Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Blogger Convention: Who I Saw, What They Said (Part 1)

After taking the (very) early morning train through three states into New York City (see my previous Book Blogger Con post here), I arrived at the Javits Center in time to join this table of bloggers (and others too) for breakfast. 

(That nearly didn't happen, as Penn Station was never freakin' announced as a stop on my particular Amtrak train.  There I was, engrossed in The Story of Beautiful Girl, and all of sudden there we were in New York!)

Anyway, breakfast.  Most of the bloggers I noshed with were ones already in my Google Reader, which was awesome.  And a few were new to me, which was fun. 

Pictured (standing) is Ash from English Major's Junk Food, Megan from Leafing Through Life; seated are Teddy Rose from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time (and Virtual Author Book Tours.com), Teresa from Shelf Love, Jill from Rhapsody in Books, and Florinda from The 3Rs Blog.  Earlier, before the photo was taken, we also had the pleasure of chatting with Karen from Sassy Monkey Reads, Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Rebecca from Rebecca Reads (and host of The Classics Circuit)!

I also had a chance to say hello to Midnyte Reader while getting coffee and Sheila from Book Journey stopped by our table to say hi. (I met both of these ladies at last year's Book Blogger Con, so it was great to see them again.)

Then it was time to do the swag. (I loved the "build your own swag bag" component to this year's BBC, even if the actual bag to swag with was a bit petite. As for the books, I'll tell you more about them in another post.) I had a great conversation in line with Karin LeFranc, author of the children's book A Quest for Good Manners.  Karin would later stop by our table during lunch, where I snapped this photo of her with my friend Michelle from Red Headed Book Child.  (Michelle and I met over lunch at last year's Book Blogger Con, so having lunch together at BBC is now kind of a tradition for us.) 

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here.  Before lunch, there was the keynote address by the hilariously funny Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Here's one of my favorite bloggers (and Book Blogger Convention coordinator extraordinaire) Rebecca Joines Schinsky of The Book Lady's Blog introducing Sarah. 

A rapt audience of bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists.

I know, could that photo be any worse?  (I admit, I didn't edit all of these and my apologies for such.  Had I done so, you'd be reading this post next year.) 

I'll also admit that I'm not much of a romance reader and I was only slightly familiar with Sarah's blog, but that didn't matter.  Her message was universal and reflected the sentiments in the book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee (which has been on my want-to-read list for awhile now).

"I am but a grain of sand," Sarah said.  "And the world was created for everyone."

Meaning that, even though there were an average of 72,000 blogs created in the past 24 hours, there's room for everyone in the vast blogosphere, especially book bloggers. 

"Everyone's opinion on a book is valid," said Sarah. 

She also had the parents in the audience nodding knowingly when she said that having a website (or a blog) is like having a child.

"You have to feed it almost every day," the self-described "fully-certified Jewish mother" deadpanned to the laughing audience. "You're up at 3 a.m. with a child, and you're up at 3 a.m. writing a post for your blog. You need to sort problems out.  There are viruses.  People vomit unexpectedly."

One of the reasons blogging has exploded, Sarah said, is supported by Clay Shirkey's theory that we've inherited more free time and this have a "cognitive surplus."  This has made us more interactive with our entertainment and we crave such.

Sarah went on to say that the idea and desire of taking our blogs to "the next level" is something that is different for each of us.  It's all about your own goals related to your blog.  Some want more comments and followers; others want to hobnob with publishers or speak at conferences; others want to monetize their blogs.  Sarah shared that her goal was to have Smart Bitches, Trashy Books make enough money through advertising to cover her children's tuition at summer camp.  It does that, and more. 
Regardless of the goal, only one person can make it happen, she said.  "I only get somewhere by kicking my own ass." 

And you get there by dealing in the blogger's currency of being consistent and authentic.  That doesn't, she clarified, mean "reveal all."

It's "the Mafia rule," she explained.  "You don't talk about the family and you don't talk about the job."  It's also OK to admit that you were wrong.  (That might not fall into the Mafia rule all that much, based on my viewings of The Sopranos.) 

Sarah encouraged bloggers not to fear the bad review.  "It helps communicate what you like."  In addition, she wishes that more authors would review books.  If they did, then the notion of authors reviewing books might become less controversial.  As it is now, they're discouraged from doing so. 

She also wished that there could be a sales measure in the publishing industry similar to that in the music business.  When albums achieve certain sales benchmarks, they become platinum and then gold.  (Or is it gold and THEN platinum?  Eh ... doesn't matter.) The question is, why isn't there a similar sales standard for books?   (Someone in the audience remarked that this is because the sales data isn't there on the publishing end.  Sales of hardbacks might be counted as separate from paperbacks.)  Sarah thought that rectifying this would be beneficial to the publishing world, to authors, and to bloggers. 

Regardless, Sarah said, "[w]e [bloggers] are making an impact on how publishing happens. Look at us! We have our own conference!"

Indeed, we do.  And I'll have more to tell you about our own conference (lunch! more panels! author speed dating!) in the next installment of my Book Blogger Convention wrap up posts. 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


avisannschild said...

I so wish I'd been there! Hopefully next year...

Thanks for pics and impressions!

Amused said...

It was great to get to meet you at the convention in person! I am nodding my head with everything you are saying! Great post :)

Florinda said...

You got some excellent notes on the keynote!

Melissa said...

"I only get somewhere by kicking my own ass." Boy, does that resonate with me in so many ways.

Lots of stuff in this post to ponder!

JoAnn said...

Reading this is the next best thing to being there! Looking forward to part 2...

Alison said...

Looks like you had a GREAT time! It tempts me to be a book blogger--that is, if I could actually manage to read more than a book every three months.

Ash said...

Thanks for this great post, it was wonderful to meet you in person and now I get to relive the keynote from your great recap!