Hyperion is launching a new imprint with Dr. Richard Carlson in October to be called Don't Sweat Press. Carlson will act as the series consultant. The Don't Sweat Press's initial four titles are Don't Sweat Guide for Couples, Don't Sweat Guide for Grandparents, Don't Sweat Guide for Parents and Don't Sweat Affirmations. To promote the series, Hyperion will publish a special booklet, "Don't Sweat Guide to the BEA," which will be mailed this week to booksellers and distributed at BEA. (If you'd like a copy, e-mail Jane.Comins@abc.com.) PW is happy to present an abridged sneak peek.
Realize That You Can't Do It All
The first time that you attend a conference as large as the BEA, you might be completely overwhelmed. Well, of course you won't be able to do it all. And the best way to get all you can from a convention as grand as BEA is to just admit you can't do it all.
The best way to pack the most into those few days is to prioritize. Before you even enter the doors of the convention hall, study the convention guide, as well as the pre-BEA issue of Publishers Weekly. Highlight the items that interest you the most, including exhibitors' booths, author presentations, seminars and even social functions. With this game plan in hand, you'll find the convention floor much easier to manage.
What You Want at BEA
Start by writing down all the things that you think you could accomplish. Begin to narrow down the list, crossing off the goals that are least necessary. Continue until your number one goal is the only one left.
Then consider what you need to accomplish this goal. Write down booths you should visit, people you should contact, seminars you should attend and so on. List these ideas below your goal. At a convention the size of BEA, it's very easy to lose sight of your goal. You are constantly bombarded by a stream of sights and sounds. Don't take the bait! Stick to your goal, at least for the first couple days. Don't let yourself get sidetracked by exhibits that won't help you achieve your goal.
Do What Matters
Once you know why you want to go to BEA, you have to come up with a "plan of attack." Now begins the step when you set up a daily schedule that will help you meet your goals and enable you to accomplish what you set out to do. Don't overwhelm yourself by planning meetings every half hour. Not only does this become an unrealistic task, but it's so stressful!
Choose four to five things you want to do each day, and schedule your appointments with scheduled breathing room to not only spend time at a booth or with a colleague, but to allow you to relax. Giving yourself extra time alleviates the pressure of having to cut an impromptu meeting short. And just in case you happen to misplace your schedule, make extra copies.
Let Others Share Your Mission
If you've come to the conference with a team of employees, there is no reason to tackle BEA on your own. Before you leave for the conference, share your mission with your fellow employees. You can also delegate meetings and appointments amongst your team.
The success of this strategy is threefold. First, it takes an enormous amount of pressure off of you. Second, allowing staffers to assume responsibility is rewarding to them. It makes them feel that they are contributing to your goals. Third, it may be impressive to colleagues you meet, who observe your ability to trust your team and delegate authority.
Packing for the Show Floor
Two comfortable outfits, two pairs of shoes, a few shirt changes and basic undergarments are all you really need at BEA. This will make traveling easier and lighter, enabling you to concentrate on more important things. Don't forget to organize and pack such conference materials as your schedule (several copies), plenty of business cards, some envelopes to organize receipts and preprinted mailing labels to send home material. Also make sure that you have your badge, hotel confirmation and plane tickets. The worst way to begin a conference is to sweat the small stuff before you even leave. Have all these items laid out the night before so that you're not looking for them at the last minute.
Try Public Transportation
Renting a car can be more trouble than it's worth. Instead, consider using public transportation. Especially in Chicago, you'll find plenty of options to help you get around town.
The Chicago subway system has an airport stop. For $1.50, you can be at the stop nearest your hotel in about 35 minutes. Then you can catch a cab from the subway to the hotel for under $5—since you'll pack light, you won't have much to carry.
Most hotels connected with BEA have free shuttle buses to the convention. That's right—free. They run every 15 minutes to half-hour. The bus schedules are usually posted in the hotel lobbies.
