Wow. It’s almost hard to believe that BookCon has come and gone. I spent so much time waiting and planning for it. And poof! At least now I have a better idea of what I’m in for, and can plan better for next year (more on that later). Pssst, if you don’t want to read the full synopsis of my day skip to the end to see the swag photos.
So how did BookCon go, you ask? It was amazing! I was so nervous and excited the night before that I barely slept, but it all worked out. My husband and I ended up getting there around 7am, which was perfect. The line was still outside at that point, and had barely gone around the corner. So we were pretty close to the front! That was what I was hoping for, but being that I was a total newb at the whole thing I wasn’t sure how well that would go.
The wait outside actually wasn’t too bad. The sun hadn’t really started beating down yet, so we weren’t really feeling the full effects of it yet. Thank goodness. While waiting I made a point of starting up conversations around me, and I even made a few feathered friends as well.
Once we were let inside – which was slightly before 8am, so earlier than I expected – I got a better idea of how perfect our timing was. We managed to get into the first row for lining up, and we weren’t even a quarter of the way from the front. Not bad for our first year!
Admittedly I think I may have wasted my ‘first on the floor’ opportunity a little bit here. Once we were let onto the floor I found myself spinning around in circles a few times, feeling overwhelmed by the size of everything. I thought I had prepared pretty well, but to be honest nothing prepared me for the size of the expo floor or the sheer number of books and booths all over the place.
Once I took a deep breath and calmed down (okay, my husband may have had to calm me down a little bit here…) I stopped wasting time and started hopping into the lines. There’s a joke at one of the other conventions I go to (PAX East) that you wait in line to wait in line, and that totally applies at BookCon as well. It’s totally worth it.
Here’s where I’m going to be brutally honest with you: I had a total blast, but I was still feeling a bit overwhelmed. Because of this I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I would have liked. I also don’t fully remember what I got where, so if I seem a bit vague at points that’s why. I’m not going to talk about my whole day (I think) but I would like to talk about a few of the highlights.
I decided to go easy with my first line and hopped into one of the hundreds of spinner lines. While waiting in line for it I guess we were lined up outside of another booth (Yellow Jacket), which actually ended up working really well for us. One of the guys running that booth was just handing out literal stacks of books, and thus that’s how I got my first freebies of the day. I was gobsmacked (but thankfully not to the point of muting myself – I did kindly stop the man before he gave the same stack to my husband, we wanted to share the wealth, so to speak).
Right, I was talking about the spinner booth. When we got to the front of the line my husband started laughing at me, because of the prizes being handed out. The person in front of me got a fidget spinner (I prefer the fidget cubes, so this isn’t us being judgey or anything) so he’s clearly expecting for me to get a silly prize. Remember, we have zero idea of what’s really going on right now. So it’s my turn, and what do I get? A basil plant. Here’s where Paul starting roaring with laughter. For those that don’t know, I’m totally obsessed with plants. All of our windows are full of the bushy green plants I have. So naturally I managed to find the one place in the entire convention giving out plants, and I literally had no idea it was happening. So go me?
Honestly, this couldn’t have been a better ice breaker for me. After that moment I decided to relax and walk around a bit to catch my bearing. That isn’t to say I ignored all my tweet alerts – because trust me I checked those religiously – but I realized that for my first year I really needed to take it easy and just have fun.
It was fun finding all of the different publishers I know and love. I knew that there would be many of them, but it’s a completely different feeling to see them all in one place. I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of indie authors I managed to track down. I did my best to support them as much as possible, either by picking up a copy of their ARCs or buying a book or two (images below), so I’m really happy about that. Side note: If there were any indie authors you found there and fell in love with, but you don’t see pictured in this post, please feel free to reach out and let me know about them! I love hearing about new authors. Seriously, I may have a problem.
I learned a lot about what lines were and weren’t worth it – for me, at least, this one totally depends on preference. For example, I waited about an hour in line for what ended up being a tote bag. It’s adorable and I love it, but I think I would have preferred spending that time tracking down new authors.
