Friday, June 29, 2012

Blogger Confessions (2): ALA Tips + Recap

A lot of bloggers do a variation of these kind of posts, and it's mostly to give other book bloggers or those wanting to know more about book blogging insight into certain aspects of the "job". Today I'm giving tips for what to do at ALA.

I am in no way an expert on ALA; this is just what I learned in the four days that I was there. I'll put stuff into days, and then categories within those days, and we'll see how it goes from there. This will also serve as a recap of sorts.



First off, plan ahead in advance. Know what publishing booths you want to visit, and maybe even bring a map with you. They usually have a PDF file on the ALA website of the venue that you can print up. Another thing you need to do is know what authors are signing when before that day. By the time you stumble upon some great signing, it's likely that either there won't be enough copies, or you'll be waiting in line forever and will miss a lot of things because of it.

Here's what my Day 1 looked like: If you've even heard of LA, you know that we have sucky traffic.

So on Friday, I left at 3 in the afternoon to get there at 5:30, and with traffic I ended up only 15 minutes early. And that's only because my dad volunteered to drive me that day and we got to use the carpool lane. It was pretty crowded inside when I finally found the exhibit hall where all the big publishers were, but I had no idea what to expect.


Try and get to your favorite publishers first. On Friday they put out a lot of the good stuff, and they like to have the best ones out when the doors first open. But don't forget to go back periodically. There's no announcement of when they're going to put out copies of which books. That's one of those things where you just have to wing it. I got really stressed out that first day and Saturday too because I was so worried that I was going to miss something. Don't fret; if you didn't get everything you wanted, the world will not end.


As I said before, plan ahead with this. Find the schedule online and decide who you're going to want to wait in line for. Be warned: if you want a certain book, but there's a signing with that author at some other time or day, there's a lesser chance that the publisher is going to give you a copy before the signing. So you might as well wait in line. Also, get in line early. Believe me, you won't regret it. It's torture waiting so long at the back of the line for an author to sign your book, and they might even run out of copies.

You should also have a buddy system. This was a biggie for me and some of my blogger friends at ALA. Here's what we did: One of us (or even their moms or significant others) would either be first or nearly first in line for a signing that we all wanted to go to. We'd find them way before the signing, drop our 100-ton bags down and either sit in line or leave for ten minutes to either see what else we can scrounge up or get food. This worked out so amazingly well for me. And if there were two signings at once and you want both books, send someone to the other line to get it for you! It's not a good idea to go to ALA and you don't know anyone. You won't have nearly as much fun and you won't get as many books or meet as many authors.


It shouldn't have to be said, but take one copy. I saw a few people take the last two, and I didn't see anyone they were handing it too. If your friend wants a copy and it's a highly coveted book, then tell them to come get it themselves. It doesn't really matter if it isn't being picked up quickly, but if you see a bunch of people grabbing every last one, don't grab a second one. It's common courtesy.

Also, don't steal the books. I don't care how much you want it (believe me, I entertained the idea of stealing Enshadowed more than once), it's not worth stealing something over. At the Simon & Schuster booth, there were 6 copies of Rebel Heart (Dustlands series book 2) and by the end of Sunday all but one were stolen. I mean, come on, we all wanted that and they would have had all 6 copies for the grab at the end of Monday. But, as always, a few people ruin it for everyone else. DO NOT STEAL!


The first day is a short day, so once you've run out of places to find free copies of books just laying around, quickly befriend the publishers. Now this can get tricky. You need to find the ones that are really enthusiastic about their books and is willing to talk to you, a blogger. And don't be afraid to ask for copies of books. The worst they can say is no. The one problem I had is that some publishers said they didn't have a certain book and then the next day they put out 50 copies of that exact book. It's a small annoyance, but as long as you get one of those copies, you're good to go.


Dress comfortably. You don't really have to worry about walking around a lot because it's only 2 hours today. My problem was that I brought only tote bags and an across-the-chest purse. My shoulders were starting to feel it on Friday. I didn't think much of it that night, but Saturday was a whole other story. Wear a backpack even on that first day, so that your back and shoulders can get used to the weight. Also, you don't need to bring ten bags. Different booths have plenty of tote bags depending on the day, so don't be afraid to take one!

DAY 2-3


Okay, you're exhausted. Your shoulders are killing you. And on top of that, it starts at 9 in the morning, not 5 in the afternoon. You have to be at the top of your game, meanwhile you're exhausted. Oh, wait, did I say that already? Take it from me: get a good night's sleep every night. I don't care if you're friend's cousin's boyfriend is having a rager that night; get to bed at a decent time and get a full 8 hours of sleep. You might not think you're going to need it, but when you're lugging books around from 9-5, it can really weigh on your endurance.


