Monday, June 13, 2011

Wait, I Still Have More to Tell You! (About the Book Blogger Convention)

If you're a book blogger, you're probably breathing a sigh of relief that all the superlative-laden posts about Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention are done with (for another year, that is). But, you see, while most bloggers have happily moved on to other more current posts, well ... I'm kind of not done already.

I still have more to tell you about.  More bloggers to link to, more names to drop, more books to get excited about, more pictures. 

(If you want to listen, that is.  I won't be offended if you don't.  Um ... really, I won't.)

OK, so, good.  You're still here. Thank you. 

Now, picking up where we left off, with the panels. 

After mistakenly walking into the "Ask a Publisher/Publicist" panel, I realized I meant to go to "Practical Challenges of Book Blogging" instead.  Whoops.  Awkward.  No offense to those with the publisher/publicist panel, but since I don't accept many review books (the irony being that, I've accepted two since returning from the Convention; that's two more than I've accepted in the past year), the discussion of the practical challenges was more apropos.  It was led by these lovely bloggers here:

(Again, kindly ignore the quality of the photos.  They're not up to my usual standards, I know.  I sacrificed editing in the name of timeliness.)

Kristen from Fantasy Cafe, Raych from Books I Done Read (who is as freakin' hilarious in real life as she is on her kick-ass blog and the blogger I am a-kicking my own ass for not having met), Meg from Write Meg! (moderator), Lenore from Presenting Lenore, and Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelves.

Alas, I didn't take many notes during this one but I thought this was one of the best panels I attended.  The panel discussed one of the common conundrums faced by bloggers - that of balancing our time between blogging, reading, work, family responsibilities, and other interests. 

Many of us nodded when the discussion turned to people in our lives asking us how we manage to read so much. It's all about making time for what's important, and for many of us who had traveled to New York and taken vacation days and incurred expenses to do so, reading and blogging are obviously important.

For me personally, I make time for reading and blogging by watching very little TV.  I've got enough reality shows being broadcast 24/7 in my own real life, thank you very much. The Husband is a sports fan, so usually he's watching a game while I'm sitting here blogging or reading.  It works just fine for us. 

Mixing up the book talk with some personal stories was also discussed, and how much of one's personal and family life to share.  That varies from blogger to blogger, as we know.  Some of us are more comfortable sharing every detail of our lives, some aren't. One of the bloggers (I apologize that I don't remember who) made the comment that, "if we're visiting a blog, we're visiting you."  I think that's so true.  I like to think of my blog readers as people I'm talking to over coffee or a glass of wine, and I think (I hope) I'm pretty much the same in person as I am on the blog.  What you read is what you get. 

I really liked Jenn's system of putting books on her shelves according to review dates she's committed to, and I especially liked how her review policy states that if she doesn't get back to pitches within two weeks, then that means she's not interested. I've since added that to my review policy.

Then it was time for lunch!  I caught up with Michelle from Red Headed Book Child, who I met when we sat together at lunch last year, so we sat together again.  (It's becoming a Book Blogger Convention tradition for us.)  

In addition to Michelle, our table consisted of Florinda (pictured at left, with back to camera); Cliff, author/publisher of The Highly Sensitive Person Publishing Company (who I had a really interesting and lively conversation with about Asperger's Syndrome, sensory-processing disorder, and using/monetizing our blogs as launchpads for consulting and other professional opportunities); Alison from Alison's Book Marks (who was delightful and a new-to-me blogger even though I'd heard of her blog),  Giselle-Marie, a publicist with Simon and Schuster's Free Press division, (I have several of their books in my library piles, so I wish I'd had more of a chance to talk with Giselle-Marie) another representative from Simon and Schuster whose name and card I did not get, and Natalie from Coffee and a Book Chick (also a new-to-me blogger).

This is just half of the room at lunch. 
For once, every single one of us was sitting at The Cool Kids Table.

