Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Blogger Convention 2010

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.


orannia said...

Thank you so much for the overview Kristen. Sounds like a great day!

Anonymous said...

Yes thank you for this. Are you glad you went to the Book Blogger Con? After reading your description of the panels, I am thinking it is more for bloggers who are more serious, more organized, more ambitious than me in general. Or is that not a fair assessment?

Janicu said...

Speaking of organization - I took notes for the first few panels and I NEED to write up a post about it but I feel lazy.

I tried taking notes for reviews and it worked for a couple of months but in the end it made my reading take longer and I just stopped doing it. Maybe I was doing it wrong - writing down TOO much. I think if I took notes on a book again it would be just to jot down a thought I know I want to mention in the review, not every detail (I tended to write down characters names etc, but it's faster to just look in the BOOK for that).

And yeah when people talk about their methods of organization I feel very behind (because I am most assuredly not organized - and work and life is a big reason why!)

Kristen said...

Orannia - It was a lot of fun!

RRRJessica - I'm far from the most organized, ambitious blogger out there myself - this definitely showed me that since I don't have a schedule or a plan beyond "read and write when I have time." During the writing and content panel, one of the panelists mentioned she had posts written up 3 weeks ahead of schedule - I'd love to be organized like that but that is just not possible for me until I win the lottery!

Even so, I am glad I went although I didn't feel like going was very beneficial for me, if that makes sense. It was interesting to listen to the discussions, but I didn't really feel like I was hearing much that I hadn't heard before already. But it was fun to get to meet everyone and I did like hearing what people had to say about blogging. Plus Maureen Johnson was hilarious.

If you're considering going next year, you might want to just wait and see what they have for topics. The panels this year were heavy on how to get your name out there (marketing, how to make sure you keep that content coming). And if you're not interested in interviewing authors or receiving ARCs, the author relationship one may not be that appealing.

Janicu - I know the feeling. Last night I really just wanted to revise one of the reviews I wrote over the weekend but I figured I should write about BBC while it's still at least somewhat fresh.

Yikes, those are some pretty detailed notes! I was thinking about doing notes like what you would do if you were to try it again - just jotting down things like "good quote on page 25" or anything that strikes me while reading. Sometimes I forget about those moments when it comes time to write about the book and kick myself later for leaving out things that I meant to write about...

It makes me feel better to know there are others who felt disorganized in comparison. I don't know how people do it - there's only so much spare time.

Kristen said...

RRRJessica - Oh yes, and my husband just pointed out that I may have heard a lot of it because I have had more experience with Internet marketing/social media than the average person. So I may not be the best case to go by...

Anonymous said...

Well, it is true you are more savvy than the norm! But I was thinking about the format. Why does it have to be a "we-will-teach-you-this-and- that panel". While there are newbies who want to learn from their successful elders, I would like to hear from other bloggers about their challenges, what their hopes are, what they are working on, etc. Also more on things like diversity and social responsibility. I was glad they covered those topics.

Thanks again for the posts!

Benjamin said...

When I was blogging, I never bothered with taking notes or setting up a blog schedule. I'm a mood reader and just don't think that far ahead. And taking notes just takes me out of the reading experience as well. Personally, I was never a real serious blogger. I just did it for fun.

As long as you have fun doing it is what counts. :)

Kristen said...

RRRJessica - The social responsibility one was easily my favorite of the panels because it did give a better idea of what the various bloggers believed in and what causes they wanted to promote. They discussed how posting about a subject that is important to you personally can actually make a difference. The rest of them didn't really have as much of that connection; they were more general and had a lot more to do with promoting your blog. Or were just about how awkward it is to have authors contact you about reviewing their book when it comes time to send them the link to your not-so-positive review.

Benjamin - I'm a big mood reader too so I suppose a schedule wouldn't work well for me either. For a while I did plan out the books I'd read over the next month, but it started working less and less and wasn't that fun for me. So I've settled on my main rule being read one review copy, then one book I bought/received as a gift off my wishlist, although I do at least try to fit in some of the books I'm looking forward to near their release date. That way I still have some freedom to read whatever grabs my attention at the moment but still make some progress with both types of TBR books.

It is more important to have fun, definitely. I like to be organized, though, so sometimes I wish I didn't feel so disorganized.