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BEA Bloggers: Where Were the Bloggers?

BEA Bloggers: Where Were the Bloggers? post image

As a journalist, I’m always looking for the telling anecdote, the short story that sums up in just a few paragraphs the theme of what I’m trying to write about. The story that I think sums up my experience at BEA Bloggers (formerly the Book Blogger Convention) last Monday in New York City is this one:

I was standing in the back of a meeting room during a panel discussion on developing a relationship between bloggers and publishers. As I was in the process of listening to the speakers, taking notes for this post, and following a hashtag discussion on Twitter (#publog), a man walked into the room and start talking to the blogger standing next to me.

In order to make it clear that I was involved with the panel, I pulled my notebook closer to my face, scribbled furiously, and tried to otherwise not make eye contact with him as he stepped over and interrupted what I was doing. After shoving his business card into my hand, he told me he was an author and invited me a signing of this third book the next day. It was all I could do to just tersely say, “Thanks,” and refocus on the panel rather than point out how outrageously rude he had just been. (And that, barring an incident where every book in the world was destroyed except his, I probably wouldn’t be picking up his novel).

I don’t think this particular author intended to be totally inconsiderate. I think we just had different expectations for what was happening in that particular moment and for the entire BEA Blogger experience: I expected to spend the day learning and engaging with other bloggers, while he expected that all bloggers in attendance were there just to “talk with” (i.e. “be pitched too”) by authors and other publishing industry folks.

If it wasn’t already clear, I’ll be blunt — I was disappointed and frustrated by my day spent at BEA Bloggers. It felt like a conference featuring what the publishing industry wants bloggers to be interested in (Authors! Swag! Famous people!), rather than what I think bloggers are actually interested in (connecting with each other in the real world).

This isn’t going to be a post that summarizes the day; I’ll link to a few of those recaps at the end. Instead, I’m going to try to outline my broad concerns with the conference organization and try to offer some suggestions for what I would like to see done differently next year.

Networking… with Authors?

One of the purported draws of the day was the chance to spend both breakfast and lunch “networking” with authors. In a session modeled like speed taking, authors spent about 10-20 minutes at a table “talking” with bloggers about their book, before jumping to switch tables to “meet” another group of bloggers.

I put all those words in quotations because (in my experience at breakfast) it really was more of a chance for authors to pitch their book to a captive audience, rather than do any real networking, which I usually feel means each person in an interaction feels like they’ve gained something useful. I’m not sure if the authors that sat at our table even asked us our names.

I think this author pitching breakfast wouldn’t have been so frustrating to me if I’d also had a chance to converse with other bloggers at the same time. However, the table I was sitting at had only three bloggers — the other five seats were grabbed by people connected to the publishing industry. That proportion seems off to me, and I think is reflective of a broader issue of conference attendance — there were too many people who weren’t bloggers, which hijacked the focus of the conference.

Who Is the Audience?

One of my strongest feelings from the day was that it felt like the panel discussions were dominated by people who were not book bloggers. I missed the morning panel because of lunch plans, but did attend two afternoon panels, “Critical Reviews” and “Demystifying the Book Blogger & Publisher Relationship.” In both cases, the questions from the audience were clearly coming from people who were not book bloggers (“How do you pitch Library Journal?” or something to the effect of “Don’t bloggers sell galleys?”). It felt like what could have been legitimate discussions got sidetracked by people with an agenda.

Where Were the Bloggers?

And that leads me to my biggest pet peeve — where were the bloggers? Both keynotes were given by authors (granted, who had blogging experience, but who are not what I would consider book bloggers). The majority of the panelists were people without a background as book bloggers. And the audience members I met or noticed were also clearly not book bloggers. Where were we?

I really don’t know the answer to this questions. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to decide if it was the conference organization, attendees, or my lack of reaching out during the day that prevented me from connecting with other bloggers. It’s probably a combination of the three, but I have to think there was something seriously amiss about a blogging conference where I didn’t meet a single unfamiliar blogger.

