My recap of @blogboundcon is
kind of really long and maybe rambly so here is a table of contents to help you. Just click on the link to go to that section (or you can just scroll down). There are also many [back to top] links in the post that will take you back up here. 🙂
- Recap of my Overall Trip in NYC
- Recap of Blogbound
- Recap of Blogging Diversely (v.1)
- Recap of Building in the YA Community
- Recap of Publicists & Bloggers
- Recap of the BYOT event that happened at the end
- My Haul from the Day
- My Final Thoughts About the Day
My Day in New York City
On Sunday, the 10th, I had a lot of fun going to New York City, Blogbound, and meeting other bloggers. I started the day off on a train into the city. After about 90 minutes, I finally made it to NYC. Once I got to Penn Station, I wandered around like a headless chicken. I swear I walked down the same hallway twenty times before I realized what I was doing. I finally found the subway (where it was really humid, sticky, and gross, by the way) and made it to Union Square in one piece. After I got off the subway, I wandered around some more like a chicken without its head because Google Maps was refusing to cooperate with me. Technology. Sigh.
From Union Square, I walked to The Strand after Google Maps and I worked out our differences. I made a pit stop there to stare at all the books and to test my will power. Luckily for my wallet, I only ended up buying a postcard. But that’s not to say I didn’t buy a book there. I actually ordered and paid for The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig online beforehand so all I had to do was pick it up at the register. 🙂 Yay for lazy me.
I met a couple of other bloggers at The Strand and we all headed over to Jefferson Market Library together. Which was great for me, because not only did I get to meet some really awesome people but it also it meant I wouldn’t have to have another fight with Google over directions.
We got to the library just in time – it opened a couple of minutes after we got there at 1pm. Once we checked in, we split up to go to our separate panels. After the third and last panel, it was mingle time. Aka the mad dash to grab ARCs time. There was also free food! Who can turn down New York pizza?
We decided to walk back to Penn Station and not take the annoying subway. It was a long and grueling walk. But at least I had some cool company and my feet didn’t hurt that much… compared to my shoulders, both of which started to ache after I took five steps.
Made it to Penn Station. Beat the crowd for good seats. Had a nice talk on the train. Got home. Blah blah blah.
Blogbound was so much fun! There’s so much to talk about. There were six panels in total, but since they ran two at a time, you had to chose three. After the panels, was an after party of sorts. For information about Blogbound, visit its website. But up first – the panels.
I’m not going to lie. This is going to be a pretty crappy recap of this panel. I was totally unprepared and way too excited to be thinking properly. So I totally forgot to take any notes or record it. As a result, I’m writing this from memory. Uh oh.
Panel One: Blogging Diversely (v. 1)
My first panel of the day was Blogging Diversely (v.1). It was moderated by Kody Keplinger (@Kody_Keplinger), author of The DUFF and co-founder of Disability in Kidlit, and the panelists were Patrice Caldwell (@whimsicallyours), a former blogger and current editorial assistant at Scholastic, Heidi Heilig (@Heidiheilig), author of The Girl From Everywhere and Wendy Xu (@Angrygirlcomics), a former blogger and current comic artist and reviewer.
The panel was all about what it means to blog inclusively and diversely and how bloggers can do so.
This panel was really interesting to me because it opened my eyes a lot in some regards. Personally, as an Asian American, when I think of diversity, I mostly think of people of color. Sometimes I think of sexual orientation, gender, religion and others. And I’m very ashamed to admit, I have almost never thought of disabilities.
Kody is blind and has Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis so she was able to provide a bit of a different perspective to the panel. She gave a lot of insight on not only how not to be racist and insensitive but also how not to be an ableist.
Patrice talked about how publishers try to bring in diversity and how they try to make sure the characters in the books they decide to buy are good representations of the populations they represent. Wendy added on to this that sometimes, the blog where she works seeks out indie and self-published comics to review instead of looking at traditional publishers. She mentioned that indies and self-pubs were more likely to take creative risks. Both Patrice and Wendy said that was perfectly reasonable because, at the end of the day, publishing is a business and is a majority white industry.
The panelists also talked about Twitter a bit. Patrice mentioned that she sometimes self-censors herself because even though certain events might have enraged her, she is still part of the industry and has a job she wants to keep. Wendy seconded the notion. Heidi added that even though she likes to start fights on Twitter, she still is careful about what she says on Twitter. (FYI, Heidi is hilarious on Twitter if you’re on her good side. She’s very good at dragging bad people).
