We did it! The Second Annual Kidlit Bloggers' Conference has come and gone, and a long, wonderful day (and couple of evenings) spent in the company of fellow children's book lovers has come to a close.
This conference couldn't have happened without the hard work of Jone MacCulloch, school librarian, blogger, and book lover. Thank you, Jone, for putting this all together. It was my pleasure to help out, and I enjoyed our coffee dates working out hotel issues and workshop topics. I think it all came together beautifully! Yay, Jone!
If you've written a post about the conference, make sure to put up a link to it at the kidlit08 page, HERE. Thanks!
By the way, it's official: next year the conference will be in D.C., the Saturday before the National Book Festival (I'm not sure of the exact date, but in September), and Pam Coughlan, aka MotherReader, has agreed to organize. Thanks, Pam!
So. What to say about the conference? First of all, what is the "Kidlitosphere"? Basically it's an online community of people who blog about children's books, promote literacy, review books, talk about writing and illustrating, interview authors, and lots more. We had a lot of new bloggers at the conference, and part of what we talked about his: how do you become part of this community? I would say that, over the course of the day, the consensus that emerged was:
-- you find/create you niche: first and foremost you focus on creating your blog and being consistent with it; creating content you are passionate about and that will be interesting and valuable to others. If you can find a way of making your niche unique, so much the better.
-- second, to "penetrate the skin of the community" (a term that got bandied about with a bit of a smirk), you visit other blogs, read them and comment, become a part of the dialogue, participate in blog events, and keep at it persistently until you begin to get to know the other bloggers.
Community, of course, is the key, and to be a good member of the community it is essential to COMMENT and LINK. Pam remarked that comments have gone way down as a result of the boom in # of blogs, and she said she thinks the energy of the community can suffer; even if your stats are good, it's really the comments that may you feel connected to readers. When Jim and I left the hotel last night, she and Lee Wind were half-jokingly cooking up a "comment challenge" and I wonder if they came up with any serious idea. I think it could be fun. As for linking, when you find something of interest on another blog, throw a link their way.
For writers, this all connects to the idea of how we use our blogs for that dreaded business of promotion. We had a lot of authors at this conference, particularly a lot whose first books are coming out in the next year or two -- they have to learn to use the blogosphere for promotional purposes without becoming an irritating "blatant self-promoter." So that was something we talked about a lot too. Really good stuff.
But I'll leave content for another post. For now, here are some pictures of our Friday night gathering, beginning at the hotel:
(clockwise from me: Suzanne Young, Jone, Alma Alexander, Jackie Parker, Collen Mondor, Pam, Maureen Kearney, Anastasia Suen, and Jim.)
From there we went to the wonderland of Powell's, which everyone has heard of, but some people do not realize is an entire city block and four stories of books. They had a political display:
Here are: Suzanne Young (aka "that girl who wrote nine books in one year," Lee Wind (about whom Jim and I have asked each other, "Do you think he could really be that nice, or is it a trick?" "No, I think he must really be that nice!"), Anastasia Suen, Jim Di Bartolo (aka husband), Kim Baker, and MotherReader:
Suzanne was the first person we found when we got to the hotel to meet everyone on Friday afternoon, and I immediately recognized her face from her blog, which I had found via the Disco Mermaids. Suzanne is a great blog success story, because her agent found her via her blog, liked her, and asked to read some manuscripts!!! She now has a two-book deal with Razorbill, and her first book, Smitten Kittens, is coming out in. . . '09 or '10. (I can't remember!) And, even though she writes fast and qualifies as a ROBOT, she is adorable and really fun and Jim and I had a great time hanging out with her this weekend and sending the Disco Mermaids taunting pictures by telephone, chiding them for not being with us. Here we are being very serious with mermaid Jay Asher's NYTimes bestselling book, Thirteen Reasons Why:
But why am I talking about the Mermaids? They didn't even come to the conference! (pthwtt!)
At dinner, Jim and I sat with Colleen Mondor and Jackie Parker (here with Mark Blevis who snuck in for the photo.)
Colleen blogs at Chasing Ray (as in Ray Bradbury; gotta love a Ray Bradbury lover!), and posts book reviews at Bookslut, Booklist, and Guys Lit Wire (helping teen guys find books), not to mention organizing the Blog Blast Tours, but more on that later. Jackie is a teen librarian who blogs at Interactive Reader and also does a ton of blog/book stuff, including Blog Blast Tours, Readergirlz, and being the head of the Cybils YA category. These two are both so involved in the book/blog worlds, and do so much to promote reading and authors. And they're funny.
Too. Many. Links. Must get a post up, so I'm just going to put up some pictures of the rest of the folk who were out and about on Friday night, and that will have to be Part I of the conference posts:
(l to r: Alice Pope's husband; Adrienne Furness, Bridget Zinn, Farida Dowler, Pam Coughlan, Mark Blevis, Jone MacCulloch)
(Kim Baker, Lee Wind, Suzanne Young, Dana Arnim, Laurie Thompson, Jolie Stekly, Jaime Temairik)
(Alma Alexander, Jen Robinson's husband Mheir & Jen, Maureen Kearney, Anastasia Suen, Clare Bell)
This is jumping ahead, but here's the group photo from last night, so people can pull it off for their own blogs:
And yet to come, the actual conference, more photos of awesome folks, some information, links, the many faces of Betsy Bird, the unexpected (and very welcome) arrival of Eric Kimmel, and. . . the terrifying attack of the Zombie Sock Puppets of Jaime Temairik: