The BEA Bloggers Conference: Should I Go?

beaThis summer will mark my fifth anniversary of blogging. And one of the things I’ve really wanted to do is attend the Book Expo America Bloggers Conference. Have you been? What did you think?

I read some good critical reviews of last year’s conference, and it sounds like the blogging sessions aren’t always terribly informative. And there’s no agenda yet to look at. But I think meeting other book bloggers would be wonderful. Of course maybe there are book bloggers in the DC region who would like to meet up occasionally – in which case I would love to help plan something.

Bloggers, have you been to BEA, and if so, which parts? The Book Expo sounds fun, but I’m not a big fan of lines and crowds, and to be perfectly honest I’m not super interested in meeting authors. I’d much rather read their books! I’ve been to book signings and find them a pretty artificial experience, except for the part where you hear an author talk about or read from their books. You need special tickets to get in to see the really popular authors; is this worth it? What about the Avid Reader Pass, which gets you tickets to ten authors plus covers your autographing fees?

I’m interested in seeing all the publishers and hearing about new books though. I think they give out a lot of free books, right?

BEA is in New York City on the last week of May. The Bloggers Conference is Wednesday, May 27. While NY isn’t far, going on a Wednesday means taking most of the week off. Is it worth it? I’d have to take a train up on Tuesday, and then I imagine I’d stay for the rest of the week. I’m not super concerned about the conference fee but the cost of travel, hotel, and time off work is significant.

It would help if I was more excited about spending time in New York. I was born in NYC but I’m really not much of a fan. DC has pretty much everything NYC has, and is smaller and more manageable. If I was into Broadway or high-end shopping, I suppose I’d feel differently. New York has great kosher delis, but really I’m not too into the foot-high meat sandwich idea.

I do have relatives there, which is a plus.

The real question is whether BEA and the Bloggers Conference is good for my blog. This year, I’d really like to expand the reach of the blog, and expand MY knowledge about blogging. In my first few years, I was really focused on the content. But I want to know so much more.

Of course it’s early to decide, since agendas haven’t been developed and the early registration deadline isn’t till May 8. On the other hand, the husband and I have limited time to travel this year, and planning our vacation and any visits to friends and family has to happen soon.

So, if you’ve been to BEA and the Bloggers Conference, what did you think? What were the highs and lows? Will you go again?

Note: I’ve decided to post at least once a month about blogging issues, for the Book Blog Discussion challenge at Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Check it out for other posts about blogging.

22 Responses to “The BEA Bloggers Conference: Should I Go?”

  1. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I have been to BEA once (my sister is in publishing and got me a pass for the last day), but that was before I was blogging, so I wasn’t aware of that part at all. It is a crazy madhouse scene; if you don’t like crowds, it’s not for you. It is fun to see the publishers’ booths and pick up some free things. From the reports of last year’s conference, the blogging sessions were somewhat disappointing; that made me less sad that I can’t go, although they might improve things this year. I would love to meet other bloggers and wish there were another event that was more focused on us.

    Reply
    • curlygeek04

      Thanks Lory, that’s kind of what I’m thinking. The Blogger conference sounds good even if the sessions aren’t great… but being on a Wednesday means really my entire week is committed. Too bad you’re so far away, it would be great to plan a meet-up!

      Reply
      • Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

        Well, my brother is moving to DC so I might make it there some day. : ) I hope you can go to the conference and have a great time.

  2. tanya (52 books or bust)

    I say go. I think it is a great opportunity to meet other bloggers. I’ve heard that blogger workshop isn’t all that useful either, but I know some blogger who are planning their own UnCon. They have a FB page, you can look up Book Blog UnCon 2015. For more info

    Reply
  3. BookerTalk

    I’ve not been and since I live the other side of the Atlantic I’m not likely to be there. Maybe go for the experience but miss the blogging session and do your own link up with some bloggers

    Reply
  4. Alley

    I’ve debated going the last few years and always fall on the side of “eh” given all of the things you’ve said. Well, all of thing things you said about the con itself. I heart NYC. And live nearby so travel isn’t something I really need to factor in. BUT I have enjoyed meeting up with other bloggers outside of the con.