Suggestions for the Future

After hashing out my frustrations with some close blogging friends for the last week, I’ve come up with some suggestions that I think could improve the conference for next year:

  1. Give bloggers time to interact ONLY with other bloggers. One of the “networking” meals should have been abandoned, leaving the time open for bloggers to talk to each other. I wasn’t at the lunch session, but I’ve read in a few recaps that people took their box lunches and went to eat in the hallway. Paid attendees to a conference shouldn’t have to do that.
  2. Be more strict about attendance. This is going to sound cranky, I know, but I think attendance should be limited, somehow, to people who are actually book bloggers. I’m all for opportunities for bloggers and publishing industry people to meet and network, but that seems more like part of BEA proper rather than a conference for bloggers.
  3. Offer a session during BEA about working with bloggers from an author/publisher perspective. I think there is still a lot of confusion about how authors/publishers can work with bloggers. Since BEA Bloggers is a time where there are a bunch of bloggers in a room, it gets tempting to focus on that issue alone rather than concerns specific to bloggers. I think adding a BEA Education session would give a space to discuss blogger/author/publisher relationships from that perspective rather than trying to shove it, unsuccessfully, into a blogging conference.
  4. Include more bloggers in the panels. I think the bloggers who were part of the panel discussions were great, but there needed to be more of them. I want to hear about book blogging issues from other bloggers. Bring in industry folks when it’s appropriate — a panel on blogger/publisher relationships, or one professional reviewer to talk about critical reviews — but please give us a space to talk blogger-to-blogger.
  5. Offer topics for more experienced bloggers. I think every bloggers’ conference will (and should) have a panel on the blogger/publisher relationship. With new bloggers starting every year, that’s a good discussion to keep having. But I think there is space in a conference like this to talk about issues that impact bloggers who have been writing longer — fighting burnout, leveraging your blog for job opportunities, or blogging ethics, for example.

Other Perspectives

This post has been almost exhaustingly negative, and I am sorry about that. I’ve waited awhile to write it because I hoped my feelings would mellow a little bit, but that just hasn’t happened. Other bloggers have written more specific recaps, and I urge you to check them out as well:

  • The Book Smugglers — “While we were somewhat wary of this shift in ownership and organization – especially after the panel lineup was announced, seeming to focus on bloggers and how we can best blossom in their supporting roles for authors and publishers – we were cautiously optimistic and excited to attend the full-day conference. Unfortunately, our fears were not unfounded.”
  • Read, React, Review — “Everyone I talked to did not want to repeat the breakfast experience of being held captive by an author shilling a book. We considered ways to keep authors away from our table (Hiding the placard? Dirty looks? Farting noises?) but none seemed foolproof. So a bunch of us decided to take our box lunches outside into the hallway and sit there. If there is an image I take away from the day, it is me and my friends eating lunch on the floor in the hallway of Javits, while the authors sat inside at tables supposedly set for us.”
  • Dear Author — “So the BEA Book Blogger Conference really wasn’t what I had hoped it would be. I plan to write a long list of suggestions to the BEA Bookblogger organizers to recommend things that are more from a blogger’s point of view. Right now, BEA Book Blogger Con is good for very young, new bloggers.  I don’t think they are offering much for established bloggers.”
  • Alita Reads — “I would go back to BEA in a heartbeat for more of those memories. It’s like the internet came alive, and instead of stumbling across someone’s blog or tweet, you’re face to face with the actual person. In fact, my biggest complaint about Blogger Con was that there wasn’t much room for blogger interaction. I wish there had been a better way to put blog names to faces instead of walking up to one of the 400 attendees, peering at their badge (if it was flipped the right way around), and asking ‘Do I know you from the internet?’”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Suzanne June 12, 2012, 12:35 pm

    Part of me would love to attend BEA for all of the bookish-ness but at the same time it seems like an event where I would not enjoy myself. Maybe it’s because I blog as a hobby but it sounds like it’s not worth the expense for me to go.

