Okay, let’s talk about what I did all day: the BEA 2015 Book Bloggers Convention!
8:00-9:00am: The first thing that happened was the badge pick up with a rather pathetic continental breakfast. Of course the nice one was reserved for the ABA, not the poor bloggers! There was nary any fruit to be seen on our table, let alone juice. So I ended up having to be content with one sad looking muffin since I don’t drink coffee. I’m not complaining but I just thought it would be a little more impressive than that. Especially since they made such a fuss about it in all of the emails.
9:00-10:00am: After milling around for a bit, socializing and swapping cards we went into the main auditorium to hear the Keynote speech. Or should I say, the keynote discussion panel. It was about book blogging, the future of book blogging and where one can take book blogging. It was a decent, well-moderated panel with Thea James from The Book Smugglers presiding as the moderator. The panelists were all decent but Kameron Hurley in particular stood out to me because she gave a realistic ‘book blogging isn’t all sunshine and rainbows’ angle which stood in contrast to Ron Hogan and Patty Chang Anker’s views.
10:00-10:50am: So once the keynote wrapped up I and Diantha Jones, who I met shortly before the keynote (yay!) hustled off to the ‘Creative Content Opportunities with Your Blog’ panel. It featured a vlogger, a blogger that also does podcasts and a blogger who has created book clubs in 80 cities (Kat O’Keefe, Sarah Moon and Sarah Pitre, respectively). So the panel was more than qualified but I found it to be rather boring. It was more about their individual experiences with branching out from traditional blogging than it was about how to do it and what mistakes to avoid, which would have been more informative.
11:00-11:50am: After that wrapped up I went on my own to the extremely sparsely attended ‘Safely Navigating Social Media’ panel instead of the ‘Tactics to Create Killer Content Fast’. Stephanie Sinclair of Cuddlebuggery had to drop out last minute so it was only a two-person pael wih Nicole Brinkley of YA Interrobang and Kaye M. of Watercolor Moods speaking. And let me say that it was a real shame that there were less than 20 people there in the room because it was by far the most informative panel! Both Nicole and Kaye had practical tips about locking down your online identity and personal information, how to report things on various social media sites and finding your comfort level in terms of sharing personal information. As the woman who created the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter, Kaye knew a lot about abuse and how to deal with it. It was really an amazing panel.
12:00-1:30pm: Lunch time! Diantha had gone off to go explore the main expo in order to orient herself properly and I stayed behind to network and gossip with bloggers. It was awesome! I didn’t win any of the raffles but I didn’t expect to. One of the funniest moments was when the woman running the raffle had to keep reading off different numbers because many people had gone to explore the expo during lunch. I had an amazing discussion about living in Canada, sparklepires and general blogger-y stuff with some great bloggers.
1:30-2:20pm: So after lunch I went to the ‘Best Practices Interaction and Community Engagement’ panel with Diantha. That’s the panel pictured above and I was really, really unimpressed with it. All of the panelists were decently interesting, but I feel like very few of their experiences were actually relevant to individual bloggers. Most people in that room were never going to run a site like Book Riot or be the creative director/media manager for a major publishing company. So why were the panelists? There was only one individual blogger there on the panel, Leila Roy, and she seemed kind of lost because her experiences were not relevant to the experiences of the others. They should have talked to actual individual bloggers to talk about their community experiences, not necessarily professionals who manage communities as part of their jobs.
2:30-3:20pm: I have to admit, I was pretty excited about this last panel because it was called ‘Working with Publishers, Authors and Promotions’ but in the end it was the one that caused me to roll my eyes the most. There was really no moderator but the panelists seemed to have worked out a rather boring system: there were two publicity managers paired with their favourite blogger and the pairs would ask each other questions back and forth. Many of the advice was stuff you could already find online and the rest was a rosy-tinted view of the publishing industry that almost made my eyes roll out of my head. I have nothing against any of the panelists personally but their conversational, all-insider style really didn’t make for an informative panel.
3:30-5:00pm: Since I did all of my socializing at lunch and before the conference officially started, I went off to explore the main floor of the expo instead of staying behind for drinks and popcorn. And wow! I didn’t intend on getting any books, but there were some amazing exhibits. Even though I was super selective in what I took, not wanting to take anything I wasn’t honestly going to review, you can see I ended up with 13 books. I took four books from one publisher in particular, ChiZine Publications which does science fiction, fantasy and horror.
The whole time I was taking books there I felt so greedy, but the publicist was super nice and encouraging. Especially since science fiction and fantasy are my absolute favourite genres. Still, I was very selective. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers that grab a bunch of books just because they’re free. In truth, these are probably the majority of the books I’m going to grab other than the occasional autographed copy (M. J. Rose is signing and giving away copies of her latest book on Friday!).
After that, I was exhausted. I grabbed a chicken gyro from a street vendor, went back to the hotel and fell asleep until 8:00, at which point I began working on the second half of that enormous gyro.
So that was my day at the Bloggers Conference. It was kind of a bust and I’m not sure if I would do it again, but overall it wasn’t bad. Just not that informative.