I also learned not to assume that just because autograph sessions are guaranteed doesn’t mean people aren’t going to line up crazy early. Especially for the bigger authors. I actually seriously lucked out here. My autograph sessions were back to back at the end of the day; Mariko Tamaki and Brooklyn Allen at 3:15 and Brandon Sanderson from 4-6. I got through the first one really quickly (they were both wonderful by the way! I got to gush about She Hulk and Brooklyn Allen drew a bunch of cute figures along with their autograph, I’m so thrilled) which put me in the Brandon Sanderson line about 40 minutes before the session actually started. I was probably the 25th (ish, I didn’t count) person in line. And it got so much worse by the time the session started. The line went all the way to the queue area and down one of those lines. And that was just as far as I could see. I’m honestly not sure who’s line was worse, his or Cassandra Claire’s (my bet is the latter). I got through to him by around 4:30, so I got really really lucky here. Lesson learned for next year!
Going into this I only had three ARCs in mind that I was hoping to get. One I ended up giving up on when I realized how much time it would take me to get it (Imposters by Scott Westerfeld for anybody that’s curious – BTW if anybody wants to trade for it let me know). The second ARC I wanted was Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. Which I got! She signed it and everything. So I’m absolutely thrilled by that one. And the third, sadly, I couldn’t get. I actually did try to get Seafire, but the way the line was set up was confusing and ultimately ended up screwing us, unfortunately (we got to the line at the time we were told, only to get sent away – came back just a few minutes later to find that the line had formed behind the booth and was capped). It happens, so I’m not terribly upset. I think one out of three isn’t bad, especially for my first year going!
I did get a bunch of ARCs I wasn’t planning on, so I honestly think things evened out pretty well for me. There were a ton of lovely authors there, and a surprising number of them were handing out signed ARCs. I couldn’t believe it.
While I did end up buying a decent amount of stuff, I honestly got WAY more free swag than I anticipated. I know I was told to bring a suitcase for my books (which I did – BRILLIANT idea for anyone debating it for next year) I really figured that was more for what I purchased than what I got for free. Apparently I was wrong, and I couldn’t be happier about that.
And now we’re to the point where I share all of my lovely swag photos! Enjoy!
Yes, I really did get this many totes in one day! I didn’t even end up using any of the totes I brought with me. Good to know for next year I guess.
These are all of the books I either bought or brought with me to get autographed. It was totally worth hauling these back and forth!
These are all of the ARCs I got this year. The Skyward one is actually an except and not the full ARC, but still cool! Girls of Paper and Fire and Perdy are both signed copies as well. I’m really excited to get started on them. I’m going to try and force myself to read them in the order they release. We’ll see how that goes.
These are all of the indies I managed to track down. Well, Love and Gravity isn’t an indie, but I threw it in there anyway. Everything except that one is signed by the author. This is a mixture of paid and free swag.
These are all of the comics I got while at BookCon. I didn’t have to pay for a single one of these! I can’t believe it.
And here’s the rest of the swag I got for free. A lot of the non-bookmark items I got through the spinner games (whatever they’re called) that were everywhere.\
I also bought some stuff, because I have no self control:
I know there are plenty of people out there that got a lot more swag than I did, but for me this was perfect. I only went for one day and was aiming to not totally stress myself. And I think I absolutely succeeded in what I was hoping to accomplish.
As for next year…I would love to say that I’m going to go to all of BookExpo and BookCon, but honestly I don’t think I’d have that in my. Right now I’m eyeing the VIP badges for BookCon (which I know are really hard to get) and maybe Friday pass for BookExpo. I’ve been told that there are more ARCs at BookExpo, and in general I feel like I might be better off giving it a try, as it seems to be a bit more on the professional side of things. That being said BookCon was way too much fun to give up, so even if I do end up going to BookExpo I’d like to continue with BookCon in the future. Especially if I can get a group of friends going.
As mentioned above I’m open to receiving trade requests (especially for Seafire and Imposters) but I don’t really have that much to trade, so I’m not getting my hopes up or anything. If anyone has advice on how to get more ARCs like these (either through BEA/BookCon or any other venues) I certainly wouldn’t complain if you shared it with me.