I’m Going on a Jet Plane & a BEA Book Bloggers Panel (help!)

So, I will preface this with the fact that with the exception of a quick overnight trip to LA for a wedding, I haven’t been more than sixty miles away from my house for more than three years.  And I can’t recall ever leaving my children, if even for just the night.  So this mama needs a vacation!  Like, really, really bad.  I’ve gotten stir crazy and I need a break and something memorable and exciting to do!

la-times-festival-of-books

So in just a short week and a half, I’ll be heading from Salt Lake City down to Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  I will probably be the only one there crazy enough to fly in just for this event.  But how could I not go with halfway reasonable airfare and a slew of book bloggers willing to pick me up at the airport and put me up for the night?  This is seriously a great example of how online connections can turn into face to face connections.  This trip is purely for the fun of it and I can’t wait to go!  I’ll give a full report when it’s all said and done.

book-expo-america

And as if that’s not enough, BookExpo America (BEA) is coming up at the end of May in New York City.  It’s  the largest expo in the industry and basically everybody is going to be there: authors, booksellers, publishers, the movers and shakers.  So I couldn’t quite believe it when I found myself online buying a plane ticket to New York City.   Crazy?   I’m totally crazy! I feel like a fish out of water.  I’ve never been to New York City!  Eeeek!  The whole thing feels surreal to me.

What I am super excited about is that book bloggers are becoming a recognized force in this industry and our influence is not being ignored.  I’m thrilled that there is a panel specifically to address the issues unique to book blogging!  From the mouth of Jennifer Hart, the panels moderator and organizer:

Book blogs are the new generators of word of mouth, advocates for publishers’ books and authors out in the world. As the world goes ever more digital (and as review pages and book sections in newspapers dwindle and disappear), you are the new tastemakers, and consumers are looking to you to tell them what books to buy and read. In addition, you’re providing new venues for our authors to present themselves, with Q&As and guest posts, etc. Publishers need to be working with you, as do booksellers, to sell more books and to find out what books people want to read.

What’s great is that book bloggers have been asked to be directly involved in this conversation!  Dawn from She is Too Fond of Books, Stephanie from The Written Word, Julie from Booking Mama, Beth from Beth Fish Reads, Amy from My Friend Amy and myself have been asked to be on this panel at BEA.  (!!!!!)  I seriously have no idea how I got my name on this list but I’m thrilled!  I can’t wait for BEA!

This is your opportunity to make your voice heard and share what you think needs to be talked about.  We will be meeting as a panel before BEA to discuss the direction and topics that we’d like to see covered, but we can’t do it without your help.  We won’t be up there discussing just our six blogs, but all book blogs.  After all, we are just a few representing so many.  We want to represent well.

So what I’d like to do here is to discuss which topics you think should be covered.  If you had an opportunity to sit in front of an audience of mainly booksellers and publishing industry folks, what would you discuss?  What would you like from from publishers and how can they work with book bloggers better?  And vice versa – what do publishers need from us?   Also, how can we can all work with booksellers, primarily indie booksellers, who are a big part of the BEA population?

I know you’ve all got great ideas and opinions, so let’s hear them!

45 comments


  1. I’m really excited about y’all being on that panel at BEA! I can’t think of any specific topics to be discussed off the top of my head, but will be sure to let one of you know if I have a moment of inspiration.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 9:46 am
  2. As a bookseller, I would like to hear about how we can better link our customers with your blog. When people really get involved with a blogger and like his/her book suggestions, they buy books, so it’s just a win-win for everyone. I would also like to hear about what all of you think booksellers should know if they want to start their own book blogs on their websites. What should book bloggers from a bookstore write about?

    on April 16th, 2009 at 9:51 am
  3. As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, I’ll be on Sat. National Book Critics Circle panel (about book reviews and digital media), so I hope we’ll cross-pollinate the entire show with blogging power. I would love to hear you talk about the different uses of book blogging: reviews, community building, summaries, reading habits, and more…I’ll keep thinking!

    on April 16th, 2009 at 9:51 am
  4. Indie bookseller here. The top two things I always want to ask book bloggers are:

    1. Why do so many book bloggers exclusively link to Amazon? Now that IndieBound has been up for a year and has a solid affiliate program together, what can indie booksellers do to draw the attention of more book bloggers to it? Or are book bloggers not interested?

