Sunday, May 31, 2009

KB'S Day At 2009 NYC Book Expo America

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.

The first thing that caught my eye was the big inflatable Clifford the Big Red Dog for Scholastic. Scholastic was a very big presence there. One book that is getting great buzz is Shiver (August 2009) by Maggie Stiefvater.

Shiver Synopsis:
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
It's all about the authors...

Harlequin was one of the best booths at BEA. Their presence overshadowed many other publishers. I visited here multiple times throughout the day. They had so many book signings and both Gena Showlater and Rachel Vincent were signing copies of their soon to be relesed YA books for Harlequin's new Teen line.

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

Diane Gaston and Amanda McCabe signing their anthology of The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor. Deb Marlowe wasn't there. I think the cover is lovely! Don't you?

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.

Diana, Me and Mary

I really thought I would be alone on this adventure, but that was not the case! I met up with Stacey Agdern, Marisa and Maria from RNTV, Dorchester author Leanna Renee Heiber, Janicu of Janicu's Book Blog, Kwana of Kwana Writes, Kris of the German magazine Love Letters and spent some time talking to Dorchester publicist Erin Galloway. I told Erin that C.L. Wilson's fans are anxiously awaiting for Queen of Song and Souls and we wish her all the best and can't wait! Dorchester is in awe of C.L. and are so greatful for her readers and fans.

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

Hello, who cares who the publisher or author is? It all goes for charity!
Major Fail on RWA's part.
It's all about the bloggers...
The one panel I was so very excited for was Book Bloggers- Todays's Buzz Builders. Harper Collins’ Jennifer Hart (and BookClubGirl blogger) was the mediator. The bloggers on the panel were:
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.
I noticed that when I post book reviews my comments are down but my traffic is still up. If there is a discussion post then of course there will be more comments. And honestly some of us don't always have the time to comment. I have about 300 blogs I subscribe to in my Google Reader and even though I don't always comment I will read the posts. The amount of comments does not mean the amount of traffic you have. To think that lack of comments means your blog is not a healthy active one is wrong on so many levels. I can say this with much certainity.

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.



Carolyn said...

Very interesting post, Katie! It's been my impression that non-Romance people are quite a bit behind the curve on just about everything technology-related. They talk about things the Romance community has been doing for months to years as if they discovered it. Was that your impression at this panel?

The Story Siren said...

Hey KB!

First time visitor! Really enjoyed this post about BEA. Would have loved to have gone myself.

I loved your coverage on the blogger panel and I definitely agree with some of the points you've made. It will be interesting to see if anything results from this panel.


Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Carolyn: I can't speak for other blogs that are genre specific but romance blogs have done for the most part everything the women on the panel want. I also think YA blogs and Sci-Fi/Fantasy are where it's at also. YA blogs were talked about much throughout the panel.

Story Siren: I would like to think something positive will result from the panel. The room was packed.

Lexie said...

Oh BEA was definitely an experience--I didn't get to the blogger booth unfortunately, but I'm glad you did such a great accounting! And I agree--my posts don't generate a lot of comments, but I look at my stats and can see that I have people visiting. I mean on book reviews for books people haven't read yet what do you say--'great review I'll check it out'? That certainly can get tedious if 5 or more people post it and on every single post!

And you had the opposite experience I did at the Harlequin booth--I had such a horrible experience with the booth attendants that I tried to stay away from it after my initial foray.

Ravenous Reader said...

Hey there!! I really enjoyed reading this post. It was very imformative and fun. I always enjoy your blog and kudos for the great work that you do.

Cant wait to meet you at RWA

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Lexie: I am so sorry your experience at the Harlequin booth was the opposite of mine. Were you there on Sat? I heard Friday was much more hectic, so maybe everyone was frazzled?

RR: OH yeah to RWA!!

Shon said...

Enjoyed your post and thanks for sharing. That sounds like it is worth the trip. Is it always in NYC? Or hosted in different cities like other conferences?

Some additional thoughts: Blogging for me is a hobby! I agree with you in that no comments on a post is not indicative of no traffic.

I would have thought that publishers would seek out high traffic blogs for promotion?Interesting.

Thanks KB!

Keishon (oh god word verification, i hope I get it right *fingers crossed*)

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Keishon: The last two years BEA was in Los Angeles. BEA will stay in NYC till 2012. And people said they cut back on the amount of ARCs and books your received. I couldn't tell! I couldn't stop grabbing them. I was a junkie on a major fix.

