11 June 2014

An Introvert's Guide to BEA

If you saw the #TalkWriting Web Chat about Introverts and Extroverts in Publishing last February, then you know I’m not only a severe introvert, but I have a sometimes-paralyzing fear of people. You also probably know that I’m working to overcome the shyness by challenging myself to stretch beyond my comfort zone a little bit each day. And that I generally manage to balance my desire to meet new people with my need for alone time with a whole host of coping techniques.
May 2014 provided ample opportunities to stretch beyond my comfort zone and put my introvert-in-an-extroverted-world coping strategies to the test, as I attended the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention in New Orleans AND Book Expo America in New York.

Yesterday, I shared my Lessons Learned at RT, and today give you my Introvert’s Guide to BEA.

Tip #1: Bring your “security blanket” with you. 
 You know how Linus (Charlie Brown’s best friend) is always carrying that crazy, blue blankie around with him? He takes a lot of teasing about it, but that thing gives him a shot of strength and courage when he needs it most. Find something (or someone) that gives you a similar shot of confidence and don’t be afraid to bring it with you.
Knitting with Plarn (plastic yarn) is my go-to stress reliever in social situations. I always have my knitting with me.
I carried my knitting needles and a ball of plarn (yarn made from recycled plastic bags) with me, and yes, I did knit while standing in the long, book-signing lines. And on the subway, when I was feeling a bit out-of-my-element.

Tip #2: Bring a friend.
Hanging out with super-agent, Jessica Sinsheimer
It might seem counter-intuitive, because common wisdom says that introverts like to be alone. But often, having a close friend at your side – the kind of friend who knows you so well that they feel like an extension of yourself – can make even the most overwhelming situations bearable. Even enjoyable.

Tip #3: Plan ahead. 
with Kelsey Macke, author of DAMSEL DISTRESSED
 Before the conference, you can see a schedule that includes a list of most authors who will be signing at the event. Make a list of all the authors you absolutely have to meet, and all of the authors you’d love to meet, if you get a chance. I knew I had to meet my agent sister, Kelsey Macke, in person  and snag an advance copy of her fabulous book, DAMSEL DISTRESSED. And of course I had to catch up with Jason Wright, the amazing author who, back in 2009, encouraged me to keep writing when I felt like giving up.

with Jason F. Wright, author of THE CHRISTMAS JARS
I had so many other authors on my I-want-to-meet-these-fabulous-writers list (I know I’ll leave someone out, so I’m not going to try to list them all), but I knew there was no way I could possibly fit them all in. So I made a schedule of when each would be signing, and any time I was near the exhibit hall, I would go looking for the authors on my wish list. I missed many of the official signings, but I did manage to catch up with and give hugs to a lot of my favorite people!

at Chelsea Market, with awesome CP, Ashley


The introvert & the extrovert: Me & Connor


Jessica and Kristin
Joanne & Karen

Rachel, Summer, Jessica, Me & Dee

Summer & Rachel


Tip #4: Don’t try to do it all at once.

 One of the best parts of BEA is the exhibit floor, with rows and rows of publisher booths, where you can meet some of your favorite authors, get your hands on some pretty awesome ARCs, and make connections with all kinds of readers, bloggers, writers and publishing professionals. But the crowds can be overwhelming for an introvert.
And after an hour or two, it can leave you totally drained. But if you take it a few minutes at a time, it’s kind of fun, even exciting, to be a part of it all. Pop into the exhibit hall for 30 minutes or an hour. Stand in line to meet your favorite author and spend some time gushing about their latest book.
I even got my picture taken with Ernest Hemingway!!

The autographing area at BEA can be overwhelming, but it's very organized, and not as intimidating as it appears.

 Or discover a new favorite! 
Brandon Mull

Molly Idle
Then, give yourself permission to come out for some air. Grab a snack. Meet up with some friends. Attend a panel.

Tip #5: Plan to arrive early.
The exhibit floor was relatively empty early in the day, with increasing crowds as the day wore on. You may have the best opportunities to chat with your favorite publishing people when the doors first open, before the rush of the crowds. Arriving early is also great advice for any of the panels on your schedule.
YA Buzz Panel - We got a seat right next to the table with the ARCs - Score!
Getting to the room half an hour early will allow you to relax and take a breath – to recharge a bit – before the room fills up with people. Also, you’ll be able to get the best seats when you beat the crowds, and you avoid the danger of not getting into the panel you really wanted to see. (Sometimes, the panels fill up and they have to turn people away. When they hit maximum capacity on the room, they are no longer allowed to let people in for safety reasons.)

Tip #6: You don’t have to do it all.
Once you have a plan (see Tip #3), give yourself permission to walk away from the craziness whenever there’s a break in your schedule. Leave the convention center entirely and take in some of the sights. Sample some of the amazing food New York City has to offer.
Amazing vegan cuisine at Gobo - it really is "food for the five senses!"

With food this delicious, it's a good idea to bring a friend with similar tastes. You can share!

Gourmet mac-n-cheese - Yum!
Take a walk on the High Line.

Go see a Broadway show.

Jessica is the best agent ever! She surprised me with tickets to see MATILDA, my new favorite musical!
The best parts of your trip might happen outside the official BEA scheduled events.

Tip #7: Just say no.

If the thought of BookCon (the one day truly open to the general public – a day when even arriving first thing in the morning won’t guarantee small crowds) makes you cringe, you don’t have to go. If all of your friends are going out on the town after a very full day, but you just want to curl up in your fuzzy pajamas and read that ARC you’ve been dying to get your hands on, you can stay in. If you have plans to stand in line to meet your favorite author in the whole wide world, but by the time her signing rolls around, you’re totally exhausted, it’s okay to sit that one out. Really. You’ll survive. And you’ll probably be happier if you don’t try to do it all. Or if you take some time to do what you want.
Best day ever! Candy frogs from Dylan's Candy Bar, MATILDA, and then Macarons with Jessica & Kelsey!
It's probably a good thing I didn't have extra room in my suitcase. I could have spent way too much money at Mood Fabrics!

Giant button and needle - only in New York City!

Even the staircase at Dylan's Candy Bar is sweet!
Had to visit the Julliard store, for my daughter who plans to go there someday.

A trip to New York isn't complete without visiting Lady Liberty
Best part about BEA? Spending so much time with my fabulous agent, Jessica, and still not being ready to say goodbye when it was time to go home!


  1. Loved meeting you, Veronica, even if it was so brief! I did zero sightseeing/shopping/theater-ing the whole trip. I'm a little jealous! If I go next year, I'm taking an extra day to just do fun stuff.

    1. I'm so glad I got to meet you too! We'll have to plan more time together doing fun stuff next year. :)

  2. Your blog title intrigued me. I totally agree with staying away from BookCon. I chose to play with grandchildren instead! You might enjoy reading my recap also. I hope so.

    1. I did enjoy your take on BEA. :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. I see that needle all the time. It's on 7th Avenue :)

    Hope you can come east again soon.

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