I preemptively apologize for how US centric this post is, but also I’m the type of person who likes to torture myself reading about cons I could never go to and plan trips that will never happen (aka me watching the ALA posts last weekend) and I thought I’d never make it to BookCon, but somehow I did!
So all that self-torture last year was for a good cause, because I felt pretty damn good going into Book Con and even better coming out. Miracles do happen.
But as always, if you feel like this post isn’t going to end up good for your mental health, then don’t read it. I won’t hold it against you, I promise. I don’t have cameras set up in your room watching if you scroll through the whole post or not. Just do what you need to do to be happy, and I promise the Book Con posts will end. This is the last one.
Going into Book Con, I had watched & read multiple book haul, tips & tricks, and summary videos and posts, yet I never grasped how many books I could snag at Book Con.
It was a mystery. Some posts didn’t disclose if they had help (i.e. parents), whether they had VIP tickets, how many books they paid for, and/or if part of the haul was from Book Expo.
In this post, I hope to clear up some of the fuzziness and be super transparent about my haul and the circumstances that led to it, as well as lend out some of my own advice for going to book conventions like Book Con.
It’s important to understand that Book Con is a different event for everyone, and that you should always keep your expectations really low going into it. I went to Book Con hoping to score a bunch of ARCs so I’d have lots of things to read and review, but also have a good time with bookish people in general.
Other people go to Book Con to get autographs from their favorite authors (I got a couple of these in the process), shop for discounted books (not me, I like free), watch the panels (I didn’t attend a single one), or enjoy the atmosphere and activities at the booths in general (i.e. cool photo booths, button making, post-it wall, etc.).
I personally made a super detailed schedule of everything (ARC drops & signings, mostly) that was happening, but also kept basically no expectations for getting any books for free. This way, if I came out of it with nothing, I wouldn’t be disappointed.
I went to just Book Con (not Book Expo) with both of my parents who had almost no desires except to help me achieve whatever I wanted to at this con (except for one small instance when my dad went to see the Brandon Sanderson signing). They’re so awesome to be extremely supportive to help make this a super amazing weekend, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to have such a great time without them, or snag as many books as I did.
Because of this, we had three heads, three pairs of arms, and three pairs of legs to run across the show floor, wait in lines, and make it to ARC drops. I’ll disclose how many books each of us personally grabbed to give you a feel for what a one-person haul would be like.
In total, I paid for 5 books because of required purchases at signings. (My dad also paid for a book at the Brandon Sanderson signing.) Other people did a lot of book shopping at Book Con (some publishers have sales, i.e. hardcovers for $10), but we’d already spent a lot of money just getting to Book Con & staying in NYC that I didn’t want to spend more money on slightly discounted books.
Below is a list of all the amazing books I got there and the details surrounding it. Books I picked are highlighted in green, books my dad picked are highlighted in blue, and books my mom picked are highlighted in magenta. If there’s no color, it means a special circumstance, i.e. a raffled breakfast.
(All ARCs are free of course.)
Legendary by Stephanie Garber – about $16 @ the Fierce Reads Author Breakfast
The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout – ARC; Fierce Reads Author Breakfast
Sadie by Courtney Summers – ARC; Fierce Reads Author Breakfast
Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu – ARC; Fierce Reads Author Breakfast
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan – ARC
Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco – ARC
Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman – ARC
Rabbit & Robot by Andrew Smith – ARC
The Tomb by S.A. Bodeen – ARC
The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke – ARC
Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll – ARC
Here to Stay by Sara Farizan – ARC
Here to Stay by Sara Farizan – ARC
Legend by Marie Lu – ~$12 at the signing table for the paperback
Broken Things by Lauren Oliver – ARC
Light Years by Cass Morgan – ARC
Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert – ARC
Brandon Sanderson Book – $12 at the signing table for the paperback
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan – ARC (I got another copy of this from the lovely ladies at Albert Whitman after chatting with them on Twitter Saturday night & them giving me a duplicate for a giveaway!)
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab – ARC
That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger – ARC
Imposters by Scott Westerfeld – ARC
When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer – ARC
American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott – ARC
The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell – ARC
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorran – ARC
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker – ARC
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – ~$12 at the signing table for the paperback
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – ~$20 at the signing table for the hardcover
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – ~$20 at the signing table for the hardcover
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – not an ARC, but free paperback
Jack of Hearts and Other Parts by Lev A.C. Rosen – ARC
To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin – ARC
Campfire by Shaun Sarles – ARC
Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart – ARC
Rule by Ellen Goodlett – ARC
So, I ended up coming out of Book Con with 28 ARCs, 1 free paperback, 3 paid paperbacks (one of which from my dad), and 3 paid hardcovers, with the help of both my parents.
If I went alone, I probably would have only ended up with 11 ARCs, 1 free paperback, 2 paid paperbacks, and 3 paid hardcovers. (This includes the author breakfast.)
Realistically, if you go to Book Con both days by yourself, you should expect to get around 8 ARCs.