    • Lexie C. June 12, 2012, 12:58 pm

      I think some of it is because the last couple of years BEA has evolved past its original intention–much like San Diego Comic Con used to JUST be comic nerds and the occasional pop culture junkie, once the movie and show creators got involved it exploded. BEA is having that problem now–bloggers found BEA and like any ravenous, obsessive and interested horde they descend upon it en masse.

      I met, and continue to meet, quite a few bloggers at BEA that make the trip worth it for me. I’ve also been able to come out of my shell somewhat better because of Book Expo–being surrounded by like-minded individuals for a week, who get that weird author quote without needing further explanation, really does wonders for a socially anxious person like myself.

      I often wonder if BEA will go the route of E3–it went from industry only to industry+public, back to industry only because of the crazy explosion of interest and the lack of ability to compensate for it.

      • Kim June 12, 2012, 1:14 pm

        That’s a really interesting comparison to think about. I don’t know a lot about E3, but you can see how the BEA organizers are flexing and stretching trying to figure out how to incorporate readers into the event.

        It seems to me it would be a pretty serious about-face to go from praising bloggers to then not inviting them to come, but who knows. It’s hard to guess where publishing is going and whether the current emphasis on bloggers/readers will continue.

        • Lexie C. June 12, 2012, 1:31 pm

          They’re definitely trying to make readers feel more welcome, but their plans are kind of…half-hearted I suppose, at least if this year is any indication. The Power Readers I talked with were confused, lost and had no idea what was going on. Everyone I’ve read about going to the BEA “Bloggers” Conference left disgruntled and frustrated.

          I think some of the problem would be resolved if they had people who CARED that bloggers were there. There’s obviously publicists and authors and other industry folk who care about our opinion. Sourcebooks, Entangled, Spencer Hill and Bloomsbury folk went out of their way to talk with me about my blogging and about my reading habits. Contrast that with the party line from Book Expo and its disconcerting.

          I think communication would go a long way with them, but hey what do we know right? We just want free books (::glares at publicist that said that:: )

    • Kim June 12, 2012, 1:11 pm

      I went to BEA for the first time because it was the first year of the original Book Bloggers’ Conference (2010, I think?), and I was invited to be a panelist at that time. Before then, I’m not sure I would have ever gone to BEA. But I’ve kept going back (and hopefully will get to continue to go) because it is a good way to meet other bloggers and do some connecting with publishers — which I still like to do even though blogging remains a hobby. But if those aren’t high on your blogging priority list, or you have other ways to do those things (other book festivals or ways to meet other bloggers), then BEA may not be worth the expense.

  • Lexie C. June 12, 2012, 12:54 pm

    Originally I was going to sign my sister and myself up for this ’cause I went to the first one (though that wasn’t everything I hoped for either) and my sister was interested in networking with other bloggers this year.

    I’m glad I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to justify the cost given the reports I’ve seen about what the Convention was really like. I really think that Reed should have a) left BBC alone this year and bought it after the show to give themselves a year of planning and b) either focused on the BEA “bloggers” conference or on their Power Readers Day.

    Both came off as rather half-baked and lacking the attention and focus from people who cared. I’m hopeful that they take recommendations and suggestions to make it better next year. Or hand it over to a group of people who CARE about it, and give them the support and contacts necessary to make ti a REAL draw for Bloggers. Let’s face it, next year Bloggers are likely going to have to pay anyhow (I think the mishap they had this year was a pilot run to see what would happen honestly) so make them pay and give them something MORE.

    • Kim June 12, 2012, 1:19 pm

      Another great point – I hadn’t thought about how doing both the Power Reader day and BEA Bloggers might impact how each would go. I’m optimistic they’ll take some suggestions into account and try to improve for next year — even if the real money for the event comes from publishers, without bloggers in attendance there really isn’t a product to sell, and it’s clear at this point that if bloggers are unhappy with the event they won’t hesitate to share that.

      • Lexie C. June 12, 2012, 1:37 pm

        Yeah not a great idea to give a few thousand people who live to tweet, blog and vlog about their bookish happenings fodder to voice their disatisfaction.