It would make sense if authors/publishers seek blogs with high traffic. More traffic means more sales.

Lexie said...

Katie--I was there on Friday, so that must have been why. I understood that they were probably hectic as all hell, but that didn't stop me from getting irritated that all the attendants were snappy and terse.

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

Katie you make an excellent point on comments. I've found this post to be very helpful in regards to comments:

Comments show interest, loyalty, and come from those that had a moment to say something or had something to add.

My stats are always available to readers at my blog. By scrolling to the bottom of the blog and clicking on the sitemeter you can read and learn a variety of facts. I also share them with advertisers with pictures and lists of the most popular posts in a month by hits and page views.

I think you're doing very well to have 500-800 people in a day. ESPECIALLY b/c you're less than a year old. I wouldn't worry about comparisons yet to other blogs.

I also treat my blog as a part-time job. I get paid in books. I do it because I love reading and I love romance and I love sharing with others.

Leontine said...

Hi Katie,
I enjoyed this post and for me my Blog is just an outlet for my passion for novels and creativity. The headbanner and background is my own creation and makes my blog more me. Though I enjoy peeps dropping by, though I would never turn down an ARC it is not the reason I blog.

I get very minor traffic compared to others and with 500-800 visitors day I'd say you do well! For me it is about my love for books, to write about it at my own place on the www. It is about meeting people from all over the world, connecting and sharing the same passion.

Anyways, your post was informative and great to read, thanks.


Peter H. Fogtdal said...

For those of of us who are blog retards, I thought the blogger panel at BEA was great. I'm a novelist who has a fairly funny blog, DANISH ACCENT that's only read by my fans and other weirdos (meaning not that many), so I definitely got some hints on how to get it out in the world.


Awesome post!

SarahT said...

Hi Katiebabs, Thanks for your take on BEA. It sounds like a book lover's paradise.

The bloggers panel was a fantastic idea. I'm surprised, though, that the panel weren't more forthcoming about their blog stats. I'm no expert but I would think 500-800 visitors a day is really good, particularly for a blog which is a one-woman show.

I hadn't heard about RWA not allowing the Rainbow Romance Writers to sign at the literacy signing. I'll bet they're allowing the inspirational chapter members to sign. Aargh! When I hear stuff like that, I wonder why I'm even a member.

Jessica said...

Great post!

I am interested in three points you make:

1. Bloggers on the panel should have revealed their stats. I agree with you on this. But I wonder if you think bloggers should have their stats available in general?

2. I agree with you on the problem of measuring a blog's success by its comments. My own view is that comments are ONE measure, but one measure may not be good for all blogs. For me, comments are all important, and not just number but quality of the comments. Much more so than numbers.

3. You say that for you blogging is not a hobby. For me it is a hobby, a fun release from the pressures of work, just the way reading romances is. I would love it if you could say more about your views on this. (or you can wait to answer the super devious racy questionnaire I am cooking up for you).

Again, great post the best I have read on BEA. It was EXACLTY the information romance readers want to know. Thank you!!

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Sarah T: I am not surprised by their opinions about gay romance. The way they treat that genre and some erotica makes me roll my eyes. Look at the nominations for the RITAS. That should be enough proof

Jessica: For some blogging is a hobby. But I look at it this way- for those who want their blog to go somewhere, gain recognition and respect as a professional in the publishing and author world, you can't giggle and say, "oh it is just a hobby!" If I were a publisher or an advertiser looking to pay to place my ads on a blog, I wouldn't contact a blog that felt that way. Some want to make their blogs a business and you must act like you are running a business if you want certain revenue to start coming in.

Genre Reviewer said...

And I was so proud to finally reach an average of 82 people a week. (I post a new review every week.) :(

heidenkind said...

Thanks for the post, KB, & the pictures. The BEA sounds like it was awesome. I'm even more sad now that I couldn't go. Oh well, maybe next year.

Bart's Bookshelf said...

Being a book blogger who is based in the UK I've looked on with no small amount of jealousy at all the BEA09 related chatter this weekend!

Thank you for your post it was really good to read about it, even if did increase my green skin tones, even further!

(And on a side note I think 500+ visitors a day is excellent, I've just pulled my average up to over the 100 mark)

Wendy said...

