My Thoughts on the BEA Bloggers Conference, 2012

[Note: If you aren’t a book blogger, feel free to skip this post. It’s long and probably only interesting to a certain group of people who read my blog]

I have been an attendee at the Book Blogger Convention since the very first one in 2010. My posts on these can be found under the “book blogger convention” tag, otherwise look at:

Usually I’ve enjoyed the Book Blogger Convention (BBC). It’s been an event surrounding book blogging and I’ve meet a lot of bloggers there and had a chance to listen in on panels where different book bloggers discussed a particular topic. Sometimes I don’t agree with something a panelist says, but that’s to be expected. I still felt like I came away with a better understanding of how others blogged about books and felt more rejuvenated about book blogging. It was also a fantastic deal: $90 for the first book blogger con, $120 the next.  This included a pass to the BEA floor for the rest of BEA. The first year registration was with Paypal and the organizers set it up so BEA issued me a pass, the second year I was instructed to sign up directly through the BEA website, where I was identified as Non Editorial/Media when I signed up with the Book Blogger Convention.

This year, I didn’t have the same positive experience.

REGISTRATION HELL
I think my discontent started early, with registration. At the end of January, it was announced that Reed Exhibitions had bought the Book Blogger Convention. This was a surprise to many, and bloggers wondered what it meant to the BBC. I didn’t have any expectations one way or another, but I was soon feeling the repercussions of the buyout. I was on twitter right after the announcement, and another blogger was complaining about issues with understanding how to register. Thinking I’d be helpful, I tried to register myself. I went through the BEA website, through the regular registration, as I had last year. I selected Book Bloggers Convention, and the form said the early bird rate (before May 17th) would be $72 and “This does INCLUDE a BEA pass”. I also said I was Non Editorial Media, which I assumed I should, like last year, on another page during the registration process. Here’s a screenshot I made for part of that:

I was shocked when I got to the payment part of the process and it said I owed $65 for the BBC, and another $159.00 on top of that for being non-editorial/media, for a grand total of $224.00, which is almost twice how much it cost last year. On top of that, why did I have to pay the $159, when the BBC is supposed to include BEA? Other bloggers on twitter informed me they only paid $65 for their registration, but they had registered before the announcement that the BBC was bought. I thought that there had to be a mistake.


So then I located the number for customer service and called them. I explained my issues and wondered why I had to pay for being non-editorial/media on top of the BBC cost, when it said BEA was included. I asked if I should have gone through the press registration (which was on a different part of the website), because apparently that would have been $0 on top of the BBC cost. The woman I spoke to wanted to know how big my blog was – how much traffic did I get? I told her it shouldn’t matter because I was still a book blogger and last year, my traffic wasn’t an issue to getting into a conference about book blogging access to the floor was included in the price. I also told her: book bloggers are people who post their opinions on the Internet. They will not be happy if BEA was saying a big blogger got to pay less for an event and a small blogger had to pay more. She said she would talk to someone, took my number and promised to call back before the end of the day. She never called. This was Friday, and customer service was only available during working hours, so I got to stew all weekend before I could contact another representative. I also loved how I had to call while I was at work myself.

Also notable: I had to point out another huge error in their registration pages – the BEA website said the Children’s Breakfast was on Wednesday, the registration had it listed on Thursday. They fixed this quickly, but as for my registration? It took me almost 2 weeks and several phone calls and emails to Reed. As I said, this was during my work hours, and it did impact my mood and productivity to be calling BEA or waiting for them to call me back. In the end, there was so much confusion that they had to make an announcement on their BEA news blog. The price would be $135 for book bloggers, and this would cover the BEA pass. But since when I had tried to register the price was wrong, and that since I saw the price as $72, that’s what they would charge me. I had to jump through an extra hoop, filling out a form and faxing it to them (I ended up emailing them a PDF because who has a fax?) in order to get this price. I know I could have argued for $65 since I saw that too, but I was tired. I honestly debated just paying the $135 everyone else seemed to be, but after all the grief I had gone through and images of my mother smacking me for not knowing the value of money, I took the discount. At this point, I considered writing up a post on how to register for the BBC (at that point rebranded as “BEA Bloggers Conference”), but I thought BEA had fixed most of their issues and I didn’t want to revisit the whole thing because it just annoyed me thinking about it. I had people tell me that they saw the issues I was going through (I was ranting on twitter for some of it) and it made them wait till Reed had their registration straightened out.

