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Theme Week: An Author's BEA Experience

Book Expo America (BEA) is next week, and authors and bloggers alike are flooding into NYC for the event.  A lot of people have talked about what happens when you attend BEA. Getting books, going to signings, meeting online friends for the first time.  It's a blast! So what is it like for an author who attends BEA?

This year is my third BEA, and it's my first year without a fall release to promote.  It'll be my first time attending BEA just for fun, and I have to say, it's exciting. Though I love promoting my books at BEA, it can get pretty hectic.

The past two years of BEA, for me, have been a combination of downtime and heavily scheduled time.  Authors doing BEA events have to plan their schedules pretty carefully, because they may only have short chunks of time between signings to meet up with friends or get the books they want.  It's always a bummer when another author you adore is signing at the same time as you.  That's when having friends at the event comes in handy - you can have them snag you a copy!

So what are some of the things an author might be asked to do during bEA? Well, every year and every author is different, but here are a few quick ideas of things that might keep an author on their toes at the conference.

Business Meetings

For some authors, BEA is the only time they can be meet their agents or editors in person. So lunches or dinners or coffee dates are common.  During my first BEA, for instance, I got to meet with my audiobook editor for the first time. So even if they aren't scheduled for a specific event, it isn't uncommon for an author to be busy behind the scenes.


There are tons of panels at BEA. Some feature editors, and some feature authors.  So an author may be asked to speak on a panel at BEA. I've seen many different types of panels - from the Editor and Author Buzz Panels to a panel I once watched Melissa Marr speak on about YA and adult crossover books.  The panels usually last about an hour, and they're great ways for authors to promote their books while also getting to know other writers.


There are a few different kinds of signings at BEA.  There are signings in autograph booths in the autograph room, and then there are "in-booth" signings, where the author sits at their publisher's booth and signs.  Some signings are ticketed, too, which means you need to get a ticket early in order to get a book. Others you can just pop in the line at any time.  Authors don't decide on where they'll be or whether their signing is ticketed or not.  They just need to be sure their wrist is ready to sign! Depending on several factors, the author might be doing multiple signings in multiple forms.  Like I said, it's different for everyone.

Obviously, there are other things authors might be doing at BEA, but these are some of the most common things you might see on their schedules. Speaking from experience, it's fun, but also can be exhausting, especially when you want to see some of your online friends and you have to work around schedules.  But it's a great promotional opportunity/experience.  And a great way to meet lots of awesome writers, booksellers, librarians, and bloggers.

So many of you are coming to BEA this year? What are some of your Must Do things for the conference?
Kody Keplilnger

Kody is the NYT bestselling author of The DUFF, Shut Out, and A Midsummer's Nightmare, all from Little Brown/Poppy, as well as Lying Out Loud, Run, and the middle grade novel The Swift Boys and Me, from Scholastic. Born and raised in Kentucky, she now lives in NYC.

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  1. It sounds intense. But I'd love to go sometime. I'd love to get all the ARCs, get them signed, and listen to the panel discussions.


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