        I’ve been attending BEA since 2007–I started as an educator (the library specialist at the Daycare Center I taught at) and then moved onto being a blogger at the show. Its interesting how the show has changed. I’ll continue going, because this is honestly the only week in the year I can see half of my friends (especially the overseas bloggers), and I enjoy how…informal authors are (at least some of them are) and how much they obviously want to engage the readers (the Apocalypsies event?).

        If BEA wants to welcome bloggers they need to think harder about how to do that instead of how having the bloggers at the show is a boon to the publishers (and how to spin it as such).

  • Serena June 12, 2012, 12:59 pm

    In many ways after reading all of these recaps, I’m glad that circumstances coalesced for me in the way they did to preclude me from attending. I had enjoyed previous blogger cons, but looked at the agenda once it was sold and decided that it wouldn’t be worth the money.

    I’d like to see if the REED people take feedback and adjust the conference to the needs of book bloggers.

    • Kim June 12, 2012, 1:20 pm

      I hope they’ll take feedback into account too. If there’s a post-event survey or request for comments, I plan to share my suggestions in the hopes that it will help 🙂

  • Jessica June 12, 2012, 1:04 pm

    Thanks for this post, linkage, and roundup, Kim. GREAT suggestions.

    “Where were we?” Good question. After the conference, I thought, “Well, I guess a lot of my favorite bloggers just didn’t come.” Since then, BEA post after BEA post from bloggers like you whose blogs I read and whom I would have LOVED to meet. I met more bloggers in line for author signings than at BEA Blogger Con. It seems like a huge missed opportunity.

    Also — a belated congratulations for your well deserved recognition!

    • Kim June 12, 2012, 1:21 pm

      I felt the same way — I met more bloggers at parties or in lines at BEA than I did on the conference day. Granted, I was gone for a couple hours in the middle, but even so I just don’t know how the day went by without collecting some blogger business cards 🙂

      And belated thank you!

  • Jeanne June 12, 2012, 1:06 pm

    I’ve never been quite clear on what a blogger expects to get out of going to a book expo except free books, and you can get those “cheaper” without paying airfare and hotel. I haven’t paid attention to who organizes the blogger part of the conference, but it sounds like the money is coming from the publishers, so of course they’re directing the show.

    Without sounding too cynical about it, I think a lot of book bloggers (me included) are wide-eyed amateurs and the more we admit that, the better off we are. Amateur status used to be something to be protected, like for the Olympics.

    • Kim June 12, 2012, 1:24 pm

      For me, BEA is a good chance to meet other bloggers and talk with publishers about upcoming books. I’ve also enjoyed the education sessions that I’ve gone to (one this year was about The Journey of a Book, which was fascinating). On the whole, my BEA experience this year was largely positive… BEA Bloggers (just Monday) was not.

      That said, there is a lot to be said for maintaining “amateur” status. I don’t think that means there aren’t still issues to discuss, or that there aren’t reasons to attend a book blogger conference — some issues affect many of us, regardless of how connected we are to publishing industry stuff. I’m just not sure a bloggers conference organized by BEA would be the space for people who have no interest in the publishing side of the equation, you know?

    • Lexie C. June 12, 2012, 1:43 pm

      From my standpoint while I definitely enjoy the free books, I often go more for the social interaction and the ability to see friends I can’t normally see (from all over the globe), authors I wouldn’t normally see and a week of discussing that which I love (books). But also for me its a lot cheaper then others (I live in NJ, its a free train ride thanks to my Uncle into the city and the cost of a hotel split 4 or so ways).

      And for my friends I know one who gained an internship within the industry because of the contacts she made at BEA last year, my sister is going to be interviewed for an internship as well.

      As for amateurs–I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a professional in that sense. I blog and I review because it keeps me sane–I dont’ do it with another agenda, I don’t attend BEA with another agenda to get a step in the publishing world. Book Expo for me is like New York Comic Con or Otakon (an anime convention)–its a time for me to unwind, have fun and do what interests me the most.