STRANGE PHONE CALLS, ASKING FOR STATS, and the UNCON
On March 20th I got a voicemail message on my home phone. It was from a PR representative asking me to blog about a religious/spiritual book. I was shocked that anyone had my home phone number to market a book. The only place I could think of that I gave my number to in relation to book blogging was BEA, but in the past I’ve only gotten junk email because of signing up. I wasn’t sure it was BEA who passed along my phone number, and when I asked on twitter if anyone else had this experience, no one replied that they had. I was half-tempted to call the PR firm back to ask where they got my number, but didn’t. I saw a post somewhere where BEA denied they gave out bloggers numbers, so I didn’t pursue it. Last month I heard more that more bloggers were getting calls, and they were told the PR firm got their number from BEA. I went to look for the post I thought I saw, I couldn’t find it. I pointed a fellow book blogger at an opt-out I saw on the BEA form I filled out. I still don’t know what to think about the phone call I got and if BEA really handed out book bloggers contact information to PR firms.

Around the same time this was going on, there was a little brouhaha because bloggers who had registered for the BEA Blogger Con got an email asking them to fill out a form for the attendees list, which also asked about their stats. I think Jessica of Read, React, Review gives a great overview of the reaction to that and the general discontent. Again, I thought there was a post in response to this issue from BEA (it may be the same one that mentions the phone calls), but I can’t find it. If anyone can confirm this, please let me know.

From the comments on twitter in March and April I saw a lot of people were having issues with registering. People who had registered as press were being rejected 2 months after they had applied. These included big name blogs. The very first BEA I went to in 2009, I went as press and had no problems whatsoever. I wasn’t asked about stats and got into BEA for free. Of course I have no problem paying for BEA and the Book Blogger Con, and I have for the past 2 years — as long as I was paying a reasonable price. I don’t like the idea of different prices for different people just because you were lucky enough to register before the announcement that the BBC was bought, or that you have a blog with some number of hits that the organizers thought was an acceptable number.

Because of my experience, I was considering the Book Blog UnCon when I found out about it. An “uncon” to my understanding is a convention where there is a free-flowing structure and attendees create the panels. This appealed to me, but after all the trouble getting registered for the BEA Blogger Con, the thought of calling Reed’s customer service again to cancel my registration made me recoil. I decided to try to forget what I’d been through and just see how the official BEA Blogger Convention was.

THE BEA BLOGGER CON ITSELF

Arrival and Breakfast
I arrived a couple minutes after 8:45am because I went to the wrong wing at first. When I arrived there were goodie bags and some books for the taking. I believe the books in the bag were by the authors who were at the author networking breakfast and lunch. This is what I got:

The breakfast was continental (muffins and bagels and some fruit). I looked at the networking list for breakfast and saw no authors from the genres I usually blog about. The closest thing was Dystopian, but I felt that YA bloggers would rather have those tables than me. They didn’t distribute the authors very well either.  Few tables had 4 authors (see table 9), some had 3, and these were grabbed early. Many tables had just 2. When I got there, I realized that there were probably over 30 tables and there were only 24 tables in the list, so many tables didn’t have authors at all. Thankfully, I was enthusiastic about meeting William Joyce because I had watched and loved his short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, and it just won the Oscar for Short Film (animated) this year, so I ended up sitting at a table that he would be visiting and thoroughly enjoyed meeting him, despite the short visit. I also liked the other author who stopped by, Lee Woodruff. Even though her book sounded like it is a heart-wrencher, I appreciated hearing her thoughts about why she herself enjoys reading that type of story, even during hard times.

