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Book Blogger Convention: May 28, 2010

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**NOTE: Click on ANY photo in this post to enjoy a larger view.

Before I start talking about the Book Blogger Convention…I realized that in my rush to get yesterday’s post up before leaving for the airport, I neglected to post the afternoon photo of the books that I picked up on Thursday afternoon. So here it is:

  • The Ape House by Sara Gruen (signed)
  • The Brave, by Nicholas Evans
  • Alone, by Richard Logan and Tere Duperrault Fassbender
  • Dangerous Neighbors, by Beth Kephart (signed)

Kip and I arrived at the Javits for the first Book Blogger Convention at 8:00 AM:

We picked up our swag bags and went in to enjoy a full breakfast and some early morning chat. I am still amazed at how every day I was in NYC I met a new to me blogger (or two or three or four!) and kept adding business cards to my stack. I am eager to start checking out some of these blogs (oh no, I can already feel my Google Reader growing!!).

After breakfast, we found our seats in the conference room for the start of the panels. The keynote  speaker was Maureen Johnson and she was hilarious. She gave a 90 minute presentation which just flew by and was filled with funny stories and great information about the impact of bloggers in the book industry. Some of the key points I wanted to mention:

  • Bloggers are activists (she mentioned the recent controversy regarding diversity and cover art…ie: whitewashing covers).
  • Bloggers are voices to defend books against challenges and bans.
  • Bloggers are the new marketing and help to bring to light books which might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Bloggers are all about community and discussion (she mentioned how an off the cuff tweet she posted about blogging every day in April ballooned into a huge event in less than a day due to the bloggers).

Maureen Johnson, YA Author

The next presentation came from Ron Hogan of Beatrice (he has also worked as an industry professional with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Ron talked about professionalism and ethics and noted that the standard by which print reviewers (or literary critics) write are not necessarily the same  standards for bloggers. Ron referenced Linch Pin by Seth Godin for his presentation and made Godin’s principles relevant for book bloggers.  Ron  says regarding professionalism, bloggers must ask the following questions:

  1. What binds you and your readers?
  2. What makes your blog stand out? He mentioned here that bloggers have the benefit of unique creativity and the space to share it which traditional platforms often do not allow.
  3. What is your focus?
  4. Where are you pointing readers?
  5. What do your readers do next (ie: how do you inspire readers)?
  6. Do you know the territory?
  7. What perspective do you bring?

Perhaps the most interesting part of Ron’s presentation was that which centered around ethics. An excellent point (and one I completely agree with) was that bloggers should be trustworthy without having to say so. We read our favorite blogs because we have a trust in the writers of them; we don’t read our favorite blogs because we demand a written code of ethics. Two major issues brought up:

  1. Do you talk about how you get your books? This related directly to the FTC disclosure edict late last year.
  2. Do you ask people to write for your blog for free, and is this exploitation?

When the floor was opened for discussion, many other issues came up…such as are we obligated to read and review every book we receive from a publisher (Ron says “no”  if you are working in “good faith” when you accept them; and more importantly, publicists and publishers agree and do not have the expectation that every book sent will get a review). Also a member of the audience mentioned that we should not refer to review books as “free” as it makes us look like we are just trying to get swag! There was also some discussion about how publicists should go about contacting bloggers.

Ron Hogan

We broke for lunch just before noon and I have to give a nod to the people who provided the lunch – it was excellent! During lunch I was thrilled to meet several people who I have had the pleasure to work with over the last year or so: Marissa at JKS Communications, Wiley Saichek  who is the marketing director at Authors on the Web, Joy Strazza at Joan Schulhafer Publishing and Media Consulting, and Meryl Zegarek and Rachel from Meryl Zegarek Public Relations.

After lunch it was time for the panels – which were all excellent. I am not going to try to recap these..but suffice it to say that they were all informative and the panel members provided some great opinions and thoughts on a variety of topics. I was thrilled to be a part of the Blogging With Social Responsibility panel.

I.  Writing and Building Content:

(left to right) Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Christina at Stacked, Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog (moderator), Betsy at A Fuse 8 Production, and Amanda at The Zen Leaf

II. Marketing:

(left to right) Gayle at Everyday I Write the Book, Ann at Books on the Nightstand, Heather at Age 30+ Books (Moderator), Yen at The Book Publicity Blog, and Thea at The Book Smuggler

III. Blogging With Social Responsibility:

(left to right) Zetta at Fledgling, Stephen at Band of Thebes, Marie at The Boston Bibliophile (Moderator), Me (Wendy) at Caribousmom, and Terry at The Reading Tub

IV. Impact of the Relationship Between Author and Blogger:

(left to right) Caridad Pineiro at Caridad Pineiro’s Blog, Bethanne at The Book Studio, Kristi at The Story Siren, Nicole at Linus’s Blanket (Moderator), Amy at My Friend Amy, and Beth Kephart at Beth Kephart Books

At the end of the day, I was left feeling amazed by the bloggers and industry professionals who champion books. I was also blown away by the level of organization for this first time event…many, many thanks to those who worked tirelessly to make this all happen: Trish, Michelle, Amy, Natasha, Nicole, Pam, and Rebecca. You guys ROCK!

