I’m back!

After a very full week in New York for Book Expo America I’m home and trying to recuperate. It’s an exhausting (but fulfilling) week filled with conferences, parties and hanging out with friends. But, it’s the kind of exhaustion that feels oh so good. The kind that has me feeling productive and energized. These types of events often leave me feeling reflective of where I am currently and where I’d like to be in the future both for the blog and my career. This recap will focus more on the social aspects of the week as opposed to anything outright educational. This is mainly because for the first time in my attendance at BEA I felt as though I wasn’t there primarily for business but rather that I was there for fun with a side of professional duties.

Sunday
Big thanks to Simon and Schuster for hosting a fantastic blogger preview event! I had the opportunity to hang out with my fellow bloggers, S&S’s marketing & publicity folks and some really COOL authors to hear about some of the most anticipated upcoming titles. The talk show format (with Jenny-freakin’-HAN!! as the host) was filled with not only good info about each author’s book but also fun stuff like who they’d kiss/marry/kill and an entertaining Q&A game where the author could plead the 5th for one of several questions. There was definitely some interesting information shared! I have to say, I quite enjoyed the format because I never felt like I was being pitched a book. It was informal, entertaining and gave us the opportunity not only to mix-n-mingle with authors and S&S staff but to also to enjoy time with each other. It was a great time!

Monday
BEA Blogger Con

So….I’ve been going back and forth on whether to share my thoughts on BBC here. The one question I’ve heard from pretty much everyone I’ve crossed paths with since Monday was “what did you think of BBC?” While I’ve been forthcoming in those conversations and somewhat vocal on Twitter, I’ve made the decision not to go into too much depth here. I want to give specific feedback directly to the new organizers instead of having them read it here first. If you want to get a general idea of how the day went I encourage you to visit the posts listed below (if I missed a post let me know in the comments). I agree with much of what each of these bloggers comment on and hope that BEA will touch on them as their attention starts focusing on the future of the con.

In general, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in how the BBC played out this year. For me BBC has been a labor of love; one that I simply couldn’t continue to carry on given other circumstances in my life. Trish and I went into the acquisition by BEA with good intentions (and after a GREAT deal of discussion about the very issues that have arisen) and were comfortable that though we knew there would be some commercialization of the event overall BEA would stay true to it’s roots. She and I were asked to share our opinions on several aspects of the con, which we did, but I don’t feel that much of what we laid out was operationalized. This is NOT to say that BEA is not well intentioned, because I fully believe they are. They 100% believe bloggers are an important part of the publishing community and want to embrace and encourage our participation in BEA. I believe they will do BBC justice in the future, we just need to show patience during this transitional year. I really feel that the issues that arose during this year’s convention are a result of it being their first year, the lack of organizational leadership by a true book blogger and the time it’s taking to understand our community better.

It is my hope that feedback from this year’s event will help shape a better more blogger-focused BBC for next year. If you were in attendance and receive an invite to provide feedback I strongly encourage you to do so. I suspect they will send out a survey to assess the overall vibe. If they do not I encourage you to reach out directly via email to share your thoughts.

Alternative to BBC, there was also a Book Blogger UnConference on the same day. Obviously I was unable to attend but I’ve heard good things about it. Here are a couple of recaps to give you some good perspective.

Though I’m not a fan of how the UnCon came about I am glad that the event was a success. I think there is plenty of room for both events and hope that next year they will avoid holding the UnCon on the same day as BBC so those who want to partake of both have the opportunity to do so. Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses but I also believe that each has value to the community.

In general, I agree with the point that one blogger made (and it may have been said on twitter) that the book blogging community is so huge now, so varied in focus, and at an age where valuable information is so disparate that it’s nearly impossible to create a single day where each participant feels he/she is walking away having learned something. I agree 100% with this. In the months leading up to the acquisition Trish and I struggled with the issue as well. I have ideas on how to resolve this issue but expanding on it would make this an epically long post so I’ll refrain!

Now back to the fun & happy!

Monday evening I was lucky enough to be invited to another wonderful blogger preview this one hosted by Harper Teen. I just love them, the folks there are so welcoming and (like their counterparts) embrace and value bloggers and the role we play. It was an intimate affair (I’d say about 20ish bloggers, if that, were present) so we had the opportunity to make great connections with marketing and publicity staff. They also had two awesome cover designers come in and show us the evolution and process of crafting a book cover. It was very interesting to see how it all comes in to being.

I most particularly enjoyed the opportunity I had to have a prolonged discussion with President of Harper Children’s Division Susan Katz. We talked a great deal about education (and my background in online ed) as well as how I got into blogging and why some adults prefer YA over other fiction. It was a thoughtful discussion which left me unsurprised about why she is where she is in the industry. After that, I also had the good fortune to speak to Cindy and Sandee who are in the marketing and publicity departments which was also insightful. Big thanks to Harper for having me, it was another fantastic event.

Tuesday
Big HUGE shout outs to The Apocalypsies!

