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The Dos and Don’ts of BEA: How to Survive the Playoffs of Publishing

Not for the faint of heart, BookExpo (formerly BEA) is a gratifying yet grueling week in the industry, where exhibitors big and small interact in a labyrinth of bookish miscellany (read: the show floor).

As a publicist on the scene—when this all took place last week—I adhered to a stunningly composed, novel-length itinerary whose I’s and T’s were dotted and crossed, respectively, weeks before showtime. 

But even the best laid plans encounter minor complications, and it was on the floor where I got to apply my publicisty (that’s a word, okay?) skill set—one quick nod at a time. 

For those who are interested in some quick ‘n’ dirty BEA tips, I impart my wisdom:


1. Be prepared to run into any industry person you’ve ever met.

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Booksellers. Media contacts. Agents. Booktubers. Blog tour coordinators. Former Tinder date who works at Javits. If someone taps you on the shoulder, be ready to say hi.

2.  Tackle any issue stealthily and within seconds.

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No event comes without challenges, but resolving them quickly and off to the side is the only way to go.

3. Wear comfortable shoes.

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Walk a little, stand a little, walk a little, stand a little. Don’t sit down. Walk a lot. Stand a little more. 

4. Savor those moments of running into beloved colleagues.

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In the midst of a stress attack, spotting a friendly face can be the best medicine.


1. Arrive at Javits with no snacks and hope you’ll have time to grab something.

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You’ll get too busy and forget. Before you know it, the sky is black, and you’ll run off into the night to go and drop $60 on mediocre diner food.

2. Forget to bring your wireless charger.

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Anyone ever try to find an outlet at Javits? LOL.

3. Leave the sweater or jacket at home.

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The convention center’s air conditioning is unrivaled in strength.

4. Expect your Sharpie supply to last the whole week.

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We publicists need to restock every few days. They disappear, I tell you. DISAPPEAR.

So file that away, Swooners, if you join us one day in the wonder that is the publishing industry. We’ll be waiting for you—itinerary in hand.

Author spotlight

Kelsey M.

Publicist for Swoon Reads. LA native. Not ashamed to know all things Kardashian.

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