Word was that they were really disappointed in the turn out in L.A. last year - so the chances of BEA coming back to the west coast any time soon are slim. I couldn't tell though. Certainly it was my first BEA - but damn, I thought there were a TON of people in L.A. last year.

Glad to hear there was still plenty of swag to go around. Last year it was an embarrassment of riches, and I wasn't sure if the down economy would cut out some of the freebies.

And yeah, a lot of YA! It was like that last year too. I hauled plenty of books away for myself (and for work), but I scored over a dozen YA titles for my high school English teaching sister. Lots and lots and lots of paranormal. I'm assuming that was still the case this year - since Stephenie Meyer has worked everyone up to a fever pitch.

MB (Leah) said...

Heh, Katie I loved this post. I've been going through a lot about my blog, which I've been doing for more than a year. I don't have a huge following and my blog hasn't grown by leaps and bounds as many others have. And I have mixed feelings about that.

On the one hand, I love doing reviews and I'd love to have a larger audience so that I could help promote authors I like and books I like. On the other hand, I'm just not that kind of person who's very social or chatty or who can come up with interesting or on topic discussions. It's just not me.

I think even though I'm a very small blogger, and I mean less than 20 people on reader and maybe a hand full of extra visitors a day, I can still make a difference because I review lesser known authors, ebooks, and erotica, which don't get major review exposure like mainstream authors and romance books do.

The point for a blogger is to find how much they want to put out to get a larger following and if they want it to be a hobby or not.

As far as small vs. large bloggers, I'd have to say that an author will get much more exposure with a larger, professional blogger like DA or SB, but a newbie author, or an author who writes a special niche will do really well with small bloggers because small bloggers, I think, are more willing to review unpopular genre or niche books.

Since small bloggers all support each other and there's a huge network of them, word of mouth is pretty potent way to get a book sold.

Just my 2 pennies. :D

trish said...

Hi, Katie! I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you at BEA. I had a blast, too!

I didn't know it was you that asked the question about blogger stats. I think you put the bloggers on the spot when you asked that question and it's kind of akin to asking someone how much money they make. I'd be happy to tell you in private, but I'm not going to talk about it in a setting such as a panel. I don't think that's the right time and don't see how it contributes to what the panel was about.

Of course, that's just my opinion. :)

I actually disagreed when the bloggers said they do not represent the overall gender or race of bloggers. I only know of a handful of male book bloggers out of all the book bloggers out there, and book bloggers *tend* to be Caucasian. I don't think it's good or bad; it just is what it is.

RachaelfromNJ said...

Awesome post! I live in NJ also and would have loved to go to BEA! I hate going into NY though so I didnt go. Man all those free books...I'm so jealous! Thank you for posting pictures and telling us all about it. It makes me feel like I was there. :)

I'd love to see a list of what books you got there if you ever feel ambitious enough to list a whole bunch! LO :)

Wanderer said...

Great recap KB! I can't believe I wasn't aware of the BEA when it was in LA! Now it's in NYC til 2012 = YAY for you, very SAD for me :( But the moment it's back in LA, I'll be all over it. Soooooo jealous of the 3 bags of books! :-)

Very cool about the blogger panel. I hope that continues to grow each year and I will be able to attend one some day.

I agree about the comments not being a gauge of a site's success. For several months now I've been away from home and work so 90% of my net time is on my phone. There have been several times where I wanted to add a comment on a blog but I don't like typing more than a text/instant message on my phone. Then having to log in and deleting/editing a comment...for me it gets annoying to do that on a small keyboard. But that doesn't mean that blog post did not hit home, my funny bone or a nerve.

As for stats, it doesn't matter to me either way if a blog posts theirs or not. But I also don't see a reason not to share if someone asks. If they don't want to share an exact number a range would suffice.

Work vs Hobby: For me it's a hobby but it gets as much of my free time as possible. Being away from work/home means no computer for long periods of time so I've had to do a lot of things on my blackberry. This is where I surf the net, read blogs and read my ebooks. On the occasions where I can get on a computer (like today WOOT) I get to comment on great blogs like this and hopefully get a review done for our own blog. So until life slows down a bit, blogging can only be a hobby for me.

Keep up the great content KB! Some days the things I read on your blog (and a few other blogs) can put a smile on my face (MoFho's scandalous photos, ATW sex etc...) when everything else is hitting the fan.

