Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Surviving/Thriving Your Book Conference or Book Festival--Tips,Tricks & Hacks

Surviving/Thriving Your State Library Conference or Book Festival

Texas Library Association   San Antonio 2017

B4 the Conference: 

1. Plan early! If your conference is in April (like Texas's), you need to begin planning in October.

2. Make sure and write down  the dates of the conference and plan your flight, drive or bus ride to the conference.

3. I have to travel over 9 hours (at least!) by car or fly the day before the conference to arrive in time for the kick-off day. Events on the first day start at 7:00 or 8:00 a.m.

4. Reserve your hotel room. I've always liked to have my own room, but if you don't mind, you can share with someone else. Make sure to find your roommate in advance and have a stand-by plan in case something falls through. If your roommate backs out, you are still on the hook for the cost of the entire room.

HELPFUL TIP: I don't like to stay at the Conference hotel that is right next to the event. There is so much foot traffic in and out of your hotel. Eating at the hotel is nearly impossible. Room service super slow. Elevators crowded and seem not to be in order. I stay at a hotel a bit further away for less traffic, quicker service, nicer eating experiences and instant elevators.

4. Get your travel request in. Every school district is different. Check what your district requires you to submit. Your district will probably pay for the conference fee, your plane ticket, hotel and per dium  for meals. Keep your meal receipts--make sure you have the itemized ones...not the credit card printed out fee. Your receipts can be turned in after you are home for payment to you. Be sure to turn in hotel itemized receipt as well. Your district may pay for Internet fees and parking fees if you used the garage.

5. Plan if you are attending any ticketed events. Texas offers all the colleges dinner nights, dinners with authors, Bluebonnet luncheon, several ticketed sessions, Texas tea with YA authors and other events. Payment is made in advance of conference. Make sure you have printed out your receipt of paid tickets. Take the receipts with you to events in case there is any mix-up.

6. If you have a blog or library web page, make sure that you print out business cards. Include your twitter handle on your cards and your website!

7. Take one extra rolling bag.  You will need it for free books that you take home! Not a problem if driving. If you are flying. Put your smaller bag inside your empty larger roller. Southwest allows two free bags.

8. Check shuttle bus schedules. If you are at a large state conference, shuttle buses may run a.m. and p.m. but shut down after 12 noon to 4. Make sure you are on the bus before noon or you're hoofing it back to your hotel. Not a problem unless you picked up too many free books!

9. Check downtown restaurants sites and menus. You want to have some idea of where to eat. Your hotel desk also has a map to downtown eateries and streets.

10. The city library or high school libraries may have events for visiting librarians. Check before you go.

11. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses with traveling buddies. It's important if you are staying in different hotels to text your friends and let them know of upcoming events. Sometimes tickets become available SUDDENLY and you can alert your friends. Last year, they let extra people in at one of the ticketed breakfast for FREE! 


1. Check in at your hotel. Plan your conference if you have not already done so. Mark your program and download to app for your conference. Also check the Twitter feed to see news and tweets about the conference. Twitter can get you some great swag and you'll meet up with other librarians, bloggers, writers and publishers.

2. Visit the conference site and check in/register the day before the event. If you wait until the morning of the conference, lines are LONG and you may miss your first event standing in a line. In Texas and other states I'm sure, you can pick up your badges and ribbons that designate what round tables or events you belong to. Also, if you don't have it already, and you are with the press, make sure you pick up your press passes.

3. Check with your hotel to see if you can get Internet for free or free breakfast. Some hotels offer snacks at happy hour as well.

4. Figure out where/when you will eat breakfast. Snacks and breakfast are offered at the convention center, but lines are long (Starbucks lines impossible, of course!). Your hotel may offer complimentary breakfast. Eat something because your options are limited. The snacks and meals at convention centers are overpriced. 


1. Day one is usually the Keynote speaker. In Texas the Keynotes have been AMAZING! I always go the the Keynote event. Librarians will be tweeting about this! If you're a Twitter fan, make sure to look up from your phone! Don't miss the entire conference because you are too busy tweeting it for someone else to experience it!

2. Make sure to leave several hours open for shopping/visiting booths at the conference. Publishers are eager to GIVE away free books!

3. Check your program for giveaways and signings. If it's a "hot" title or author, you may have to get in line over an hour early to get a book signed or a free copy.

4. Watch the Twitter feed for freebies and author sightings.

5. If you are invited to any free breakfasts, lunches, dinners or happy hours, be sure and attend. Free food and authors. Cool!

6. Network!

7. Have business cards to hand out and get cards!

8. Check your empty rolling bag at bag check when you enter the convention center. Use a backpack or over shoulder bag to collect free books. If they get super heavy, go by bag check and empty your carry bag into the rolling bag. Go back for more free books.

9. Most convention centers have a mailing center. If you are flying, mail your free books home to yourself from the conference. Airlines charge for heavy bags. If driving, then no problem. Also, hotels may have a mailing center.

10. Most downtown conference centers have restaurants near the convention center. You should plan ahead and know where you will eat lunch.

11. Be sure and go  to the Welcome party and fun events. In Texas, there is a book cart drill (hilarious), artist sketch off, night parties and dinners. There is also a golf tourney and a fun run. Sometimes there are yoga events and walking tours. One of the greatest and most fun and FUNNY classes is laughing yoga! Downward dog, anyone?

12. Don't over schedule. If you plan to visit back-to-back events all day every day, you can't network and you'll be to busy to enjoy the books/authors.

13. If you chose a session and realize that it's not for you, don't be afraid to get up and walk out. It is not considered rude at all. I know it seems so, but it happens constantly throughout all the events. If it's not for you and it won't help you, find another session that will.

14. Sometimes sessions are billed as one thing, but then the content is something else. Maybe you were looking for elementary ideas and the presenter(s) are giving high school content only. Don't be afraid of leaving.

15. Twitter has opened the door to a lot of new learning and sharing. Use the app!

After the conference: 

1. Get home and relax!

2. Look at your loot! I regularly come home with 100+ books!

3. Turn in all receipts to your secretary.

4. Make a file on your computer for all email addresses from business cards you collected.

5.  Blog or tweet about conference. Help others in your district attend next year.

6. Present what you learned to your district or city.

7. Plan new events for your program.

8. Plan your next conference.

1 comment:

  1. Great advice!

    Here are some extra things I do:
    1- I have a "conference folder." I fill the center with looseleaf paper for notes, and I put all my good handouts in it. The front says, "If found, please call xxx" with my cell phone number. There's nothing worse than losing all of your great notes and handouts because you set your notebook down in the bathroom or a workshop.

    2-I always carry a snack with me. I usually pack a lunch each day, too, which saves a lot of time and money (my district doesn't pay any of my conference expenses). Bringing your own bottled water (or buying some at a convenience store rather than at the convention center) saves money, too.

    3-Bring mailing labels with your school information to make it easier to enter drawings and raffles (these aren't as necessary at bigger conferences where vendors can scan your nametag, but they're still essential at smaller conferences).

    4-Have a conference buddy. It's nice to be able to divide workshop sessions ("If you grab me a handout and tell me about 'Teaching with Comics,' I'll do the same for you at the beginning reader panel.") and my conference buddy and I usually remember different parts of keynotes.