I don’t think I even know where to start when writing this post. Monday June 4th saw myself, Jen from Misbehavin Librarian, Sarah from Workaday Reads, Gwen from Rants n Scribbles, Jenn from Lost in a Great Book and Nicole from Nicole About Town arriving at the BEA Blogger Convention around 8am. We were somehow at the front of the line, and I had a blast watching everyone arriving. We also met up with Alita from Alita Reads and Christa from Hooked on Books.
When the doors opened, we all filed into the main conference room, picking up a swag bag and some books as we went. Breakfast was a round table seating where authors moved tables every 15 minutes. We had two authors come to our table, the lovely ladies Ally Condie (author of Matched and Crossed) and Marie Lu (author of Legend and Prodigy). Lunch was a similar affair, and though I would have liked to switch tables to see a few authors I was interested in meeting they were full, so I stayed at my table from breakfast. It turned out well since I got to meet the very funny Emma Koenig, debut author of F*CK! I’m in my Twenties and Leanna Renee Hieber, author of Darker Still.
After breakfast was the keynote from author Jennifer Weiner. Despite being quite funny, it was mostly talk of her book and path through publication than it was about blogging and books. Following Jennifer Weiner’s opening speech, there was the panel Blogging Today: What you Need to Know and What’s Next featuring Zoe Triska (Associate Books Editor, Huffington Post), Erica Barmash (Senior Marketing Editor, Harper Perennial & Harper paperbacks), Patrick Brown (Community Manager, Goodreads), Jen Lancaster (Author/blogger, Jennsylvania.com) and Candace Levy (editor, Beth Fish Reads). A few highlights from their talk included stressing the fact that cross-platform will drive content being seen (don’t just post to your blog, use twitter, facebook, etc.). Patrick mentioned to remember and write for a reader who might not read book blogs, and to always keep in mind who your content is for. Candace talked about doing what is “you”, and that we all have authentic voices and our own opinions, and Jen mentioned posting when you feel inspired, all tying in to the question of engaging the community you have and finding your voice. Erica mentioned that from a publishers standpoint they will not want to work with someone who plagiarizes. Candace talked about being genuine and having integrity.
After lunch I attended the panels Critical Reviews and Creating Community & Driving Engagement. On the Critical Reviews panel were Barbara Hoffert (editor, Prepub Alert, Library Journal), Mark Fowler (Attorney & Blogger), Janice Harayda (Blogger, One Minute Book Reviews) and Florinda Vasquez (Blogger, The 3 R’s Blog). This panel talked a lot about libel and protected opinion, but had a few good points of advice. Barb mentioned that you should always substantiate what you’re saying, be it negative or positive and that you should be bold and critical but careful and to write for your audience. Jan talked about the need for a good, clear review policy and that publishers sending unsolicited copies does not obligate you to read or review, while Jan made mention of getting feedback from a friend if needed and to cite your facts in a calm manner. The panel for Creating Community & Driving Engagement consisted of Jennifer Conner (Blogger, The Literate Housewife Reviews), Mandy Boles (Blogger, The Well-Read Wife, David Lee King (Digital Serives Director at Topeka & Shawnee Country Public Library) and Stacey O’Neale (Publicist, Entangled Publishing). The panel talked a lot about creating community by attracting readers to your blog, through twitter, facebook, well-placed title keywords and creating a sense of yourself on your blog (as Mandy said, make them love you).
The closing remarks of the day were from Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess and author of Let’s Pretend this Never Happened. Jenny is hilarious and I found myself laughing numerous times throughout her speech, where she talked mostly about her blog and book.
After BEA Blogger Con was finished, Jenn, Nicole, Gwen, Jen and I headed to a Scholastic event featuring eight young adult/middle grade authors including Maggie Stiefvater, Jeff Hirsch and James Dashner. In groups of four, they all acted out scenes from each of their books. Maggie Stiefvater and James Dashner were hilarious on stage together and all the books presented sound amazing. There was cotton candy, good conversation, authors, bloggers, swag and all at the Scholastic Headquarters in New York City. I’m still kind of in awe of it all.
It was a whirlwind of a day, and the main conference hadn’t even started yet! Stay tuned for my post about Book Expo itself.