    2. I also agree with Amy, I think it would be great to have more formal and informal connections between the book blogging world and the indie bookstore world. I know a number of stores that are personally intimidated by blogging that would be really excited to hook up with a book blogger in their area. I’d also be interested to hear from book bloggers what we could offer them. It seems like a great place for relationships to start, and I’d love to hear more about what book bloggers think about the whole thing.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 9:59 am
  5. How do you see book blogs’ influence in the book industry evolving in the next few years?

    on April 16th, 2009 at 10:00 am
  6. That is great! I will be going to NYC BEA this year as both a blogger and book reviewers.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 10:14 am
  7. Wow, I am so excited to hear that you all will be one a panel, now if I could get Anna on a plane or train to get there.

    OK, so topics:

    1. Book Blogs reaching a wider audience of readers than newspaper reviewers, etc., which can translate into higher sales.

    2. Links between booksellers (indie etc.) with book bloggers to get more indie stores in the black and keep them from dying out.

    3. Greater access to the authors for interviews and guest posts.

    4. The use of book bloggers to generate buzz in a new author or authors struggling in sales; how this can be accomplished? what we can offer? What publishers need to do to improve their odds?

    5. How publisher sponsorship through book giveaways, etc. during BBAW and other blogosphere events can generate buzz for their publications?

    If I think of others, I will let you know.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 10:30 am
  8. Have fun! Will you video record any of it?

    *What do publishers want to see in a book blog?

    *What do they want to see included in a review?

    I can’t think of anything at the moment.

    Bookavore- I’m in Canada and I haven’t seen an Indie site that a Canadian can link to.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 10:43 am
  9. Natasha – thanks for starting this conversation! I’m especially pleased to see booksellers have chimed in early on … great topics to think about!

    on April 16th, 2009 at 10:53 am
  10. What great choices to represent book bloggers at BEA – you’ll do just fine! You’ve gotten some good suggestions here already.

    Are you planning to attend the “Social Networking and New Media” panel at LATFoB Saturday at 10:30 AM)? That’s a must-attend for me. Maybe some more topic ideas will come out of that.

    I won’t be in NYC, but I’m looking forward to meeting you in LA!

    on April 16th, 2009 at 10:58 am
  11. I am a publisher, so my concern is how do I find all the bloggers who cover my kinds of books. And how do I know which are effective, and which are mere posers? How do we make it easier for publishers and book bloggers to connect?

    Sadly, I will not be attending this year’s BEA. However, Natasha, it was too long ago that I attended my first one. I know you are excited and a little apprehensive. I posted my experiences from the last 3 BEAs here, if you’d like to read them and get a feel for what goes on: http://www.creativemindspress.com/tradeshowblogsBEA08.htm

    on April 16th, 2009 at 11:21 am
  12. That is so cool!

    You’ve got some great ideas here… if I think of anything, I’ll come back and post it…

    on April 16th, 2009 at 11:34 am
  13. I’d like to find out what key items they like to see in book reviews by bloggers beyond the title and the author/illustrator information. Do they want publisher information included? What else?

    I’d also be interested in finding out how fast they expect a blogger to publish their review after receiving the review copy.

    One feature I would love is an easy to post widget or html code for each book they are promoting that lists the various places that the book is for sale (one that includes indie sellers). It is a ton of work for me to compile all those links myself so I rarely post anything but amazon links.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 11:38 am
  14. I don’t have any suggestions or questions….just HAVE A GREAT TIME!! :) Maybe I will get to go next year. Too bad you aren’t coming to Portland, it would be fun to meet.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 12:06 pm
  15. I just have to say I’m SO jealous! Have a fantastic time. I will think of some questions for you and post later. Unfortunatley there is a stinky diaper waiting for my assistance :) I’d much rather think of questions and suggestions for you!

    on April 16th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
  16. Ditto on what Jenn said. I am really jealous of both of your trips. I am so impressed and proud of the six of you making up a discussion panel…the book blogging community will be in good hands and well represented. Most of my outstanding questions have been reflected above. I am so excited to hear how it goes!

    on April 16th, 2009 at 2:10 pm
  17. This is amazing! I’m so happy for you. I’ve only blogged for a few months and so far all I’ve really seen is bloggers and publishers working well together.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 3:43 pm
  18. Congratulations and have fun!!

    Sometimes I worry that book blogging is a snake eating its own tail – I’m just a little fish in a big pond*, I know, but it seems like, other than friends and family, all my readers are other book bloggers. Is the outside world aware of what we do? How do book bloggers really influence readers in the big picture? I guess everyone’s trying to figure that one out.

