105 Ways to Give a Book

Book Blogger Convention 2011

I left off with my Book Expo Experience — which was in summary, wonderful. Now to the Book Blogger Convention which took place on Friday. I’ve worked hard to piece it together from my tired, addled mind. As testimony to my cotton-filled brain in NYC, I was in a room full of book bloggers on a panel where I could introduce myself and my blog and I DID NOT mention the 48 Hour Book Challenge! Man, am I kicking myself over that.

Anyway, the BBC really started on Thursday afternoon at the meet-and-greet. I talked to some great bloggers and authors, and apparently took no business cards and now have no idea who I chatted with. Which is really a shame, as I had some interesting conversations. I can verify spending quality time with fellow panelist Amy of Amy Reads and Thien-Kim of From Left to Right talking about professionalism, diversity, and negative reviews. Really helped warm me up for the panel the next day. I had a few minutes with Ron Hogan, where we were just about to hatch a fantastic plan... but he had to leave. Later, Ron!

The Book Blogger Convention started at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast and a build-your-own-swag-bag. I was dying for the coffee and as such, missed getting the names of our breakfast buddies — except for Sam of Parenthetical Net and Paula of Pink Me. Though I did have a chuckle as one of them looked at the panels and remarked that she hadn’t heard of any of these blogs. Hello, right here. Charlotte grabbed two books from the swag that seemed my style, but I ended up going through the line anyway — mostly to get the candy that being given away.

The keynote speech was given by Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (photo from Write Meg) and it was fantastic. Energizing, even. I want Sarah to be my new best friend. (As did everyone else in the room, I’m sure.) There were three things that she said that really resonated with me.

First, she defined our blogging world as one echoed in advice from a Jewish parenting book, Blessings of a Skinned Knee. (On my shelf!) In essence, always carry two pieces of paper in your pockets. On one write, “I am but a grain of sand.” On the other, “The world was created for me.” A powerful thought in terms of humanity and spirituality, but it also does lend a vibrant note in blogging. It’s a big, big blogging world out there, but this time of online interaction is unique to us, to now. How can we accept and benefit from both?

Second, in discussing the idea of blogging success, she turned the concept back to us as the individual. What is integral to take our blog to the next level, as it were, is to understand what that level is to each of us. It’s not about being a success so much as how you choose to define success.

Third, she talked about how the most important qualities that a blog can have are Authenticity, Consistency, and Generosity. I felt good about meeting those goals, but I liked the brevity of that reminder. Maybe I’ll tattoo it on my arm. I did ask her about the vibrancy of the Romance community and how that could translate to other communities, um like the kidlitosphere. Her answer was to tap into the passion that exists there and the need for conversation.

Okay, moving on to the Ask a Publisher/Publicist session. I found this conversation interesting, but I didn’t write down much because it wasn’t new to me. In fact the only note I can translate with any relevance was “Yay! Review policies!” Which was basically that publishers/publicists are happy to see review policies on blogs because they give a good indication of what that blogger wants. The session started with the publishers/publicist giving overviews and then went to Q & A. I felt it was a pretty respectful conversation on both sides. There were a few questions that seemed a bit off-base, but then a complaint about expiration dates on e-galleys was useful in that the publisher could perhaps make a change. A second question was that e-galleys made it harder on bloggers who wanted to use them for giveaways. The publishers’ response was that they would be fine to be asked to supply a copy for a giveaway, which seemed reasonable and would certainly cut down on the number of print ARCs requested in general. Which in turn serves the publishers’ interest and stops one of their complaints that bloggers will sometimes ask for everything in the catalog. I came away from that with a good feeling that publishers were getting a better understanding of how our mutual goals could be reached together, and that bloggers were also getting a message from publishers as to what was appropriate and/or professional.

I had to duck out of the second part of this session with the smaller publishers/publicists because I suddenly hit the wall. I left debating finding a quiet corner to just sit, but ended up in a couple of conversations that perked me up. It also put me early in line for lunch, which was energizing in that I was surrounded by people at my table that I knew — Rebecca, Alex, Terry, and Charlotte.

Afterwards it was time for my panel, Navigating the Grey Areas. (Let me thank Ron Hogan of Shelf Awareness for this photo and yay!, quoting me in the post.) I was really excited for this discussion with co-panelists Heather of Age 30+ A Lifetime of Books (our awesomesauce moderator), Amy of Amy Reads, Candace of Beth Fish Reads, Bethanne of The Book Maven Media, and Kathleen of A Bookish Broad. We talked about author/blogger relationships, ethics, professionalism, negative reviews, and objectivity. Honestly, this was the kind of conversation I would have gladly had with these smart women even if no one else had been there. I love this stuff. I think we talked about important things, and didn’t always agree on how we handled them, but it provided a great framework and food for thought for other bloggers. My only issue was that I felt that the bloggers who most needed to hear the message were likely in the author speed dating in the other room. Oh, well. (I also later realized that when I heard that the mic wasn’t picking up well, I was approaching it like a singer does rather than a speaker. So if I was really loud, I apologize.)

I went in late to Blogging for a Niche Market because I needed a bit of time to decompress, so I can’t say much about the panel part. I enjoyed it when they broke into groups, because the conversation was focused and personal. I got a chance to really interact with our table moderators, Rebecca from Rebecca Reads, Amy from Passages to the Past, and Jill from Rhapsody in Books. At the end, I was able to meet Thea from The Book Smugglers and Melissa of Betty and Boo Chronicles and Marcia of The Diamond in the Window and... probably more. I had some really nice conversations, but I was sooo tired. In general, I thought that two hours was way long for the sessions, but I’ll bet feedback from last year thought the sessions were too short. But I think the ideal session length has the conversation running out of time and leaving you wanting more.

Before I left I made sure to thank our host and blogging buddy, Michelle of Galleysmith. I’d carved out a few minutes with her during the BBC events, but she was very busy running things. This is one lady who deserves a long post-BEA/BBC nap. And chocolate. I’m afraid I didn’t get a moment with the other BBC organizer, Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog — or just as likely I did and don’t remember — but props to her also for a convention well done.

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Meg said...

Great recap! I'm sorry I missed your panel -- sounds like there was lots of great information there. The BBC was tons of fun and I'm already excited for next year.

Fourth Musketeer said...

Thanks for sharing! I hope to go to this next year...

Amy said...

I had a really great time meeting and chatting with you. We'll have to do it again :)

ynl said...

You know I missed the whole thing! I wish I could have stayed for Friday, and we didn't even get a chance to have a drink at the reception the afternoon before!

Next year - better planning! Thanks for the recap, it's a good one.

Heather J. said...

Thanks for being a part of the panel and for the great recap post. I missed the beginning of the keynote speech so I didn't hear the mention of BLESSINGS OF A SKINNED KNEE - I read that book a while back and really enjoyed it!

Hopefully we'll see each other again next year.

Charlotte said...

Thanks again, Pam, for being my BEA/BBC buddy! Spending time with you was one of the highlights.

Rebecca Reid said...

This is such a great write up of the events/speakers/panels. I didn't attend all of the same ones you did, but would you mind if I linked to this post when I write my next post about the BBC next week?

Michelle said...

So glad you were able to join us again this year! It's always great to see you and we really do need to make that time to get together at some point, lol.