Happy Summer Convention Season! Time to cram a bunch of introverted super fans into one building and hope they can make a line. This weekend is BookCon, a bookish pop culture smorgasboard hosted at the Javitz Center in New York City. Whether you’re taking a bus, train, plane, or just hoofing it a few city blocks, you’ll want to be prepared. And we’ve got the ultimate guide.
Eat, Drink, & Don’t Fall Over Dead
It’s easy to say you’ll eat later when you really want to go to an event. Rather than starve until food is possible, keep your bag full of snacks. Make the investment in a Brita filter bottle and drink water constantly. Granola bars or crackers make the best bag snacks. They fill you up quickly and take up very little space.
Sync Up Your Calendar
If you’re going with friends or family, sync up your google calendars with the events you’re hoping to attend. It’s easy to get separated and even easier to lose cell phone reception. It might feel like overkill up front, but you’ll be happy you did when it comes time to gather everyone up for a meal.
Separate Your Money
This one is important. You will buy books. You will buy food. You will pay for transportation. You will pay for snacks. And you will need the money to do it. You can absolutely do the entire BookCon event for less than $300 if you try hard and believe in yourself.
You should have separate funds for:
- Food (meals and snacks)
And never, NEVER bring all of your money with you to the convention. Visa and MasterCard gift cards, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay are a God send. BookCon is prepared for digital purchases, and you should be too. Keep your money secure and carry minimal amounts of cash.
Not everyone handles crowded spaces well, I feel you. BookCon still doesn’t have social badges like some other cons do, but that’s okay. Here are some that you can print out and hang on your badge to help people interact with you or simply leave you alone.
Print these side by side, then fold them over and secure with tape. If you’re feeling particularly anxious and want to be left alone, display the red/white card. If you’re in a good place, or just a social butterfly, display the green one.
Chargers Are Important
Bring a charger for your phone. Yes, the one that plugs into the wall. There are ports all over the Javitz center. You will be on your phone for everything. You’ll be checking the BookCon app, you’ll be following authors and publishers on Twitter (yes, you will because they’ll tweet out updates about the convention), you’ll be texting friends, you’ll be taking and posting photos, you’ll be keeping an eye on the time, and you’ll be checking that one event religiously to make sure it doesn’t get moved or canceled. And your poor phone’s battery will die quickly. FEAR NOT: you can just plug it into the wall.
On May 11th, 2019, BookCon would’ve sent you an email prompting you to grab your two free tickets for autographs. After that, you’ll have to make sure that you’re in line for any authors who were sold out before the con. That means having patience. Hopefully, you’re all set with your top two. If not, be prepared to get to the convention center early, wait in line, and get to the autographing area quickly to get in line for the extra tickets. Some autograph sessions require you to buy the book at the convention, all of these details are listed on BookCon’s website and schedule. And some authors will only be signing books purchased at the convention. These will be available in line during autograph sessions.
Packing for Autographs
If you’re all set to go with your scheduled autograph sessions, let’s talk about the weight of books. You’re going to come home with at least 20 or so and that doesn’t even count the ones that you’ll actually purchase. Of course, you want your copy signed. But your copy weighs a ton when it’s next to the rest of your copies.
Instead, pack a sheet of bookplates. Pick up some mailing labels, decorate them, print out a template if you want. The bookplates will take up less space, weigh less, and you can get multiple signed, which means you’ll be able to have an entire series signed.
A Note About Service Dogs
Service dogs are trained to assist someone with a disability. They have tasks to perform and are not just there for companionship (although that is an added bonus). If you see someone with a service dog, leave them be. Don’t comment that they have a dog, or point out that they “don’t look disabled,” or ask to pet the dog. Do not make kissy noises at the dog. And if the dog turns around and sniffs you, simply ignore it.
When you distract a service animal, you are putting their handler at risk, because if the dog is focused on you, they could miss something that their handler needs them to check.
If you see a service animal without a handler, follow the dog. Their handler needs help.
Be respectful. Remember: No touch. No talk. No eye contact. No kissy noises.