    *Also, I’m trying to use as many animal cliches as possible. Raining cats and dogs! um, Lions and lambs! something! =)

    on April 16th, 2009 at 4:43 pm
  19. Natasha,
    Thanks for posting this! I am thrilled at the response you are getting — so many terrific ideas! We’ll have to “get together” and organize them so we can address as many as possible.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 4:59 pm
  20. If a publisher/author only has a limited amount of galleys to send, how does one determine which bloggers should get them?

    on April 16th, 2009 at 5:47 pm
  21. I think discussion about book bloggers’ influence offline would be interesting. I know I’m not the only book blogger who has family and friends (including school teachers and librarians) who ask them for recommendations. While blogging gives us a worldwide audience, I think many bloggers have a fairly large sphere of influence offline as well. People who read as much as we do love to talk about books and that’s in no way limited to just our blogs.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 5:54 pm
  22. How exciting! I’m thrilled for you ladies!
    I’ve nothing more to contribute though, since the questions I want to ask has already been asked by other bookbloggers. :)

    Have fun!! :D

    on April 16th, 2009 at 6:18 pm
  23. Hi Natasha, I came via Story Siren. Congratulations on your Festival of Books and BEA invite! Don’t worry about NYC – it’s a great city and easy to navigate. It’s good to hear that publishers are going to bloggers for advice. Good luck! I’ve listed 4 things I’d like to see happen in book blogging cyberspace:

    1. I think the most important resource to have would be a directory of book bloggers and perhaps the publishing industry could assist you in that if the job is too large for one blogger. You might be interested in BritLitBlogs (link in my blog sidebar) which is a British directory of book bloggers. It’s great to hear that you are organizing one here in the USA.

    2. It would be helpful to have a bulletin board for authors, especially debut authors, to post a request for cyber-book tours and interviews. Some authors don’t have website or e-mail contacts on their websites. There is a lot out there in the web, but very little organization. What we need is a book blog librarian!

    3. The cost of books and the long wait for new release books from my library hampers my ability to review. I’m not sure how to get ARCs other than contacting authors of books I’ve liked (which I have done.) I don’t want to be snowed under ARCs either. It would be nice to have a match-making service between book bloggers and publishers. For example I review commercial women’s fiction, literary fiction and YA fiction with high quality writing and usually contemporary themes, not paranormal. Crossover books interest me – those that blur the line between commercial and literary or adult and YA. My reading time is limited so I only want to read and review books I like.

    4. Galleycat has been lobbying for digi-ARCs and that sounds like a good way to cut costs and fewer trees. The problem is that $350 for a reader is a lot for a recreational blogger, especially since we aren’t sure we’d like reading that way. Galleycat suggested that the publishers send book bloggers free readers and showed how it would save costs in the end.
    Here’s the URL: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/web_tech/saving_jobs_saving_trees_one_galley_at_a_time__113956.asp

    I also sent a message to you on your contact page, but I’m not sure if it worked since there was “a comments are closed” message at the end of the page. I would like to join your book blogger directory and will be linking to you from my sidebar. I love your blog!

    on April 16th, 2009 at 7:53 pm
  24. I have so many ideas! It’s great to see so much response!

    on April 16th, 2009 at 8:03 pm
  25. Hi Natasha! I knew you were going to BEA but was unaware that you were on a panel. That is really cool, congratulations! Is there any way to videotape it and show portions of it on your blog? One thing I’d like to know from publishers is how they’d like bloggers to handle it if we really dislike a review book- is no review at all better than a negative review? I’ve wondered about that.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 9:49 pm
  26. These comments are great, keep them coming! And yes, we’ll try to record the panel — via blog talk radio and maybe video too.

    on April 16th, 2009 at 10:04 pm
  27. I also came here from The Story Siren’s link. I like Sarah Laurence’s idea, as a blogger I think a book blogger directory would be good for both readers and publishers. Publishers could find bloggers that specializes in that book’s genre, and readers could more easily find bloggers with similar interests in books.

    I’ve always lived less than 2 hours from NY City, it might seem intimidating at first but it’s not that bad, as long as you aren’t super ambitious and try to plan visits to tons of places at opposite ends of the city!

    on April 16th, 2009 at 10:46 pm
  28. I knew you guys were going to the BEA this year, but I didn’t know you were on a panel! How amazing is that?? I think the bloggers are going to be very represented this year!

    Most of the topics I had thought of have already been mentioned so far in the comments. I’d just like to know what the publishers/authors expectations are for the book blogger….now and say, 5 years down the road. How important to the industry are we???

