≡ Menu

My Belated Book Blogger Convention Post

My Belated Book Blogger Convention Post post image

I didn’t get to BEA until Thursday around 1:00, so I don’t have much to say about that other than that the expo is huge, I still got a few cool books and thank goodness Jill (Fizzy Thoughts) was around to help Care and I navigate!

My favorite BEA books were Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky, The Company Town by Hardy Green, and The Angel of Grozny by Asne Seiestad (thanks to Jill for snagging that one for me!).

This post is more of my impressions of the Book Blogger Convention, for which I tried to take notes and feel like I have more to say about 🙂

Maureen Johnson’s Keynote

bbc maureen johnsonLike many non-YA bloggers, I didn’t know much about Maureen Johnson before her speech, but (as many have already said) thought her speech was great. It was snarky and teasing, without being mean, and she made some interesting points about writing and blogging that I hadn’t thought of.

Here are some of favorite quotes or moments (forgive me if they’re a little off, I was taking notes and I’m not fast at it):

  • A story has to have problems, “otherwise it’s just a long list of things that have done well.”
  • “Writing is something you do by yourself, but not because you want to be alone.” Meg (write meg!) was sitting next to me and wrote this quote too — clearly, we’re journalists.
  • She’s not sure what publishing things of blogging, mostly because there are a lot of blogs and they’re just not sure how to deal with the math and noise of it all.
  • Bloggers are activists for books, and can make change (citing issues with diversity on covers and book challenges as ways that bloggers make a difference).
  • As bloggers, we build strength by sheer numbers. I think the added implication of that statement is that as bloggers we’re more powerful together and need to keep that in mind.
  • Johnson shared a story about how she used to write things on post-it notes and then stick them to people, and how this is what like Twitter is to here.
  • In reference to everyone getting online and not getting it — “We’re in a golden age of screw ups.” Also, “Writers should write their own stuff — it’s the least we can do.”

Overall, her opening was a fun and positive way to get the morning started off on the right foot.

Professionalism and Ethics in Blogging by Ron Hogan

bbc ron hoganI have a long post percolating in my head about the speech, so I’m not going to write about it here other than to say Ron Hogan (formerly of Harcourt Mifflin and a blogger at Beatrice) talked about what professionalism means to bloggers — not the same thing as journalists — and challenged the idea of a blogging code of ethics. Of the presentations, I think this was probably the most controversial, which is why I’m writing about it separately when I have time to think.

The discussion/Q&A part of the presentation got a little sidetracked into publisher/blogger relationships rather than discussions of ethics, which I think was too bad because the idea of ethics is bigger than just how we deal with the industry — it’s about the idea of being “good” bloggers more generally, and it’s something that needs to get discussed. Not all bloggers are into the publisher/publishing side of it, but I think all bloggers could benefit from an ethics discussion.

But, there were still some good moments from the Q&A that I enjoyed.

One highlight of the discussion was when Tara (BookSexy) asked Hogan what publishing and publishers expect from bloggers. He responded that it’s hard because publishing is still a traditionally literary establishment.

“We can’t just send a book to everyone with a Blogspot address who asks for every book,” he said. Publishers generally look at things like online rankings and activity in comments sections when they assess blogs, he said. He also added that when communicating with publishers, it’s important to be specific about what you want — one book, one catalog, whatever. Publishers know they need to learn the territory — some panic and some are trying to do it.

bbc writing

Care and Meg diligently taking notes during the speakers.

Meryl, a publicist with MZPR, said she usually looks for intelligent reviews that show bloggers have read the book; how many readers a blog has and how that might impact book sales; whether bloggers then go and promote their reviews via Twitter or other means; and whether bloggers appear serious about what they want to read.

She also said that if a blogger gets a book they’re not going to review, then pass it on to a friend because people will read and talk about it, which is the buzz publishers are looking for.

Another good note came from Ann Kingman, there representing her blog Books on the Nightstand, who said bloggers should get away from the term “free books” and start using something like “review copies.” I totally agree.

Writing and Building Content

This was the panel I was on moderated by Rebecca (Book Lady’s Blog) and with panelists Christina (Stacked), Amanda (The Zen Leaf), and Betsy (Fuse 8 Production) so I don’t have any notes from it. I got the chance to talk about my review format (the use of one sentence summaries and reviews), my Narrative Nonfiction 5 feature, and about how helped generate content while reading Infinite Jest by blogging about the process of reading rather than just a review.

