The fact that more than five bloggers I met, separate from each other, used the term “braving BookCon” as their reaction to the event says something. Look guys, it all comes down to this:
If you don’t want to be in a group of non-professionals, don’t go to BookCon.
If you’re okay with being in a group of non-professionals, go to BookCon.
I’ll start with the first one. Here are the main ways that BookCon is different from BEA:
- BookCon is open to anyone who can buy a ticket.
- Instead of handing out autographing tickets throughout the day, autographing tickets are handed out super early in the morning at BookCon. As you can probably imagine, the lines are pretty absurd. I’m talking worse than Disneyland or Disney World. On par or worse with TSA Chicago (pictures below).
— Eli Madison (@thesilverwords) May 15, 2016
- The lines aren’t well organized at BookCon. Actually, BookCon in general is poorly organized. At BEA, there were people with signs marking the beginning, middle, break, and end of a line. At BookCon, it’s a mishmash of people trying to get everywhere. There’s no standard for coming or going and no direction.
- And what comes from that mishmash? A lot of shoving, stepping on feet, and frustrated people. Never a good combination.
Would I go to BookCon again?
Honestly, yes. If the ticket is less than $50, and I’m in the city for BEA, I would probably go to BookCon again. I went in not wanting to pay any money for books, and I didn’t, but I manage to pick up books that I missed at BEA. Some of those are Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess, Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow, and The Reader by Traci Chee. Plus, I got to hand out the rest of the pendants that I made to give out at BEA/BookCon! All in all, I gave out 197.
General Words of Advice
I have a handy-dandy chart below with information for you based on what you’re going to BookCon for, but here are a few general pieces of advice if you want to go to BookCon.
Know what you’re going there for, and you should only really pick one.
Especially if you went to BEA, as fun and completely amazing as the experience is, you’re going to be worn out by the time BookCon comes around. Don’t try to outdo yourself. If you think you can, by all means, go for it, but I know that I couldn’t.
The morning that BookCon rolled around, I got sick and ended up staying in bed for way later than I thought I would. When I started feeling better, I decided I did want to go to BookCon still, but I aimed to have a pretty chill day with Steph from Doodle’s Reviews. There is almost no such thing as a chill day at BookCon.
By halfway through the day, I was exhausted. I had spent hours fighting crowds, trying to give out pendants, talking to publicists, and finding friends. I wasn’t even going to the events, and I was getting a headache from being there. Here’s the way I see it: choose panels, signings, or everything else.
Personally, I would go for the panels. I had no interest in going to the signings, and the panels at BookCon are the only part of it that are well-done. They have some great topics and speakers, and I wish I’d spent more time going to them.
Get there early and scout out the space.
I wasn’t familiar with the venue for BookCon. Even when I was at BEA, I rarely ever stepped out of the main area. I had no idea where any of the rooms were. Subsequently, I struggled to find places much more than I had at BEA. If you get to BookCon early for any reason, the first thing I would do is get there early and scout out the space so that you know where to go when.
Unless, of course, you’re getting there early to get tickets. If that’s the case, well then, good luck. You’ll need it. For a sense of perspective, people started lining up for BookCon autographs at 3 in the morning.
Stick with people you know.
It’s really nice to have a group of one or two other bloggers, or even just friends, to have around to keep you sane. BookCon gets crazy, and having people there to talk to is really nice. Also, take breaks. The event can be overwhelming, and nobody is going to care if you sit on the sidelines, cool down, and disappear into a good book.