A Newbie Book Blogger’s Thoughts On BEA Bloggers Conference 2012

When I woke up on the morning on June 4th, I admit I was a little bit excited. I was excited to officially start my BEA experience, and potentially meet fellow bloggers, and to start networking, and start learning more about my new found craft. Unfortunately, I quickly came to find myself disappointed. I did get to meet some fellow bloggers which was awesome but the “advice” I received regarding blogging was a different story because none of it even felt useful to me even as a newbie.

BEA Bloggers

BEA Bloggers credit: http://www.bookexpoamerica.com

The BEA Bloggers Conference (BBC) started off with an author-blogger breakfast where authors “speed dated” with bloggers by speaking with them for a few minutes before moving to the next table. For me, there was only one experience that stuck out during this “speed dating” process. Our table was lucky enough to get to sit with Kitty Kelley for a few minutes during breakfast which was an enlightening experience. Not only was she fashionably dressed to the hilt but, she was also filled with interesting stories. The main story that she told us was about her friend Stanley Tretick, who was the photographer for John F. Kennedy and his family and how she came into possession of his old Marine Corps trunk which contained the personal letters and other mementos of Stanley and JFK. It was obvious that she was trying to promote her new book Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedys that is coming out in November but, honestly it didn’t matter because she was so captivating as a person. I think we all decided that we wanted to be Kitty Kelley when we grow up!

Following the breakfast portion of the BBC, it was time for the opening remarks which were given by Jennifer Weiner. Her speech was often witty and hilarious and contained several mentions to women’s studies classes which made me excited as that is what I have my master’s degree in. It was obvious that she’s a feminist which is pretty awesome but that is one of the only things that excited me about her opening remarks. In many ways, I felt that her speech was all over the place, and had no real focus on blogging, or the blogging community. There were also quite a few times when it felt like it was nothing but self promotion especially since she stated multiple times that she has a new book coming out later this year. I do plan on reading the copy of the Jennifer Weiner book which we received (Then Came You) but ultimately her opening remarks left a weird taste in my mouth. I guess I was just expecting something a little bit different.

I honestly don’t remember much about the next part of the conference because I was really hungry, and I was started to space out a bit. It also didn’t help that I could see the lunch boxes being set up for us, and knowing that I couldn’t go near them. From what I do remember, there was a panel which discussed blogging (“Blogging Today: What You Need to Know and What’s Next.”); however I believe the main questions focused primarily on the relationship between bloggers and publishers. It did seem like an interesting panel, and I wish I could remember more of what was discussed but, ultimately my hunger and the beginnings of my need for a nap got the better of me.

Next came lunch, where we were invited to another round of “speed authors”, as we ate from our box lunches. I’m not sure about anyone else but I felt bad for the authors who had to sit there and witness us eating as they attempted to promote themselves and their books. Because although this section was supposed to be more focused on authors who are also bloggers, it was still very obvious that there was a lot of self promotion going on here which also made me feel uncomfortable. For an event that I perceived to be about bloggers and about helping bloggers, I truly felt that the focus was never really on us. It was all about the author and publisher primping, and that was not helpful or useful to me at all.

Ultimately, I left the conference early due to being tired and needing a nap but also because I honestly had no interest in the afternoon sessions. On paper, they seemed like they might be a good idea but after the vibe that I had gotten all morning, I just wasn’t interested in them. Even as someone who is just starting out in this blogging world, I just didn’t find myself needing to go to the sessions in order to become a better blogger. I also had no interest in once more hearing how I could be used as a tool for publishers and authors due to my blogging abilities. I joined this blogging world for fun after being invited by April. I don’t plan on making this into a career of sorts. I’m not in this for the advance copies or any of the other “perks” that may come along with being a book blogger. As nice as those are, they are not the reason that I continue to do this. I continue to do this for the networking with other bloggers; to have the ability to discuss a book with another person who loved it as much as I did; to be a part of something that I see as important in its own little way. It was kind of uncomfortable to be made to feel like I should be changing my focus to something more about “making it big” in order to become more reliable as a blogger or more beneficial for a publisher or an author. That doesn’t help me or my perspective on blogging at all. Every blogger is different. That is what makes this community so unique and so much fun to be a part of. To me, that would be more interesting to focus on, and being able to use that would be helpful for me as a blogger both in terms of networking and also in terms of expanding upon what I know, what I blog on, and how I blog. So, in conclusion regarding the 2012 Book Bloggers Conference, I’m grateful for the brief opportunity to network with other bloggers but, I really think I could have done without the program as a whole.

Comments

  1. Thank you for you honest recap. I wasn’t there but followed it on twitter, and honestly I got the same vibe as you did from others tweets.

  2. I’m sorry to hear that it was a bit of a disappointment for you 🙁 I didn’t attend BEA but I read all about the bloggers conference and thought it sounded like such a great opportunity. It’s definitely a bummer if it’s not as great as it could be.

  3. Excellent points made!

  4. Totes agree. Our table rocked though 🙂

  5. I missed most of BBC this year and from the reviews it doesn’t seem like I missed much (sadly). It was nice to see you at BEA/BBC this year though! Hope to see you at Fierce Reads next week!

