I had the chance to travel to New York with Dayana, my girlfriend for several days of conferences in the big apple, and then cross all the country to go to San Francisco for a week of tourism and a lot of complimentary experiences courtesy of San Francisco Travel.
But… first thigs first: Book Blogger Conference. (She also wrote her opinion on the Book Blogger Conference)
For us, going all the way there was very expensive, since we start our trip in Argentina, therefore, the budget needed is probably higher than everybody else and the return of investment expected too.
But, what surprised me the most was reading several reviews of the event stating that there were not enough networking spaces in the event, and that it was too industry oriented. WTH?
Let´s see, we, as book bloggers are part of the industry, and if we don´t dress the professional part, we won´t be seriously considered.
We need to portray that side if we want to be viewed as something else that a bunch of bookworms who get book freebies. And we are not. We are much more than that. We are another link in the whole chain of the book industry, and therefore I expect to get in contact with the industry as a whole. And networking with other bloggers is a nice plus but not the main focus.
Besides that, I don´t know if it´s us being from a different culture, where we try to be the best hosts possible, I felt a bit awkward as to why no blogger showed any interest on talking with us, make us feel welcome. Something that, oddly enough, I perceived from publishers and PR and Publicity people.
Maybe it´s a thing of getting a better first impression, but I´m looking forward to change that and develop some kind of good vibe with other book bloggers, that unfortunately, after a whole day at BBC and week at BEA did not meet any blogger. But, strangely enough, I am now following up and keeping in touch with over 200 people I met there.
Maybe it´s a thing about being newcomers that we weren´t invited to the cool kids table or something, but I truly feel that the “netowrking among bloggers” spirit was lacking apart from old acquaintances and friends. (I´d like to change that this year prior to the next BEA and start networking virtually at least)
Now to the event per se:
We got to Javits Center in the morning and noticed a long line to get the swag bag and enter the conference room. It probably took twenty or so minutes to enter, so it started a bit late.
Swag Bag: We got six books and a cool cup and a reading light. I was not familiar with the authors there, but it´s a good chance to discover some new ones.
Continental Breakfast: I met some very interesting people there, from the industry. Specially Tim Ditlow from Amazon (I´m still owing you the follow up, Tim! I´m on it) and Susan Ee, a recently published author from Angelfall, book that I brought home to read about and review. Two authors dropped by Siobhan Vivian and Matthew Van Fleet. I asked them a few questions and they told us about their books. Nice session.
I also had Ally Condie and Marie Lu in the table next to us, so I stood up and went to them for signed copies of Matched (We had it in Spanish “Juntos” and brought it to BEA) and of Legend.
Opening Keynote: Jennifer Weiner. I saw the movie In her shoes based upon one of her books, and did not like it. The keynote did not talk about anything that caught my attention and the funny moments that made bloggers laugh didn´t get to me. So yeah, maybe it´s me. I´ll give her the benefit of the doubt and read her book.
Then it was the turn to the morning sessions of Blogging Today: What you need to know and what´s next. The panel was interesting but a bit basic for my taste. (I am teaching coordinating a post graduate diploma in the matter, so I don´t hold it against them at all. It was good content. Maybe I wasn´t the best target there). Nice session.
Let´s Talk Blogs, Networking Luncheon: Here I have to give fellow bloggers criticizing the event. I was very pleased with the session. Very. I had the chance to network with industry people and two more authors: Zoraida Cordova and Julie Kagawa, and even ask them much more questions, as I was seated next to them. But the title was misleading. We didn´t talk about blogs, we talked about books from the authors. Nice session, bad title.
Afternoon Breakouts – Critical Reviews: I went to this one and it was quite interesting. I read some critics to the lawyer in the panel saying that he was trying to scare off bloggers into not writing critical reviews, when it was actually the other way around. How to properly do it and avoid all risks from it. The rest of the panel was also interesting in the opinions they shared. Very nice session.
Afternoon Breakouts – So you want to make money?: Did not go to this one so I have no comments. Same with Afternoon Breakouts – Creating Community & Driving Engagement.
Afternoon Breakouts – Demystifying the Book Blogger & Publisher Relationship: I specially found Lucille Rettino from Simon & Schuster interesting, and thought Jenn Lawrence did a good job too. I wasn´t feeling it with the NetGalley representative, since every phrase was a pimp towards NetGalley. One thing is to squeeze in some selfpromotion, but every single phrase wsa a bit too much for my taste. All in all a nice session that also granted a follow up with Lucille Rettino while at Dork Diaries presentation a couple of days later.
Closing Remarks: Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess): I, once again, am not the target for her humor. I did not laugh with her, but I noticed a great vibe in the audience, so it was probably just me being out of water.
BEA Editor´s Buzz: The announcer said goodbye after the closing remarks and we left. Only the next day I realized the event had not ended then. Strange thing to put both opening and closing remarks neither to open nor to close the event.
All in all, being the first time I went, and being the first time RedExpo organizes it, I´ll give it a good grade.
Some things I´d like to see for 2013:
- Me, there. (It´s not easy nor cheap to go from Argentina to New York for a conference)
- Better and more accurate titles for the sessions: If it´s opening, it must open, if it´s closing it must close, or I may miss something before or after those.
If it says Let´s talk about blogs, let´s… if not put it let´s talk about books. I would have liked it also and not disappoint the ones who expected to talk blogs.
- Three different kind of tables: the tables to network with authors and the tables to openly network as this year. (Yes, bloggers could network amongst them in two whole sessions) And a third type of table to network / speed date with publishers and publicity departments.
- Recorded sessions. I missed two because they were at the same time than the ones I went to. I would´ve liked to come back home and download them in audio or video.
- A Networking database: I got all the blogs listed in the event magazine. But I only have the blog URL and name in there. More info there would be appreciated. Same with Publishers invited.
- More variety: Everything was in English, and most was Young Adult and Dystopian. Spanish speaking market is huge, kids books, short stories, non fiction, etc were almost MIA.
- Some free time: Then and there people could take the time to chit chat and all. For the networking part.
- A more welcoming vibe from the bloggers: We really felt like we didn´t belong. If anyone came to Argentina to an event we would go out of our way to make everybody feel welcome. Maybe, as I said, is cultural… but then again, maybe not.
- A Business Card Pinboard or something of sorts. Networking is not only about talking with drinks.
- A Projects Listing: Where everybody can leave their projects, what they are working in, and what he/she is looking for. Helps networking too.
- Add an After Hours Drinks session with no underlying subject: Maybe even add some fun stuff, wether it´s trivia, karaoke, contests or a treasure hunt in teams. That can make up for a lot of the “time between bloggers” requested while still addressing the industry part of the event during the sessions.
Well, I over extended my review probably, but as always, it´s in my best effort to help make it even better for next year.
Note to BEA Bloggers organizers: Count with me for help in the brainstorming. Positive guy over here.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments and let´s debate about it.