#BookExpo 101: Scheduling, Tips and Tricks

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Back on my old blog, Poisoned Rationality, I used to do a round up of helpful posts for the Book Expo n00b. Its been a few years since I did my last one (2015!) so I thought I’d revise and repost some of those blog posts to help anyone looking for a nudge of help.

I for one believe that Schedules always make an event better. Be they self-made schedules, official programming or just something thrown together while waiting in line at 7am with a half dozen new friends, brochure for the day and highlighters.

This is by no means the only way to do a schedule, but I found this is the best way for me to schedule.

Seen above, how my schedule looks in its early stages

So you figured out you’re going to Book Expo – this is the sort of thing that will be helpful to you (maybe my blog post helped you, maybe it didn’t), but you’re looking on social media and folk are like OMG THE CONFLICTS!!!! and HOW CAN DO I KNOW ABOUT THE DROPS?!?!?!

Fair thee well my bosom book bud I have some tips to help you out.


  • You can keep track of most official programming through the Book Expo website’s “My Show” profile. You can star things, make notes and in general gave an idea of your schedule. I found it doesn’t work for me only because I need a concise list.
  • I print mine as a hardcopy, so much of my layout is optimized for that
  • Overlapping times is normal, expected and should not be a deterrent to listing something


I found these six headers work the best:

  • Priority – so you can prioritize between signings of the same time frame
  • Time (Start / End) – so you can keep track of what is a hour and what is a half hour
  • Author / Book – so you know what you want
  • Where – “T-” for table, “B-” for inbooth signing, “AT” for author ticket (the ones given out by Book Expo in the morning) and “BT” for booth ticket (these have different requirements by publisher)
  • Publisher – in case you want to inquire after later on
  • Notes – whatever else is needed

I also have an overriding Header with the date and the hashtags to keep in mind, as well as when the Exhibit Hall is open and when the USPS on 31st is open (for shipping)

On my schedule (you can see it here, feel free to copy it over just be mindful of the formatting validations I’ve) I separate out by day, have an Exhibitor List and then a tab with all the other stuff (books I am interested in, Galley Drops, Event). I keep all of this separate from my main schedule until the day before to avoid cluttering it up and needing to make adjustments.


If you’ve worked with Excel or Google Sheets at all you know you can format specific things to happen when parameters are met (if you need help, or don’t know what I mean this blog post is super helpful from Groovy Post). This can be a life saver when properly utilized.

I have a few basic ones: Priority Level, Booth and Table distinction for signings,  and lastly Author and Booth Ticket distinctions so I know who to get tickets from. This saves me time while making the spreadsheet so I don’t have to go back and organize each line individually. In my early days, when I did this by hand, I had to highlight everything individually. OMG THE HORROR THAT WAS as things gained and lost priority for me.


This’ll be my 11th Book Expo (dear lord it will be my 11th Book Expo!) and I’ve picked up a couple of handy tricks to help me make it through.

  • I don’t “finalize” my schedule until the day before (sometimes the morning of). Everything changes – table numbers, signing times, books being signed…its all up for grabs until it actually happens.
  • keep your hardcopy in a notebook.  Even if you make it on a computer, tape it to a notepad and keep that with you.  Make it something you can easily reach or carry and easily identifiable.
  • keep a hardcopy of the map; I find if I highlight the booths I want to visit in particular it helps orient me quite well. This is also useful to plan out designated meeting spots if you are with a group that splits up. Also make a note of where ALL the bathrooms are.
  • go to baggage drop as often as you can. While you might not mind carrying six tote bags and 80lbs worth of books, eventually you’ll sit down and never want to get up…
  • Talk to everyone! Literally everyone. If you’re an introvert this can seem daunting, trust me I know how you feel and I sympathize. In the past I’ve found commenting on some small thing (a pin, a tote bag, a book in hand) is a good ice breaker. You’ll be in lines quite often – whether for signings or just to get into the Hall and you’ll find that even if you pull out a book someone will say “Oh hey I KNOW THAT BOOK” or comment back to you, so it helps to be prepared.
  • If you’re in line and the signing doesn’t begin for a half hour its not impolite to talk to someone else in line with you to hold your spot so you can go to the bathroom or grab a snack.
  • Join the Book Expo group over on Goodreads, we’ve been going strong for a number of years now and generally try to help each other out as we can. Also built in circle of people to meet up with if you so choose!
  • Also check out Julie’s really useful Tips & Tricks thread on Twitter (@DailyJulianne), she’s got one of the most comprehensive schedules out there and DEFINITELY someone to follow for good practices.

I hope some of this is helpful and please don’t hesitate to reach out or comment with your own suggestions!



Lexie Words

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