Don't Just Check into Your Hotel, Check It Out
Think of the hotel as your base of operations. Where do the free shuttle buses depart for the show, and at what times? Where is breakfast served, and is it included? Is there a late-night room-service menu? What are the hours of the exercise room/ pool? Where can you ship out packages? How do telephone charges work? Is there Internet hook-up in your room? Does the hotel have automated checkout, and how can you use it? Where is the nearest convenience store? How long will it take a taxi to go from the hotel to the airport at the time of your departing flight?
During the convention, your hotel is not just a place to sleep. It's your retreat, your escape from the hectic pace of BEA. Make sure it has what you need and that you know exactly what it has to offer.
Replenish Yourself Between Rounds
Think about the convention day as two rounds in a very exhausting boxing match. Round One is the exhibit hall—those daytime hours when the show floor is open. Round Two is the events that take place at night, such as corporate dinners, convention cocktail hours and publishers' parties. Although these functions might seem more enjoyable, they can be just as draining.
That's why you need a break between Rounds One and Two. You need time to nurture yourself, to replenish your body—both mentally and physically. The worst thing you can do is go directly from the convention hall to your evening activity. You need some time to yourself and to sort out the day. Go back to your hotel. Kick off your shoes and veg out in front of the TV for a few minutes with the sound down.
Then start doing some mundane but necessary tasks. Sort the dozens of scraps of paper you've accumulated throughout the day, such as receipts, new contacts and client business cards. Replenish your own business cards, as well. If you've collected catalogues, jot notes on the covers to recall your motives for lugging them back to your hotel.
Choose Your "Junk" Carefully
One of the largest pitfalls of BEA is feeling the need to grab every freebie you come across. Most publishers offer their catalogues for free. Others have special promotions, such as posters, bookmarks, buttons and even bags. Pencils, mugs, cute erasers, bumper stickers—the list goes on. And let's not forget the books!
And what do all these freebies add up to? About a couple dozen pounds! The smartest thing to do is weed out the true finds from the junk. A true find can be defined as something you really need, something that helps accomplish the goals you set for yourself earlier. For example, if your task is to build up your store's mystery section, then obtaining the latest romance novel isn't going to help you. Don't feel compelled to grab it just because it's free!
Don't Forget to Feed Your Body
One of the best things you can do for your body while at BEA is to stick to your standard diet. It's easy to get distracted by all the restaurant foods, not to mention the snack stands that offer up quick fixes. Your body will perform at its peak if you don't overload it with foods it's not used to eating.
One meal you should alter during a convention is breakfast. For most of the day, you're on the go. Once you leave the hotel, you barely have time to think straight. Eat a hearty one! Many hotels serve breakfast buffet style. You might even take a few pieces of fruit to bring to the convention hall. Snacking on a banana or an apple is certainly better for you than grabbing a candy bar.
Keep Your Business Cards Handy
Business cards are an important aspect of your BEA experience. There is no better place to keep them than in your badge holder. It's perfect! It's the right shape and the right size, and you can't misplace it, because you have to wear it. By placing your business cards on the front of your badge, you display not only your name, but your company logo as well. People will know immediately who you are with, as well as your position. Business cards also make great places to jot down notes. Save time by jotting down information ("Send catalogue," "Contact about backlist discounts") on the back of cards you collect.
Send the Small Stuff Home
The easiest way to get all your conference freebies home is to ship them. You should bring preprinted mailing labels from home or the office. This way, at the end of the conference, you pack your items, affix the label and you're all set. If you have an account with UPS, Federal Express or another service, you might already have preprinted labels with your name, address and account number. Before you close up any package, add one more thing—a business card, in case the label comes off. Mailing services are available at the convention center.
Go Home and Relax
After the very hectic days of the BEA are over, you deserve a day off to recuperate and regroup. Now it's time to assess the experience. If possible, don't jump into work the very next day.
Take the time to come down from the stress that attending BEA can cause. Certainly your office can survive one more day without you. Don't sweat going back to work so quickly. You'll find that your attitude and your mental energy will be more positive if you give yourself and those you love this one day. Enjoy!