They also talked about books that inaccurately portray a population and how bloggers should address those issues. They mentioned that it’s always okay to diss the book, but try to leave the author out of it. Heidi mentioned that you never really know the full intention of the author. Maybe the author was trying to make a point and failed. Maybe the author simply had trouble conveying an idea. Or maybe the author was uneducated or a bit ignorant. Kody added that it’s always better to hate the book and not the author. She brought up Me Before You as an example.
In addition, Heidi mentioned that if she were to write something wrong (like it was conveyed wrong or was insensitive), she would rather someone tell her than remain ignorant and repeat the same mistake. She did add that not all authors receive that type of criticism well and that if it were to be made, to do it politely and nicely.
At the end, someone asked them how do they separate authors and their books. She brought up Ender’s Game as an example by saying it was a good book but the news of the author being a homophobe changed her willingness to continue the series. All the panelists said it was difficult. They try, but ultimately it’s hard because there is an undeniable bias that is created. They also mentioned that reading (and buying) a book supports an author and puts money in their pocket.
Panel Two: Building in the YA Community
This panel was moderated by Kaye (@gildedspine) and the panelists were Nori (@readlovewrite28) from ReadWriteLove28, Chelsea Fought (@chelseafought), the leading lady of Riveted, and Angel (@angelcwrites), a founder of @BlogOntario.
They talked about the initiatives they started and/were a part of and gave a lot of good advice about how to start one. Nori said to plan it out a little because you have to have more than just a vague idea of what you want from it and what you want to accomplish.
They all recommended finding people to help you. Not necessarily to become a co-founder of whatever initiative you’re trying to start, but someone to be your friend and help you along. Someone who can inspire you, who you can bounce ideas off of, who can help you promote and spread the word about your project, etc.
They also talked about how it’s okay to let things breathe sometimes. You don’t really have to see something completely through if it’s not working out. Chelsea talked about how taking a break from it (and maybe even working on something else) can be really helpful.
They talked about Twitter parties and reaching out to other bloggers. I think Angel? talked about how even introverts have the ability to reach out to strangers and say hi. Nori added to that and said that “hi” is only two letters. They mentioned that you really have nothing to lose by reaching out to someone. Worse case scenario, you’ll get a “bye” or nothing.
Nori talked about hiding her age because she’s afraid she’ll be judged for it.
Kaye asked the panelists if they saw a gap somewhere in YA. What is YA missing? They touched upon diversity. Angel also mentioned that while diversity of characters of color is gaining some speed, she still finds it rare to read about people of different sizes and appearances.
All three of the panelists had trouble coming up with how they get “me” time and what they do to relax. I think they eventually answered that sleeping and reading went under “me” time, as well as just taking care of yourself in general.
Panel Three: Publicists & Bloggers
This was my last panel of the day. It was moderated by Nicole (@nebrinkley), the editor of YA Interrobang, Emma (@miss_print) from Miss Print, Lizzy (@LizzyMason21), the Director of Publicity at Bloomsbury Children’s Books, and Ksenia (@KseniaWinnicki), a Senior Publicist at Tor Books and Tor Teen.
They talked about how bloggers should interact with publicists, mostly about how to get ARCs. The two publicists on the panel, Lizzy and Ksenia, both said that they had a TON of emails to get through each day, so giving them as much information in one email is really helpful. For example include your name, blog and social media links, blog stats, and address. While they do note the popularity of bloggers they give ARCs out to, they will make exceptions if a blogger appears really passionate about the book and gives a very, very solid and convincing reason why they should get an ARC.
Both publicists mentioned that all the publishers have a limited quantity of ARCs that they can distribute. Both of them have worked at different publishing houses before they arrived at their current position. They said all publishers have different criteria, different amounts of ARCs, and different methods of handing them out.
They explained that because they only have a certain number of physical ARCs, they are more careful and strict about handing them out to bloggers they feel will be able to make the biggest impact, and at the end, drive more sales. But they are not opposed to approving ARCs on NetGalley to bloggers that email them and express a lot of interest in a title.
They recommended that newer bloggers start off by requesting eARCs and that there’s a higher chance that they’ll get approved if they request titles from debut authors or ones with less buzz around them.
In addition to how to request ARCs, they talked about how to ask authors to do guest posts on blogs. They said that debut authors are often more receptive to doing things like interviews and other types of guest posts because it’s new to them, they’re fresh at it and haven’t done it a billion times before. Authors in between series are also good to ask because they aren’t as busy as authors who have deadlines. And that it’s really hard to get a popular author like Sarah J. Maas to a post because they’ll have a harder time trying to fit it into their schedule.
As for how to get an author to come to a bookstore near you, the publicists recommended talking to your local indie store first and give them evidence that there’s an audience in that area for that particular author. They said that an indie store with a guarantee audience (read: guaranteed sales) will have a higher success rate of actually bringing the author out to wherever than a blogger going straight to the author’s publicity team. They also mentioned that it’s easier to get authors to places where there’s easy transportation to it. If there’s an airport nearby and etc. It’s hard for them to send authors to the middle of nowhere, even if there are guaranteed sales.