So to wrap up this post, here are some of the goodies we all got by attending this fabulous convention:

  • Suite Scarlett, by Maureen Johnson (audiobook)
  • Summer at Tiffany, by Marjorie Hart
  • The Outside Boy, by Jeanine Cummings
  • Think of a Number, by John Verdon
  • The Secret Life of Prince Charming, by Deb Caletti
  • Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, by Josie Brown
  • The Perfect 10 Diet, by Michael Aziz M.D.

There were also other assorted goodies such as pens, a reading light, bookmarks and also a wonderful personalized luggage tag made by JKS Communications for each attendee at the convention.

Truly…it was overwhelming in a wonderful way. And I must tell you, I will be sharing some of the books I came home with…so stay tuned for some giveaways here on my blog in the next few weeks.

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20 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing the points made in the presentations. I particularly like the list of seven questions from Ron Hogan. It’s scary for me to think I really don’t know the answer to any of those!

  2. GREAT recap of Ron’s presentation … and the entire event! So glad I had the chance to meet you and Kip.

    And I am a little jealous (in a good way, of course) that you have Ape House and Dangerous Neighbors! (OK, maybe it’s my exhausted sense of humor, but seeing those two titles written next to each other just made me laugh.)

  3. Amanda says:

    You did wonderful on the panel! It was great to meet you!

  4. Caribousmom says:

    Rhapsody: Well if it makes you feel any better, I had to really think on those questions too!

    Melissa: It was great to meet you! LOL re: the titles…actually that whole stack kind of goes together, doesn’t it? (Ape House, Dangerous Neighbors, Alone and The Brave!!!!)

    Amanda: Thank you so much! I was very nervous – and so exhausted by 3:00 pm on Friday that I was afraid I would not be coherent for the panel! Great to meet you as well!!!

  5. Caribousmom says:

    Amanda: I also meant to add – LOVED your panel as well…you were awesome!

  6. It was nice to meet you this weekend. Your panel was great — it was inspiring to think about how I could possibly you my blog for social change.

  7. EL Fay says:

    Oooh, I’m so disappointed I missed the convention! It sounds like so much. Will try to make it next year.

  8. Aths says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Enjoyed reading it, and I surely hope BBC is here to stay!

  9. Kristen M. says:

    This sounds like it was a great learning event. I hope I can attend another year!

  10. Ms. Yingling says:

    Thanks for the great recap for those of us who couldn’t be there. Maybe the next time!

  11. Serena says:

    I love this recap. I may just link to yours when I finally do my bea/bbc posting! LOL

  12. Thank you for linking to everyone’s blogs. There were a few that were new to me, and now I don’t have to figure out where my agenda from that day is!

  13. Anna says:

    Thanks for such a detailed post! I really wish I could’ve been there.

  14. Caribousmom says:

    Kim: I also very much enjoyed your panel too. I’m glad you found Blogging with Social Responsibility inspiring…I really wanted to help inspire other bloggers to follow their hearts and promote a cause that was special to them.

    El Fay: You should definitely plan to go next year – well worth it!

    Aths: I hope BBC is here to stay too – I know it was a ton of work for those who organized it…but they did an awesome job.

    Kristen: It was wonderful to spend a day just talking about books and blogging with other bloggers.

    Ms. Yingling: You’re welcome! I hope you’ll be able to go some year.

    Serena: LOL – link away!

    Carrie: You’re welcome! I still need to go through my stack of business cards and visit the blogs whose bloggers I met (did that make sense!?!?)

    Anna: You’re welcome! I wish you could have been there too!

  15. Michelle says:

    I’m so happy that you enjoyed the day. You were a wonderful contribution both as an audience member and panelist. I wasn’t able to sit and watch much of the panels so I’m grateful for your recaps, it looks like useful and important information was shared.

    :)

  16. Caribousmom says:

    Michelle: Thank you! And thanks for being a part of this awesome event…it was so impressive!!

  17. Steve Capell says:

    I realize this post for an earlier BEA / Book Blogger convention, but I am seriously thinking about attending in 2012 for the first time. I wanted to get your impression of the 2011 convention and if you felt the time and money spent was worth the investment. I would be flying from Kansas and with the conference fees, airline, and hotel costs the amount to attend is not a small amount. If you have a minute to give me your thoughts I would appreciate hearing back from you. Thanking you in advance.

    Steve

  18. Caribousmom says:

    Steve: My apologies for not responding to your comment sooner – I did not attend BEA 2011 (I went in 2010). But, my trip in 2010 was awesome and I did feel I got my money’s worth. I know things were a little changed in 2011 – so you might want to contact some of the bloggers who attended this year…but I do plan on trying to make the 2012 BEA/BBCon even though it is quite an expense for me (I live in California). The best part was meeting the publicists I had worked with…and of course all the bloggers.

  19. Steve Capell says:

    No apology needed. I agree the costs are pricey, but with your comment and also others I have decided to attend in 2012 and experience the convention. Thanks so much for your reply and hope your week is filled with many blessings.

    Steve

  20. Caribousmom says:

    You’re welcome …and thank you. Maybe our paths will cross next June! :)