How To Survive Book Expo America! (+ Tips and Tricks)


Last week, I attended BEA a.k.a. Book Expo America, the largest publishing event in the nation. BEA is a publishing industry event for bloggers, publishers, librarians, authors and retailers. 

It's where you get to see which books are going to be the big titles for the fall and the next year and the opportunity to read these titles months before they go to print. 

Read more, I know you want too

This was my first year going to BEA in New York and I had a huge blast. I researched a lot before going, but there's things that you learn for yourself during the three days that it lasts. 

I created a survival guide of sorts for those interested in attending Book Expo who have never gone before and are looking for an overall guide to the event, which I found really hard to find one concrete source with everything. 

Scroll down for my ultimate guide to Book Expo America!


Get Organized

Seriously. Organization is going to be your best friend. BEA is hectic, even when you're not running around all over the exhibition hall and it's easy to get overwhelmed if you don't have a concrete plan. 

Everyone organizes their schedule differently, but I used a google spreadsheet. (Link to my 2015 schedule here.) 

I organized my events by day and time, and color coordinated it by the following:

Red= must go 
Green=excited about  
Yellow= try to go

Plenty of people I met just scribbled down the events on paper, but I wanted my schedule to be as self-explanatory as possible, so it would be one less thing to stress about during the event. 

I also planned my schedule the weekend before Book Expo, which I don't recommend, but I would start planning about one month before and do a final check through the weekend before you leave since event times will change leading up to the event, and also the day of too! 

Some of the things you want to go too will overlap and be at the same time, but put them on your schedule anyways, you never know what you have time for! 

Pro tip: Be at an event early so you have time to hit up another signing happening at the same time, but if they're a big author, get there at least an hour early before the event is scheduled to start. Lines will get huge quickly, and sometimes they will cut the line to a certain number so you don't want to be standing in line for nothing. 

I didn't use the BEA app to organize myself, but it was handy because it listed all the signings and events happening and was good to check from time to time during Book Expo. 

I heard a lot of horror stories about no cell signal at Javits during BEA and not having internet access, but I had great signal the entire time. 

However, It's better to be safe than sorry so carry around extra physical copies of your schedule and screenshot it to your camera roll in the rare case you can't access your google sheets map due to signal. It's amazing that on all three days, I mysteriously lost my schedule and my map.


Galleys are the books that will be given out during BEA. 'Galley drops' are when publishers will hand out ARCs of their books (ARC= Advance Reading Copy). 

Sometimes, they'll be a line for them, which will go quickly or they'll just have them on the floor in the booths for you to grab. 

Publishers Weekly will usually post the books that will be dropping during the first week of May. (Staff will also be handing out PW during BEA so make sure to grab a copy each day you're there!) Some publishers will have the times that they are dropping their galleys, some will not.

Your best bet is to add publishers on a twitter list so you can check throughout the day when they tweet out galley drops or you can go directly to their booths and ask them nicely about a specific book you're looking for. All of the people working the booths have schedules, and I found that they are happy to help you out. 


You got your tickets. Time to figure out a space to stay. You have a couple of options. BEA took place in New York in 2015 but next year, it will take place in Chicago. So, if you're reading this for the 2016 conference, it's a similar beast to New York. 

Book Expo offers hotel discounts which you should totally check out and also offers free shuttles to and from the events to your hotel. Cool, right? Well, consider the pros and cons. 

Javits Center was in Manhattan and most of the hotels listed in the shuttle schedule are located in Manhattan, which is one of the most expensive parts of the city. 

BEA in Chicago for 2016 is going to probably be in the center of the city, which also means hotels are going to be expensive in the area. 

Stay in a cheaper but further area outside of where BEA will be held or just in a hotel or an Airbnb situation where the shuttles are not going to stop, you're also going to have to pay for your own transportation.

Taxis and Ubers run by a meter and you're going to leave during the 7AM and 8AM rush hour of traffic which means more money for the ride. (BEA will send an email with a promotion code for Uber which was so helpful, so keep that in mind!)

Take the subway which is way cheaper than taxis or Uber but you have to figure out how to lug your suitcase of books to and from the station and to your destination. 

I don't know how the subway is in Chicago, but in New York, not all subway stations had elevators, let alone escalators so what if you have to lug your suitcase up three flights of stairs? 

Take all of your options seriously and choose what is best for your budget, also consider if you're going to have roommates to divide the costs or you're going by yourself. 

I stayed in midtown Manhattan, 5 minutes away from Central Park, in one of the hotels that the BEA shuttle stopped at, by myself, but that's not an option that everyone can afford. 

