[stextbox id=”guest2″ image=”null”]With BEA swiftly approaching — and with the opening of Not Yet Read — I thought this would be a great time to invite Tabitha over to explain what’s so great about BEA and how it differs from all of the other bookish conventions out there. As you’ll see, she’s got a lot of experience with these events. And her blog bears the evidence, in a wide array of early reviews and guest posts from authors. If you haven’t visited her blog yet, please stop by and tell her hello!
If you are a new blogger like Tabitha and are interested in guest posting for us, please check out this post and fill out the form! We would love to feature you and help get your blog out there. Thanks!
BEA is a Book Grab so what are other Cons like?
The buzz is on – BEA aka Book Expo America is only a few days away and of course everyone who is going is excited and no doubt those who aren’t going might be wondering – is BEA the place to be?
As an absolute lover of book conventions, and any Science Fiction & Fantasy related convention period – I’m here to tell you just a little bit about them and to give my own categorization of the types there are (some are more specific to the SFF lovers). That way you can know what kind of convention would be the best fit for you.
THE BOOK GRAB Conventions
These types of conventions are no doubt the greedy gobblers heaven. After you have the lovely convention pass in your hands and you pass through those double doors of the exhibition hall it is a veritable smorgasboard of book grabbing glee. Aka you’re going to be nomming on those “free books”. Be nice and don’t go over-crazy, remember if you don’t get that book you can always buy it later!
Examples I’ve attended:
BEA (Book Expo America)
The biggie where you will see all genres covered (I tend to think BEA is YA genre heavy). There is a one day BloggerCon the day before BEA officially opens where you can go to panels (they try to make them better each year), and mingle and meet other book bloggers – some publishers sometimes sponsor this day by giving out ARCs during the BloggerCon. There are also many after con hours events around the city that are mostly invite only, but some are open to the public.
Attendees can end up walking away from this con with an exorbitant amount of books. There are booths all over the exhibition hall for each publisher where they give out books, frequently have their authors signing copies of their books and there is also an official Autographing table area that most authors attending are scheduled at least 30 minutes of autograph time. While you get to SEE the authors, you really don’t have any time to chat or mingle with them during BEA. It’s hectic, it’s packed, your shoulders will ache, you might not eat and you’ll spend the bulk of your time standing in lines. Still lots of fun though.
I haven’t made it to this one yet but it’s one I’m planning to attend. This is technically for librarians but I’ve known bloggers who’ve also attended. It has a lot of panels as well as the typical booth setup where publishers pass out ARCs in a similar fashion to BEA.
RTCon / RomCon (RT Booklovers Convention)
This one is more laid back. It’s still what I would consider a book grab because you will literally go home with just as many free books from this con as you will from BEA. The difference is – this one is more genre specific to Romance, PNR and urban fantasy. If those are genres you like – this is the con you want to go to. This con moves states each year and is also held usually in the same hotel that you would hopefully overnight in.
There are lots of open to all registrant activities to participate in and all day instead of spending your time on a exhibition floor where there are nothing but publisher booths you will spend the bulk of your time sitting in the audience listening to a panel of authors or industry professionals discuss one topic or another.
There is also a showroom/exhibition floor where you BUY books. This is key here in the difference between BEA and RTCon. At BEA typically all the books are just given to attendees – at RTCon there is a specific area for purchasing before you go to get your books signed. But there are still a lot of books given away. As far as mingling goes – if you want a more up close and personal encounter with an author from this genre you’re more likely to get it here. Oh yes and they have a Ball!
THE INDUSTRY Conventions
Now when I say The Industry – yes that’s right I mean the publishing industry, so the attendees to these are typically authors, publishing industry professionals, some bloggers, journalists, aspiring writers and the hardcore fandom fans. Tickets to these conventions cost much much more than a ticket to say BEA or RTCon. At least twice as much usually. Now why is that? I can’t say the specific reason for the price difference because I just don’t know, I don’t run the show. I would assume it is because they want to limit attendance to the industry and serious fandom. These cons usually consist of all day panels made up of authors, professionals and other genre people discussing the hot topics and at the end there is usually a major award ceremony such as the HUGOS.
