This year I had the amazing opportunity to work at BookExpo and BookCon in New York City! In case you didn’t know, these are some of the biggest book-related events in North America, with hundreds of authors, publishers, and other guests attending to meet fans and promote upcoming releases. I worked from May 31 to June 3, four days in total, and even though I ended the weekend completely exhausted and my feet ready to fall off, I had so much fun.
But let’s start at the beginning!
The events happen at the Javits Center in New York, which is absolutely gigantic! The whole inside was filled with these huuuuuge posters promoting various books. Such as this one for King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo! Terrible lighting, but very exciting nonetheless.
I actually didn’t see a lot of the convention center because I was working in the autographing area, which meant I didn’t have time to explore much beyond there and the convention floor. Where I was stationed, it looked like this much of the time:
And the floor looked something like this! Very crowded, very bookish, very fun.
My job was to stand at the front of lines, collect or scan tickets if necessary (for BookExpo, only certain authors were ticketed, but all were for BookCon), write people’s names on sticky notes, and help out with whatever else was needed. It was a lot of standing on my feet for hours and hours (and hours) but at least I (usually) didn’t have to deal with any awful people. The nice thing is that everyone seems to happy to be there that (almost) nobody is rude.
Plus, I still had the chance to meet some amazing authors!!!
So here’s some cool things that happened:
Meeting my hero, aka Shannon Hale
So uh…in case I haven’t talked about it enough, I love Shannon Hale, the author of The Goose Girl (among many other fantastic books). She’s been my fave since I was a tiny child. So obviously, she was at the top of my list of people to meet.
And I got to meet her.
Not gonna lie, I was actually shaking and tearing up when I was talking to her (which was really embarrassing). I told her that The Goose Girl changed my life (her: it changed mine too!) and it shaped who I am as a person today. She said something about how it feels like that book came out three years ago yet here’s this “gorgeous young woman” (she called me that and I died) who read it when she was eight and that’s incredible. Also I made her publicist cry. And then this happened.
I didn’t see this until I got back to the break room and I CRIED. I couldn’t even talk about it for the next few days without tearing up. So that’s cool, I guess. *cries some more*
The Becky and Adam adventure
Well, obviously I wanted to meet Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. And I desperately wanted to get an ARC of their upcoming book, What If It’s Us. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t get it ☹️.) They did a signing together on the second day, giving out their ARCs, and the rule for workers was that if there were extras of anything, we were allowed to take them. Unfortunately, there were definitely not extras. In fact, there were about forty people who didn’t get books who were not happy with us workers.
I was obviously disappointed that I couldn’t see them then, but I knew they were doing a signing at a Barnes and Noble like two blocks from where I live on Saturday. So I went to that! And….I got there late since I was coming straight from BookCon, and they ran out of books. Which I feel is the universe’s way of punishing me for telling all those people in line that we ran out of books the other day. So attempt #2 was unsuccessful. (But I still got to see their talk beforehand, and they’re such funny people. I love their friendship.)
Attempt #3 came on the last day of BookCon! They had signings at separate times, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to both (if any) so I chose Adam since I’d never met him. But I finally did!! I was the last person in line and he signed my copy of They Both Die at the End and I told him an abridged version of this story and apologized for basically stalking him. He was so nice.
And THEN! Right before the con ended and I went home, Becky’s signing ended! I ran up to her table because I’m shameless (and my crew t-shirt let me go wherever I wanted 😉) and said hi to her really quickly and my life was complete! It was wonderful and I love them both.
So many authors!!!
There were so many that I met and everyone was so nice??? What is my life????
Leigh Bardugo – This was on the morning of the first day and I still wasn’t sure if I was allowed to join lines but I did it anyway! Wasn’t about to miss that opportunity. Plus, I got a sampler of King of Scars! She was so nice and she told me that I look like some other author that she knows but I can’t remember who she said because I was too busy internally freaking out. But anyway, she’s lovely and incredible, and I got to stand close to her a few days later and not to be weird but she smelled amazing.