  • Florinda June 12, 2012, 1:42 pm

    I’ve been to both BEA and Comic-Con (SDCC), and Lexie’s comparisons aren’t all that farfetched (especially given that there are publishers and booksellers on the expo floor at Comic-Con too, and they’re NOT all comics vendors!). The origins are different–Comic-Con’s come from fandom, while BEA is still fundamentally a trade show–but both have wildly expanded in unexpected directions, and have disgruntled some of their core constituencies in the process.

    I think this is a well-articulated take on a problematic day, and I really don’t think you sound overwhelmingly negative here. Your suggestions for future conferences are solid–=definitely share them with the management if you get the chance (and they WILL ask for feedback…unless they’re big chickens, and that would be problematic in an entirely different way)!

    • Lexie C. June 12, 2012, 1:49 pm

      I noticed the uptick in publishers at NYCC (I can’t afford SDCC right now, but my friends and I are planning a trip when their daughter is a little older) last year.

      And you’re right, SDCC started as a fandom event that grew into something the industry (all pop culture media industries) turn to for so much (news, first looks, etc etc) and BEA has gone the opposite way–industry first and now its beginning to become filled with the ‘fandom’ of bookies. I think ReedPop is having a harder time melding the two together however. They dont’ seem as able to combine the fan aspects (the bloggers who are there for the books and author experience) with the professional aspects without treading on everyone’s toes.

      • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:11 pm

        I wonder, too, if there are some differences in how particular bloggers view the event — some for the fan aspects, and others for the more professional aspects. I don’t think either is wrong, but it could also be a reason I responded to BEA Bloggers in one way (wanting a more professional event), when it really was a more fanish event.

  • Marie June 12, 2012, 1:42 pm

    That’s disappointing, but yours is not the only reaction like this I’ve heard. I went to Book Blogger Con two years ago and it was a totally different experience! Bloggers dominated the panels, and I only had to spend one cocktail party shooing away authors. I’m sorry that the day wasn’t as rewarding as you’d hoped.

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:12 pm

      I was at the first BBC too, and that was my experience. There was one author cocktail sort of event and the rest was all bloggers. I really think they need to pull some of that back if the event is going to be successful in the future.

  • Midnyte Reader June 12, 2012, 1:56 pm

    Wonderful post and I liked getting your POV. It’s very interesting what people have been saying.

  • Allison L June 12, 2012, 2:02 pm

    This is a wonderful roundup of BEA Bloggers! “Where were the bloggers?” was a question that definitely crossed my mind a time or two while I was sitting at my table. I also love the suggestions you’ve made. I really do hope that those organizing things do take all of this feedback in while they are planning for next years event. 🙂

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:13 pm

      I’m relieved I’m not the only person who asked that question. I wondered for awhile if it was just the tables I was sitting at, but it sounds like my experience wasn’t uncommon.

  • janicu June 12, 2012, 2:07 pm

    I remember that guy! I think it was the same author who came up to me after that panel, RIGHT after I was just telling another book blogger how “There’s so much promotion at this Con!” — and there he was, illustrating my point. I thought he was a nice enough guy, but it was just not a good day to pitch to me after I’d been pitched all over the place. It was not what I was expecting from the Con.

    I agree with all your suggestions.

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:14 pm

      He seemed perfectly nice to me too, just outrageously rude in that situation. Had he approached me at a different time and a little less in your face about his book, I think I would have responded much differently.

  • Andi June 12, 2012, 2:22 pm

    I was really frustrated by these issues as they came across Twitter. I don’t think it’s anything I have the brain power to dwell on, but as a member of the community it’s frustrating. I’m tired of being sold to or having expectations put upon me (us). I continue to distance myself from the publisher relationship, sadly.

    Great suggestions, Kim!

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:15 pm

      At all three blogger conventions, there’s been this tension between bloggers who like working with publishers and those who prefer to step away from it. I don’t think either approach is wrong (and I’ve been feeling some of the second one at times lately too), but this year’s Con would not have been pleasant for people not interested in those kinds of things.