Figure out your options and don't try to spend more than what you have. It's also good to book your hotel/lodging early. The longer you wait, the more limited and expensive your options will be. 


This is where I'm going to sound like a cheesy mom out of a sitcom but have fun. For real. Plenty of people would kill to be in your place and make the most of it. So chill and relax. Don't get swept in the wave of anxiety and completely isolate yourself. 

Here are some pics during my three days at BEA: 

My badge! 

Dairy of a Wimpy Kid photo booth! 

Sara Benincasa, author of the upcoming D.C Trip! I also interviewed her for Great, have a read! 

Scott Westerfeld, who signed his upcoming novel Zeroes! His facial expression  >>>>>

Mika Brzezinski, co-anchor of the show Morning Joe on MSNBC. She's so intelligent and gorgeous IRL.

Some universal truths about BEA: 

-You're not going to make all the events you want to go tooYou're not. The sooner you accept this, the better you'll feel. Pick and choose what/who you really want to see and don't get hung up on what you missed.

-Get there early. 

-Be friendly. Don't shove anyone and don't be a jerk to the staff or your fellow attendees. Use common sense. 

-Take a break. It's okay to miss that galley drop from Harper that you wanted to check out. Walking around and carrying those books and talking to people is exhausting. Give yourself a break to regroup. 

-Don't isolate yourself or to your group of friends. Talk to people in line, in the booths etc. This is a conference after all. 

-Dress professionally. This is an industry conference, so dress nicely. You don't have to put on a pencil skirt and heels, but you're representing yourself and your website. Dress how you want as long as it's not a baggy shirt and sweats. And no flip flops! Why?!

My outfit for the day one of BEA. Can you tell how nervous I was?! 


Taking the books home.

There's a couple ways to take your books home. If you live nearby or took a train, then all you have to do is just put them in a suitcase and take them home. 

If you traveled by plane or that option is not available, then you have the following options: 

-Take them with you on the plane as luggage. Every airline has different costs about suitcases and the limit and weight so consider how many suitcases you're taking with you and the potential costs depending on the airline you're flying with.

-Mail them home. 

You can mail them with BEA, which has a service where they mail them for you, but they had a base fee of $45 plus additional costs. It can be expensive, but also if you're staying in a hotel, ask about their mailing system since most have one and compare costs with BEA's mailing system. 

Organize your books

My BEA haul! 44 books + 5 comics! 

Your books are home safe and sound. Time to organize them. You have to organize them. Don't just dump them in a pile somewhere and hope that you'll remember them. 

Before I put all my books back on my bookshelf, I put them in piles according to the planned release date of them based on month and took pictures of them on my phone so I wouldn't forget. 

I put all my books in piles by month of planned publication.

This way, it's a lot easier figuring out when these books are coming out and when to review them and put them up on your site. 

Finally, since I love lists: 


-Cash: you need to pay three dollars in cash to store your suitcase and it's really worth it. 
-Suitcase (!!!)
-Extra shoes: I put a pair of flats in my suitcase just in case my feet hurt and I needed to change. 
-Copies of the maps 
-Copies of your schedule or any other lists 

-Portable charger
-Actual charger

-Business cards 
-Bag: you will be given, literally given, plenty of totebags, but carry around one nice handbag that looks professional and chic. I used this one from H&M. 

That's my Book Expo America Guide and mini-recap! I hope you found my post informative and insightful! 

Follow me on twitter and instagram for more pictures from my trip to BEA 2015 and my week long adventure in New York! 

-Amanda Leon 

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  1. This is a FANTASTIC post! I love and agree with everything you've listed. I even like that you mentioned all the different options (we did Air B&B and loved it).

    I see that you got Seveneves too... I had to start that one first. I followed your blog because from that stack, we have a few in common and it'll be nice to see what you think of them.

    1. I'm glad you liked the post! I'm planning to start reading Seveneves, it looks so good! I especially love the diagrams inside the cover.

  2. Haha I always lose my schedule as well! I now make three copies, put it on my phone, and give a copy to my friend because I WILL lose it!!

    Yeah, I had good cell service as well! It was dead by the end of the day, but I never had an issue tweeting or anything. I'm just on Virgin Mobile, which piggy-backs Sprint. So go Sprint!! ;)

    That are of the Chinese Exhibit is so gorgeous! I loved how pretty it was there, but sad I didn't know the language!

    I think your How To and Tips is spot-on. It's going to be very helpful for people in future years!!