    Reply
    • curlygeek04

      Thanks Alley! Sounds like maybe I need to try harder to meet up with bloggers in other settings. I wish I liked NY better, it’s a pretty easy train ride, and it is a good chance to see friends and family.

      Reply
  5. Silver's Reviews

    It is fun to meet other bloggers. I love that the most.

    The blogger conference is ok, but again, you meet other bloggers so it is worth it.

    Seeing the publishers and publicists that you talk to on e-mail is also fun. And yes…you get free books. Just be selective in what you choose. 🙂

    I would say GO, and have fun.

    This will be my fourth year going. It got better each year because you figure out what to do after the first year. 🙂

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog

    Reply
  6. River City Reading

    I went to BEA and the Blogger Conference last year and, while I really enjoyed BEA itself, I don’t recommend feel the blogger portion is necessary. It was actually rather frustrating for some of the reasons you mentioned…I would have preferred more time to travel and get settled. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go this year because of my work schedule, but if I do I won’t be attending that section.

    Reply
    • curlygeek04

      Interesting – that’s helpful feedback, thanks! I’m curious what you disliked about the blogger conference or if it just generally wasn’t useful? If you do end up going, let me know!

      Reply
  7. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I really loved BEA for the sake of meeting other bloggers. There were definitely lots of crowds and it was very hectic, though. If you’re that close, though, I would go, just for the experience (and for your blog!).

    This year, I think I’ve decided to go to RT in Dallas instead of BEA because it will be more relaxed and interactive, but that’s only because next year BEA will be in my neighborhood (Chicago), so I will definitely be going then!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    Reply
    • curlygeek04

      Thanks or the comment! I think I’m going to give it a go, if only this one time… what is RT? And I didn’t realize BEA moved around, that’s good to know.

      Reply
      • Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

        Sorry it took me so long to reply – I sometimes miss the WordPress notifications. RT is a conference happening in Dallas in mid-May. It has tons of breakout sessions and over 800 authors. Just Google RT Dallas and you’ll find it. BEA is normally in NY, but it will be in Chicago in 2016. They haven’t announced what will happen after 2016 yet.

  8. Charlotte

    I’m in two minds myself about BEA…it’s hard for a shy introvert to truly have a great time! Just something for to keep in mind–Kidlitcon 2015 (children’s and YA book bloggers) will be in Baltimore this fall, and it is always a lovely time! There’s no official 2015 page yet, but here’s last year’s– http://kidlitosphere.org/kidlitcon/

    Reply
  9. Sophie Davis

    I just stumbled on this post when looking for info on the blogger con at BEA, so hopefully you don’t mind the late reply. I attended BEA for the first time last year, as an author, and it’s absolutely an epic experience. As an avid reader, I found myself spending a lot of time wandering around picking up books while my co-author manned the booth and signed for us. There were only three I wanted autographed books for – Lois Lowry, Scott Westerfeld, and Jason Segel – so I didn’t have to wait in lines the whole time, but that’s totally a preference thing. And yes, you literally get all the free books you can carry during the event, with the houses giving away advanced copies of many of their releases for the next year. You just wander through these giant aisles and pick up what you want off of the big stacks. My advice for that is to actually be choosy, though! Since I have very limited time to read anymore, I took only books I really thought sounded like my cup of tea and that I really wanted to read. Even being selective like that, I still ended up coming home with over forty! In addition, it’s a great opportunity to meet all of those people you email with, as well as tons of new ones. This year I’m bringing two bloggers with me (which is why I was looking up the con), and I think you guys organizing a lunch or something one of the days with your brethren would be really cool. Regardless, in general, if you’re someone who loves books and reading, I highly recommend attending BEA at least once. Oh, and re:it being in Chicago next year- there’s already a LOT of flack coming from the industry about it, since all of the houses and their staff are based in NYC. I would be genuinely surprised if it doesn’t make its way back to NY in 2017. (Also, I live in DC, too, and feel the same way about New York! We’ve got everything right here in a less-claustrophobic setting 🙂 ). Hope this helps!

    Reply

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