  • Alita June 12, 2012, 2:41 pm

    I whole heartedly agree with all your recommendations, especially numbers 4 & 5. I want to learn from other bloggers – why did you start your blog and, more importantly, what makes you continue with it years later? Do you accept books for review? Because, hey guess what, not every blogger does. And if yes, what made you decide to start? How do you choose what requests to accept? *These* are my burning questions.

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:17 pm

      I have those same questions! At the 2011 Con, one of the bloggers on a panel gave some great advice on how she judges review pitches (Do I want to read this book more than the most burning book on my TBR pile?) that I’ve kept in my brain since. I missed talking about those blogger-specific things.

    • unfinishedperson June 19, 2012, 7:17 am

      No, not every book blogger does accept books for review. I am one of those, mostly because I’m reading books with a few exceptions from at least five years ago, if not more. Like you, I’d like to find more bloggers out there like myself: that aren’t in it for the free swag. 🙂 Not that there’s anything wrong with that since I prefer my books for free (usually from the library, though). As for your post, Kim, I came here after visiting Florinda’s review of the conference and have to say fro what little I heard on Twitter, I agree with you both that the book bloggers seem to have been left out of the equation, which seems odd for a conference supposed to focus on them. 🙁

  • Chrisbookarama June 12, 2012, 2:50 pm

    I’ve always wanted to attend the con because I knew it was a chance to meet the people I’ve talked to online. Every other year I’ve been jealous of the meetings and the panels. As I read the wrap up this year, all I feel is frustration as I read about the pitches and bad advice from people who are not book bloggers. I don’t like all the pitching online, I’d definitely hate it in real life!

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:18 pm

      I wish that in these situations, authors would just act like normal people rather than be pitching all the time. Be nice, ask questions, don’t think about the people you’re conversing with as potential buyers of your book. There’s a way to sell your book at events like this without really selling it at all.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) June 12, 2012, 2:55 pm

    I don’t think anyone came away from the day with a positive experience, which is a total shame.

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:20 pm

      I’ve talked to one person who had a great time, but it wan’t clear to me if that was just the chance to be in the same place as so many bloggers for the first time or because BEA Bloggers was good. It’s hard to tell 🙂

  • Alex in Leeds June 12, 2012, 4:34 pm

    Really interesting analysis and the criticism sounds very constructive. I can see it would be really hard to protect the blogger part of the conference from the salesy folks over at the publishers part of the event but it sounds like that boundary needs to be a bit more visible and definite.

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:21 pm

      It has to be really hard to do that, I’m sure, but I think they have to try a little harder. Even just adjusting some of the panels slightly with more bloggers would have helped a lot.

  • Melissa June 12, 2012, 5:09 pm

    I was trying to follow along via Twitter, and almost everything I’ve read since then has been negative. Such a shame, though I had a feeling it would turn out that way when they first announced the panels.

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:22 pm

      I had an inkling too, but I did want to give the new owners the benefit of the doubt… I just wasn’t that impressed with the result.

  • Gwen June 12, 2012, 8:52 pm

    I held back when I heard about the panels and if I am really honest, as soon as BEA took it over I was not as excited about it.

    In my mind, a Book Blogger Con should be about everything blogging, soup to nuts. It should be yet another opportunity for people to pitch me and it certainly should end up being a lecture on how I should do my job better or please publishers more. Newsflash- this isn’t my job, I do it because I am passionate about reading and the sense of community it brings. I don’t do this to do your marketing or PR. Really, that is their job.

    Also, I really love your idea “Offer topics for more experienced bloggers”, that was something that I would have really wanted to hear. Also, one topic that I felt was lacking a bit with those of us that stayed home and did Armchair. Those women did stellar jobs and I don’t say that to knock them, there are just so many newish people out there and I felt like a crotchety old woman yelling get off my lawn. 🙂

    • Gwen June 12, 2012, 8:53 pm

      Ack, that should have read “It should’NT be yet another opportunity”

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:24 pm

      I felt like a crotchety old woman writing this entire post! I’m glad we are not alone 🙂

      I feel like the perception you mentioned, that bloggers should be told how to be better or that BEA is excited about “our bloggers,” is a problem that needs to be addressed. I think if there were a BEA Education session about working with bloggers, that is something I would want emphasized from the blogger panelists.