Also thankfully: I did manage to sit with bloggers I know (Angie and Holly), and their company saved a lot of the day for me. Holly is a blogger I talk to a lot online, but never met, I also was able to meet Jane from Dear Author, Jessica from Read, React, Review, and Elizabeth from Gossamer Obsessions for the first time, and I saw Ana and Thea from the Book Smugglers, Charlotte from Charlotte’s Library, Kate from Babbling about Books, and More, and Kristen from Fantasy Cafe. I met a few other new faces at our tables and would have liked more time just meeting other book bloggers, but this was difficult to do during the author networking.

Opening Keynote:
I think the best thing would be to have the video of Jennifer Weiner’s keynote and her Q&A here:

The text of Jennifer Weiner’s speech can be found here.

Blogging Today: What you need to know and what’s next
This was a panel moderated by Zoë Triska, Associate Books Editor of the Huffington Post. Speakers were: Erica Barmash, Senior Marketing Manager at Harper Perennial and Harper paperbacks, Patrick Brown, Community Manager of Goodreads, Jen Lancaster, author/blogger of jennsylvania.com, and Candace Levy of Beth Fish Reads.

Only one of these speakers (Candace Levy) is a book blogger, which I thought was odd. This proved to be a foreshadowing of things to come. Here’s a good set of notes about the questions and the main points taken from the answers the panel gave. My overall impression of this panel was that it didn’t feel very specific. “What you need to know” is subjective. Overall it felt like a meandering discussion that sort of had to do with what other people who weren’t necessarily book bloggers, but have blogs, thought of book blogging. I tensed a little when one of the panelists called review copies “free books” — please, can we stop calling them FREE?  The moment of the conference was when one of the panelist said that she would not want to work with a known plagiarist. I came away from this one most impressed by Patrick Brown of Goodreads, who had some of the most interesting comments (for example – advice to book bloggers to not alienate readers of their blog who aren’t book bloggers, his experience with Facebook is that people there love infographics, and Goodreads’ policy is not to allow reviews that have been paid for).

Lunch:
Lunch was another networking affair, and unfortunately we were unable to get any of the tables we wanted to sit at (here’s the list of options). The table we ended up with was one with 2 authors coming by, and one didn’t show. One was a non-fiction author (WordPress for Dummies was the book) and one was a fantasy/genre fiction author (Larry Correia) I appreciated the latter because at least he writes in a genre I read, and he actually showed up, but the rest of the lunch was awkward wait until his arrival. There was a strange mix at the table and I didn’t relate to the people there to learn about wordpress that weren’t book bloggers. I wondered if people had wandered in from the Blogworld conference because it was in the same area as the BEA Bloggers Conference.

Afternoon Breakouts
At this point we finally moved out of the room we were in and had the choice of 2 panels from 1:45 to 2:45, and then again from 3:00pm to 4:00pm

From 1:45 to 2:45 I had the choice of Critical Reviews or So You Want to Make Money? — Other than being an affiliate, I have no plans to monetize my blog, but I was curious about the money panel, so I went to that one. The moderator was Scott Fox of ClickMillionares.com, and speakers were Rita Arens, senior editor of BlogHer, Ron Hogan of Beatrice.com, Thea James, co-founder of The Book Smugglers, and Sara Pitre, blogger at Forever Young Adult. Again, the moderator was not a book blogger, and took the opportunity to promote his book (questions would be rewarded with a copy). They started off with why they monetized their blogs. Rita Arens made a good point about wanting to see more people in book blogging think about being paid for their time. Most of the panelists use Blogads, no one used Google Adsense. This had to do with being able to customize the advertising on their blogs. Thea told people to sweat the small stuff: investigate what was out there, look at your blog and choose a theme that has room for standard ads, consider the number of ads you want .  I sort of got the impression that it is difficult to make a lot more than “ramen money” (covers just the cost of running the website with a little bit more for ramen) with book blogging. When question time came by, the first to the come up was a website owner, and non-book blogger which made me again wonder if we had BlogWorld attendees wandering in. The second was another author who took a moment to self promote. I forget what her question was.

