ALA Wrap Up, Conference Tips & Book Giveaway

We had a blast at our first American Library Association (ALA) conference, and we thought it’d be fun to give some tips for people who wondered if this conference was for them.

UNDER A PAINTED SKY spotted in the Penguin booth!

UNDER A PAINTED SKY spotted in the Penguin booth!

For librarians, ALA annual is the BIG Library Conference of the year, full of everything from the World of Manga to Educating with Robots.

8 Diverse Debuts with Marie Lu, from left, Kelly Loy Gilbert, Holly Bodger, me, Anna Marie McLemore, Marie Lu, I.W. Gregorio, Renée Ahdieh, Sabaa Tahir

8 Diverse Debuts with Marie Lu, from left, Kelly Loy Gilbert, Holly Bodger, Stacey, Anna Marie McLemore, Marie Lu, I.W. Gregorio, Renée Ahdieh, Sabaa Tahir

Stacey: With a book recently out, I attended as a signing author, as well as a panelist for the 8 Diverse Debuts with Marie Lu panel. So, for one of the two days I attended, I was busy getting ready for the panel, as well as meeting readers/librarians. The panel was awesome – we had a filled room, and though I was super nervous, I managed not to croak. (One of these days, we will do a post on “How Not to Croak When Doing a Panel.”)  In the evening, there was a special dinner where the Newbery and Caldecott awards  are presented and speeches are given.

Snagging ARC of Alexis Bass' new book WHAT'S BROKEN BETWEEN US, from left, Alexis, Kelly Loy Gilbert, Abigail Wen, Stephanie, Virginia Boecker

Snagging ARC of Alexis Bass’ new book WHAT’S BROKEN BETWEEN US, from left, Alexis, Kelly Loy Gilbert, Abigail Wen, Stephanie, Virginia Boecker

Stephanie: Since I wasn’t going to ALA as an author, my experience was significantly different than Stacey’s. To be honest, I almost didn’t attend the event; most of my friends were there as published authors and I was nervous that I would feel as if I didn’t fit in. But I’m so glad I went—and I’m not just saying this because I managed to snag ARCs of Amie Kaufman‘s ILLUMINAE and Rae Carson‘s WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER.

For me, the biggest highlight of ALA was getting the chance to talk to so many publishing professionals and connect with writers and authors who I usually only see on Twitter.  When I first stepped into the Moscone Center I was both thrilled and terrified. With over 3000 booths and 25,000 people, I’m sure you can all imagine how massive it seemed. It truly felt like the Disneyland of books—magical, exciting and a little overwhelming. I would have probably felt even more overwhelmed if I was there as an author knowing I would need to do signings and panels, and that I wasn’t just free to explore and do whatever I wanted. So, in the end I was extremely grateful that this was my first experience, because I learned a lot just from walking around and talking to people. It was still a little intimidating, but by the end of the weekend, Stacey and I both felt as if we’d conquered the Exhibit Hall.

Both: Here are a few tips we’ve put together to help those of you who plan to attend ALA in the future:

1. HAVE A PLAN OF ATTACK. Rather than using the pinball approach of pinging around from booth to booth with no defined course—map out where and when you want to go.  Most authors only sign for 30 minute to 60 minute periods of time, so if you want to snag a signed book or ARC from one of your favorite authors you’ll want to plan it out, using the guide that each attendee is given upon registration.

2. DON’T BE SHY. Most publishing professionals and authors are there because they want to promote their books, which means they are probably going to be thrilled to talk with you. If you don’t know what to say, “What books are you excited for?” is always a great start. That will generally lead to the exhibitor telling you all you need to know about their latest and greatest, and occasional they will even reach into a secret drawer and give you a copy of the book as well.

3. YOUR HOTEL IS PART OF THE CONFERENCE AS WELL. People at ALA like to have fun, so when you go back to your hotel instead of just heading back to your room and passing out, try to make an effort to hang out. One of our conference highlights was meeting a YA book buyer for Scholastic Book Club. We ran into her in Stacey’s hotel lobby and when we started asking questions about what it was like to be a buyer that she was happy to answer. That night, not only did we make a new friend, but we learned a whole lot of great things about Scholastic.

4. BUSINESS CARDS ARE NOT OBSOLETE. If you attend ALA and take our advice not to be shy, it’s a good idea to have business cards, so you can make sure to stay connected with the people you meet. *Other good things to bring include: comfortable shoes, fun pens if you’re signing books, snacks, and bottled water (so that you don’t end up paying a vender $5.00 for drink).

5. LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, GET A CONFERENCE BUDDY. Not only is everything more fun with friends, but ALA is so big it’s a great idea to have someone else help you navigate.

Those are a few of our tips, if any of you have any ALA tips or conference tips in general, we’d love to hear them in the comments!

Two top secret ARCs, all packaged and ready to for you to win.

Two top secret ARCs, all packaged and ready to for you to win.

And, since ARCs are not meant to be hoarded, we wanted to host a giveaway using some of the books we managed to grab while ALA. To win, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.