The best part of this was afterwards when I was trolling around on Twitter and saw that Jen (Devourer of Books), tweeted one of my comments — it made me feel legit!

twitter expert


This panel was really helpful to me because I do think marketing is part of blogging and developing an audience for your blog. The moderator was Heather (Age 30+ Books), and panelists included Gayle (Everyday I Write the Book), Ann (Books on the Nightstand), Yen (The Book Publicity Blog), and Thea (The Book Smugglers). Some tips I took away from it included:

  • Respond to comments on your blog and other blogs.
  • Know who your readers are.
  • Think about developing community through, for example, an online book club.
  • “Work your face off” — Ann Kingman
  • Market your blog the way that you got into blogging.
  • Be efficient in your social media — pick on, or find ways to connect what you’re already doing.

When it comes to blog stats…

  • It might not matter. Publishers are more into commitment and reach, which goes back to part of the Professionalism and Ethics discussion.
  • It’s hard to measure — some stats include RSS numbers, page views, or how many people bought a book based on a recommendation.
  • Incoming and outgoing links are a good stats measure, too.

Blogging with Social Responsibility

This panel was moderated by Marie (The Boston Bibliophile) and included Zetta (Fledgling), Stephen (Band of Thebes), Wendy (Caribousmom), and Terry (The Reading Tub). I took really poor notes during this session, but know that I ended up feeling really inspired by it and started to think about what I could do on my blog. I’m not sure of an idea just yet, but think I’d like my blog to be an agent of social change.

Bloggers and Authors

Also, really poor notes from this session moderated by Nicole (Linus’s Blanket) with Caridad Pineiro (Caridad Pineiro’s Blog), Bethanne (The Book Studio), Kristi (The Story Siren), Amy (My Friend Amy), and Beth Kephart (Beth Kephart Books). I think in part because I was fatigued, and also because I was a little less interested in this topic. I don’t do author interviews and that sort of thing, so it didn’t have as much of an impact. Still, the panelists were interesting and I enjoyed it, even if it wasn’t as relevant.

The Ending

A blurry picture of Times Square at night. Wee!

A blurry picture of Times Square at night. Wee!

After the last session I headed back to the hotel with Care (Care’s Online Book Club) and Sheila (Book Journey), then off to dinner at Dos Caminos with about 20 other bloggers. It was amazing to see so many bloggers in one place, even if I didn’t get to talk with all of them.

I had a moment walking over where I was booking through Times Square with the two of them that I just couldn’t believe blogging had brought me all this way. It was surreal and awesome and the perfect ending to a great experience.

Also, there were some cool swag bags. Meg (Write Meg!) did a summary of them, and since they were mostly the same I direct you to her post.

For more comprehensive and interesting recaps, check out some of the links I collected over the last week.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) June 9, 2010, 8:49 am

    It sounds as though you had a fantastic time. I wish I had been there, but it is great to get an idea of what went on via posts like this. Blogging has a lot of hurdles to get over in the next few years. I look forward to seeing where it all ends up!

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:23 pm

      Jackie: I do think there are some things that bloggers will have to keep working on, but having a convention like this one felt like a good start to getting some dialog going on that. That’s part of why I was most interested in the ethics discussion and still have a lot to think about.

  • Teresa June 9, 2010, 8:55 am

    What an excellent post. Thank you for sharing this information with those of us who weren’t able to attend. This post has a lot of great information that I know I’ll refer back to.

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:23 pm

      Teresa: That’s great, I’m glad it was a helpful post. I felt like I was really late writing it and by now no one would care 🙂

  • Lenore June 9, 2010, 9:27 am

    I only met you briefly, but I’m now following your blog. I took a minimum of notes, so nice to see your recap here.

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:24 pm

      Lenore: My notes got more and more sparse as the day went on, which was too bad since I’d have liked to have more for the late panels. It was nice to meet you briefly at the diner!

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) June 9, 2010, 9:45 am

    Great re-cap! I sure hope I get to make it to the con next year!

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:24 pm

      bermudaonion: I hope you can make it too!

  • Scott June 9, 2010, 10:01 am

    I really like the idea of everyone having an area of expertise. It’s definitely what makes reading multiple blogs interesting – if we were all saying the same things about the same books, who would have more than one blog on their google reader list?