From 3:00 to 4:00 the choices were Creating Community & Driving Engagement, and Demystifying the Book Blogger & Publisher Relationship. I chose the latter. The moderator was Derek Stordahl, Global Publishing Expert and Blogger, Jenn Lawrence, blogger at Jennsbookshelves.com, Lucille Rettino, Vice President, Director of Marketing at Simon & Schuster, and Lindsey Rudnickas of NetGalley. I don’t know whether it was the length of the day or if it was because there was a panel like this in previous years, but I found myself not really paying much attention to this panel, so I sort of missed it when a panelist said that a “mature” blogger had to do more than review – they had to do other promotion on top of that, like covers and Q&As. But I did catch it on twitter since my tweetstream sort of came alive for a minute there. I did get the impression, like The Book Smugglers commented in their write up, that this panel was a what can book bloggers do for publishing — and maybe this was because there was just ONE book blogger on the panel to represent the group.

I skipped the closing keynote. I just didn’t want to hear another promotion.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:
My mood shifted throughout the day. It went from cautious optimism to general disappointment.

I was OK with the author breakfast even though only 2 authors came by, and it was them promoting their book because they only had so much time with us. I was OK with Jennifer Weiner’s speech, even though she did seem to be self-promoting a lot in it. By lunch I began to feel a bit more awkward because there was more promotion. At the breakout panels, when the moderators promoted their to-be-released book and there were at most 2 bloggers in a 4 person panel (and the usual number was 1 blogger per panel), I started to get tired. When people would go up to ask “questions” and then hijacked the conversation to promote their book, it grated on my nerves.

I thought this was a book blogger conference, but there was a shocking number of people who weren’t book bloggers or who weren’t in the book industry at all. Maybe BlogWorld being nearby caused a mixup and we had people from that conference waltzing into ours, or maybe Reed thought “book blogging” and “blogging” could be mixed without issue, but I didn’t go to a Book Blogger Convention to meet someone with a blog about the environment. There didn’t seem to be a cap on the number of non-book bloggers present, which I feel affected the conference. I am very curious how many people there that day were book bloggers, how many were authors, and how many were publicists.

Hearing perspectives from other parts of the industry is one thing, but I didn’t go there to be marketed to and to be told how to be a better cheerleader for publishing.  In previous years, there were complaints about things said at panels, but at least there were panels full of book bloggers.

There is talk amongst the book bloggers about sending Reed constructive ideas for making the event better next year. I am always optimistic, and this is Reed’s first try, so I hope the event will improve. But next time, I am waiting a bit before I register. I’m going to have to see what they have planned before I come back to this conference.

Next I’ll post about BEA itself, which I had a much more positive reaction to.

47 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the BEA Bloggers Conference, 2012

  1. This was my first BEA & Blogger Con, and like you, I wish there had more opportunity to get to know other bloggers. Meeting & learning from other bloggers was my whole reason for going in the first place. So yeah, that was disappointing. And I was at the monetizing panel too. All the self promotion, especially from the moderator, drove me nuts.

    I’m still glad I went, but it wasn’t what I was hoping it would be.

    • I really had a different reaction to this one than previous ones. I wondered at first if I was being too picky, but everyone else I asked seemed to share my reaction, which makes me feel like I’m not crazy.

      I wish I had gone to the Uncon, but I would have missed all the book bloggers who were at this conference. I’m really going to have to weigh my decision next year.

  2. Pingback: Reflections on the BEA Blogger Con 2012 | Read React Review

  3. Great post! I’m glad you mentioned both the registration and that moderator, the “Click Millionaire” guy. Ugh. I almost feel like they need to specify FICTION to get rid of the Dummies and Entrepreneur types.

    One of the best things about the conference was finally getting to meet you. And I had a much better time at BEA than BBC too. Look forward to your recap of that.

