Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our BEA Experience (Rachel's Perspective)

As I'm sure you all know, BEA was a thing that happened very recently. Megan and I were lucky enough to get to attend as Power Readers, which basically just means that we only went on Saturday, the day they opened it up to the public. We didn't attend as bloggers or anything. We just went as readers, and it was a great way to experience BEA for the first time and determine whether or not we'd like to return in the future.

We went with our friend Katherine and my sister Lauren, who you might be familiar with since we go to every book event ever with them. Also, Megan's mom was the responsible adult who actually drove us to BEA, so that was pretty nice of her. :P

BEA was not what I expected. From everything I'd read about it online, I'd been prepared for huge stacks of ARCs at publisher's booths with a thousand rabid bloggers and librarians pushing and shoving and tackling each other to get to them. Actually, I'd pretty much been prepared for the cornucopia scene in The Hunger Games to be recreated right before my very eyes.


I think my experience of BEA is definitely different from what it's usually like, since we went as Power Readers on special Power Reader day, when it was opened up to the public people AKA not the professional industry people. Also, it was the last day of BEA, so I got the sense that things were really winding down and thinning out, with most of the major stuff having happened the first two days.

I was surprised at the amount of STUFF at BEA. I mean, I was expecting the books and the publishers' booths, but there were a ton of booths that didn't seem to be entirely related to books. Also, holy crap, there were a lot more publishers than I was expecting. I guess I was so focused on, you know, the BIG SIX and stuff that I wasn't prepared for all the other, smaller publishers.

There really weren't huge stacks of books being given away on that day, at least not that I was aware of. Which was totally cool. I mean, I didn't really go so I could get free books. I went because it's freaking BOOK EXPO AMERICA. Again, I'm wondering if this is just because it was the last day/Power Reader day? Either way, I didn't get attacked by anyone trying to grab an ARC, so that was nice.

Anyway, so when we were sitting in line to actually get into BEA at like eight in the morning, someone walked past us. The people next to us in line started making some really weird noises, so we looked up and IT WAS NEIL GAIMAN!


He just walked right past us on line and walked down the stairs and he was wearing all black and HE RUFFLED HIS HAIR and everyone on line just sort of stared at him with wide eyes and made choking noises and just about died because NEIL FREAKING GAIMAN.

So that was kind of the best thing ever.

This picture was taken right before Neil Gaiman suddenly appeared and our lives were changed forever.
The most important thing that happened at BEA was getting signed copies of The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. If you're familiar with this blog, you might know that I AM OBSESSED WITH SARAH DESSEN. She's my writing hero, I love all of her books, etc, etc.
Not only did I actually bring a book to BEA, I brought a SARAH DESSEN book which I read while waiting in line for the SARAH DESSEN signing. I call this photo "My Life in a Nutshell." Thank you, Megan, for taking this picture. I'm glad you were amused.
So we made sure we arrived early so we could get tickets to the Sarah Dessen signing, and then we made sure we got in line early so we could be some of the first people to get our books signed.

Our school librarian was at BEA, and she snapped this picture of us approximately 30 seconds before we got our books signed by Sarah Dessen and our lives were again changed forever.
The Sarah Dessen signing was the first thing we did, and it was the only thing I really cared about. After we got our books signed (I totally froze up when I got to talk to her, by the way. My brain was trying to figure out a way to explain just how important and inspiring and life-changing Sarah Dessen and her books have been to me, but I couldn't find the words so I just sort of stared at her in awe. But that's totally okay. It was still one of the best moments ever. :D) we wandered around for a little bit, before heading down to the Neil Gaiman discussion thing.

Sarah Dessen's signing and Neil Gaiman's discussion were both at the SAME EXACT TIME, because the world hates me and doesn't want me to be happy it just happened to work out that way, so even though we were most excited about seeing Sarah Dessen and Neil Gaiman that day, we had to prioritize Sarah Dessen because, well, I'm obsessed and everything. So we weren't planning on getting to see Neil Gaiman's discussion, but Sarah Dessen's signing didn't take that long, so we were able to head downstairs and sneak into the back of a huge room filled with a bunch of people watching Neil Gaiman say things. I don't care that we were late and we had to stand in the back and we didn't get signed books because we were late. IT WAS NEIL GAIMAN. WE GOT TO BE IN THE SAME ROOM (okay, a really big room, but still) WITH NEIL GAIMAN!!!!!

Seriously, he could talk for hours about absolutely nothing and I would still love it and hang on every word. Neil Gaiman is just....fhaofeoiyhinoaiiwoiwrheoiefhoi NEIL GAIMAN AHHHHH.

After that, we really didn't have anything on the agenda that we were dying to go to, so we just wandered around for a bit. We got ARCs of The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman signed, which was awesome since I'm crazy excited for that book. Also Robin was really cool and nice so yay.

I think BEA is going to be an overwhelming experience for anyone who goes for the first time, and it definitely was for me. It was not what I was expecting, but I'm glad I got to go. I think going for one day as Power Readers was a good introduction to the world of book conferences, as well as the publishing industry in general, since I want a career that's in the publishing industry somehow. In the future, Megan and I hope to be able to attend more BEAs or ALAs or whatevers, but as book bloggers for the full three days.

Also, I mean, let's be real, as soon as I met Sarah Dessen I decided that BEA was totally and completely worth it. And Neil Gaiman was the most amazing bonus ever, so after that, I was more than satisfied with the experience. :D

If anyone has any questions or anything (particularly about the Power Readers, since there seems to be very little information about them on the interwebs), feel free to leave them down in the comments! And if you attended BEA this year, what was your experience like?

1 comment:

  1. Ok, so this whole thing about the Power Readers is REALLY cool. I think it's a great way to really get introduced into how a big event like this works, without being completely shocked into the system. I remember my first ALA was completely overwhelming, to be honest. But I'm glad you were able to enjoy yourself so much, Rachel, AND meet two literary icons. And it's pretty cool that you were able to oh so conveniently catch pictures only mere seconds before life-changing moments. You should have done a before and after, haha. ;)

    Awesome post, Rachel! I really do hope you get to go to BEA next year as an 'official' blogger (and that I get to go as well, for that matter! ;)).