Lady of the Review said...

I gave you an award, chickie-boo. :)

Carolyn Crane (aka Carolyn Jean) said...

Hey, this was a great write-up full of really interesting information. I'm so glad you give all these reports on the things you go to, so that we less fortunate and geographically-challenged can enjoy.

What is with YA? Such a huge market.

SciFiGuy said...

Great coverage of BEA. Would have loved to have been at the blogger panel but you stood up for those of us that couldn't be there. The idea of all of those ARCs is killing me though...but a trip from Canada for free books doesn't make a lot of economic sense.
On the hobby vs job issue, it is an avocation for me which means it is more serious than a hobby. You are correct that if you want to do it well you need to treat it as a part time job. Building readership and community means you need to provide some level of consistency and professionalism. And if you expect to build a relationship with publishers/publicists/authors you need the same. Compensation in books is all the reward I need. But I think having decent traffic numbers is important to show that you are plugged into the readership community (in my case primarily the urban fantasy/paranormal genre). Your numbers of 500-800 per day I think are actually quite high. In non-romance genre terms, a site like Fantasy Book Critic probably sets the benchmark for traffic and readership. I haven’t been blogging a year and my numbers are only just now reaching 400-500 per day and I am really happy with that.
As to comments, they are nice but really only reflect the nature of specific pieces of content. Would I want all my readership commenting on everything everyday. Not a chance. I wouldn’t keep up and I do think it is important that if people comment you respond. Is it a measure of health? – certainly not a critical one. Look at Kimberly Swan’s Darque Reviews. She is very focussed on reviews and has only a smattering of comments but a lot of people follow the site or refer to her reviews frequently.
The book blogging/reader/author community is awesome and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Thanks KB!

Janicu said...

Good post. I was thinking of what I'd call my blogging and yeah I think I described it yesterday as an obsession rather than a hobby!

I missed a lot of the blogger panel - managed to catch a few minutes then ran off because I wanted my Holly Black autograph!! My suspicion is that the bloggers they got for the panel knew the organizer and whoever organized it veered towards more general fiction. Afterwards I was thinking the same thing as you - they didn't really have like: the romance blogger, the YA blogger, the scifi/fantasy blogger, but I was still happy that bloggers GOT a panel and that these girls were articulate with their points. Of course opinions vary with some of topics (Pros and cons of popular older blogs vs. newer ones for example, and I'm still not sure if I agree that authors really need to comment), but it was nice that the room was full and people were taking notes! Makes me feel good to be a blogger! Warm fuzzy. I especially liked the comment that it would be nice to link back to our blogs and give us traffic when we do a review. That was a really nice point.

It was REALLY nice to meet you. Thank you for introducing me to all those people! I was thinking: oh Katie knows all the romance girls, cause on friday I was with people who seemed to know all the YA bloggers. It's interesting how there are GROUPS. Also BEA this year - really big in YA I noticed.

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for writing about the blogger panel. As one of the panelists, I thought that maybe I could address and issue or two you had.

I was the blogger that mentioned to authors and publishers that they should reach out to smaller, lesser known blogs for book promotion, for the simple reason that they are very enthusiastic about promoting books and will often do quite a bit of work to get traffic to their posts. That's not to say that a more established blog wouldn't work as hard, but we all have to start somewhere, right? These new bloggers are tomorrows big bloggers and they should get some respect too.

I'm sorry to hear that you were unhappy that only Natasha of Maw Books gave her stats. I didn't realize you actually wanted an exact number from each of us. I list on my review policy page my monthly stats for everyone to see. As far as popular days, Saturday & Sundays are slow, but don't really know the exact times on a particular day that are most popular.

I hope that this information is helpful to you. I was really honored to be part of the first book blogger panel at BEA!

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Janicu: The BEA community and people there from YA to romance to the other genres was incredible. I am so thrilled you could see the people I interact with, as I did with you. :D

Stephanie: Let me just say that I was beyond thrilled that BEA had the book blogger panel. That was one of the reasons I wanted to go to BEA because of the panel. I think publishers and authors should look towards both blogs, big and small because you are correct, new blogs will be the bigger ones of tomorrow.

I think in part my question comes because many people who are on the fence about going to blogs for promotion wants hard facts. They want to know numbers, which days and times are perfect for their posts. These publishers are in it to make money and they want the outcome to be big, meaning big sales.

