Wednesday: BEA Bloggers ConferenceI haven't been to BEA Bloggers (formerly Blogger Con) since its very first year, and then I attended as publishing staff, not as a blogger (though I was technically blogging at that time). I've heard mixed things about the conference in years past from bloggers I know and trust: Florinda (The 3 R's Blog) had a great recap of the mixed success of the 2012 conference, and Shannon and Leah echoed similar thoughts on the 2014 conference. Still, I know that over the years, the conference organizers have tried to encourage more and more input from actual bloggers on the content and format of the conference, so I went into the day cautiously optimistic.
The keynote panel was a trio of long-time bloggers, though their respective roles have often surpassed that of traditional book blogger into other arenas: Kameron Hurley (fantasy author and blogger), Ron Hogan (founder of Beatrice.com, among many other job titles), and Patty Chang Anker (author and blogger at her own site and on Psychology Today, among other venues). They talked in general about the state of book blogging today and what it might look like in the future, which was interesting--though because all three have roles within the blogging community that, like I said, surpass that of traditional book bloggers, not all of their insights were 100% relevant.
Which sort of set the tone for the day: Lots of information, not all of it relevant. In the morning, I attended the two "201" level panels: Creative Content Opportunities and Tactics to Create Killer Content Fast. The former would have been fascinating if I wanted to start national book groups, a podcast, or a YouTube channel, but as those particular content opportunities weren't really of interest to me, I didn't get a lot out of it. I also got slightly twitchy when sponsorship opportunities were discussed--at length--with no mention of transparency or disclosure of said sponsorships. I typed frantic notes on the latter panel on my phone to share with the Armchair BEA folks, but in short: some great tips buried between some less-than-relevant-for-long-time-bloggers tips ("Have you ever heard of Evernote?") and some things I just patently disagreed with (Instagram looped giveaways feel spammy to me, not like a genuine way to grow followings; and templatized reviews are the most boring thing in the world to read--both those are my personal opinions, and might not apply to everyone).
With a partially successful morning, the blogger crowd was scattered over the cafeteria for lunch. Which struck me as an odd way to encourage the blogger networking and community that bloggers have been clamoring about for years now; though the large conference room was open for bloggers to return to, many (myself included) opted to eat in the food court rather than schlep their lunches back across the vast wasteland that is Javits' basement. (I got to meet and eat with Natalie from Coffee and a Book Chick, which was awesome!).
And then the show floor opened.
Suffice it to say that the afternoon attendance seemed *ahem* slightly lower than the morning attendance, after the strange lunch arrangements and given the competition with the show floor and author signings.
|Photo from Amber & Arianna of Shelf Notes, |
via the Armchair BEA Live from BEA Bloggers Post.
I still had an absolute blast sitting on a panel for new bloggers on Tips for Engaging Your Readers--and even though I've been at this for 7 years now (gulps), I learned a ton from my fellow panelists: Emily from Books, the Universe, and Everything and Melody from Melody & Words. Our moderator, Amanda Nelson from Book Riot did an awesome job of keeping us on time and on topic, and making sure that info was summarized and interesting questions asked--both by her and the audience. Amber & Arianna from Shelf Notes summarized our panel for Armchair BEA if you're interested in more detail.
After that, I stuck around for another "101" level session: Working with Publishers, Authors and Promotions, which was 50% relevant to my interests (the conversation between Swapna Krishna and Meredith Burks) and 50% not relevant (talk of YouTube and YA promotions and partnerships, just because both areas are outside of my focus).
All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that, again, BEA Bloggers felt a bit like it didn't know what it wanted to be. There wasn't much of a presence of the conference on social media (even the @beabloggers handle wasn't tweeting the event), and, though they did an excellent job of making sure that the panels included actual bloggers this year, which is apparently an improvement from past years, and all of the panelists individually had interesting things to say, there was often a disconnect between how a panel was described and the content included in it. Combined with the chaotic lunch arrangements and competition with the show floor in the afternoon, the day overall was a bit lackluster--but I had fun doing a panel, albeit to a half-empty room, and hope that some people took some useful information away from the day.
If you were there, what did you think? I couldn't visit all of the panels at once, so would love to hear more about the other panels I didn't make it to.
Next week: Updates from the rest of the week and a collection of the books I'm most excited about from the show.