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.

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