    • I thought that he did well moderating that panel, and I suppose it’s not his fault we had already been subjected to enough promotion that day, but yeah. When that lady scurried down to win a copy of his book I thought “Is she a friend of his?” but then she just wanted to promote her book too! It wouldn’t end!

      I would love to see panels that were specific to genre, but I am not going to hold my breath for Romance or SF, the way they are usually represented at BEA. We’re much more likely to get a YA-specific panel. Which is another I would go see, actually.

  4. I was always jealous when reading people’s recaps for BBC and BEA because it looks so fun to be able to meet a bunch of like-minded people who like reading as much as I do and to just get to talk to a bunch of people who understand and like book blogging (I don’t have any friends in my “real life” who book blog or know anything about it). But after reading all these recap posts for the new BBC, it looks considerably less appealing. It irritates the hell out of me that book bloggers are seen by so many as nothing more than promotion, and that’s ALL we should be. Just, uugghh.

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to your BEA recap. (: I’m glad that at least that went well!

    • It is kind of funny because as book bloggers live tweeted the event, those who weren’t there were saying something similar! Sigh, the rest of BEA was a lot more fun, really.

  5. This is the best and most thorough post I’ve read about the BEA blogger conference and I can’t express how glad I am that I DIDN’T go, lol. But at least there were some glimmers of positive experiences…I’m sorry that you had to go through such a hassle beforehand though :/

    Also, I received a phone call relating to books too! Mine wasn’t about promotion though; or maybe I cut off the person’s inspiration when I said that I wasn’t a journalist and that no, I didn’t read children’s books. Oh well. *shrugs* I didn’t think much of it since I already receive promotional postcards for random books once BEA rolls around. It’s kind of nerve-wracking that our info might be released for these kinds of things…the publishing world needs time to get used to us, I think.

    • Ha, thanks. I agree – there were some good experiences in there, for sure, and I did see people I wanted to see.

      You did? Ohh, sounds like a different book than mine if your call was about a children’s book, but you registered for BEA too and got a call.. My husband thought I was overly riled up over it, but I really didn’t like it. Hmm, I googled and found the privacy policy and looks like there’s an online form to opt out. I’m going to do that.
      Privacy Policy:

      http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/en/Privacy-Policy/

      Opt Out:

      http://www.recusprivacy.com/

  6. I really wanted to go to this last year and this year, but wasn’t able to. After reading your detailed description of the day I’m glad because it sounds disappointing. I don’t know if I have super high expectations, but I want relevant, books specific panels. Hopefully next year they’ll apply changes and bloggers will have a better experience. On a side note, I’m glad you got to meet up with some pals.

    • If you ever go, we need to exchange numbers to meet up! Yes, the panels at the book blogging cons have been about book blogging in general, not really about one genre. During BEA however, there ARE panels that are about certain genres – like I went to one which was about Weird Fiction, and there are Editors buzzes focusing on MG and YA etc.

  7. Part of the reason I didn’t attend BBC, was that I found the whole registration process very confusing. I didn’t understand how to register, or what I was supposed to register as, so when my local library association posted the chance to register for BEA at a discounted group rate, I decided to go with that. It was nice because I just sent my association my info, and they did all of it for me. Problem solved! I am fairly appalled at BEA giving out blogger’s home phone numbers, as well as the fact that they are asking about stats. I get so frustrated when this happens, as honestly some of the biggest blogs have the weakest content. I really appreciated hearing from authors and publishers at BEA who stated clearly that they care more about enthusiasm and well-written content then numbers.

    Following along on Twitter, I was one of those who became glad that I hadn’t bothered with BBC. I would have liked the opportunity to connect with other book bloggers, but I don’t like feeling like a captive audience member that is being marketed to when I came to learn and have a productive conversation. The lack of actual book bloggers on panels was really disappointing to me in particular. I blog because I like being part of a community, and I genuinely enjoy promoting books that I feel deserve more attention. I don’t like feeling pushed into a marketing machine, and want to stay away from aggressive campaigns (Insurgent anyone) that seem to have publishers all excited.