These publishers are still so stuck on traditional ways of promotion. I raised the question in a blog post earlier about the NY Times and newspapers disappearing. They still think that a book will sell with that label of NY Times Best seller on it. I do hope that the panel has changed some minds because the room was packed, which was a good sign.

PJ said...

Great recap, Kate! Thanks for letting us tour BEA through your eyes.

Looking forward to meeting you in DC!

Kat said...

Okay, I'm going to be a shallow commenter and just say ... I'm so jealous of your Liar ARC!

Louisa Edwards said...

Thanks for your detailed account of the BEA experience! The blogger panel sounds interesting--that discussion seems to happen more and more frequently these days.

Amy said...

That was YOU?? You should have stated your name when you asked the question! I didn't answer you because I sensed from my moderator that we had spent too much time on the question already. I said comments were important because to a degree they are...but I did not mean for it to turn into a whole big debate. I meant at a glance...and by checking quality what I meant was see if it's new comments or the blogger returning comments! For better or worse after some recent discussion on the skimming of blogs, I do think comments indicate the actual reading of the blog article...I'm still working that out for myself.

Yes I tell people all the time that the romance community is way ahead of us. Kudos to you guys.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

You should have said that was you! I've got a lot to say but I'm writing this with one finger and a kid in my lap. Will come back for sure!

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Natasha and Amy: It was your time to shine. I didn't want to stand up and give my name because I was just one of many in the audience watching. I wish I could have stopped by afterwards but it was non-stop on the go! My head was spinning by the time I got home.

What I would really love to do is have a blogger interview or a roundtable discussion with a few different bloggers to see what we want and where we think the future for review blogs are going.

Victoria Janssen said...

Thanks for the report on the blogging panel!

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Okay, I'm back!

Personally, I do think that publishers and authors should place their books with well established and highly trafficked blogs (but what is the cut off for "high traffic"). I do think they need the biggest bang for their buck. But, if authors and publishers are having a hard time placing their books with some of these blogs then perhaps reaching out to some newer bloggers who are serious about growing their blog could be an option.

Since you were standing in the back, I assume you came in a little late. Our culiminative stats were stated at the beginning of the panel and that we were closing in on one million page views in just one single year in addition to the number of reviews and author interviews we had conducted.

When you asked the question about our stats, you really did take us all off gaurd. *I believe* we had mentioned that details like this were oftentimes available on our review policy pages. Like Trish mentioned in her earlier comment, it's akin to asking how much money you make.

To tell you the truth, I felt bad mentioning my stats and wondered if I had made a mistake when I did. Stats are so varied from blogger to blogger. Somebody may have 100 hits a day and another 2,000 hits a day. But it's the other things that they could also be doing (other social networks, forums, etc.) that could extend their reach beyond their blog. But like you, I've worked hard to get my stats where they are and am proud of them. I state them on my review policy but try not to go around and "brag" about them (although it's obviously not a secret anymore!). As far, as everybody answering that question, I think it was a simple time issue. We had a lot of other things that we still wanted to cover.

As I'm the one who said the remark about comments being a sign of a healthy and active blog, I'll go ahead and mention a couple of thing in hindsight. Perhaps, what I *should* have said was that comments are usually a sign that the blogger is active in the community and several different outlets like forums, twitter, facebooks, visiting other blogs, etc. What really, really bugs me is when blogs get the latest and greatest new ARC when their last 20 posts have zero comments and they aren't a "player" in the industry. It was never argued that comments were the only indicator of a healthy, active blog. It was presented as an additional indicator also taking into account page views, hits, technorati, Alexa, etc. I literally made that comment after Amy talked about those other indicators. It's a supplement not all inclusive. Obviously, I didn't have that comment come across right.

As far as a more diverse group, I will completely admit that I was also concerned with this as well, so much that I talked privately to our moderator about it. Ideally, I would have loved to have a kidlit blogger, YA blogger, romance blogger, and sci/fi fantasy blogger. Honestly, it was the first year and something that will have to be revamped for next year. We were simply thrilled that we were able to do it at all. Our moderator admited that it was a completely unscientific sampling and probably should have set it up with more variety. Perhaps next year (if there is a next year) will reflect that. As far as men bloggers, I know a ton of men bloggers. I just don't think they run in the same circles as us. There is even a list somewhere of just men bloggers. Also, there are a ton of bloggers located in other countries.

