for 2019

  1. I loved reading this and hearing about your experience!! It sounds amazing!! I always love watching the vlogs of people going BEA and Bookcon– the whole event looks spectacular. I have kind of always wanted to go. I think it is so cool that there is a big event dedicated to books where you can meet authors and people who love to read.
    And it would be nice when talking about a book to someone that they would know what I am on about because my friends and family have no clue when I am talking about books haha!!

    I’m so glad that you got the opportunity to meet some of your favourite authors– and it is amazing that you got to have lunch with Laura Schreiber after!! And I love Leigh Bardugo as well!! Also when asking Rainbow Rowell about personalisation I probably would have stumbled over my words as well haha!! And I love Jesse and Christine’s video too so it was lovely that you got to talk to them!!

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time and I love your tips– they would be really helpful!!
    I hope you get to go again one day and make more unforgettable memories!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so sweet, Sophie! Thank you!! I definitely had an incredible time at BEA and BookCon, and I hope that you’re able to go someday!

      And that’s exactly what was so nice about it! You found other people who had the same favorites about you, and it was a place where gushing about your favorite fictional characters and world was invited. AH! SUCH A DREAM!

      I say it was complete and utter honesty, the whole time I was talking to Rainbow, I was just thinking: “This is the women that created Simon and Baz.” I’ve just always loved her books and writing style, so when I was asked to ask her a question, I think I probably just internally screamed the whole thing. And Jesse and Christine were total sweethearts! I met them at BEA, so there weren’t any general fans at that event, meaning that they had more time to wander around and explore the floor.

      Thank you so much for your comment – you always seem to make my day! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome!! Hopefully one day!! 🙂
        It does sound amazing– to just gush about your favourite stories!!
        Haha— I actually need to read Carry On— I really feel like I will love it and from what people have said I already feel like I know (and love) the characters a bit!! Haha I would have been internally screaming too and for while afterwards.
        Ahh… I’m glad they were nice and its nice that you met them when they were walking around!!
        You’re very welcome– and that’s so sweet. I’m so glad!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I totally get that – people talk about books and characters so much that you just end up loving them even though you haven’t met them yet. 😂 I really hope that you enjoy Carry On when you get to it, and you’ll have to tell me all of your thoughts!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love BookCon! I’ve been there 3 times, and can’t wait to got his year as well! I loved reading about what it’s like to work at BEA/BookCon! It’s so nice to get a different perspective! It’s super cool how many authors you got to interact with! It sounds like my dream come true!

    And I can’t believe I never thought of the post-it tip before! I’m definitely going to use that one this time around!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AH! I’m so excited that you get to go to BookCon again this year! It’s honestly so incredible, and I hope you have the best time!

      It was a TOTAL dream that I, essentially, got to work with so many authors! You could really tell that the conventions were important to them and that they loved meeting every one of their fans.

      I’m so excited to hear that you’re excited about the post-it tip!! I honestly didn’t think of it at first either, but I started to notice that a few people had kept theirs from previous signings as I went around writing them out. It’s also super great for the earth because I’m pretty sure the trash bins were PACKED with sticky notes by the end of the weekend.

      Thank you so, so much for checking out my post and for your sweet comment! ❤️


  3. Ahh, thank you for this post an all the insider information, it sounds like you had an absolute blast! Unfortunately, I am in the UK, so these posts pretty much make me drool with lust for all the epic bookishness. I would love to take a trip to the US one day and coincide it with the events. Are they easy to get tickets for? Do you have to get them a lot in advance?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course! I’m so glad that you enjoyed my post!

      Hopefully, someday, you are able to make it to BookCon and/or BookExpo! There’s so much epic bookishness to be had, and I really hope that you get to experience it.

      As far as I know, getting tickets is pretty simple! You can just go ahead and buy tickets for BookCon online. Although, BEA is not a public event, and they’ll usually invite influencers, librarians, teachers, and publishers. For BookCon though, at least for the autographing area, all of the authors are ticketed, meaning that you have to reserve your ticket for a specific author. I’m pretty sure that is done online as well. And, as far as buying tickets in advance go, tickets for the whole event are still available for this year! The only caveat is that the author’s tickets can run out really quickly, so you’d want to get those in advance.

      Liked by 1 person

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