Scott Westerfeld – I was working at his table, so I went back to help set up books and some guy came out and said “hi I’m Scott” and I looked down at his name tag and was like OH. And I got a signed ARC of his prequel to Uglies. I’m actually reading one of his books now, Afterworlds, and I told him that, and he asked if I’m a writer and I said yes and he said then you’ll love it. Wow. It’s fine, I’m chill.
Kody Keplinger – I’ve never actually read any of her books, but I was working at her table and she asked if I wanted a signed ARC of her upcoming book That’s Not What Happened (which looks soooo good) and we just talked about books for a few minutes and it was wonderful she’s so nice.
Brandon Sanderson – I couldn’t resist getting a sampler of Skyward, which I’m so excited for. The line was practically gone by the time I joined so I didn’t have time to plan out what I was going to say (and if I don’t plan it out I freeze up), so I basically just told him that I can’t wait to read the rest of the book and ran away lol.
Nicola Yoon – I’ve never read any of her books either! But it was right at the end of the day and she had just finished her signing, and one of my co-workers wanted to meet her, so I went up for moral support. They talked about Nick Robinson and then she signed a book for me. Yessssss.
Marissa Meyer – Even though I already own Cinder, I really wanted to meet her, so I bought it again just to get it signed. Worth it. And I got to tell her that we’re from the same city, which I think is pretty cool when we’re both in a city that’s on the complete opposite side of the country!
Angie Thomas – Another one where she had just finished her signing and I ran up at the end (with a couple co-workers) to meet her. She was super nice, and even though she had just been signing books for almost two hours, she stayed a couple extra minutes just to talk to us.
Tomi Adeyemi – This one was complete chance! I was heading back after my lunch break and I happened to run into her as she was meeting a group of fans! There’s actually a video of it on her Twitter, and if you look closely you can see me lurking in the background waiting for my turn to meet her. Anyway, I told her that I loved her book and she was so happy and she hugged me and I died. She also smelled really good.
There were so many other authors that I would have loved to meet, but I’m so happy with the interactions that I was able to have. Also, it was really weird that by the last day I had become so nonchalant to seeing incredible authors who I admire and love just walking around. Like I’d just be standing at my line and go “oh look it’s Laini Taylor walking past me for the third time today.” What???? This is not normal????? It was wild.
Plus, I saw a ton of booktubers whose names I don’t know but it was crazy because I definitely know their faces!
Another highlight was when Rainbow Rowell tweeted the announcement for the Carry On sequel, Wayward Son, five minutes before her signing started, and chaos ensued. I ended up fangirling with a bunch of people in the Adam Silvera line and it was wonderful.
Honestly, it was just so great being surrounded by so many fellow book-lovers for four days. I loved the atmosphere and the energy, and even though I was completely exhausted at the end of every day, I would do it over again a hundred times.
Now for the things I got!
ARCs and samplers:
- Fresh Ink: An Anthology by various authors – released Aug. 14, 2018 (signed and personalized)
- That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger – released Aug. 28, 2018 (signed and personalized)
- Imposters by Scott Westerfeld – released Sept. 11, 2018 (signed and personalized)
- The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale – released Sept. 25, 2018 (signed and personalized)
- Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel by Val Emmich – released Oct. 9, 2018
- Skyward sampler by Brandon Sanderson – released Nov. 6, 2018 (signed and personalized)
- King of Scars sampler by Leigh Bardugo – released Jan. 29, 2019 (signed and personalized)
- The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix – released Feb. 5, 2019
- Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward – released March 19, 2019
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer (signed and personalized)
- They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (signed and personalized)
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
- Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
- The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish (signed and personalized)
- Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
- Moonstruck by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle
- Snotgirl by Brian Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung
- The Wicked and the Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
Was anyone else at BookExpo or BookCon this year? Who would you have loved to meet?