The day after Book Expo America was of course the first Book Blogger Convention. I usually try to avoid talking about blogging too much here so I don't bore those of you who aren't bloggers, but this is one thing I would like to discuss as there may be people who are curious about going next year.
It started with registration and breakfast (yes, coffee!!!) and then we all headed into the main room to listen to the keynote speaker, YA author Maureen Johnson, who amused us all with stories about attending a Catholic high school and explaining the plot of one's book to someone who really just isn't all that interested in it in the middle of a busy bookstore. (We each also got the audio version of her book Suite Scarlett as part of our Book Blogger Convention swag.)
Next we listened to a more serious talk on Professionalism and Ethics given by Ron Howard. The talk is available on his website. He discussed topics such as why he says that book bloggers won the war between critics and bloggers, different standards of ethics and how to be trustworthy, and the FTC Guidelines that caused quite a stir a while ago. I won't go into it too much since if you're really interested, you can watch it and read more about it on the website.
After these two talks and question/answer sessions for each, there were panels in which different bloggers discussed a topic. The first of these, Writing and Building Content, made me feel very disorganized. They were talking about keeping notes on each book read, creating posts ahead of time, coming up with ideas for new features and making sure they had other content such as press releases for days when they couldn't write much.
As much as this one overwhelmed me, it did make me decide that after I start a new book, I may try note taking to see how it works. Lately I just haven't had as much spare time as previous years and keep getting behind on reviews, and then I end up practically rereading some of the books I already read in order to refresh my memory to write about them. It really made me wish I was one of those people with a detailed blogging calendar. I keep thinking it's not possible since blogging is something I do in my spare time after the full time job and how much time I have for it varies, but that's the way it works for most bloggers so maybe I'm really not as organized as I could be.
The next topic was Marketing - things like using Twitter, Facebook and other social media to grow your blog and commenting on other posts to get your name out there and make friends. Toward the end the conversation turned to stats - most people thought quality and generating discussion through comments was more important than the number of visits.
Blogging with Social Responsibility showed how bloggers can make a difference, such as during a couple of the recent instances of "whitewashing" covers (depicting white people on the cover when the main character is a person of color). Recently, there were a couple of instances where this happened and due to the public outrage, the cover art was changed to present a more fitting portrayal of the character (Liar by Justine Larbalestier and Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore).
The final panel was on Author/Blogger relationships. I was fairly surprised by the fact that some people will not put up a negative review of a book by an author they've become friendly with. It is difficult to do so I understand it; there have been occasions before in which I've emailed with an author, thought they were so nice and really wanted to be able to say I liked their book - and have been very sad to find I just can't say that. But even if it's not the most positive review in the world, I've seen other people comment on some of these reviews on various blogs and say it sounds like it is their type of book even if not to the reviewer's taste - and they may never have even heard of the book if not for that review, even if it is not a glowing recommendation.
Oh yes and we also had a break for lunch with actual food which was fantastic after living on coffee and chips or coffee and cake during busy Book Expo America!
Next up: One more post on the trip - thoughts about BEA instead of just what I did while there and then back to books, I promise! I actually have two review drafts at the moment that just need to be proofread and edited and should be close to ready to go.