Unless you go to something cool, like win the raffle for the Fierce Reads Author Breakfast. Of course, this number is subject to change, especially if you drag other people along, but 5 ARCs a day is something I’d consider a really great, above average haul. So, it brings us to the second portion of this post which is…
Tips & Tricks for Getting More ARCs at BookCon
1. Plan Obsessively, but Make No Guarantees.
This is one of the biggest tips I have, and it’s to be prepared.
I know a lot of advice posts out there talk about how their plans got extremely derailed and that plans are unnecessary, but no. I disagree, this is untrue. You better plan like you’re running out of time. Are there five different things going on at 12 pm? Yes. But even though you KNOW you can’t make it to all 5, doesn’t mean you can’t write it down so you know what’s going on.
By knowing what’s going on (and you do this by obsessively stalking all the publishers’ social media for their schedules in the couple weeks to couple days ahead of the event), you now have options. Yes, wandering around & getting in random lines may prove fruitful from time to time, but wandering around & getting in lines for things you want is even more helpful.
So, if you find out that the Scholastic event had a line that begun 1 hour ago and is winding around the whole show floor, you now have an alternate plan. Planning is key, and the second component is to make sure you know that nothing is set in stone. Yes, prioritize and pick what you want the most. But also, expect to get nothing except good conversation and new bookish friends at Book Con.
Low expectations beforehand = better results after.
2. Make Sure to Talk to People.
Although planning is great, sometimes you find yourself in a spot where nothing’s happening. That’s the perfect time to go chatting with people who are standing around, looking like they’re waiting for something.
There are a bunch of lines out there that you don’t know about. Some publishers don’t release this info, and you just have to hope something good happens. My friend ended up wandering into a line for Amanda Foody and Kaitlyn Sage Patterson at Harlequin Teen, and it ended up that she was one of the first 50 people in line meaning she was guaranteed free hardcovers of both of their books! Cool, right?
By talking to people, you’re able to get a lot of good info about what potential ARC drops are in the future, or what line you’re actually looking for, and more things. Bookish people are generally really helpful (although, sometimes the moms get a little crazy trying to find things for their kids and can be a bit rude).
And not only is talking to people a good way to get more info, it’s also just another way to make your BookCon experience better. You can now have fun bookish conversations with other Shadowhunter lovers! Yay!
3. Sleep In & Stay Hydrated & Fed.
This is the piece of advice that disagrees probably the most with everything ever said about Book Con.
Don’t get there at 3 AM. Don’t get there at 6 AM. Don’t get there at 9 AM. Just please, enjoy yourself, sleep in, eat some hotel breakfast, and maybe get there at 9:30 or even 9:45, and just wait in the other waiting area that’s not the queue hall.
Why? Because you’re going to be far more productive with 6 extra hours of sleep than you are if you’re deprived of 6 hours of sleep. Do you want to be the first person on the show floor (or not, because you’re not a VIP :’)) and get one more ARC from the 10 AM signing and be really tired the whole day, or do you want to be the Energizer Bunny for the con and zip from publisher to publisher?
Seriously, staying happy and well-fed, well-slept, and well-hydrated is the best thing you can do for scoring more ARCs. When you’re on top of your game and aware, you’re more likely to do better and also just have a better time.
Seriously, if you wait in the regular waiting area not the queue hall, you’ll run into people who got in the queue hall at 6 AM. Not. Worth. It.
4. Be Nice and Polite.
Politeness can do you wonders.
- It makes you new friends. (I chatted with a girl who was looking for an ARC of Check, Please! offering her my own ARC if she didn’t get a copy, and now we’re friends online! Yay!)
- It makes your con experience better. Do unto others as you want done unto you (or something like that). Making people unhappy just spreads the meh con experience and then everyone’s grumpy and shovey and it’s not fun.
- Kindness can lead to more kindness. You never know. That new friend you just made might be willing to trade ARCs with you for the one that you’re extremely excited to read! You never know…
5. Get Lucky.
This is honestly the most accurate piece of advice, because a large part of this is honestly just luck. If you’re lucky, then you’ll draw the lollipop marked for the book you’re excited for. If you’re not, you end up with a blank pop.
Be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Be lucky enough to draw the right pop. Be lucky enough to check Twitter at the moment Penguin Teen releases the password for an ARC drop.
So, maybe wear your lucky t-shirt or something, because you might need it.
6. Hire Some Minions to Help You.
Aka drag your family to the con and give them specific instructions on what to do and where to go and what things to look for (and what to avoid).
Yes, this is an added cost, so consider how much double or triple the ARCs is worth to you. On one hand, family is kind of obliged to help you, and everything they get will theoretically go to you. On the other hand, you (or they) have to pay for their transportation, rooming, ticket, and feeding.
But having more people is super helpful to getting more books. Sometimes you’re chatting with your family member who’s not in line but you are and the Penguin Teen worker just happens to hand them a ticket too. (This is really annoying though, especially for the people in the end of the line, so try not to do this? Saving a spot is less heinous than blatant cutting, so consider what you’re doing and how it affects others.)
They’re also just extra arms and legs, which is super, super good. Don’t want to carry something? Hand it to Dad.
Have you been to a book convention before? What tips and tricks would you give out?