Okay, I think that's all I've got to say for now! LOL. I'm thrilled that you came to the panel. I hope that we at least tried to represent well. It was hard to be up there especially when most of the audience questions were not the ones that we had prepared. I had a great time at BEA. I wish I had been able to talk in person! Maybe next time?

Jill Sorenson said...

Interesting post. Have to agree about the comments. I lurk like crazy. And I don't assume that no comments (on my own blog) means no readers.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

Katie - I'm so glad you were able to come to the panel! Yes, as one of the people sitting on the dais, I can tell you that I was thrilled to see so many people in the room (we estimated 300 chairs, plus a dozen or so standing)

I enjoy the conversations/comments left on my blog posts, but do understand there are other ways to measure a blog's health or popularity/ranking. I would add that when an author comments on a review (or other blog mention) it makes my day and underscores the relevance of blogs as new media.

The cumulative stats (not only hits, but nbr of reviews, author interviews, genres touched, etc.) of the panelists was given by Jennifer Hart (Book Club Girl) at the beginning of the panel, to show the wide reach of the community.

I think we're all looking forward to BEA10 and the conversations leading up to it. In the meantime, enjoy those 3 bags of books you brought home! :)

Beth F said...

Others on the panel have addressed some of your issues, I'll address others.

The purpose of a panel is discuss and present a variety of opinions, not to come up with a specific answer. I thought my job was to try to represent bloggers, not talk about myself. So your "Huh?" moment is a good thing. It shows that there are a variety of opinions. It shows that you should consider all types of blogs, listen to the arguments for both older and newer blogs, and make a decision that fits your needs the best. Huh? moments mean we've got you thinking and we've made you aware that there is no one quick and easy answer that fits all people.

My traffic numbers are stated on my blog in my review policy, they are no secret. I didn't think I was there to talk about me but to talk about bloggers in general.

Unfortunately, we all couldn't address each question. I respect each person on the panel, but I don't necessarily agree with what each one said. So disagreeing with what one blogger said is ok.

I think the panel could have been run several ways. Personally, I was happy with the generalist approach. Why not work on a romance panel for next year? I don't review very many kids books, so that part of the discussion didn't have much to do with me. Amy reviews a lot of Christian fiction and that wasn't mentioned at all.

Again, my goals were to try to represent bloggers in general. I don't want my site to be riddled with commercial ads, someone else might not mind. Thus the answer to the advertising question was rightly, "this is an individual thing that you have to take up with the individual blogger."

Go to my site and click on my review policy and see my stats. No secret.

I read and review a TON of fantasy, I love mystery and review that as well. I also review nonfiction, foodie books, memoirs, short stories, and historical fiction. I'm truly sorry you didn't feel better represented.

Liz B said...

Natasha, you said "What really, really bugs me is when blogs get the latest and greatest new ARC when their last 20 posts have zero comments and they aren't a "player" in the industry." I'm kind of curious as to how you define "player" outside of comments, then. For example, Jen Hubert of Reading Rants gets few comments but is quite the player (doing this since 98, has a book out based on her blog, etc.) What do you look at to determine that?

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Natasha: I do think comments are important up to certain point. When I take hours upon hours in writing a review and post it and only get a few comments, I wonder what is going on? But again some people will read the review and wonder what is the point of just saying, great review and leave.
What makes someone a player? By their interactions or who they know? Is it the amount of blogs they visit? Some will just post on their own blogs and won't interact with the comments left. That irks me also. If I leave a comment or keep coming back, please acknowledge me.

Beth: I hope BEA 2010 has more panels with bloggers and perhaps more than just one is needed. And if so, that would be an incredible move on BEA and the industry's part.

MotherReader said...

I was the blogger that stood up to disagree about the comments as a indicator of a healthy blog. What I've seen is that some blogging communities - even within the big group of book bloggers - simply comment more on each others blogs. I've also seen that there often hits a peaking of comments around the first or second year of a blog because that's when the group is most energized to comment on each other's posts. Later, maybe, not so much.

I was disappointed that the kid lit bloggers weren't invited to the table, but was glad that Natasha let me talk about I would have liked to see some men on the panel, particularly Ron from and, um, Galleycat who was at BEA. Talk about a player in the blogging world.