Then a few of us from our table (Michelle, Florinda, Natalie) meandered off to the next panel and were joined by Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness as well as Joy from Joy's Book Blog.  (I was delighted to meet Joy, as I read her blog regularly.) We all sat together for "Navigating the Grey Areas of Book Blogging," a panel moderated by (left to right) Heather of Age 30+ ...A Lifetime in Books and consisting of Kathleen Schmidt of A Bookish Broad as well as KMS PR, Bethanne Patrick from Shelf-Awareness, Candace from Beth Fish Reads, Amy from Amy Reads, and Pam from Mother Reader

Among the discussions that I found most enlightening was Bethanne's commentary about the consideration we give the authors, particularly ones we have a relationship (i.e., are friends with).  (I always like to hear anything Bethanne has to say; her comments are substantive and I think she is one of the finest voices we have in the book world.) There's a fine line between promoting an author and the potential misconception that an author "bought" a review on your blog, due to the nature of the friendship.  We as bloggers need to be conscious of this and to think of the authors, too.

In such cases, it becomes necessary, as Amy said, to "separate the book from the author."  Regardless, it's just good practice to disclose any potential relationships with authors right from the get-go.  It can be as simple as, "I met Ms. Author at a signing and have communicated with her on the Twitter," etc. 

Two more takeways from this panel:

- Kathleen mentioned that, within the publishing world, there is still "an in-house conversion happening."  (I think this was in reference to the relationship and the impact of book bloggers, but I thought it was an interesting statement nonetheless.)

- Pam advised the audience that we should be particular about what we take and to be realistic about the number of reviews/books we can commit to. 

I will confess that I snuck out of this one halfway through in order to check out the Author Speed Dating going on next door.  I will also confess that I was pleasantly surprised by this.  I expected the authors to be overly "pitchy" in regards to their books; with the exception of one author who WAS borderline obnoxious after I politely said that I didn't think I was the right blogger for said book, they were absolutely wonderful and I loved talking with each of them ... so much so that Author Speed Dating deserves its own (separate) blog post. 

After Author Speed Dating, I lingered a bit too long chatting and then popped over to the panel Florinda was moderating, "Blogging For a Niche Market."  My oh my, this was a big panel!  I tweeted something to the effect that this was the largest panel I'd ever seen from any conference I'd been to. 

(I'm not even going to begin to attempt to identify everyone here, because I know I will screw somebody up.)

Again, I don't have a single word of notes ... but I was interested that Bonjour, Cass is doing A Guide to Reviewing GLBTQ Books.  (Hers is a blog I had heard of before the Convention and now that I've spent some time checking it out, am kicking myself for not discovering it earlier.) I'll also direct you over to Rhapsody in Books. Jill, who was one the panel (she's fifth from the left) has a great follow up post on one of the questions posed by Florinda. 

I love Jill.  And her blog.  I love that I got to hang with her several times during the day.  Here we are (me on the right looking a bit punch-drunk ... my 3 a.m. wake-up call was starting to catch up to me by this point.)

We also chatted with Pam from MotherReader, who was wearing my Favorite Accessory EVER. 

It's a SCARF made of LETTERS!  From Australia. 
Could there be anything more perfect than this for a book blogging convention?

I was among the last of the bloggers shutting the lights off at the Javits Center. 

Missed my previous Book Blogger Convention 2011 posts? Here they be:

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.


Cindy said...

That is it. I am determined to go back next year and hopefully you will too. You are one of the bloggers that I hope to meet.

Funny enough You would think I would be tired of reading all these BEA posts but I am not. It sounds like it was so much fun. Sorry I missed it

Amy said...

Another great wrap-up :) I just had to comment to let you know that I read it. heh

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Holy cow you have some panoramic camera to have gotten that whole niche blogging panel! LOLOL

I also thought Bethanne had some of the most valuable comments of anyone on the panels. I don't remember that bit from Kathleen about the inhouse conversion, which sounds very interesting. I must have been helping you nap off the 3 a.m. wake up call!

avisannschild said...

Like Cindy, I'm not tired of these posts yet and I also hope we can meet up in 2012!

Meg said...

Wonderful recap! I'm glad you had a great time, too, and am still thinking about the convention in the weeks since we all met up. Glad you enjoyed the panel, too -- thanks for the kind words! Hope to see everyone again next year.