Do the same thing you did on Friday. Run around, but try to conserve your energy more. I got more and more worn down as the day went on, and the only thing that saved me was the lovely Ava's mom buying a double order of fries for us and Staci giving me the last half of her Coke. You need to eat and rest. That's what getting in signing lines are good for. Not only are you near the front of the line, but you've had your bags off your back for at last half an hour before you need to start moving them again. Believe me, you'll be dying for any productive down time you can find.


Saturday is crazier than Friday in nearly every way. People know what they want now and they will push you out of the way to get it. It didn't happen to me really, but I know someone who got a couple elbows thrown at them and their camera lens broke because of it. And we all heard the story of how someone got bitten at BEA last year. So you should do everything you can to make yourself comfortable. Wear good shoes. No one is going to judge you if you're not wearing something stylish. I felt bad for the librarians who decided they needed to look professional in high heels. I failed completely in the baggage area. I only brought my tote bags and by the end of the day I was literally dragging the biggest one to the car. I seriously have no idea how I got home; it's a miracle I didn't crash. Don't wear yourself down!


Feed yourselves. If you're there all day, you need to refuel after carrying all those books around everywhere you go. I was lucky that I had people with me that had other non-YA-loving people with them to go buy food and share with me. I would have crashed much sooner. The one thing I didn't do at all this weekend that I should have was make car runs. I definitely could have used one Saturday but I thought I was going to miss out on something. And I may have, but it probably would have been worth it. This is also where that whole buddy system comes in. If you need food or need to make a car run, ask your friend to pick you up anything that they think you might like. I know that kind of breaks the no-second-helpings thing I said above, but this is a special case.


By now, you're pretty much a pro. You know exactly where every publisher is that you could ever want to get titles from. If you befriended the publishers, you say hello when you pass by and say you'll be back. Which you will, to request more titles that they haven't put out yet, and of course you have a pretty good idea of what those are. Your shoulders are still hurting, but you're getting a little tougher. I was still pretty tired on Sunday, but I knew I needed a better night's sleep. Even the day seemed to go faster when I had gotten more rest and had lunch. And there were less signings to worry about. Basically it's the same advice from Saturday, but today you're a little wiser. You know what signings are really important to you, and you've already gotten a lot of books so if they put out some of the same ones you don't have to grab them. But don't be fooled: Sunday will bring you just as many books as Saturday and Friday did. But there are usually a little less people on Sunday.


It's almost the end of ALA, which is more sweet than bitter to be honest. But this last day is a whole other ball game. I was not prepared for how crazed people get for certain books. But it's also fun. Just don't get too stressed out and be zen. Also, make sure you bring a good amount of cash today. They should have an ATM at the venue, but they charge you a lot for taking out the money. If you don't plan on buying any books, you should still bring some because you just don't know.


What is this you may ask? Well, you know all those display copies you've been seeing on the booth shelves for the last 3 days? They need to get rid of them. No publisher wants to mail back any of their books to New York, so what happens is at designated times (not in the schedule, so you should ask), a certain publisher will have people line up and grab whatever books they want. But not so fast. They have to make money, right? So here are the price ranges:

ARC's: FREE ~ technically, they cannot charge you for ARC's. Most ARC's say either not for sale or free. So not even the publishers can sell them.

Hardcovers: $5-$10 ~ this depends on the publisher. At Little, Brown, their award-winning hardcovers were $10, but any other ones were only $5.

Paperbacks: $2-$5 ~ again, it depends on the publisher.

Special case: ALL books are free ~ Very few publishers do that; in fact, I only know of one, and that was Simon & Schuster. The line for the grab was supposedly supposed to start at 12:30, but when I walked over there at 11:20, there were already ten people in line. I'm not sure if this one was worth it because the book I wanted was gone by the time I got up there, but if you're going to do this one, get in line early, and if you want to walk around, just ask your friend to watch your stuff. Even if that friend is the nice book lover behind you.

Well, that's all I have for you. I met up with some great people over the weekend, including Kimberly from The Windy Pages, Crystal from Elegantly Bound Books, Rachel from The Reader's Den, and Thuy from Nite Lite Book Reviews. And of course Ava and Staci were there too! I had so much fun, but I'm glad the weekend is over. I hope the tips help anyone that's going to the next one. 


Oh, and umm... here's the books! I do not have a problem... You can see which ones I'm most excited about in my IMM later this week. I already recorded it.

'Night all!


  1. very good tips! sorry we didn't see each other more on sat. we totally would have let you do a car run to our car or even dropped you off afterwards. sat was killer! and you got lots of good books from s&s. they were really hit and miss for me but i did get a few good things.

    lots of good tips. i don't know if i have the stamina to go to another event like this soon. plus i have like enough books to last me a year. :)

    can't wait to see your imm!

  2. I'm soo jealous! Look at that insane pile of books! I almost made it to ALA but was unable to because of a family vacation (which is awesome!). Maybe next year :) Thanks for all the tips!

  3. So jealous that you went to ALA!!! I'm planning to go next year, and thanks to this post I'll know exactly what to do :)


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