Although only at BookExpo America for a day, what a whirlwind it was indeed. There are not enough words to describe my experience and how much I learned. In between the deep dish pizza and seeing the Bean, I found myself in a supportive environment with bloggers and book experts so passionate, it made my heart burst with excitement for how much farther I have to go. Among the crowd of participants, I found connections with librarians, reviewers, publishers, bookstagrammers, and everything in between. Additionally, varying levels of expertise and time in the ‘business’ was comforting as I sat down at breakfast that first day nervous of being the only newbie or inexperienced blogger with a year under my belt. In the end, our passions reigned larger than how experienced we were in the book world. One of the biggest lessons learned from the conference is if it isn’t making me happy or it feels like a job, stop. Take a break. I don’t have to post every day (I know it would not be quality if I did). Life will continue if I skip a day, a week, etc. Additionally, it isn’t about how many followers I have, if I can speak to one person out there or just reflect internally but on a social platform, that’s enough.
Breakfast and Keynote
Starting the day off with the opening speaker, Erin Loechner, a successful blogger, was the key to inspiring us for the rest of the day. She presented her story of hiking for the first time and what she packed. Creatively, she made analogies to blogging and how difficult it can get sometimes. Erin spoke of getting up at 4:30am and going to the local coffee shop, blogging for two hours then returning home to her toddler. There are going to be parts of life that we need to balance if we want to make things like blogging work. The quote she showed us from Cheryl Strayed said it all:
“I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it”
Erin also talked quite a bit about the power of perspective and opinions. This had a good basis of my hesitations for starting a blog. Could I handle the criticisms? Erin put it brilliantly, if we are given constructive criticism we have two choices: “If you believe it, say Thank You, learn and grow. If you don’t believe it, say Thank You, move on and go, walk away.”
Growing Your Social Media Presence
This was what I thought I could use the most help with in my book blogging/reviewing. Social media has exploded lately as a way to share information and creative talents. The panelists chatted about what goes into their social media plans, including timing, giveaways, book challenges/tags, and blog tours. What surprised me the most was how effective Twitter is. My twitter account is the one I interact with the least. So my plan now is to spend an hour every couple days (to start out with) on Twitter, engaging in conversations, posting, and re-tweeting – with purpose and not to get more likes. People can tell when you are just liking and using basic comments to build your presence.
In terms of giveaways, gift cards, books, and book merchandise works pretty well. Additionally, what your instagram looks like on your page as a collection. Is it consistent? Does it tell a story?
Joining the Community: Memes and Tags
The leader of this Blogger Table Talk (Stefanie Leroux from Tyngas Reviews) explained very well how these parts of blogging brings us all together in the community. It allows us to interact with each other in ways that asocial media does not and vice versa. I have been skeptical of these in the past even though the majority of blogs I follow use Memes and Tags! Go figure 🙂 Stefanie shared with us a Master List of Book Blogging Memes and advised us to only do a few a week. I plan to engage in Musing Mondays, Top Ten Tuesday, and What Are You Reading Wednesday.
And now the freebies!
Grateful for what I was able to score, going again in NYC next year, I’ll be sure to stay through BookCon. Soooo many releases of upcoming books like Sabaa Tahir’s A Torch Against the Night (Sequel to An Ember in the Ashes) and Veronica Roth’s new book Carve the Mark (a new Duology) that I wasn’t able to stay for. A good thing to remember too is preparing for bringing the huge bookload back home – thankfully I had a car but flying back or mailing all I got would be challenging!
Going from publisher to publisher was a humbling opportunity. I was not able to speak directly to the representatives because I was on a time crunch. However, it has re-instilled in my wanting to some day work for their organizations.
Overall, I am overjoyed with how much I learned from one-day. I can’t wait for the next conference and all that I will try and learn in the next year! It will be scary and challenging at times, but as always: Challenge Accepted 🙂