Thursday, April 19, 2012

BEA Help: Making Those Autograph Schedules (#bookexpo)

All right guys I found something out last year--a goodly amount of the folks I spoke with went into the BEA autographing schedules with little to no plan!

This kind of shocked me--I mean they put up what is more or less a good guide of autographing authors on the BEA website (which admittedly can be hard to navigate) and since I tend to obsessively pore over it I figured everyone else did too.

Not so much.

Most of my roommates in fact hadn't even LOOKED at the schedule beyond glancing at it quickly.  I felt kind of like a lame duck and a nerd for making color-coordinated spreadsheets...

So! I'm going to give y'all the recipe to make your own and then we shall ALL be spreadsheet nerds!

  • this is just my preferred method of tracking, tweak as you like
  • I keep a hardcopy with me at all times (see ---)
  • overlapping times are to be expected, trust me list everything you want to check out or go to so that if a line is much too long, you can move on without stressing
  • You can also keep track via the My BEA Shw Planner on the website, simply register and viola! It should connect to you BEA mobile app when that's up and running.  Incidentally that's where the Author Signing Information i.
  • This is wordy, sorry about that
These are important, they help you know exactly what you are looking at quickly.
  • Author: pretty self-explanatory
  • Book: another easy to deduce one
  • Time: I break my spreadsheets down by day--one spreadsheet per day, so I just put the start and end times for the signing
  • Table/Booth: Its important to note which you are writing down.  Most of the time its easy to tell the difference (booths are always a much higher number), but at quick glance its good to know 'oh I have this many in the Table area in this time frame' when on the go
  • *new this year* Genre: last year, when checking out interesting sounding books, I often forgot the titles or authors who were new to me and what genre they wrote for.  Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey's time for instance got mixed up with a mystery of the same and it didn't occur to me until after I got in line, wait different author!
  • *new this year* Publisher: This is mainly for the Table signings, I found it to be good to track which publishers I saw a lot at the tables so I wasn't handing my card to the same reps 10 times.

Hopefully the above image is clear enough that you can make out what it says (not that the words themselves mean much).  If not you can see the actual spreadsheet here (for all three days) on google docs.  Note the 'Publisher' column doesn't show up on the image above, but you can see it on the spreadsheets themselves.

This is my first draft--well technically my third draft.  My first draft was going through and finding the authors/books I was interested in and jotting them down, my second draft was organizing them by time/day and then this my third draft is my first digital draft which I will continue to tweak until the day of the event.

What the above doesn't include is my color coordination system.  Basically I have four highlighters and I use them to denote the following:
  • Pink: is MUST HAVE.  As in, I am dying to own this arc/author's signature/book, woe be unto any who step in my way.  Of the above I can honestly say only 3 books fall into this category--Ten by Gretchen McNeil (it sounds like Harper's Island), whatever book Shannon Hale is signing (I'm hoping its Princess Academy 2) and Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear (steampunky enough for me!)
  • Orange: is TRY MY BEST.  These are the books I'm highly interested in, but I won't commit a major felony for.  Of the above probably about a third of them fall into this category.
  • Green: is HAPPENSTANCE ALLOWS. Books that sound interesting or are by an author I have read before...but I could hold off on owning (or already own elsewise).  5 books fall into this category including Tale of Two Lovers by Maya Rodale, The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James, Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent, A Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder and The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa.
  • Yellow: is PRETTY BASIC.  Books that warrant a try out as long as they don't interfere with the PINK or ORANGE tier books.  3 definitely fall into this category: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente (which is incorrectly on the sheet as 'The Girl Who Fled Fairyland' for some reason).  I will lay odds these authors will be mobbed, so I can take a step back I think.
The reason I color code is because it's a quick and simple way for my eyes to track what is most important to me.  I don't trust my phone at the Javits (reception is horrible) and if I just stared at the B&W I'd have to go through and re-read every line every time.  This way when I am done with a signing I can look at my hardcopy and say 'Oh! I have enough time to check out this Green author because Pink Author B doesn't begin for two more hours!'.

I've found one of the most important things to do is to keep track of yourself.  By having a hardcopy schedule you aren't relying on the brochure (which is awkward to carry and keep flipping open) or your phone.  You can also jot notes on the fly--if you hear about a galley grab at say 12pm you can jot it on your schedule instead of trying to remember.

Tips and Tricks:

This'll be my 5th Book Expo (dear lord it will be my 5th Book Expo!) and I've picked up a couple of handy tricks to help me make it through.
  • keep your hardcopy in a notebook.  Even if you make it on a computer, tape it to a notepad and keep that with you.  Make it something you can easily reach or carry and easily identifiable.  I have a nifty Fullmetal Alchemist one.
  • A trick I picked up from Amelia last year--keep a hardcopy of the map on you at all times.  I'll go as far as to add if you are in a group that tends to wander about, clearly designate the meeting place(s) so there's no confusion.  Also mark which baggage drop you leave your suitcase at.
  • Whenever you have time, go to the baggage drop and drop off your books/swag.  Seriously, carting around all those books may not SEEM like a bad idea, but the handles of the totes will dig into your arms and it will just unnecessarily tire you out.
  • Talk to those around you in line.  If you're in a really long line, and its not a signing happening for say another 30 minutes, I don't think its impolite to ask someone to hold your spot while you run to the bathroom.
  • On that note, make a note of where bathrooms are on the map.  Trust me, it will save you time (I put extra stars next to the ones which are usually less busy! Like the one on the way to the Meeting Rooms :whistles: )

So helpful?  Tips I should add?  Shout it out!