I have to say that I wouldn't have expected the panelist to answer stats questions. For one, it is like talking about money. Also, the stats are so unreliable to make it hard to know what people even mean anymore. Different statcounters come up with totally different numbers. Alos, bloggers will say so many readers when they really mean son many hits, so I never can tell what people mean anyway.

Great discussion here. Thanks for opening it up.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I think you can see a player when you see one. I may be going out on a limb here but will say what a player is not: blog is a just for fun place for them to write up their thoughts about books they've read. If it was just their mom reading the blog, they'd be truly happy because they don't expect anyone to read it in the first place. They don't link out to other blogs or participate in any type of community events. They aren't aware nor do they care about any of the bookish conversations taking place around them. They are in their on little world. And that's fine. They are happy. You don't have to be a player. Lots of people don't want to be.

How can you tell who a player is? Well, obviously the oppposite of above. If they are receiving no comments you can tell that a blogger is a "player" by how much other people are talking about them and linking to them. They get a lot of reaction to their posts but that reaction isn't taking place on their blog. It becomes pretty obvious as long as you are aware of this back chatter taking place. From my observation, it does seem that kidlit bloggers are not as big into the comments as other bloggers, it's a whole other ball game out there. And I would say that each genre has it's own set of special circumstances. Perhaps linking triumphs over comments in this case?

Liz B said...

Natasha, I guess I'm still confused about your use of "player" especially in regards to ARCs on blogs. Under this definition, does that mean Teri Lesesne is NOT a player and thus shouldn't be getting ARCs that she blogs about? I think who is getting ARCs (such as early Catching Fire) shows who are viewed by publishers as the influential people because of where they talk about books and who reads what they say. In other words, my point is a "player" in one self-described self-defined area of the blogosphere does not translate into who is a "player" when viewed by publishers.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Liz - I guess I'm just thinking about those who are keeping a "reading journal" and have no interest in anything industry related beyond what they are currently reading. They don't work in the industry, they don't know what's going on, etc.

Going to Teri's blog, I see that she mentions BEA right away. Obviously, she's aware. She's caught up to what's going on in the industry. Is her blog full of meme's and family vacation photos? She talks more books than anything else. I probably should back out of the conversation and say that I have no right to say who can receive ARC's and who can't. Because really, I don't.

It's probably true that influence is defined differently between blogosphere and publishers. But some publishers are new to this whole blogging thing (believe me I talked to a TON of publishers at BEA who hadn't a clue what a book blog was. You should have seen the perplexed faces!). How are they going to determine who a player is and who isn't without someone holding their hand and helping them out? It's a tough call.

Lexie said...

Natasha: oh see I view my review blog the same way I viewed my HS newspaper review column--books are pretty much my life and my biggest hobby. Since most folk realize that pretty quickly they are always asking me for recs and how this or that book was so I just decided to cut to the chase and start a blog to direct them towards. Its a lot easier to say to a friend or a friend's friend or a stranger at a bookstore who sees me with a stack of books to buy that I can give them basic recs now, but check out my blog at so-and-so to view more by an author you like or in a genre. My brain isn't that big--chances are I'll forget a book that is perfect for a person, but will have read or mentioned it on my blog.

Then also I don't ask authors for books and rarely ask publishers if they aren't already offering them (either through a reviewer group I am part of or a network like Book Blogs @ ning or Shelf Awareness) because I don't feel that's my place. One way or another I've been in contact with most of the Big publishers and plenty of smaller press ones as well. And since I try to always link the author to my review I feel as if that's all I need to do to make them aware of the fact.

There definitely needs to be more awareness of book blogs--new, old, whatever--and hope that next year there are more panels for book bloggers. Do they have to be professionally backed? Can a group of book bloggers just take over a meeting room so that book bloggers can meet and greet with Publishers next year? It doesn't necessarily have to be 'well known' bloggers, but maybe a committee agreed upon by the book blogging community at large with a mix of genres and bloggers new and old?

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I think scheduling a meeting room is a fantastic idea for a BEA meet and greet!

Samantha Kane said...

Katiebabs ~ It was so great to meet you! I think we frightened people when we squealed in joy. ;-) I just wish we'd run into each other again when I wasn't signing, since I couldn't take the time to talk much just then.