Examples I’ve attended:
World Con (World Science Fiction Con)
I attended this one last year and so far it is a favorite. I met and hung out with authors almost the entire time I was there. All of the panels I decided to sit in on were so engaging and lots of Q&A on the topics they were discussing, there were also book readings, publisher panels where they spotlighted their forthcoming titles, workshops for writers and the after hours partying scene was fabulous. The after hours is lovingly dubbed BarCon – because as soon as you walk from the Convention back to the hotel bar – everyone one is there and hey pull up a piece of floor, a drink and have a chat. Every author I talked to was glad to chat. While this is a very industry heavy con – half of the attendees are also fans so you won’t feel out of place. Some light and fun costuming can be seen from attendees occasionally. Also after hours there are a ton of Convention hotel suite parties (usually courtesy of the next city that wants to host the next year’s World Con) there are also some publisher sponsored parties.
I still left the con with a suitcase full of books, but they were all books that I purchased. The con gives registrants anywhere from 1-4 free books a day while the con runs depending on sponsorship by publishers. So while you won’t walk away with a ton of free epic loots, you WILL get to hob nob with all your favorite genre authors! And THAT to me is worth way more than a stack of books from one of the book grab cons. Think about it and check out my awesome wrap up post from WorldCon last year and see all the authors I met and partied with til I dropped! The typical day at this con runs from 7am to 10pm for specific Con stuff and BarCon is usually running from 4pm to heck 4am or later. *wink*
I haven’t attended this one but I had considered it. Based on my close friend that has gone it is very similar to WorldCon except it’s much more of a rigid con than WorldCon. There is more of a dress code (no costuming), the registration price is higher and I just hear it’s all around more ‘professional’. Similar setup though – there is a vendor/exhibitor hall where you can buy books and see the artist alley, buy SFF art, and there are of course designated autographing times at both WorldCon and WorldFantasyCon.
MIXED MEDIA Conventions
The con that has it all! So I know you love to read, but do you also love Comics, movies, TV, video games and Anime? Then if you do one of these cons is where you want to be. You get to see people from all over these different industries come together for a wealth of activities, panels, contests, and just you name it and there is something for everyone to do. Costuming and cosplay is so awesome at one of these. If you haven’t made a costume before there is no time like the present to give it a shot!
Examples I’ve attended:
Comic Con (San Diego Comic Con)
The holy grail of comic cons? So I’ve heard – it’s been years now and I still haven’t been able to land a ticket to this thing. Regardless the party starts early in the morning and doesn’t stop until you leave several days later. Forget sleep who needs it! Believe it or not there is a decent Book Industry presence at Comic Cons and they usually have their own section for all the publisher and author books where you can sometimes get free books and get them autographed or buy the books for autographing. The major comic cons almost always have publishers giving out ARCs as well. So not as many as a book grab con but you’ll still walk away with some sweet hot forthcoming titles.
Another big con in the Science Fiction and Fantasy industry. This con also has celebrity guests from all medias. Want to meet a movie star? Want to talk to the designer of that hot video game? Hob nob with that author you love that NEVER seems to make it to your town for a book signing – this is another hot place to be. Again there is a publisher and author presence here that is definitely noteworthy – all you need to is look at the guest list and drool. So you can be sure you’ll be able to snag a few free choice books as well as buy some. The costuming is fabulous, and you wouldn’t want to stand out by looking normal now would you? (I’m working on my costume for Dragon Con right now!)
I hope some of this info helps you decide what kind of convention would be best for you.
Personally, I plan to try every big Science Fiction and Fantasy convention I possibly can. My goal is to attend at least two every year. This year being BEA and DragonCon. Don’t be afraid even if you can’t find someone else to go with you because I can tell you I’ve gone alone to several cons and there are always people to meet and something to do so I never got lonely. In fact I prefer flying solo because then I can go where ever and do whatever I want and change plans at the drop of a hat. But having a friend definitely helps with hotel costs.
Folks are always looking for hotel roomies – you can always send a shout out via twitter with that cons hashtag if you’re looking to go and start chatting people up before you attend. Once you attend one I’ve no doubt you’ll become a con junkie! Next year I’m planning on Comic Con and Convergence!