If you are a book blogger, I want to pitch you an idea. It's an idea that came out of being unhappy with what someone else is doing and thinking that we, together, can do it better.
Most of you have either attended or heard of the Book Blogger's Convention that has for the last couple of years followed Book Expo America. Started and organized by a group of bloggers, it was a day of panels about book blogging and the publishing industry. I've been twice and loved meeting people I've known and read online, and I was looking forward to going again this year, though mostly to hang out in the hall and talk to folks.
Unfortunately, I don't think it's an event I want to go to anymore. The short story is that the convention was sold to the same company that runs Book Expo America. Since that sale, BEA has made a series of decisions that ultimately has led me to decide not to attend, including asking for blog stats as part of the registration, asking for and accepting money and reservations without providing a list of speakers, and forming panels and sessions that don't speak to me as a book blogger.
So what I want to do is this: organize a book blogger "unconference" and hold it they day the BEA Blogger Convention is happening. (I don't mind competing with it, but that's not why I want it to be that day---it's just that bloggers are going to be in NYC that day anyway.)
When BookCamp happened a while back, I thought "Man, I wish there was something like that for book bloggers." (Here is a wrap-up that gives you an idea of what this could feel like) And now seems like a good time to make it happen.
I am going to need help, but here's what I have in mind.
1. Bloggers only. All you need to be eligible is a book blog.
2. Low-cost. We are not going to pay anyone to speak or ask you to pay for a stale chicken sandwich. The registration fee will go toward the space cost. And that's it. We might consider sponsors. We might not. Worth talking about.
3. Self-run. No one knows what book bloggers want to talk about more than book bloggers. And you know what, no one is more expert on book blogging than book bloggers. Let's talk to each other rather than be talked at by others.
4. Small sessions, blogger-generated. Sessions will be informal, seminar-like group discussions. There are a couple of ways of handling this, but the key element is we decide what to talk about and we ourselves talk about it. In each session slot (say 1pm-2pm) a couple of sessions will be happening and you are encouraged to move from one to the other.
We can talk about sessions later, but I thought some examples might be helpful in imaging what this could look like:
1. Writing Negative Reviews
2. Dealing with Publishers
3. Commenting and Its Discontents
4. Peer Reviewing Blog Design
5. Using Statistics
8. Getting the Most Out of Social Media
9. Guest Posts and Posting
10. Book Blogging for Beginners
11. Book Blogging for Veterans
13. Apps and Ereaders
14. From Blog to Job
15. Niche sessions (YA, Literary Fiction, Romance, Graphic Novels, Fantasy, and so on)
and on and on....
I teach at The New School in Greenwich Village in New York City and know the facilities well. I have begun the process of finding out what might be available and at what cost. I have an idea for what space there would be perfect, but this is still in the very early stage.
That said: here's what I need from you now:
1. Based only on the above, would you consider attending?
2. Would you help? I'm not even sure yet what all we will need doing, but we're going to need to work together?
3. What comments or questions do you have?
4. Get the word out. We need to get at least 30-40 people to make this worth doing, so please post and Tweet about this post and have people comment here or on your own blog. Even if you can't make it, it would be huge help. And if you think it's not for you but think it might be for someone you know, please let them know as well.
I'm really excited about the possibility here and look forward to hearing what you have to say.
-Jeff O'Neal, aka The Reading Ape