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:25 pm

      Scott: Ron Hogan said something similar — every blogger is an expert in the topic of “Books I Love,” which makes all blogs unique. But yes, I totally agree — the best thing is the variety that can make up book blogs.

  • Valerie June 9, 2010, 10:07 am

    Interesting post! And I look forward to more of your thoughts on Ron Hogan’s speech — I’d like to know more about what points he made.

    Reading posts like yours is the next best thing to being actually there!

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:26 pm

      Valerie: I’ll be working on that post this weekend, I hope, during the Bloggiesta. I’m excited to write about it since I find it so interesting!

  • Rowena June 9, 2010, 11:20 am

    Wow, this was a thorough post, one that I absolutely loved. It’s inspired me to be a much better blogger. Thanks for the recap!

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:27 pm

      Rowena: Thank you! It took longer to get it together than I expected. The whole convention inspired me to be a better blogger, too, so I’m glad to help pass a little of that on to you.

  • Lisa June 9, 2010, 11:42 am

    Thanks for hitting the high points of the panels for those of us that, sadly, didn’t get to be there!

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:27 pm

      Lisa: Yeah, that is too bad! I hope this whetted your appetite and you might be able to make it next year 🙂

  • Andi June 9, 2010, 12:53 pm

    Great post. I really enjoyed the specifics you included here about the panels you attended. Great stuff.

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:28 pm

      Andi: Thanks! When I’m not tired, I’m an obsessive note-taker, so I had some good ones to work from when writing about the early speeches and panels.

  • Trisha June 9, 2010, 4:59 pm

    See, this is the reason I don’t do wrap-up posts. I have people like you who do it so much better than I! This is definitely getting starred for when I start to forget what happened at the Blogger Con. Great post!

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:28 pm

      Trisha: Ha ha 🙂 I almost didn’t do one for that exact reason!

      • Care June 14, 2010, 11:34 am

        Trish – I was thinking the same thing! I supposed I could do a wrap up post and just tell everyone to read THIS post. 🙂

  • The Girl from the Ghetto June 9, 2010, 5:30 pm

    I was thinking about being much more specific and using quotes on my BBC portion of my multiple BEA recaps, but I thought those who ran it or paid the $ to attend might get frustrated if I spilled the deatils on everything we learned. (Like if people read everything we learned, and just decided “well, why pay to go next year since I read everything online?”) Glad to see you didn’t worry about this and you just wrote for yourself as much as for those of us who attended. Good for you!

    I’m excited to read your separate post on the Ethics panel. It was the panel I was most interested in and looked forward to hearing before attending BBC.

    Agree with you about the last panel as well. It was a long day, and I still feel badly I didn’t have more steam to keep myself going. Plus I rarely do author interviews nor write about authors in my reviews, as I like to keep the focus on the book rather than on who wrote it.

    Nice to hear so many of you bonded afterwards (I had to drive back to New Jersey with my friend who had me stay with her during BEA.)

    And, I didn’t get a single book you did. Isn’t it interesting to see who got what at BEA? Where was I for all of those other books I keep finding out about?

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:30 pm

      The Girl from the Ghetto: I bet next year will have different topics, so spilling about this one won’t have mattered. And I don’t think recaps like this one would have lessened the experience for those who paid, since such a huge part of it was getting to meet new people and chat with bloggers in person!

      I think looking at all the book piles is fascinating. Some people picked up some really great options. I feel lucky I got what I did, since I arrived so late anyway.

  • Heather J. June 9, 2010, 6:38 pm

    It was great getting to meet you! And you’re right, it is CRAZY to think of where we’ve all ended up (and who we’ve met) because of our blogs. 🙂

    • Kim June 9, 2010, 7:31 pm

      Heather: I still can’t believe how big blogging has become. It still seems weird to me 🙂

  • Serena June 10, 2010, 10:36 am

    I really enjoyed your recap. I agree that the blogger-author relationship panel really didn’t phase me. I really think that there needed to be a better focus to that panel. I wasn’t sure what to expect, though.

    • Kim June 12, 2010, 8:35 pm

      Serena: Yeah, more focus to the blogger/author could have been helpful, but I’m not sure what it might have been.

  • Anna June 15, 2010, 8:25 pm

    Great recap! It’s too bad that I had to leave NYC before the con. 🙁

    • Kim June 15, 2010, 9:09 pm

      Anna: It is! Hopefully next year you can make it. I had a lot of fun, and I’m hoping to go for longer next year.