Everything I Wish I Knew Before My First BookCon

BookCon is quickly approaching and I’m so incredibly excited. This will be my third BookCon and I’m so ready to meet authors, get free books, and see all the panels. Although I feel confident about attending the con this year, my first year I didn’t really know what to expect. So if this is your first BookCon here’s some things I wish I’d known before my first BookCon.

1. Wear Comfortable Shoes

While I didn’t wear heels to BookCon, I also didn’t wear the most comfortable shoes and my feet hated me by the end of the day. My recommendation is to wearing running/athletic shoes. I’ll be wearing my Nikes.

2. Bring Snacks

Most likely you’ll be running from one panel to the next and stopping for food will seem like a detour you don’t have time for. Plus, the food at BookCon is typically expensive. So make sure to pack up snacks. I’m talking dry cereal, granola bars, a sandwich, and make sure you have a water bottle. You’ll want to stay hydrated.

3. You Don’t Have To Accept Everything

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One of the best things about BookCon is all the free things you get. People will be shoving swag and books into your face at all times. Last year, I somehow ended up with two copies of the same book. Thus, you will feel like you should take everything that’s being given to you. It’s free, right? Except then you’ll find your bag filled with things you’ll have to figure out how to get home and when you get home you’ll realize you don’t even want half that stuff. So don’t be afraid to say no or walk away from something. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you have to take it.

4. Plan Out Your Schedule Ahead of Time

BookCon has an app that you absolutely should use. On the app you can go through the schedule for the entire weekend and add the panels and autographings you want to attend to your own personal schedule. It’s easy way to see what things you want to go to and make sure you don’t have anything overlapping. You should also get a good look at the map. If you have an autographing in the Autographing Area at 12 p.m. but you want to make a panel that’s happening on the lower level at 1 p.m. you should know that in advance (although I’ll tell you right now, you’re not going to make it).

It’s much easier to actually get to everything you want to go to if you already have a game plan in mind. Additionally, by planning out your schedule you’ll be able to prioritize what you really want to go to so if you do have to choose between two things, you’ll already know which one is most important.

5. Get Your Autographing Tickets Ahead of Time

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If an author is doing a signing “In Booth,” this means the publisher is hosting it at their booth and you don’t need an advance ticket for that. However, if the signing is happening in the Autographing Area you will need a ticket. Thankfully, the set up is much better than it was at my first BookCon and now you can get your tickets for the autographing ahead of time online.

The way it works is on Saturday, May 19 at 10 a.m. EDT you will be able to use your badge number or confirmation number to get tickets to two author signings per day. These tickets go extremely fast so this is another instance where it’s best to know ahead of time who you want to see and have your badge/confirmation number ready to just copy and paste into the site. Additionally, it’s also good to check and see if the author your going to see requires a book purchase for the signing. Though you’ll most likely be able to pay with credit card, it’s always good to have cash just in case.

6. Find a Line Buddy

The lines at BookCon are LONG! They just are. There’s really no good way to get around it, except to have a line buddy. I’ve found that standing in line goes way faster if you have someone to stand with you. Additionally, if you’ve got a panel that doesn’t end until 1 p.m. and the in booth signing that you want to go to begins at 1 p.m. that’s when a line buddy can be a life saver because they can save your spot in line while you run to meet them. The only possible problem with this is many lines will give out tickets in the line before the signing begins and if you’re not there to get the ticket it doesn’t matter when you join the line, you’re not going into the signing.

7. Bring a Phone Charger

If you stick around for BookCon all day your phone will probably die. Between texting your friends about your location and taking pics with your favorite authors, your phone battery will get a lot of good use. That’s why you need to have a phone charger, preferably a portable one so you’re not tied to a wall outlet wasting time charging instead of having fun around the Con. If you’re like me and are attached to your phone on a regular day, I’d even recommend bringing two chargers.

8. Use a Backpack

You’re not allowed to bring a bag with wheels to BookCon for security reasons but you can bring a backpack. And you should. Unless you actually turn down every single thing that’s offered to you, you will leave BookCon with a ton of stuff. You will get tote bags, posters, ARCs, bookmarks, pens, notebooks, pouches, and who knows what else. You won’t only want some place to put all this stuff, you’ll need it. Trust me, it’s way easier to carry stuff in a backpack then in a tote bag or your pockets. And I’m not talking about those cute little tiny backpacks you’d see at Coachella, I’m talking about a Jansport, like you’d use for school.

9. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

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Honestly, BookCon can be crazy and even a little stressful. You might miss out on getting that ARC you were dying for or find out your favorite author’s signing is already full and you just missed it. But don’t let something small ruin your whole BookCon. Yes, getting free stuff and meeting your fave author is amazing. But you know what’s also amazing? Spending a whole weekend with a bunch of people who love the same things you do. Make friends with the people you’re stuck on line with. Take a break from running from panel to panel and actually just walk around the showroom floor. BookCon only happens once a year and it’s supposed to be fun, so if it’s not feeling fun take a second and figure out what could make your day better. And enjoy it.

Got any questions about BookCon? Leave them in the comments below! Can’t wait to see you all there!

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