• Sarah Leonard

10 Steps to Conquering BookCon



BookCon: The time of year in New York City when bookworms flock to the birds’ nest in hopes of them taking a bite. And what are those birds, exactly? Authors and publishers. And what do we get? Many of them, and we get many books too. Whether you’re going to BookCon to get signatures or to binge collect all the novels your unwheeled backpack can carry (wheels weren’t allowed this year), here’s what you’ll need to remember when navigating the chaos.

1. Sign up for author signings the SECOND signups open

Yes, I used “sign” three times in that heading, because it’s THAT important! Before I go into this, know that you need to register for BookCon in advance in order to get an access number for the signups. Also, unfortunately, you can only sign up for two. Do so at the VERY SECOND sign ups open.


I made the mistake of trying to sign up for autographing sessions ten minutes after they opened. The majority of the authors I wanted to see were already sold out. You’re probably thinking, “Well, who says we read the same authors?” Doesn’t matter, wormy.

The authors that sell out first are the popular ones. Doesn’t matter what genre. Although, you’ll DEFINITELY have trouble with YA/Fantasy novelists. Signing up a little late isn’t the end of the world, though. I was still able to find slots for Kate DiCamillo (author of Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) and Colleen Hoover (author of romance novels, including Without Merit and It Ends With Us).

2. Do your research before you go

Signups aren’t the only way you can get autographs. Many authors, even ones as big as Kevin Kwan (author of Crazy Rich Asians), will have autograph sessions with free books to match! No


need to signup. However, with those too, show up early. They don’t have limitless free books.

I wouldn’t have known Kevin Kwan was signing if I hadn’t looked it up, and that was only posted by him on Instagram the DAY BEFORE! It’s likely you’ll have favorite authors going to BookCon, and many authors will have surprise, unplanned signings. Follow them on social media so you can keep up to date on that.

Authors aren’t your only outlet. Also look into publishers. Yes, Kevin Kwan posted on Instagram regarding his signing. Not all authors do. To find out more about what events big publishers have, try looking on their site. Penguin Random House had an entire schedule posted for BookCon. It was great for knowing what other signings and giveaways there would be.

3. Bring bags

You will get a LOT of books and merch, and most of it, if not all, will be free. I got twelve books, and I only paid for one. Six of them were signed 1st editions given out for author autographing sessions. Bring a bag and/or backpack (and Advil, because your back will be sore).


4. Bring books you really want signed


You may not have gotten a spot for that signing you desperately wanted, or the staff may say you can’t have a book from home signed (which happened to me), but bring the books anyway. If one of your favorite authors ends up having a non-sign up autograph session or offers to sign books after one of the panels, you’ll want to be ready.

Although, it’s likely that bestselling authors attending will have their books sold by the big publishers or the BookCon store. So, if you don’t have the space or don’t want the extra weight in your pack, you can risk it and try to buy their books at the conference.

5. Know where you want to go beforehand

When those doors open, will you be ready? Because everyone will be running to get what they want. This could be giveaways or handouts from a certain publisher (they have their own sections). Go to the big ones first, whichever you like most. Maybe you want


to get in line for a certain non-signup autographing booth. Once people flood in, those giveaways will be gone fast and the lines will be long.

So, before you go, figure out what areas you want to hit first, and fight for it. If you’re in a group, split up. Have one person go hunt for giveaways while you wait in line for an autographing session, holding their spot if you are able.

What panels do you want to go to? These are great for readers and writers. It’s very interesting and helpful to hear about a writer’s creative process, to hear how they put those incredible words on the pages. The more popular the authors, the more people that will attend. The time traveling panel with Naomi Novik, Deborah Harkness, and V.E. Schwab was a full house.

6. Get the BookCon app


The app includes a map, authors and other guests attending, times they’ll be speaking or signing, info on certain activities and events, and panels you can sign up for. Although it won’t include all the surprise guests or giveaways, it is still helpful. You can even save panels and signings you want to attend and be notified when the time for them is approaching.

Also, the app will send you notifications throughout the two days and will be constantly updated when things change.

7. Get there early

Some people, so I’ve heard, got in line for BookCon as early as 5am. My mom and I got there at 8am, and the first line was already full.

In short, get there early, and not just because you want to have more time to spend there. You do, but you also want to get all the good giveaways available when the doors open at 10am. I had books literally handed to me.


8. Be on the prowl for big lines


Big lines are little treasures. We walked by so many not knowing what they were for, until we asked. Some ended up being signings by authors I loved, giveaways for Advanced Readers Copies, and other fun things. All you have to do is ask the people in line. Some of them may not even know why they’re there, but someone will.

Also, depending on what the giveaway or signing is, there may be staff members at the end and front of the line. You can ask them as well. You never know what you might be missing out on.

9. Check out Nooked!

When next year’s BookCon comes around, check out this article again. As informative as it is now, it will be so useful for BookCon 2019. That’s what it’s written for, after all!

So, go my little worms. Go and let the birds consume you in their nest of books.

10. And love it.

Till next time, Nooksters!

#writing #books #conference #bookcon #booknooked #nooked

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