I’ve been meaning to write a recap of my experience at Book Expo America ever since I got back a week ago. But with one thing and another (i.e., work plus utter physical exhaustion), I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Now, however, the wait is over (much to your relief, I’m sure)! I think I’m going to do a series of posts so that I can break everything down into smaller, more readable chunks (with pictures!). So without further ado, here’s what I did on Day 1 of BEA, otherwise known as the Blogger Conference:
1. Successfully found my way to the Javits Center, registered, picked up a stale bagel, and plopped down at a table next to a total stranger. Chatted with four or five other women who also sat at my table. They were a really nice group, but I failed as a networker — I don’t think I got anyone’s contact info!
2. Listened to a keynote speech by Maureen Johnson, author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, etc. I’m going to be totally honest here and admit that I don’t remember a ton of what she said…but I do remember that it was funny! She talked a bit about a particular review of Fifty Shades of Grey (which I can’t seem to find now, annoyingly) that basically eviscerated the book and characterized anybody who read it as dumb. Johnson didn’t like the article because it was attacking readers and telling people not to read things. She is in favor of reading things!
3. First panel — “Design 101: Creating a Picture Perfect Blog.” As someone who knows basically nothing about graphic design (hello, pre-made WordPress theme!), I found it pretty interesting. The panelists, who both work in graphic design and have blogs, talked about: pros and cons of various blogging platforms; design programs such as Photoshop; places to find images with Creative Commons licenses (i.e., you can use them, with certain restrictions, without violating copyright laws); and what kinds of things to include in your sidebar, header, etc. I’m fairly happy with my blog’s design right now, but if/when I want to dive in and make some changes, I’ll have a few ideas to get me going!
4. Second panel — “Software 101: Best Blogging Tools.” This was another good panel, featuring bloggers from Book Smugglers, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and Cuddlebuggery. All the speakers were great fun and very entertaining! The content was somewhat similar to the first panel, dealing with different blogging platforms. They also talked about good plugins to use in order to increase efficiency of posting and readership. Now I have to figure out plugins!
5. Third panel — “Blogging and the Law.” I almost didn’t go to this panel. I figured, hey, I took classes on copyright and intellectual property in law school, so I already know this stuff! But I’m very glad that I attended after all, because the speakers were really interesting and had some good general insights about copyright issues, plagiarism, and the like. They also suggested that bloggers check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation website, which talks about bloggers’ rights and responsibilities.
6. Last panel — “Engaging Your Readers: Take Your Writing to the Next Level.” This one was a bit of a dud, to be honest. The description made it sound like it would give concrete suggestions for types of blog posts other than book reviews, or maybe suggest strategies for increasing your blog readership. Instead, I felt like the suggestions were so vague and basic as to be useless — vary your content! Read other people’s blogs and comment! Um, thanks, but that’s pretty obvious. I wish their advice had been more specific.
7. Free books!
Allison Leotta was one of the panelists at the “Blogging & the Law” session, and she was giving away copies of Discretion and Speak of the Devil. Unfortunately, they’re books 2 and 3 in a series of legal thrillers, so I’ll have to track down book 1, Laws of Attraction, before I can read them! I also picked up The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp, because I’m a sucker for any book with a long and humorous subtitle. I was intrigued by R.C. Lewis’ Stitching Snow, which looks like a sci-fi retelling of Snow White. The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond is an alternate history in which Germany won WWII. And I’ve already read Jackaby by William Ritter, which is a charming YA novel set in 19th-century America. The titular character shares more than a passing resemblance to BBC’s “Sherlock,” and there are lots of fun, fantastical hijinks!
8. Swag! Specifically, several bookmarks, an e-galley of Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre, and a cute nerdy button from DK Publishing.
9. Went to the New York Public Library with Hannah from indiewritergirl0329! I didn’t end up doing a lot of touristy things in New York, mostly because I was there by myself and I didn’t feel comfortable wandering around the city alone in the dark. But I really wanted to go to the NYPL, so I’m really glad I was able to make that happen! It’s a gorgeous building…
…and they had the most amazing exhibit about children’s literature! Seriously, this was the best-curated exhibit I’ve ever seen.
Look, it’s the “great green room” from Goodnight Moon!!! I wish I had taken more pictures of the exhibit, because it was AMAZING. It made me wish I had a kid just so I could bring him/her to see it!
So that was my first day at BEA, and happily, it was a good one! If you were there, which panel did you enjoy the most? What books did you pick up? Was Blogger Con worth it to you?