I was one of thousands of people who overtook the Javits Center in NYC for Book Expo America. I arrived at 9:30am with two big empty bags and I was on a mission to meet as many authors and publishing industry people that I could find. For the next eight hours I was surrounded by books and more books. BEA is truly a book lover's dream! Every publisher both big and small were in attendance as well as some well known authors. (James Patterson was even roaming the exhibition floor)
It is all about the books...
Some may think the $75 entrance fee for one day is a bit steep, but let me put it in perspective for you. I left with three full bags of books. The total price of these books is over $500. I didn't have to pay for one book and more than half of them are ARCS. With the amount of books I had, my arms were about to fall off. I even had to check one of my bags.
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
I would say Young Adult publishers had the biggest presence there. The majority of the books I grabbed where YA. Bloomsbury USA has a very big YA line and were very generous with their ARC's. I picked up four YA books that will be out in October. Keep on the look out for:
Girl in the Arena- Lise Haines
Forest Born- Shannon Hale
Liar- Justine Larbalestier
Demon Princess Reign or Shine- Michelle Rowen
Rachel Vincent signing My Soul to Take (August 2009)
Gena Showalter signing Intertwined (September 2009)
I was able to pick up two copies of each book. That means a contest this week. One set of these books for me, another set for some lucky winner.
Some other great authors signing books for Harlequin:
Deanna Raybourn signing Silent on the Moor
I also saw many people I knew such as Barbara Vey and Diana Love. Diana wrote a non-fiction book called Break Into Fiction with Mary Buckham. Mary also writes action-adventure novels.
Ellora's Cave had a booth and Samantha Kane and Mari Freeman where there signing. Sam was signing two of her Menage a Trio historical romances. Let me say again that Sam Kane writes some of the best menages I have ever read and is one of the reasons I started to read ebooks in the first place.
I also made sure to check out Laura Baumbach the publisher of Man Love Romance. We chatted about gay romance and how her roster of authors writes some of the best M/M romance in the publishing industry. She was very pleased about the newly former RWA LBGT chapter. Laura will be at RWA this July, but I did find it a bit disheartening that RWA will not let her or any of her authors sign their books at the literacy signing.
Laura B at the Man Love Romance Booth
Nastasha from Maw Books Blog
Candace from Beth Fish Reads
Dawn from She is too Fond of Books
Stephanie from the Written Word
Amy From My Friend Amy
Julie from Booking Mama
The room was packed with bloggers, authors and publishers. The majority of the panel had different opinions and thoughts on blogging and what they would like from publishers and authors:
-Wants more relationships with bookstores. Would love to highlight certain bookstores from small and large to independent.
-If a publisher or author is interested in a blogger reviewing a book, they should really check out the blogs review policy and if the blogger likes to read that certain book that is being asked to review. Bloggers need time to read because blogging is very much a hobby and because of real life issues, expecting a book review where a book is only given two weeks before the due date is not realistic. Publishers and authors should understand time restraints.
-Communication is very important. Publishers and authors should build relationships with bloggers. It is very much a give and take situation. If a blogger is going to go out of their way to take the time and energy to post a review, an author and or publisher should link the review on their site.
-Sometimes lesser known blogs or blogs just starting to find their footing are a great way for author promotion. These bloggers will be enthusiastic and go out of their way to promote and author's work and post contests.
-The bloggers could not give enough praise to Twitter. Twitter is a great way for bloggers to network. And if a book review blogger twitters a message to an author, it would be nice if an author could twitter back.
-They also mentioned they are wary of working with big commercial book sellers like Amazon , Barnes and Noble and Borders.
-Would love to have advertisements on their blogs. But I think these bloggers would rather the advertisers come to them, instead of them asking for ads.
-They feel blog tours are great.
-Also recommend that authors should leave a comment on a blog post about their work or some peice of information posted about them. A simple "hello" is all you need.
- One important question someone raised from the audience is why would an author do on-line promotion with blogs instead of with Amazon? How can a book blog compete with such a powerhouse like Amazon? Amazon was brought up a great deal in regards to book reviews and promotion.