One lucky winner will be able to choose from among these books:

  1. An ARC of OUT OF DARKNESS by Ashley Hope Pérez
  2. An ARC of FOR THE RECORD by Charlotte Huang
  3. An ARC of BLACK WIDOW FOREVER RED by Margaret Stohl
  4. An ARC of THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly
  5. An ARC of THE SCORPION RULES by Erin Bow (signed)
  6. An ARC of THE FOXGLOVE KILLINGS by Tara Kelly
  7. An ARC of FORGET TOMORROW by Philip Dunn
  8. Paperback of MORE THAN MUSIC by Elizabeth Briggs (signed)
  10. An ARC of BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett

A SECOND lucky winner will be chosen from the COMMENTS to receive another ARC. And finally, a THIRD lucky winner will receive 2 ARCs from our top secret grab bag.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


60 Responses to ALA Wrap Up, Conference Tips & Book Giveaway

  1. Dani Saunders Jul 13 2015 at 11:30 am #

    There are so many good books here! I think I’m most looking forward to the Black Widow book. But also These Shallow Graves, The Scorpion Rules, and The Foxglove Killings.

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 1:24 pm #

      Thank you Dani; it’s such a hard choice!

  2. Catherine Tinker Jul 13 2015 at 11:47 am #

    This is an amazing opportunity! I’d love a chance to read FOR THE RECORD early!

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 1:24 pm #

      Thanks Catherine. FTR is so good. 🙂

  3. Christina R. Jul 13 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    I’d love to go with a conference buddy, it might actually help with the shyness issues!

    thank you so very much 🙂 I’d love for the record!

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 1:25 pm #

      Yay! Conference buddies are the best. And you can hold each other’s books for each other while you visit the ladies’ room.

  4. Patchi Jul 13 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    Great conference tips and what a wonderful collection of ARCs! FORGET TOMORROW seems like an amazing read.

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 1:25 pm #

      Hi Patchi, yes, doesn’t it?!

  5. Mona AlvaradoFrazier Jul 13 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    I’m attending the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks and your tips came just as the right time. I’m glad to hear business cards aren’t obsolete since I just ordered some yesterday to use at the conference and another I’ll attend in August.

    I chose “Out of Darkness,” because I love historical fiction.

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 1:26 pm #

      Oh good, Mona; Stephanie and I will be there. Hope we see you! And YAY For historical fiction!

  6. Michelle Willms Jul 13 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    This was one of those horribly difficult decisions; there are so very many books on this list I want to devour. After much internal debate, I’ve selected Blood and Salt as my first choice. It sounds so deliciously mysterious, horrendous, and potentially possible. This book is itching to be in my hands – almost as much as my mouth waters when I think of it.

    Thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity, as well as sharing your experiences with us. I enjoyed your advice and will take it to heart if I ever get to attend a conference (a dream of mine).

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 1:27 pm #

      It IS a deliciously mysterious read. And you’re welcome!

  7. Ellie M Jul 13 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    Thanks so much for the giveaway! I’m really excited for BLACK WIDOW FOREVER RED, and BLOOD AND SALT! 🙂

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 2:33 pm #

      Yay! Those are awesome ARCs, I can attest.

  8. Olivia Teague Jul 13 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    This is awesome! I would love to read MORE THAN MUSIC!

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 2:33 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Olivia!

  9. Eileen Jul 13 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    I would love to get These Shallow Graves! Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway 😀

  10. Gwen Katz Jul 13 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    I’m excited about all of these, but I think particularly The Scorpion Rules.

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 2:54 pm #

      Yes! And Erin is so nice. 🙂

  11. Melody Marshall Jul 13 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    It looks like you guys had so much fun. What a great post!

    I’m excited about Blood and Salt!

  12. Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    Thanks, Melody! Yay, B&S is so creepy good.

  13. Kira Budge Jul 13 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    I’m looking forward to BLACK WIDOW FOREVER RED. 🙂

    • Stacey Jul 13 2015 at 4:15 pm #

      That one looks amazing!

  14. Claudia Victoria Jul 13 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    I would definitely want to read These Shallow Graves. I love the cover of it!

    • Stephanie Garber Jul 13 2015 at 7:34 pm #

      I agree! the cover is so intriguing!

  15. Cait @ Paper Fury Jul 13 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    I so so want to read The Scoprion Rules!!

    • Stephanie Garber Jul 13 2015 at 7:35 pm #

      ooh, me too! I’m actually pretty sad about parting with that one. 😉

  16. SarahO. Jul 13 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    These are awesome books but I think I’m most excited to read the Black Widow book!

    • Stephanie Garber Jul 13 2015 at 7:35 pm #

      Good choice!

  17. Lura Jul 13 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    I want to read all of those books! How to choose… I guess I’ll go with the only author whose writing I’m familiar with: Margaret Stohl. BLACK WIDOW FOREVER RED sounds particularly interesting to me.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Stephanie Garber Jul 13 2015 at 7:36 pm #

      It is a tough choice, but I don’t think you can go wrong with Margaret Stohl. 🙂

  18. acps927 Jul 13 2015 at 6:45 pm #

    As a Marvel fangirl, I’m really interested in the Black Widow book!