    • Wow, the registration process was so bad you didn’t register for the BEA bloggers con! That’s pretty bad. I think the website needs testers. I have seen links that don’t work quite right and obviously they should have had someone do a trial run of registering.

      The stat thing seems to keep coming up, and ok, it is an indicator, but for something like a blogger’s con, it should not be a gating factor. And asking people to put up their stats for a directory? So my stats can be compared side by side to others? Hrr.

      I probably should have gone into this in my post, but last year there were surveys at the end of the BBC, and apparently people had said in this survey that they wanted more chances to meet authors and more networking (link). BEA went above and beyond to get that, but it overbalanced the conference so it felt very marketed. Somehow there needs to be a way for people to met PR/authors if they want, and a way to just talk with other book bloggers about blogging without feeling like we’re being listened in on. Some bloggers who had been around also felt like they were being told things they already knew and wanted a “newbie” book blogger track and a “experienced” book blogger track.

      On the positive side – Monday was a better day for the con than Friday was, and they did well in making the sessions shorter (1 hour was good).

  8. Excellent post! Wow, I knew you had a horrible time with registration but I didn’t realize someone called your home phone number to pitch their book. That’s terrible!

    The blogger conference was very disappointing this year. I’m also going to wait before deciding whether or not to go next year, and I’ll also be considering the UnCon if they do that again.

    • Thanks. Yes, a horrible, horrible time! The adrenaline coursing through me in dealing with calling was just.. ug, not good for my mild anxiety. No one called you? I must understand the deal with who got called and who didn’t.

      My thoughts exactly.

      • No one called me, but I also signed up late this year. They never even included my name on the attendee list on the site. I think I may have signed up late enough to avoid the worst of it!

        • Just to add a data point…someone called me on my cell as well. In addition to getting several emails a day from people selling everything from clip on lights to puzzles to books. I learned I needed to “opt out” too late. It should have been made clearer.

  9. It’s been really interesting reading about people’s experiences – thanks for the write-up. I’d love to go to BBC/BEA one day (though maybe less so for the former now!). It’s a real shame that the BBC didn’t appear to work for anyone – hopefully they’ll listen and make it work better next time.

  10. I ended up leaving after the lunch. Blogger Con was not for me. Also, I was incredibly hungover, which was totally my fault, ha ha. But seriously, I thought the keynote was awful, I ended up putting my head on the table and zoning out because I legit don’t care about Oprah or the New York Times. I was not too terribly into the speed dating pitches. AND OMG would it have killed them to give us water or orange juice for breakfast? I did like the wraps for lunch. I sort of wish I had signed up for the Uncon instead, as I’d rather chat with bloggers over issues I care about like DNFs and all that.

    ALSO REGISTRATION! What a nightmare.

    • Hah. Well that must have been a pretty sucky morning for you! I would have loved some cold water – I think someone was asking if they had ice water, but they only seemed to have hot water for tea. OJ would have been great too. I liked the lunch better (at least there were chips and a cookie), but I’m not a fan of wraps in general so I couldn’t eat more than 1/4 of it. I was starving by the end of the day.

      I know.

  11. Pingback: BEA Bloggers Conference 2012 | Fantasy Cafe | Reviews of Fantasy and Science Fiction Books

  12. I have to be honest, I only skimmed your post. I couldn’t bear reliving that long, tedious day! What made it all bearable: meeting and hanging with you and Angie, meeting Jane, Jessica, Katiebabs, and the Book Smugglers, and leaving early for ramen. :D

    • Understandable! :) Yes, I think if it weren’t for hanging out with you guys and meeting other people, I would have left even earlier than I did.

  13. Pingback: The BEA Blogger Convention 2012: My Thoughts | Starmetal Oak Reviews

  14. Wow, that’s some screwed up registration! You know, I think bloggers should be editorial, but the convention changed their minds when they saw probably hundreds of bloggers wanting to attend and saw $$$. Can’t have them all go for free, can they? Even if they cover the show?