From my view, these were all very great points mentioned from the panel, but there were some comments, or rather I should say opinions from the panel that struck me as odd and raised my eyebrows. (Keep in mind this is only my opinion and may not be the majority out there ) There was a bit of a contridiction about long time blogs versus a blog that has been only around for short amount of time. At on point one of the bloggers recommended that authors and publishers reach out to blogs with less traffic or ones that have just started. But then they state that a blog that has been around for a few years is the better way to go. "Huh?"
I would have to disagree with this comment. Yes, blogs that have been around for years may have a great presence and may generate a great amount of traffic, but in the past year I have notice new blogs are competing very well with more well known blogs. And in some cases their reputation has grown leaps and bounds.
I am usually not the type of talk about my amount of traffic but in this case I feel it is needed. And I can only use myself as an example. I started this blog back in Septemeber of 2008. It is now 9 months later and my traffic on a given day will run anywhere between 500-800. These are my stats and I am not ashamed to say it. I am not sure where I lie with those blogs that have been around much longer than myself.
And this is where I raised my hand and asked a question to this panel. I wanted to know what their traffic numbers were on a given day and what days did they have the most traffic and what times during the day were the most popular? My most popular days are Monday, Thursdays and Fridays and usually in the morning and mid-afternoon.
I was a bit peeved, yes peeved when some of the panel members were vague and wouldn't give me their stat numbers. Only one blogger, and I think it was Natasha who said she thinks she gets 1,000 people in a day or about 30,000 in a month. They couldn't answer me or wouldn't, and no offense to those on the panel but the crowd wants hard facts. I wanted hard facts. There simply wasn't enough hard facts to please this crowd.
Another statement from the panel that irked me was that comments are very important. Lack of comments means you are not doing enough to get your blog out there. The word "healthy" was used as in your blog is not a healthy and active one if you don't have a lot of comments. One blogger from the audience stood up and aruged with that. I would have argued also.
Another question was raised was about the women on the panel. A gentleman asked if the bloggers on the panel are the stereotypical group that blogged. He raised a very good point. Why wasn't there a more diverse group?
The six bloggers don't have blogs that are genre specific and are more for a broad overview with books reviews and publishing information. I would have liked at least one or two bloggers on the panel to have a more centralized blogs such as for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery or Romance. For some reason Young Adult blogs were talked about a great deal.
I really want to say that I am so happy BEA had a panel highlighting book bloggers. What these six bloggers expect from the publishing world, or desire as a whole, has already been on-going for quite some time in the Romance book community. I will admit I am a bit biased because I am more involved in this community as a whole. The Romance blogging community already has accomplished so much! It is a great network that has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. We have the one-one-one relationships with authors and publishers. We have the interaction with authors who do comment on blogs. We have steadily gained respect from a wide variety of authors, their publicists and the publishers who publish their books.
That is the reason I blog and review. For the simple joy of being sent a work of art and making an author and their editor and even the publisher happy. I have built relationships over the past two and a half odd years. Going to BEA proved that book review bloggers have been embraced and are well respected. Regardless if you have been at this for a dozen years or just one month, regardless if you have 100,000 people in a given day or just 10 visit your site. It is all about building a community where we can grow and respect one another and help the authors and their books gain the readership and keep us around.
Blogging to me is not a hobby. I treat it as a part-time job. I don't get paid in cash, only in books. I spend almost 20 hours a week writing reviews and coming up with blog posts, not just for my own entertainment but for others.
My experience at this year's BEA was truly a warm, welcoming and exciting one. As a proud book blogger and aspiring author I can say that this community and world I have embraced is one that has given me great joy and expectations.
One last thought. If you have wanted to start your own blog and are afraid or are holding back, thinking no one will care what you have to say, except your family or personal friends, I say stop second guessing yourself and find a computer and start your own blog. Let your creative outlet shine. BEA is proof positive from the Book Blogger panel to the 44 other bloggers at the Firebrand booth how a group of people with amazing ideas and the dedication for the written word can accomplish a great deal.
I was once a lurker who thought no one would care what I had to say. Look at me now. And to all of those who blog book reviews or otherwise, look at yourself in the mirror and pat yourselves on your back. We all deserve it.