First Annual Book Blogger Convention

Barbara Vey -- June 11th, 2010

When I asked for Cub Reporters because I unfortunately can’t make every event, I didn’t expect to receive such a wonderful response. Today Andrew Shaffer, author of Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love (coming from Harper Perennial in winter 2011), let’s us in on the happenings of the Book Blogger Convention held in New York after BEA.

The first annual Book Blogger Convention was officially held on May 28 at the Javits Center in New York City, immediately following the conclusion of BookExpo America. More than 200 bloggers, publishers,and authors attended. Among the topics covered in presentations and panels: Professionalism/Ethics, Writing/Building Content, Marketing, Social Responsibility, and Author/Blogger Relationships.

Ron Hogan

Ron Hogan

All of the Book Blogger Convention attendees were issued press passes
to BEA, a sign that the publishing industry is beginning to take
bloggers seriously. Ron Hogan, the founder of and former
e-marketing manager for Houghtlin Mifflin, spoke at length on the
topic. “Professionalism isn’t a paycheck — it’s about living up to a
certain level of excellence,” he said. “There are so many ways to talk
about a book besides a critical review.”

Publishers welcomed book bloggers with open arms, and many set up
pre-convention tours of their editorial offices exclusively for Book
Blogger Convention attendees. Several publishers, including Chronicle
Books, Sourcebooks, HarperCollins, Peachtree Publishing, and Simon & Schuster, had publicists or marketing department staff attend the
convention on their behalf.

In contrast to BEA, publishers weren’t there to promote their fall
lists. All of the publishers I spoke with were looking to learn more
about creating a dialogue with book bloggers, a sentiment that was
echoed by keynote presenter Maureen Johnson. “With so many blogs,
publishers don’t know what to make of all the noise,” she said. The
convention allowed publishers, bloggers, and authors to meet
face-to-face and feel each other out. As a result, breakfast, lunch,
and breaks felt a lot like being at a speed-dating event.

Maureen Johnson

Maureen Johnson

Johnson, the author of six young adult books, gave a terrifically entertaining keynote presentation. “It’s the first PowerPoint presentation I’ve made in 20 years,” she joked. And, despite her more
than 17,000 Twitter followers, she downplayed her billing as “a frequent blogger and a regular on the social media scene.” There are no experts qualified to speak on the Internet and social media, she
said, “with the exception of Cory Doctorow.”

Here are some highlights from Johnson’s presentation:

On the distraction of the Internet and social networking for authors:
“There’s so much noise that you can forget why you ever sat down to
write in the first place.”

On e-books:
“The publishing industry is afraid that the Internet will swoop down
like the monster in ‘Cloverfield’ and eat up all the books.”

On the role of book bloggers:
“Book bloggers are activists for books.”

On being a pioneer in the social networking arena:
“I want to be the first person to tweet from beyond the grave…and
I’m not going to do that thing where you set it up ahead of time.”

On authors who are “forced” to blog:
“The voice is strained, like they’re chained up and blogging in a basement.”

On the “rules” of social media:

“Twitter is like the Wild West, where everybody is shooting each other in bars.”

On authors who slam other authors’ books:
“Saying something bad about another author’s book is like peeing in
the swimming pool.”

Kim Ukura (Sophisticated Dorkiness),Christina Oppold (Stacked), Rebecca Joines Schinsky (The Book Lady's Blog),Betsy Bird (A Fuse #8 Production)

Kim Ukura (Sophisticated Dorkiness),Christina Oppold (Stacked), Rebecca Joines Schinsky (The Book Lady's Blog),Betsy Bird (A Fuse #8 Production)

On tweeting about what you just ate:
“Eating ice cream is interesting. Talking about ice cream is not interesting.”

I enjoyed the speakers and the panels.  The Book Blogger Convention was informative, fun and fascinating to meet the many serious bloggers out there. This is one conference I’d gladly attend again.

If you’d like to be a BHB Cub Reporter for an event I won’t be attending, please contact me at

Bottom Line: Andrew, I’m sorry I missed this one, but if they plan to offer it at next year’s BEA, I’ll be there.

96 thoughts on “First Annual Book Blogger Convention

  1. Kim in Hawaii

    Aloha, Andrew! I’m glad to hear about the Bloggers’ Convention and would attend it next year, too! And ditto to Maureen’s opinion of trashing books, “Saying somethingbad about natoher author’s book is like peeing in a swimming pool.” But like the neighbor’s kid who does this all the time, how do we get bloggers to stop?

  2. Andrew Shaffer

    Aloha, Kim! You can’t stop kids from peeing in the swimming pool, and I doubt we can “train” authors to quit slamming other authors on their blogs. Besides, literary feuds are kind of silly and fun to watch sometimes–they’re far less violent than, say, a rap feud.

  3. Kym Lucas

    “Peeing in a swimming pool.” Too true! Gotta love the guy. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all remembered the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing”?

  4. Dianna Love

    Andrew – Great coverage of the event. (Barb – you rock to find such terrific cub reporters). I agree with the “peeing in the pool” comment. There’s no reason to attack anyone’s writing. I don’t want to hear an opinion that harms another person on anything.

    I may be at BEA next year and, if so, would love to attend this event after reading Andrew’s review.

  5. Dianna Love

    hahaha…guess I’ll pack water gear for next year, Andrew. ;)

    I was wondering about one thing. Were the panels/topics all geared only to those who are blogging and the industry (which would be understandable) or was there anything that touched on blog “visitor” reactions (what “they” like and don’t like) maybe from booksellers and librarians for example? In other words, did you hear any feedback from those on the other side of the blogs who just visit and post or visit and lurk, but are not bloggers?

  6. Liz B

    This is the first book blogging convention that is, I guess, all genres/types.

    But the childrens/young adult book bloggers have had conventions for three going on four years.

  7. aquafortis

    Great article about the Book Blogger Convention, with very entertaining quotes. Thanks for the roundup for those of us who couldn’t make it.

    However, I do have to be nit-picky along with Liz and note that the children’s and YA book blogging world are about to proudly launch our fourth annual conference! The second annual conference, in Portland in 2008, was possibly one of the most enjoyable conferences I’ve ever attended, so I’d feel remiss in not pointing it out. :)

  8. jone

    As one of the co-organizers of the 2nd Kidlit Blogging Conference (AKA Kidlit Con) in Portland, I am surprised to see this article referring itself being the first book blogging conference. Panels, how to sessions, time to net work with children’s and YA authors and illustrators is the signature of tthe Kidlit Blogging Conference. Our 4th one is in October in Minnesota.

  9. Andrew Shaffer

    This was actually just the first annual convention with the name, “Book Blogger Convention,” and not the first book blogger convention per se. Thank you to those who pointed out that there have been other book blogging conventions.

    Diana– There was no input from “the other side,” i.e. readers who don’t blog (but who may comment). There were librarians and booksellers in attendance, most of whom blogged however… That sounds like a great topic for a panel discussion. Without readers and commenters, book bloggers would just be swimming in an empty pool.

  10. Pingback: Andrew Shaffer: Highlights From the First Annual Book Blogger Convention — NabinPradhan.Com

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