Last year in LA was my first BEA and there was definitely a different feel this year. Fewer people, and a lot fewer giveaways, believe it or not. But overall it was a great time. I got to meet one of my favorite authors, fellow North Carolinian Michael Malone, which was my BEA fangirl moment.

I hope to see you again soon! Can I get a copy of that picture?

Bella322002 said...

When I first heard about this panel I began to wonder if the whole thing was to wean the book bloggers down. To get rid of some book bloggers who weren't really into reviewing books but getting the book. I am still unsure as of this day.

I have noticed a change with trying to request books and getting emails when told to email such and such a person to get the list of books offered.

Some of the discussions bothered me a little such as comments. I have to say that I have been to some of the bloggers on the panel blogs and commented on various posts they made but not once have they ever came to comment on my blog. Does it bother me? Yea it does, I take the time to comment the least you can do is acknowledge it and comment back.

I agree with MotherReader and her comment saying that they comment more on each others blogs. I believe that to be true.

I would love to be a well known blogger maybe it will happen one day.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Sam: I was so embarrassed that I knocked over your table presentation with my big old bag of goodies. It was so great to see you! The day flew by. Check your email. I sent the picture :D

Bella: I think the blogger panel was BEA's way to show how important book bloggers have become. I have to admit I comment more on the blogs who I am friendly with and who I know will respond. It took me the longest time to come out of the lurking closet and make myself known. Now I can't shut up.

Heather Massey said...

Katiebabs, I'm so glad you had a chance to visit BEA. It sounds like it was a blast. Thanks for sharing your experiences, especially about the book blogger panel. This is an excellent discussion.

(And my daughter is going to love, love, love that shot of Clifford. Can't wait to show it to her. Thanks for including it, lol!)

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Heather: When I saw Clifford I let out a squeal. He was the first picture I took. He really was the big red dog that towered over everything.
There were so many books for children of all ages. A true book lover's dream come true!

orannia said...

Fantastic review of BEA KB - thank you! And I really liked your insight on the blogging panel!

Deanna Raybourn was signing books? *faints* I'm a HUGE fan!

*adds Shiver to TBR list* It sounds gooooood :)

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Orannia: Deanna was so, so nice. All the Harlequin authors were great!

Lexie said...

Natasha--we'll have to see what we can do about that then :) If nothing else it'll give Publishers a chance to stop by and find out what a book blog is, standard practices and maybe even offer a guide to finding the blog that is perfect for their needs.

Marg said...

It's been interesting reading all the comments as well as the post. I wanted to say about the hobby vs job question, that I don't really think that blogging is truly either for me. I would call it more of a passion and choose to spend a lot of my time doing it. The rewards (books etc) are a very welcome bonus but not something that I necessarily see as a payment as such.

Lexie said...

@Marg: XD I can't rightly consider book blogging as a job since my jobs tend to drive my stress levels through the roof eventually and reading is what drives my stress levels back down to sane levels. I suppose hobby isn't the right word for it though--self-indulgent flights of opinionated fancy maybe?

I look forward to the free books the same way I look forward to having money to buy books--its books! More glorious books for me to lavish with attention. The only difference I suppose is if I get a book free as opposed to buying it I can go out and buy a different book (or five) with the money I saved. Oddly for every wishlist book I receive I add another 10 books to my wishlist...

Marg said...

Funnily enough, I have that same problem with my wishlist! It's a nice problem to have though.

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Great rundown of the event, Kate! It's always so good to see you! I posted Kwana's picture of us on my blog, I love how you can see the expanse of the event around us. And I love your encouraging words, you've certainly done great things with your blog and we're all the better for having a myriad of fresh voices. Huzzah!

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Leanna: It is always a pleasure! I hope my blogging brings forth the fun :D

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I wish I had been able to go to BEA. Well, at least my agent was there. :)
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of HOPE..
Ch. 1 is online!

sybil said...

You are reminding me why I only read romance blogs.

Serena said...

Thanks for weighing in on the book blogger panel. I think the panel did a good job--for those blogging in their spare time--of addressing the topics that were pre-selected.

I for one don't track my traffic because I don't care. I could never have answered that question, unless I knew it would be asked (I would have researched it ahead of time for that reason).

I really enjoyed the panel, but maybe if there is another one, there could be more genre specific bloggers selected. I think that would bring a new dynamic to the panel. If for one blog about a variety of genres, but I really want to get more work from poets recognized.

Thanks for this post. It was interesting and informative.