They also talked about what their jobs entitled besides dealing with bloggers. They have a lot of other work to do like coordinate blog tours, author tours, book travel for authors going on tour, deciding on the media to promote a book, etc. So don’t get discouraged if they don’t reply. Follow up, if you’re really interested in a book.
Nicole asked if they have a method of handing out ARCs at events and if they have policies in place to keep people from taking multiple copies. The publicists said that they prioritize whoever the event was designed for. For example, at ALA, which is a convention for librarians, they try to give the librarians ARCs first, before bloggers. The standard rule of thumb is one ARC per person, but occasionally they will allow someone to take an additional copy for a friend. They also mentioned that sometimes, at the end of a convention, they have a lot of ARCs left over. At that point, they hand them out to whoever because they don’t want to have to haul them back with them.
Emma talked about how she contacts publicists for ARCs. She does what the publicists recommended earlier – includes name, blog and social media links, blog stats, etc., as well as links to some reviews of books published by that publisher, and what sets her apart from all the other bloggers requesting ARCs. She said that if she hadn’t read or reviewed anything from the publisher she was going to request an ARC from, she would do so first, and then request a title.
The publicists added on to the point of uniqueness. They want a variety of people to read and review the same book so it can hit different people and different audiences. And also because different bloggers have different opinions on matters, different life experiences, and different perspectives.
Bring Your Own Tote (BYOT)
After the last panels of the day, we all gathered in a room for BYOT. BYOT was sponsored by Riveted and they were so kind enough to provide food, as well. During BYOT, people got to show off their favorite (or most practical) tote and grab some ARCs and grub. I will say, I love New York style pizza, especially with pepperoni, so happy Emily definitely made an appearance.
As for the ARCs, there was a table full of them to grab. I think most of them were all from Simon & Schuster or one of its imprints since BYOT was sponsored by them and all the ones I grabbed are. But I’m not 100% sure since many ARCs were gone before I got the chance to see them, much less grab a copy. I do believe there were copies of Timekeeper but I didn’t see any of them at all.
People were nice about grabbing them. There wasn’t any pushing and shoving that I could tell. And no one took multiple copies without permission. Like the publicists mentioned in their panel, at the end, they let people take multiple copies of the ARCs that were left over. And looking back, I’m glad I didn’t go crazy and grab every ARC I saw. It was already painful enough lugging back the ones I did grab to Penn Station, I don’t think my shoulders would have appreciated more weight. And I don’t think I would have the time to finish reading them all in time either.
My Haul from the Day
I got a copy of The Girl From Everywhere from The Strand because I knew Heidi would be there so I could get it signed. I ended up with five ARCs. We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash, Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast, The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid, We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen, and Scythe by Neal Shusterman.
I also ended up with a bunch of swag. WordPress had totes and a bunch of other things like pins, tattoos, banners, and stickers. I had to get some because this blog is run by self hosted WordPress. Riveted had a bunch of stuff as well. Griffin had beach balls and bookmarks. Heidi had bookmarks for The Ship Beyond Time. A couple of bloggers had swag of their own that they handed out.
Overall, I had a really fun time in the city. Even though I fought with Google Maps, didn’t catch any Pokemon, got lost in both Penn Station and the subway, I got to visit The Strand, somewhere I’ve always wanted to explore, and meet a lot of really nice and awesome bloggers. I also learned a lot from the panels at Blogbound.
I think my first panel of the day, Blogging Diversely (v.1) was my favorite because I got to learn so much about something that is so relevant today and so necessary to know. Just turn on the news or browse through Twitter and you’ll immediately understand why the contents of that panel are so important and something everyone, regardless of occupation, gender, sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, appearance, ability, disability, age, experience and so many more, should know.
That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything or appreciate the other panels as well. I got some more courage to reach out and meet new people from my second panel, Building in the YA Community. The panelists were able to present information in a way I didn’t think of before. Hopefully, that will drive me to step outside my little bubble and be a bit more social.
If I’m honest with you, I already knew some of what was presented during the Publicists and Bloggers panel. Only because I’ve been blogging for a while and I’ve looked up “how to request ARCs”. Hehe. ? But, I still learned something new, which was really nice.
BYOT was extra fun for me, mostly because I don’t normally get physical ARCs so it was nice to be able to see and touch and pet some. I would definitely do my best to make it to the next one next year.
Did you go to Blogbound?
If you did, what was your favorite part?
If you didn’t, what part of it would you have enjoyed the most?