    • Stephanie Garber Jul 13 2015 at 7:37 pm #

      I am not surprised you picked this one at all! 🙂

  19. Sandy Jul 13 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    I’d love to win Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett. But they all sound like awesome reads 🙂

  20. Christina Jul 13 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    Gosh, these books all sound so good–it’s hard to just choose one! I’d love either THESE SHALLOW GRAVES or OUT OF DARKNESS.

  21. Vanessa Valiente Jul 13 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    Great post!!! I hope I get the BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett!!!

  22. Jaime Lester Jul 13 2015 at 10:51 pm #

    I am going to have to do some research on the various books, but maybe Blood & Salt?! Thanks for the giveaway!

  23. Llehn Jul 14 2015 at 3:19 am #


  24. Jo Jul 14 2015 at 5:56 am #

    What a great post! Thank you for the giveaway. I’d like to win These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly.

  25. Erin Jul 14 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Ooh! There are so many good books!!… Erm, I’m really looking forward to Black Widow, Blood and Salt, and I JUST heard More Than Music was an awesome book, so that one too!! Thank you for the giveaway!! Glad to hear that ALA was a success!

  26. Luana Jul 14 2015 at 10:36 am #

    Black Widow Forever Red and These Shallow Graves look amazing! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  27. Stephanie Jul 14 2015 at 11:50 am #

    I don’t know anything about it but I would choose Black Widow Forever Red just because it has a kick ass title! Thanks for the entry.

  28. Jocelyne T Jul 14 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m most looking forward to Erin Bow’s The Scorpion Rules!!

  29. Natalie Jul 14 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    All of these look awesome! Also, great tips 🙂

    I think I most want to read These Shallow Graves, The Foxglove Killings, and Blood and Salt!!

  30. BRITTANY T Jul 14 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    Wow what awesome choices! I would def pick Blood & Salt but since I have an amazing friend who gave me her copy I would choose Black Widow Forever Red as my choice! This is awesome and some great tips. I am so hoping to attend in Orlando next year!!
    ❤️Brittany T

  31. Debbie @ Silk&Serif Jul 14 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    This post kind of makes me miss working in a many people who love books just as much as I do. You guys look so happy! I especially love the two different kinds of experiences you guys had! Ive never really considered these events from point of view of a new/unpublished author before..

    Im definitely interested in Forget Tomorrow and the Foxglove Killings. Dark and out of the ordinary. Just how I like ’em.

    Thanks so much for the post guys – it was fun to read (and i kind love pictures)!

    • Stacey Jul 16 2015 at 6:34 pm #

      Thanks Debbie! Really appreciate your comment. I’m glad someone’s reading the posts, haha.

  32. Dominic Holmboe Jul 15 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    I’m so sad I can’t go to all of these amazing conferences in the US! 🙁 Have to move there I guess …

  33. Alexia Jul 15 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    Looks like you had a GREAT time! And yay for getting some new books, hope you have room on your bookshelf!

  34. Idris Jul 15 2015 at 11:41 pm #

    ALA sounds amazing. I’d love to be able to attend book conferences with a buddy. I may have to drag my besties along to some one of these days. I have to admit I have my heart set on Black Widow: Forever Red, The Scorpion Rules (I mean, look at that cover!), Forget Tomorrow, and Symphony for the City of the Dead. What I’m saying is I wanna read everything, basically.

    Thanks for doing this giveaway!

    • Stacey Jul 16 2015 at 6:34 pm #

      Yeah, Symphony sounds so good. More people need to read about Shostakovich!

  35. Katie Jul 16 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    I’d love to win The Scorpion Rules. It sounds like such a unique, exciting book!

  36. DJ Jul 16 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    I would love to win THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly.

  37. Kelly Mather Jul 17 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    I would love to win Forget Tomorrow!

  38. Susan Crispell Jul 18 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    Oh, so many good choices. But I’m going to have to go with BLOOD AND SALT. I’m dying to read it.

  39. Bube Jul 19 2015 at 9:59 am #

    Blood and Salt – sounds great!
    So many great books 🙂

  40. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight Jul 19 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    Such great tips! The buddy one is HUGE, I don’t think I’d have survived BEA without my buddies- and getting over the shyness is big too- in fact, I think it was my biggest accomplishment 🙂

    This a a bunch of great books! I was lucky enough to get Blood and Salt and The Scorpion Rules already, which is good because they are two of my most anticipated books of the year. I think I would choose Forget Tomorrow- it sounds very intriguing! Thanks so much for the chance 🙂

  41. Rosie @ The Literary Hedonist Jul 19 2015 at 11:40 pm #

    Great wrap-up, great tips, great giveaway! Looks like you had a ton of fun. Thanks for sharing the wealth!

    I’d love to win THE SCORPION RULES by Erin Bow 🙂

  42. Sophie @ Seamless Reader Jul 19 2015 at 11:40 pm #

    Man, I really hope to attend a book related conference someday! I want to go to BEA 2016, but I don’t think it’ll be possible. 🙁 As for the books The Foxgloves Killings by Tara Kelly sounds amazing! Creepy, thrilling and amazing. Thanks for the giveaway!

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