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post. It is refreshing to have a very honest opinion on an event like this, and will be useful to other bloggers who are considering attending in the future. From what you have said, I think I would’ve had the same reaction; I hate it when people use all these buzzwords about marketing and being a tool for publishers and how to trick people into following you or commenting; that is not why most of us do it and they don’t seem to realise that our focus is not on constantly marketing their books for them for free. x

  7. I’m really glad I decided not to even think about going to BBC!

  8. Because I flew in that morning, I didn’t arrive until lunchtime. But I had pretty much the same reactions as you. I’m not a new blogger but I didn’t get too much out of that day, either. Sad. Maybe they’ll learn from this experience and bring the focus back to the bloggers, which is where the focus should have been to begin with. Great post.

  9. I have a heard a lot of similar experiences from other bloggers. Especially in terms of this conference being about what book bloggers can do for authors and publishers. That, frankly, is just crappy. It’s a book bloggers conference. Maybe if they get enough feedback, they will focus on the bloggers next time.

  10. I’ve heard similar thoughts about both the BBC and the main speaker. That stinks it wasn’t geared towards more about blogging and such. From the sounds of everyone, the fun part of BEA was meeting up with blogger friends and the publisher events.

  11. My roommates and I left right after lunch and after seeing the recaps/tweets about it, I’m glad we did. Hopefully they’ll have improved it by next year because I was really hoping for some useful information and didn’t feel like I got any.

  12. It was great meeting you at the Post Office! Sorry to hear about the BBC. That’s pretty much why I decided not to go. I hope you had lots of fun at BEA 🙂

  13. I’m glad that I didn’t go to the Blogger’s Conference. I knew a few people who did, and most of them had similar thoughts as you and mentioned that it wasn’t really about blogging at all. The only up side was that the people who went got to meet other bloggers right away and then had more people to hang out with during BEA itself.

  14. I love this honest and interesting post. What a strange process they had in place – I would have hated listening to the authors self-promote. I honestly don’t care what authors think about bloggers anyway. I blog because I enjoy it as a personal hobby, plus, I don’t work for authors, and I don’t get paid to blog.

  15. Great post – I pretty much had the same reaction, and this was my first BEA too. It was very much a “how book bloggers can serve the industry” thing. I think I may go to the UnCon next year.

    I think that as a blogger I felt very much like a spectator at BEA in general. There for books and to pass my card around but not something I was really involved in. I think I may stick to writer- and blogger-specific conventions later.

  16. I generally stay away from the BBC. I really don’t find it that useful. I enjoyed the BEA experience and the publisher events that I was invited to. To me, that makes the BEA–meeting contacts and other bloggers. Great post on the BBC!

  17. I would love to meet my book friends but I would rather do it under more calm circumstances. I hope Reed learns from this first year and makes improvements. Also, I’m so glad to read you say you’re not into all the “perks.”

  18. I wish I was on that Blog Tour. Pretty Crooked sounds so good. I am definitely coming back here to check out your day so I can see what you thought!

    Hope you enjoy all your books! New Follower!

    Here is my IMM

    Kelley Lee

  19. I very much agree with your thoughts. I haven’t been to BEA or the BBC (Canadian, too far, no money) so I was looking forward to reading reports about the program. However, what I read left me feeling glad that I wasn’t there. It gives me an icky feeling to be thought of as an extensions of various publishers’ publicity departments. I’m not in this for the ARCs either and being told how to make my blog bigger and better does not really have any effect on me. I think there are some people who are in it seriously and others who see this as a hobby. Meh. It just put a dampener on the entire thing (for me).

  20. Yeah, I definitely felt the same about the morning as you did. The speed-dating with authors was awkward, although most of them were really nice. Weiner was funny, but didn’t really have much to do with us. The pre-lunch panel was pretty boring, and I also found myself staring at the piling lunch boxes, which totally took me back to childhood field trips, right?

    The afternoon was actually a bit better. I thought the panel on Critical Reviews was really interesting, I thought. The one on blogger/publisher relationships didn’t really do anything new for me, other than make me question whether I should put my reviews in full on other review sites or only on my blog. That was the advice I got, but I don’t know. I think I might be cool with people reading them wherever. I have additional content on my blog to bring in readers so whatever.

    Oh, and Jenny Lawson was awesome. 🙂

  21. From all the recaps I’ve been hearing about BBC, I’m not sorry I missed this year. I get enough self-promotion in my inbox. It sounds like there were a lot of great bloggers there to connect with though which is good but sadly it didn’t seem to be the focus of the event. Excellent recap!

  22. I blog for the same reason you blog, so I really, really loved this post. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  23. Bummer that the event seemed targeted more to bloggers’ ability to assist publishers than a genuine focus on building a great site simply for the joy of it. I guess I understand from a “business” perspective — they want us to be profitable for them, perhaps part of the marketing machine — but so many of us don’t see it that way.

    I attended the Book Blogger Conference the past two years and had a great time, though I didn’t make it to NYC for this event. Hopefully the organizers will take everyone’s suggestions to heart and improve moving forward!

  24. I attended – BBC and 1 day of the Expo. Next year – I’ll just do 2 days of the Expo. You missed nothing on the afternoon panel. There were a few good tidbits every now again … but nothing major.

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