    I’m green with envy!! Have fun!!

    on April 17th, 2009 at 2:04 am
  29. Congratulations, y’all. They couldn’t have picked a better group for the panel! I’ve got to relook the budget to see if I can’t get there. Some ideas …

    1. The reality and process of blogging, too. Most of us do this as an avocation, not for money – so Janelle’s point about expectations and timeliness are right on.

    2. Etiquette. Most bloggers approach their work as professionals. They deserve the same courtesy. Examples: lots of queries about “when” the review will be done; not reading the review policies; asking reviewers to change words they don’t like, etc.

    3. Lenore has a great discussion going on over at Presenting Lenore. Key point: How can publishers distinguish the collectors (people who just want free books) from serious bloggers?

    4. Come to Washington, DC in October for the Kidlitosphere Conference. LOTS of bloggers will be there for a full day of blog-related/review-related panels.

    Bookavore – Many of my visitors are parents of young children who don’t understand the indie world. They want a place they *know* when they buy books.

    For those looking for a directory of bloggers, I’d recommend Kidlitosphere Central.

    on April 17th, 2009 at 8:06 am
  30. Wow, we are going to have tons of stuff to talk about for our discussion at BEA. Now I’m really excited to be a part of this! Thanks guys for giving us lots of food for thought!

    on April 17th, 2009 at 8:21 am
  31. How exciting! I cannot think of anything specific to discuss but I certainly look forward to hearing about how the panel goes.

    on April 17th, 2009 at 9:34 am
  32. Great discussion here. I think a lot of my questions have been addressed. I run a YA blog and I’m also a bookseller (though for a chain store). Because, I work in a bookstore, I don’t link to Amazon (or anyone else). I just tell people to pick up whatever book I’m blogging about from their nearest bookstore. I agree that bloggers should develop a relationship with local indie stores. Knowing that a blog will be passing recommendations on to a bookseller (or if you’re both like me) may make a publisher a little more willing to give out those precious ARCs. While authors and publishers may like reviewers/bloggers, they love booksellers. It’s all in the name, they sell books.

    A directory is also a good idea. We need a place where publishers and authors can be matched up with legitmate bloggers (not collectors).

    Hopefully my ramblings came across clearly, I tend to lose focus when I type while I eat. :)

    on April 17th, 2009 at 12:23 pm
  33. @23 & 32: Here Be reviews is a good place to start for a directory –

    http://www.herebereviews.com/

    on April 17th, 2009 at 12:56 pm
  34. Regarding directories – I have at least six listed in my sidebar. There are a ton of directories already. We even have one that publishers can peruse to find matching bloggers. I think it’s just a matter of – do bloggers and publishers even know that these exist?

    I’ve got tons of other thoughts about what’s brought up. We’ll definitely get together as a panel to sort through this all.

    on April 17th, 2009 at 2:43 pm
  35. This is a beautiful thing. I adore My Friend Amy, and I’m certain this will be one of the best attended panels at the event. Blogging is in fact where it is happening—not just the promoting of books, but the celebrating of them, which seems to me to be of higher order, yielding the highest good.

    on April 17th, 2009 at 4:45 pm
  36. Wow! Congrats! I am so jealous. I’d really like to go to BEA, but don’t see it happening :-(

    I think most of my questions have been covered already, but I’d like to touch on a couple things:

    1. I notice Lorin, up there, mentioned that the only people reading her blog are other book bloggers. This is how I feel. I work really hard on my reviews and often wonder who really cares. Which leads me to….

    2. I don’t like linking to Amazon, and have made $8 in 2 years, but I feel like I need something for all the time I put into my blog/reviews. Yeah, I sometimes get a free book, but it’s starting to feel more like unpaid labor and it’s also taking some of the fun out of reading. I wish there was a way to turn my blog & my passion for reading into a more gainful investment.

    And that, for anyone who has read my personal blog, is a question I’ve been dancing with for going on three years….

    Anyway, have a great time! NYC is amazing.

    on April 17th, 2009 at 8:45 pm
  37. I’d be interested in finding out what publishers look for in bloggers they want to work with and for a relatively new blogger how they can form contacts in the industry.

    Also what do publishers look for in a review.

