i don't think i'm going to BEA this year. 1) i committed to a comic con with a friend in early may (cont.)— Cecelia Larsen (@ceceliabedelia) March 23, 2015
2) there aren't any books/authors i can't stand to miss this year, and 3) my book/hobby-related budget is not that large. NYC = expensive.— Cecelia Larsen (@ceceliabedelia) March 23, 2015
Why (and how!) I went
Last year I shared how book blogging helped me get a new job. My company created the position from scratch and hired a newbie (me). Now that I’ve settled into the role, I recognize that I’ll need to learn new skills to really maximize this opportunity. Also: I have a new boss! As of last month. From the beginning he really stressed owning your professional development goals. So when I got the unexpected news that my BEA press badge was approved, I put together a quick proposal for professional development (looked up a template email on the internet, modified it, calculated a travel budget, cobbled together an education calendar and submitted the whole thing within an hour and a half. approved in 5 minutes. golden!).
What I learned
I’ve never done professional development before, folks. To prepare I went through the BEA program guide and highlighted all of the sessions that looked even remotely helpful to my current role. Sessions on data and innovation, copyright, Google Analytics, and women in leadership made the list. Yeah, I didn’t realize BEA had a program that covered that many angles either!
What did I learn? To be truthful, session quality varied greatly. I did some speaker scouting for the Education team back at the office, was bored out of my skull in a basic web analytics course, and gleaned one or two insights on copyright and DRM management. The good news is that while work paid for transport & food, I arranged to share a college friend’s hotel room for my lodging, so the cost was minimal on my employer’s side of things (that kept the guilt monster at bay).
Who I saw
Of course, no trip to BEA is complete until you’ve met up with an awesome internet friend for the first time. I’ll just warn you now, I didn’t make notes about who I met each day, so I’m sure I’ll leave people out. If I do and you’re reading this, please remind me in the comments!
Emma and Nicole, my BEA buddies for the past 3 years, were there for me again. We chilled in lines together, checked galley drops, and took fantastic photo booth pictures. Nicole of YA Interrobang was so great in the leadup to the show – she sent me tweets almost every day to keep me apprised of the YA signings and giveaways. I fangirled a tiny bit when I finally met her. DC local (and book club friend!) Sajda of Across the Words was at BEA for the very first time, so we met up in lines, at parties, and just to chat. Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library and I always find a lot to talk about (and we seem to be going for the same titles!), which is lovely. I also said quick hellos to Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner, Andi of Andi’s ABCs, Cassi of My Thoughts Literally, Jess of Books & Sensibility… and that’s the point where my memory gets faulty.
Yes, there were books. On Wednesday and Thursday I stalked the Exhibit Hall floor in between panels, and picked up a few great titles. My big book day was Friday, when I decided that I could count myself happy (and victorious) if I picked up Margaret Stohl’s Black Widow: Forever Red and Erin Bow’s The Scorpion Rules. I accomplished those two things, so the day was a success. If you’d like to see the other titles I snagged, feel free to check out the Instagram photo evidence.
I don’t imagine I’ll be attending BEA again in a professional capacity. There are other, more uniformly useful opportunities to explore. But hey, you never know unless you give it a try, right? The best bits of my trip: Hanging out with my people (the ones with books in their souls), attending the fantastic Macmillan Kids blogger party, chatting late into the night with a college friend, bookkkksssss, and a final dinner in the city with my cousin and her two children at the Wythe on Friday night. I went home a happy and exhausted blogger, and I hope I’ll be able to do it all again next year.
Tell me, how was your BEA or Armchair BEA experience?