My colleague Shanyn and I were proud to assist in organizing an event for 20+ debut YA/MG authors as part of BEA’s educational programming. Thinking that we’d have a small group we were pleasantly surprised to have around 300 folks attend. We started out a little chaotically but in the end it went swimmingly as people had the opportunity to meet great authors and discuss their work. In my opinion it afforded readers a chance to spend more than two seconds getting a book signed then moving on so the next in line could as well. I could list all of the amazing authors we had in attendance but I think I’ll refrain and just let you know to keep an eye out on the Literary Logistics blog as we’ll be doing some giveaways of swag that we picked up at the event. In general I thought the event was well received but if you have a good recap let me know and I’ll link it up here for all to read.

Later that night I had the opportunity to hang out with Libba Bray. It’s highlight for anyone would be to see Libba Bray sing, but seeing Libba sing in a defunct speak easy takes it to a whole other level. Little Brown outdid themselves with their roaring twenties themed bash to promote Bray’s new novel The Diviners. Sure, it was a small venue that was way over crowded and it was a tad too dark for me but boy was it great to be there. I spent the majority of the time chatting up the ever awesome Victoria. She was telling me about some of Little Brown’s upcoming titles that she’s excited for. Of course, this means that I’m all about getting my grubby little paws on them. Not only that but Victoria is an all around fun and cool chic to chat with. I hope to be able to run into her more often!

Wednesday
The night started out with Penguin’s unexpectedly awesome Bird Bash. I say unexpectedly because it was put on by the imprints that focus on adult fiction as opposed to the folks at young readers. Lenore brought me as her +1 and man am I glad she did because there were loads of folks from the Young Readers group in attendance too. I spent the evening having great discussions about books with some fabulous marketing and publicity folks. They totally turned me on to some of their upcoming titles. I also got the chance to chat with Marie Lu! What a sweet woman. Oh, and I also got to say hi to Andrea Cremer! So. Awesome.

After the bash, Lenore and I headed over to another party. Thanks to some lovely bloggers (Reading Teen, Novel Thoughts, WhoRU) I was invited to hang out and schmooze with a group of amazing authors all set in an amazing rooftop locale that overlooked The Hudson River. It was a spectacular view! But more importantly it was fabulous company. Another bevy of authors that included Lenore, Tamara Ireland Stone (who is super sweet!), Jenny Han, Gretchen McNeil, Alex Bracken and many MANY more. It was an excellent opportunity to hang out and chat with authors and fellow bloggers without necessarily being pitched books. It was a totally chill atmosphere. The highlight of this event has to be hanging out with Stacey and Shannan from Girls in the Stacks. It was so great to chat with them.

Thursday & Friday
The show was officially over as of 3pm but I had already left the Javitz and was napping by 1. I knew I had plans to meet friends for cocktails then off to a dinner date with others. having been more active this week than I have been in some time I was exhausted. My body just wasn’t having it. So in the end I slept all day, made it to cocktails but unfortunately didn’t get far enough to enjoy dinner. Which really did suck because I was looking forward to hanging out with Chelsy!

Friday (after at least 16 hours of sleep) I was able to make it Brooklyn for a super chill BBQ held by the folks at Paper Lantern Lit. Again, thanks to the +1 magic of Lenore I had the chance to hang out and gab about the week’s events with Thea and Ana, Anna, and Mitali. I also met Lauren Oliver, Elizabeth Miles, Kate Ellison and had a very lovely conversation with Fiona Paul. I’m now looking forward to her forthcoming release Venom more than ever.

Oh and Friday brought with it the only subway ride of the week. I’m more of a cab girl but I sucked it up (aren’t you proud Shanyn?) and did finished off my New York experience in typical style!

The Floor
Tuesday through Thursday I browsed the expo floor and was so fortunate to pick up some really great titles to read and review. I also had the opportunity to speak with some wonderful folks who are passionate about what I picked up. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a line stander so I didn’t do much in the way of autographing. The one line I did stand in was for Sarah Crossen’s Breath. After hearing about it at the Harper preview I knew I wanted it as quickly as possible so I sucked it up and stood in her autograph line. I also waited a bit for Melissa Marr’s Carnival of Souls. I loved the Wicked Lovely series and am eager to see how this new one reads.

In general the floor felt more crowded (especially on Wednesday) this year than last. BUT, even though it was super busy I didn’t observe any hideous behavior. No biting, pushing, grabbing or the like. It was really refreshingly tame in that regard. I think on the whole we book bloggers did good!

The Company
I can’t tell you enough how much I adore you all. I spent so much time with my friends and colleagues and was so lucky to have made so many new ones as well. I know everyone says it, and I know that it may sound trite, but the very best part of BEA is being in the same place at the same time with “my people”. There is so much discussion of books and blogging that I don’t get anywhere else it makes the whole trip all the more worthwhile. I’m telling you, if you are on the fence about coming in to NYC for BEA let this aspect of the trip tip you over in favor of attendance. It is SO worth the price to be able to hang out with everyone. I’m so glad to have spent quality time and share in Lenore’s big Level 2 debut. I’m also super jazzed to have gotten the chance to speak more at length with Jenny. Finally, it was awesome to be able to work some Literary Logistics magic with Shanyn in person! Sincerely, I was a lucky girl to hang out with so many awesome and lovely people.

All in all it was a great week filled with great people! I’m sure I’ve missed something so forgive me if it’s you or your event. This is one week that I’ll be recovering from for a while but also one that is worth that extended couch time. :)