1. The smartest book-sellers offered free cocktails with their heavily discounted books. Shout out to Wesleyan University Press and their Moscow Mule + 50% off BAX anthology deal.
2. I have resolved that writers are extraordinarily aware of the space they occupy in the world. I found myself sitting at a lot of big roundtables alone at AWP (or a shared couch, or a cocktail table), and EACH TIME as someone else approached my vicinity, without fail that person demurely asked if they could join me. It was precious.
3. A smart plan for AWP includes strategic naps. At one point on day three I escaped to my car and used one of my multiple new lit mag tote bags as a pillow.
4. You will, absolutely, spend a hideous amount of money on books. So much. I suggest you have a plan for how to deal with your emptying wallet.
5. Small press and lit mag reps are totally exhausted from having to exhibit for three straight days. You can see it in their eyes. They really need friendly souls to chat with them and look them in the eye and tell them “thank you.”
6. Plan to get your tired self to at least a few offsite events, and you’ll be richly rewarded. My plan was a bit extrovert-idealistic – I certainly didn’t make it to everything that I’d hoped.
My fave off-site event was probably the extremely under-stated Nightboat Books reading at Blankspaces where Claudia Rankine read new work and Brian Blanchfield read from Proxies and Cole Swenson read from Landscapes on a Train.
7. It is truly sublime to fan-human so hard when you momentarily brush shoulders or shake hands with your literary crushes. This will never again happen in a setting when this is allowable. Feast on that grace, baby.
8. While the Book Fair is insane and most panels pretty great, making new friends with so many other exceptional writerly folks is 100% worth the full-price of AWP admission.