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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Blogger's Convention 2013 - You're Gonna Make It On Your Own

Well, I have finally made it. This will be my first year attending the full BEA Conference. Last year I went for the one day as a Power Reader.

Today I attended the Book Blogger's Convention. Say what you will about the panels, but I think it is a pretty good deal. Attending the BBC gets you admittance into the BEA Conference plus they serve a Continental Breakfast and we got a lunch voucher for $15.00 and a free drink (soft drink) coupon for the Happy Hour after the con. ON top of that, we got a swag bag upon, books at the first break-out session and more books during the Happy Hour.

So I am going to attempt to summarize the event, though I do have a tendency to rattle on so.

I took the ferry over and did get stuck in some traffic on 495, which was expected. Still, I made it before the doors opened, so I was happy about that. Registration was from 8 - 9 and the Opening Ceremonies were at 9:15. During the welcome, we were advised of the lunch voucher and free drink voucher. Apparently a bunch of us didn't get them.

The opening speaker was Will Schwalbe who was very funny. He just wrote a book called The End of Your Life Book Club, which is not what his speech was about. He talked about what works in book promotion, whether reader, blogger, author or publisher, and how the same measured success. It was quite a good speech.

We then broke out into our sessions. I chose Young Adult Editor Insight Panel over the adult one. We got a stack of books there. The next session was Blogging Pros: Successes, Struggles and Insider Secrets. Again, I chose the YA track and not the adult track. In between these two sessions, though, I went back to registration to enquire about the vouchers advising I didn't get them when I registered and was able to procure said vouchers.

So after the second session, it was time for lunch. Now the meal voucher didn't specifically state where to go and I didn't realize (or had forgotten) there was a food court, so I went traipsing all over twice trying to find the places to eat where I could cash my voucher. I finally asked one of the very helpful staff members holding the signs that said "Can I help you?" At first she looked at me like I had two heads and then realized I probably wanted to go to the food court. After she gave me directions, I made my way down.

Now it is here I need to pause in my report two issues. One, I did not bring a small suitcase today as I figured I would not need it. I knew we were getting a swag bag, but I figured it would only be two or three books, which is was. Once again, did not count on other freebies and was woefully unprepared. More importantly, I have forgotten just how heavy 12 or so books could be carrying them on my shoulder for any period of time. Second, just as I was reaching the food court, so did so a bajillion other people, or more accurately, they got there before me while I was traipsing from here to kingdom come looking for the food stands.

So, I was completely thrown off by the amount of people in line to order food and couldn't get close enough to anything to see the menu, plus, I didn't want to stand on line to order. It was then I saw a sign that said Sandwiches. It was a refrigerator unit where there were beverages, yogurt, salad, sandwiches, prepared food basically. So, I grabbed a tuna sandwich, a yogurt and a Snapple. I then had to get on line which had double back and was looping itself. All the register lines were long, but the one I was in was particularly slow. I was afraid to get out of line and try another line as I figured it might make matters worse, so I toughed it out. When I finally got to the last bend of the line, I discovered why the line was taking so long. And yes, the other lines had started to move and only had a handful of people each. Turns out he line I was originally on would take credit cards and the other lines were cash only. There was no sign to indicate cash only or credit cards taken or any such thing. I didn't even know until I almost got to the register and that's when I switched lines. Nightmare.

I ate lunch back in the conference room listening to the most boring discussion of legalese, but did actually find out some info about disclosure. So, boring yes, but also instructional. After lunch, I attending Blogging Platforms over Taking Your Online Presence Offline and for the final session, took Extending the Reach of Your Blog Online over Book Blogging and the "Big" Niche. Found out some very useful information, but also learned something else.

Now, I'm a newbie, a rookie, whatever you want to call me. I started blogging in February of 2012 and I would not consider myself blog-savvy in any way. I don't have a lot of time to explore, investigate, read, study, whatever you want to call it and anything requiring a read-up in order to do is just too much for me right now. I feel like I need someone to hold my hand just to show me how to do things. I know there are Google tools and stuff and even got myself a Blogging for Dummies book (which I have not cracked the spine on yet). So, what I learned is that there is so much stuff out there to improve my blog, so many tools of the trade, so many things to know and be aware of. I was effectively overwhelmed, felt even worse about my blogging skills and non-existent knowledge and realized I have so much work cut out for myself. I don't know how much of what I learned today I will apply, but I need to read up first and therein lies the rub.