    Have fun! I wish I could go but no one to watch my daughter :(

    on April 20th, 2009 at 12:59 pm
  38. Okay, I’m too excited to be quiet … I am going to get to hear you guys at BEA! I’ll keep my eyes open, but if there’s an interest in doing something kidlit one day/evening … I’m happy to help organize.

    on April 20th, 2009 at 6:27 pm
  39. First of all, Natasha, congratulations and have fun. I will be stuck here in Utah, jealous.

    So here are a few of my thoughts. How do book bloggers, who are not affiliated with a bookstore, see themselves? Are they reviewers, informers, or booksellers?

    What is the future of the book blogger? Do they support bookstores by directing sales (either in person or by internet) to the stores, or do they become the “new” indie bookstores, essentially with each post becoming a handselling opportunity with their readers?

    As the printed word becomes more and more absorbed into the digital ocean, as publishing houses become more like marketing agencies, as anyone can become an author with little or no cost to publish, who will the blogger interact with? Who will they be selling for? What kinds of commissions will they receive for their sales activities- standard discount rates like print booksellers, or affiliate rates that are a relative pittance?

    Whether we like it or not, the earth is shifting beneath our feet. In ten years, publishers and bookstores will be far different than they are today. Authors will be writing books that take into account the linkability of the world through internet connected ereaders. Will book bloggers still be playing a role in directing readers toward books, or will the “new” new thing have come along by then making bloggers irrelevant?

    It is an interesting, exciting and frightening time for all of us who love books, love the printed word, who love sharing these things with others who appreciate the same. The only thing that I’m convinced of, is that “change is the only thing that stays the same.”

    on April 21st, 2009 at 9:05 pm
  40. I think that Drew’s point is important — if bookstore and bloggers are going to establish relationships, who gets the sale? It sounds a little mercenary, but do I want to recommend you to customers if you’re an Amazon affiliate? Probably not… I’m all about all of us supplementing our incomes through our own hard work, but to build more ties this is something that needs to be addressed. Especially when stores have affiliate programs (my store does! who needs Amazon?) AND IndieBound exists.

    Bookavore’s idea about bloggers actually blogging for stores would take care of this — I’m thinking here that any posts on the store’s blog would go through the store’s e-commerce site. This would be ideal, especially for all those bookstores/sellers out there struggling to generate content on top of their other jobs.

    I know that we’d love to do more promotions like we did with Laurie Halse Anderson (yay!) but that the affiliate issue is one that needs dealing with. Sigh. Why does it always come down to money?

    Caveat: I’m a little worked up about funding today. I may check back in tomorrow and have none-$$$-related thoughts…

    on April 23rd, 2009 at 4:34 pm
  41. I’m a writer going to my first Book Expo too! Congrats on your panelist spot!
    I follow a lot of book bloggers (always looking for what is new to read)–but as a writer wonder whether book bloggers are comfortable hearing from writers directly.

    on April 23rd, 2009 at 4:35 pm
  42. I’ll be there and can’t wait to meet you all guys, it’ll be grand!

    on May 5th, 2009 at 4:43 pm
  43. I’d really like it if it were easier to contact publishers about specific books. I’d love for them to start creating mail contact forms where bloggers only have to fill in the blanks.

    name:
    site link:
    book request:
    author:

    I’d like to see something very simple and basic that could easily get sent to the correct people within a publishing house. I once discovered that my email was sent to 8 different people before reaching the correct one- no wonder it took them 4 months to reply!

    on May 5th, 2009 at 7:49 pm
  44. Hi, Natasha!

    As an author, I fully appreciate the influence bloggers have in the reading community. I enjoy developing relationships with with them, do what I can to see that they have ARCs, and post links to their blog on my own site. In short, I <3 bloggers!

    All that said, I’d love to hear what everyone thinks about the tendency for blogger traffic to be mostly other blogger traffic. As the mother of three reading teenagers, I can say that non-blogging teens, in general, aren’t in the habit of visiting book blogging sites, which is unfortunate. Ideally, we could harness the tremendous influence of the blogging community by reaching out to more average readers, those who don’t have blogs of their own but who enjoy reading and talking about the books they read.

    Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts!
    :D

    Michelle Zink

    on May 6th, 2009 at 5:44 am
  45. I’m an author who’s finding it very difficult to get word about my new novel, “Cars from a Marriage,” out through traditional channels. My publisher has just decided my sales numbers are not worth it, despite the fact that my debut “Rattled” got fantastic press. I’m coming to the book bloggers cocktail party and hope to meet you. Don’t worry about NYC.

    Looks like the weather will be gorgeous most of the week!

    Enjoy.

    on May 24th, 2010 at 8:09 am

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