1. Make a schedule
Book Expo provides two ways to take a look at the events, signings, and books, and create a schedule. From the website you can download the BEA app or you can sign in to My BEA Show Planner (in the box underneath the app). I've been trying out both, and I actually like My BEA Show Planner better. Not only can you create a schedule that you can print, you can also search attendees and make connections. You can also look at an interactive map that highlights all of the booths you have decided to visit. The one benefit to the app is that you can also map routes from booth to both and find your location in real time. But for those of us (which may only be me) who can only use the app in wifi, this may or may not be helpful the day of the show. In the past cell phone service was spotty, so make sure to print your schedule as well as have it on a device.
2. Wear comfy shoes
You don't have to go with sneakers (I usually pick a nice pair of sandals), but you don't want to pick a pair of shoes that you haven't already broken in. Keep in mind that you will be doing a lot of walking and standing around.
3. Dress professionally
Even though your shoes should be comfy, that doesn't mean come you should come in sweats. It is a trade show. You should also bring layers because the conference floor definitely fluctuates in temperature.
4. Take advantage of public transportation
There are free shuttle buses running from hotels all over the city (take a look at the list), but if you, like me, are coming in from Grand Central, the best bus to take is M42. It picks up right in front of Grand Central Station on 42nd Street and drops off at 42nd and 11th Ave. The cost of the bus is $2.50.
5. Bring a rolling suitcase & a tote bag
Even if you don't go overboard, carrying all those books around on your shoulder is exhausting. It costs about $3 per day to check your rolling bag and you can keep going back to it to add new books from your tote. You will not be allowed to bring the rolling bag to the floor.
6. Bring water and snacks
A friend of mine coming this year compared BEA to Disney World. It's a pretty accurate description. There are long lines, costumed characters, and the food is pricy (though tastier than Disney in my opinion). Having snacks and water with you helps a lot.
7. Have fun - don't pitch
Go to panels, meet authors, find out about new books, and meet other attendees who love books as much as you do. Take a look at lists and find out what is coming out on the market. You may even meet an editor or literary agent. Ask them about the books they are there to see and what's coming out. Don't make this conference about you and your writing. It's not a time to pitch, it's a time to explore.
8. Places to learn more: