"Hi! So, BEA is somewhat of a big event. I want to know, as a blogger, which part of BEA should I be interested in attending?"
My best strategy on this is to plan to meet up with people that you are friends with on twitter or through your blog. Exchange phone numbers, and coordinate your schedule with them. I know that last year, Teen Author Carnival was going on at the same time. That was a crazy, fun event to go with friends. Also, if there are publisher events, sometimes they get a chance to bring an extra person, and if you didn't get an invite, you may be able to go with them.
The parts of BEA that I found most fun and valuable were the buzz panels, publisher events, and talking to publicists, authors and bloggers on the floor. And then just be flexible about the rest of it. Find what interests you most, and don't stress too much if you have to make a choice between two good things at the same time.
"This is a bit more about BBC. I'm 17 and went to BEA last year but I didn't go to BBC because it seemed like they were stricter about the age policy. Is that true? I'm going to BEA this year and would love to also go to BBC. Thanks!"
I'm not sure about BBC's policy on this. However, I've heard that BEA is not going to allow anyone under 18 on the floor this year. And since BBC is now run by BEA, it's very likely that they will be strict on that rule too.
I know it's probably really frustrating to you, since you'd really like to go. However, and I'm sure you saw this too, I saw some really young kids (like 10 or so), running around without parental supervision. It was distracting, and frankly, really scary. So, I can understand why they put the age limit at 18.
Is it a good idea to have a room mate? How many room mates do people try to get? How many books on average does a blogger collect? How many authors does a person meet on average? How many publisher on average? Is there an easy way to organize the chaos? Do bloggers try to meet up and work together? Can you take more than one book if you are teaming up with other bloggers? Is it easy to meet other bloggers and make friends? Is there some dress code? Is there an easy way to tote books? How much should a person expect to spend during the conference?
Having a roommate is a great idea. I had like 19 last year, and I was never alone. This may surprise people, but I can be pretty reclusive if I don't know people. But, by having so many people in the same house, I met new people, and always had someone to hang with if I wanted.
Last year I got around 80 books. I read many of them, gave a bunch away to the teen program at my local library, and also gave some away to my teen reading and writing group. Only grab the stuff you're really interested in reading. Otherwise, you get totally overwhelmed.
Hmmm.... I met at least 30 authors. Probably more than that. I met authors in their signing lines, at Teen Author Carnival, at Publisher Events, and sometimes just on the floor of BEA. Don't be shy to go up and say hi!
I met publicists from every major publisher, and a bunch from smaller independent publishers as well. I found that after the chaos died down in the morning, I could go up to the booth, talk about titles I was interested in, and give them my card.
I used google calendar to organize my schedule, and I started organizing it right when the schedule was available online. I put down all the signings that I was interested in, plus any panels or extra events. That way, even if I decided in the moment that I didn't want to go, at least I knew about it and didn't miss something that I really wanted to attend. I will probably do the same thing this year. (Of course, last year I lost my phone, which really added to the chaos. I'm hoping to be even more organized this year).
I met up with a lot of bloggers. We swapped books that we got that others really wanted, and really had a great time.
As far as taking another book if you have a friend in another line or whatever. Tread lightly with this one. Always ask first. And be polite about it. Some publicists will say yes, others will say no. But, grabbing multiples without asking is considered a major faux pas. It's a good way to get yourself talked about on twitter. And not in a good way.
I met friends pretty easily, but I think it really depends on your personality. If you are outgoing in strange situations, you'll fit in nicely. If you aren't very good networking and interacting socially, then you'll have similar problems at BEA. But, it's still possible to have fun even if you're not outgoing.
There is no dress code. But, dress how you want to be treated. I wore business casual on the floor. I never wore jeans, tank tops, or t-shirts (except my Mara Dyer t-shirt, because I loved it). I did wear my tennis shoes, because they are extremely comfy, and I needed that. And, I got a very good response based on what I wore. Of course, I wear that stuff on a daily basis for my job and feel comfortable in it.
You can bring a suitcase to the floor and check it in for $3. I put my books in tote bags and went back to my suitcase every few hours to unload my tote bags. That worked out well.
I don't remember what I spent for the week, but it wasn't much. I'm pretty frugal. I think I came with $150 in cash, and used it up by the end of the week. However, I did drop $70 of it on a disposable cell phone with minutes since I lost mine.
"I'm thinking about going, but will feel awkward about walking up to people I don't know...any tips?"
Do it anyway. You have nothing to lose by saying hi. I'm pretty shy at first too. But, realize that most of the people you are meeting have something similar in common with you. They love books. Talk about the books in their hands. Talk about the author you are meeting. If you recognize someone based on their badge, say hello. It's really flattering. And you'll make fast friends.
"Best advice for a first-timer?"
No matter what happens, use your head. Be polite to everyone. Don't gossip. And have a good time.
"What is BEA?"
It's a yearly book publishing trade show. All the major publishers, and smaller ones and everyone in between get together to hype up their new titles to booksellers, librarians, press, and everyone. It's really just a grand old time.
Have questions that didn't get answered here? Leave them in the comments!