The Book Review Blog for

Prepping for #UTOPiA2016 now and later

Hi everyone! We are a few months out from UTOPiA2016! I am so excited, but I, like many of you I’m sure, am no where near prepared! But that’s okay. There’s time, and I am here today to help you with some of your prepping.


First up, something for the authors out there. Let’s talk books. A big question you might have before going to UTOPiA is, “how many books should I bring,” and let me tell you, it is an important question to answer. Take too many, and you’ll have to ship some back home (extra and unexpected costs, boo!). Take too few, and you’ll sell out quickly, leaving you sitting at a table with no books. One tip: bring more of the first book in your series.

So how can you begin to know how many books you should take to UTOPiA?


By creating a pre-order form, you’ll know how many books to bring for definite sales. You can also have people prepay via PayPal, which means money in your pocket now, or have let your readers know that you’ll be accepting cash/credit at the conference. Many authors choose to have both options on their forms. Note: if you choose to have people prepay, you will need to invoice them to get your money.

What pre-orders also allow you to do is concentrate on your newest releases at the conference itself while keeping your older titles to a pre-order availability only. This is great for authors with a lot of books out.

You can see in my menu that I have a page dedicated to the growing list of author pre-orders. I want your name to be included in this list! Last year, I created a walk through of making your own customized Google form for pre-order purposes. You can find that walk-through here.


Next, this is for everyone. It’s never too early to think about packing, even if you are a packing procrastinator like me.

  • Pack light. Books are heavy. You can rewear that pair of pants, those pajamas, and those shoes. I’m taking my sneakers and a pair of black shoes for the screenings and the Awards Ceremony. And I’m wearing my sneakers there, so bonus space!
    • Additional packing tip #1: Pack your socks in the shoes that you throw into the suitcase. It saves space.
    • Additional packing tip #2: Wrap each shoe in its own plastic grocery bag, and pack separately. It saves space by not sticking them together. You’ll be surprised how easily you can slip one shoe into a spare nook or cranny. One of my shoes is going at the bottom, the other along the side.
      • You can use the plastic bags for your dirty laundry on the way home.
    • Don’t fold or roll your clothes. I swear by the bundle method. I watched this video pre-utopYA2014, and it changed how I pack forever. So much more space!


  • If you are worried about your books getting damaged:
    • You can pack saran wrap or gift wrap to wrap your books in before you go home.
    • Don’t use newspaper, the ink transfers and that is no good.
    • I found luck in packing my books in paper grocery bags, the cardboard box that I had packed my swag I took to utopYA, and a couple of paper swag bags that I was given during the event.
      • Bringing a cardboard box along with you also allows you to ship books home easily if you end up needing to. You might want to pack a pre-filled-out packing label for the USPS, UPS, FedEx, or whatever shipping service you prefer.
    • Side note for your return trip home: do not pack your liquid toiletries in the suitcase that you pack your books in. Better to be safe than sorry!


As it gets closer to the conference:

  • Change your profile pictures. We want to see your face so that in the couple of weeks to days leading up to UTOPiA we can link your face with your name. This is the one I used for last year’s conference. It also has my blog logo, which can be helpful too.

The Paisley Reader(1)

  • Get your Sched ready! Once again, UTOPiA is using Sched as an organizational tool. It’s a great tool that helped me know what session was where and when. I’ll definitely be using it again. We discussed the app last year at length. You can head to last year’s post for more information on how to access the site and incorporate it into your phones, Kindles, etc.


When you get to the conference:

  • Take a sharpie and write your pen name or blog’s name if you have them below the name on your tag. More people may know me by my blog than they do by my real name.
  • Get out of your comfort zone! For me I’m not a huge walk up to someone and say hi, which, I know, is part of the point of going. I am super awkward sometimes, or at least I feel that way. But I’ve learned that nearly everyone else there feels the same way, so it’s totally okay!
  • Take photos! And don’t be afraid to ask someone to take a picture with you or of you and someone else. Everyone is doing it, so why not you? I was really bad with this my first year, but I was better last year. You don’t want to miss out on capturing memories this way!
  • Plan ahead if you are taking the shuttle. There will be enough people with cars at UTOPiA that you can likely catch a ride with anyone going out to the Nashville area to explore. On the flip side, the hotel does offer a shuttle service. I rode it back to the airport on the day I left. If you are going to go out by shuttle, keep in mind the hours that it runs, how often it runs and where to–some days the runs alternated between downtown and the airport so you had to wait double the time to get somewhere. If you are downtown, call the hotel when you are ready to be picked up so that the driver knows to come get you. (You might want to do this if you are arriving at the airport during a non-peak hour too.)
  • Most of all, have fun!

Check out some videos from 2014 to get yourself excited for this year’s conference.


I look forward to seeing you there!