The closing speaker was Randi Zuckerberg who made a name for herself as the Marketing Director of Facebook. She was a fantastic speaker. She talked about her digital pet peeves, 10 things to do to improve your online presence. She was bubbly, energetic, motivating and so accomplished. I didn't expect to really care about the closing speech, but she was so engaging I couldn't help but listen.

After that, we headed to the Happy Hour, where as I indicated above, we got a complimentary drink. I was expecting it to be alcoholic in nature, but read the fine print and had to settle for a diet coke. Walked the hall, picked up a few more books. The highlight was meeting Melissa de la Cruz. She autographed her upcoming Witches of East End novel. I haven't read her, but I have been wanting to. Just didn't know where to start. I guess I will need to get book one of the series now and work my way to the book I just got. So, that was the highlight of Happy Hour.

So, what did I learn?

I learned that I should always plan for a load of books because if I get them, I can just wheel them home and if I don't, there's no harm. Carting the books on my shoulder is just too stressful on my neck now.
I learned that if I have a lunch voucher, leave the session a few minutes early to beat the crowd to the lunch lines. It seemed very like a manga where everyone fights at the cafeteria. It's basically a mob scene and people fight to get bread.
I learned that if I attend the BBC next year, that I should have a tablet with me. It seems very convenient for a lecture type experience.
I learned that while I can be very outspoken and assertive, apparently I am neither of those things when I am alone and in unfamiliar territory. I was really uncomfortable trying to network and am really not good with small talk.

So, I didn't stay all that long at the Happy Hour. I wanted to get home. I got to the ferry and saw two in their berths. I headed for the Hoboken ferry, but they had already started pulling up the gate. I jogged over and they stopped and dropped the gate again, urged me on board and they would look at my ticket and started lifting the gate again. It was then I pulled out my ticket and said I was going to Port Imperial. I was then told I was on the wrong ferry and needed to go to berth 6. They had to drop the gate again and let me off and I had to run for the other ferry. I was able to get on the ferry, but was advised they were all waiting for me, so when I got on the ferry, I apologized to everyone for making them wait.

So, here is my observation. I used to be so very Mary Tyler Moore. MTM was very put together, fashionable and she could do things, make things happen. I mean, she turned the world on with her smile for crying out loud! While I have never been what you might call fashionable, I always felt so very MTM. I was able to go places alone. I spent 2 1/2 weeks on my own in England and Wales!! How is it possible I can't remember which berth I need to go to get back to my car? I wonder what happened? Now, instead of being so very MTM, I realize I should not be let out of the house without a keeper. Now how sad is that?

Here are today's acquisitions:
Autographed ARC
Winds of Salem (A Witches of East End Novel) by Melissa de la Cruz

Finished Books
Plague in the Mirror by Deborah Noyes
Quintana of Charyn (The Lumatrere Chronicles) by Melina Marchetta

Unsigned Arcs
Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable
Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow
All Our Yesterday’s by Cristin Terrill
Hereafter by Kate Brian
Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick
The Darkest Minds: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken
Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
The Darkest Path by Jeff Hirsch
The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb
Journey to Virginland – Catena by Armen Melikian
The Love Dare for Parents by Stephen & Alex Kendrick
Set Free: Discover Forgiveness Amidst Murder and Betrayal by Stephen Owens & Ken Abraham
Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney
Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith


  1. Hey, I think you're very MTM because you had the guts to go to the conference on your own! I was too chicken, so you're one up on me. :)

    And for a newbie rookie, you're blog is pretty impressive! I love the stories you tell at the beginnings of some posts, and your reviews always make me want to read the book. Don't sell yourself short!

    Look at all of those pretty, pretty books! I find myself green with envy that I can't be there with you. Maybe next year, but in the meantime I'll enjoy BEA vicariously through you!

    Have fun!

    1. You know, I may be able to write okay, but it's the technical crap that freaks me out. That's what I have issues with. Big issues. But that will be my blog goal for the next year, to get more technically proficient and to step out of the dark ages of book blogging. I need to add a little more bling to my blog, and I don't mean animated stuff. I just need to make it look a bit more, I don't know, amateurish maybe.

  2. Good on you, whilst its my dream to attend a conference like this at the same time I'm sure I'd also find it incredibly daunting.

    1. The Book Bloggers Convention was one thing. It was a small gathering, self contained. The attendees were given two choices for the break-out sessions. I was survived despite my inability to navigate the ferry system properly. Day one of BEA was horrific for me and by the end of the day, I swore I'd never return. Terri told me Friday would be better and the rest of the show was awesome! It was like being a chocoholic and Will Wonka had just given me access to the Chocolate Room.
      I'll be posting in waves over the nexrt few days with the full experience.

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