  • Amused June 12, 2012, 9:17 pm

    I went to the Book Blogger Conference but I didn’t get to make it this year. I am surprised and saddened to see how much it changed this year do to being sold to the conference owners. I hope they get the kinks worked out in the coming years. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • jennygirl June 13, 2012, 8:29 am

    I’ve read some of the other reviews, and you are certainly not alone Kim.
    The people who ran the con don’t have a clue about bloggers. What a shame!

  • Vasilly June 13, 2012, 12:08 pm

    Kim, thanks for your honesty. I’ve been reading a lot of complaints about the conference. Bloggers go to BEA to hear about great books but also to SEE each other. Let’s hope next year is better.

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:24 pm

      Yes! We want to talk to each other. Those are the highlights of a conference like this, and I missed that part a lot.

  • Meg June 13, 2012, 1:56 pm

    Eek. From personal experience, I can probably attest I would have been one of those folks eating lunch in the hallway — mealtimes are sort of sacred, you know? And I loved our previous BBC breakfasts and lunches when we could hang out, chat and generally move about the room. Getting pitched in that time would be disappointing. I mean, getting pitched to is generally awkward anyway . . . and when I’m trying to just eat a sandwich and drink a Diet Coke? Doubly awkward.

    Hopefully the organizers will take these suggestions to heart and make changes to next year’s agenda! Having an author roundtable, sort of like they did last year, might have been a better way to “network” between bloggers and authors. Having these networking events coincide with meals just seems uncomfortable.

    • Kim June 17, 2012, 5:26 pm

      Yeah, eating should be casual time. I can’t be attentive and eat at the same time. I think if they’d used the model they had last year — author speed dating as an optional panel — it would have worked better.

  • Jen June 13, 2012, 9:24 pm

    Great suggestions, Kim! I completely agree!

    It was great meeting you at the Random House breakfast!

    • Kim June 26, 2012, 7:23 pm

      I’m glad I’m not alone! It was lovely to meet you too!

  • Sheila (Book Journey) June 21, 2012, 8:12 am

    I am just getting around to reading some of these posts now – and wow… you are so right. I also like what Alita says about a way to find other bloggers without searching for how to read their name badge – which if it was like mine, was usually flipped the wrong way no matter how hard I tried.

    • Kim June 26, 2012, 7:24 pm

      Ha, yes, same here. I think when I found Alita for the first time, it was because I was being nosey and looking at badges and hers just happened to be facing the right direction 🙂

  • Amy June 22, 2012, 6:54 pm

    Such a fantastic wrap-up Kim, loved reading your thoughts on the day and your suggestions for the future. The suggestions all sound like an event I’d prefer to be at 🙂

    • Kim June 26, 2012, 7:25 pm

      I hope there are some changes for next year! I’d still like to go to the BEA con, since I do like meeting many of the people who go… but in general I was really dissatisfied and would need to see changes for next year.

  • Laurie C June 28, 2012, 9:07 pm

    Your post sums up my feelings perfectly. I never wrote my recap post, so thank you for taking care of it for me! This was my first book bloggers conference, and I was sad that most of the people at my table(s) were not fellow bloggers and I hadn’t made any firm plans to meet up with people, thinking that it would happen organically. It didn’t! I enjoyed the speeches and the panels, but only met a couple of the bloggers that I follow, and then only in passing.

  • Lisa July 4, 2012, 10:07 am

    What a disappointment! I think there’s probably nothing wrong with having some publishers, authors, and others to the convention to talk about interacting and to develop relationships, clearly the organizers have lost track of what the convention was about to begin with – not a way for them to use bloggers to spread the word, but a way for bloggers to become better at what we do and to build community.