    My thoughts are here: http://starmetaloakreviews.com/2012/06/the-bea-blogger-convention-2012-my-thoughts/

    The more I think about it the more I’m kind of angry about it, but maybe not surprised in how it turned out.

    • Yup, registration was bad for me. I don’t know what the price should be or if it should be free, but I just want it to be consistent and clear. Not one price on one page, then another price on the next, and then have some additional fee on top that I don’t understand and neither does customer service. That’s what you expect when you are doing any sort of transaction – just to be able to buy something without having the price changing under you as you buy it. Instead, their website was a disaster.

      Anyway, I discussed this with my husband who is more objective about it than me and he feels like they’re allowed to make mistakes with registration the first time they take over and I need to chill. Ha. I sort of was not focusing on it, until the actual con I guess. It was so disappointing it made me relive my registration woes.

  15. Pingback: BEA 2012: Take-Aways | Read. Breathe. Relax. | Ya book reviews and fantasy book reviews

  16. I think I’m even happier with my choice…not going this year after I saw the agenda. I was going to come up to NYC for the Book Blogger Con day, but I chose not to after seeing the panels and lack of book bloggers on the panels.

  17. Pingback: Books, Bloggers, and Blisters: BEA « alita.reads.

  18. This is a great post. I was also going to do a post on how to register for BEA, but something held me back, it was so confusing. Then we started getting e-mails about how we were denied. You seemed to have much more trouble than I did and for that I’m sorry. I’m also sorry you were disappointed in the day. I was a bit happier with the experience, but yes, I do see room for improvement.

    Oh yeah and the food was horrible.

    • Thank you. Yes, it was very confusing. Well at least I wasn’t denied (were the denials only for the bloggers who registered as Press? I was confused about that but that’s what I assumed). There’s no reason to be sorry! I’m glad you had a better time.

  19. Awesome post, Janice! Took me a while to read it because of life, but it wasn’t a post I wanted to skim. I’ve never been to BEA and I don’t think I’ll ever have that opportunity, but the book blogger conference does sound like it was disappointing this year.

    I heard about that comment about “mature” bloggers on Chrisbookarama and I agree with you: some publishers seem to be wanting to control what book bloggers do and say, forgetting that we don’t actually work for them and this is more of a hobby than anything, no matter how important it is to us personally – I don’t think it’s all publishers and I guess the can’t stop their publishing/book selling perspective, but you’re right: there needs to be a stronger voice on behalf of bloggers and the fact that we were so under-represented is a shame. The topics sounded so interesting too! I’d be annoyed at the constant self-promoting as well. I love hearing anecdotes from authors about their books and the process of getting published etc., but if I feel like I’m being hit over the head with a “buy my book” message I would never want to read it!

    This sounds like an expensive trip overall – it’s in New York too right? Not a cheap place to stay in I’d imagine. I’m shocked that you got that marketing call. Even if we do blog mostly for our own enjoyment, cannot the industry have a bit more respect for us and treat us accordingly?

    • I am not sure I would blame publishers so much as the BEA bloggers conference organizers who didn’t seem to think that there would be a problem in inviting/allowing so many non-book bloggers to a conference for book bloggers. Nothing against publishers, PR people, and authors, but this was a book blogger conference. If they wanted a chance to pitch to us, I’d prefer that limited somehow so I’m not pitched the WHOLE conference. I also hated that I felt like I couldn’t just talk book blogging with people. Like there were too many other people there with a different agenda, listening in and/or hijacking the conversation. The organizers just completely missed the mark by allowing so many non-book bloggers in both as attendees and as panelists.

      The cost is certainly cheaper for people who live in the area and within say 500 miles. I know bloggers that saved money by having a roommate and sharing a hotel room or traveling down via bus or train instead of plane. I am lucky that I live 40 minutes away from NYC by train so on top of the BEA price ($72 for me), I paid for train ($21 round trip a day), and taxis (about $10 ea way). I probably spent like $170-$180. I brought my own lunch except on the day it was included, and there was one day I got back to the train station via the free shuttle instead of taxi, one day I took the subway (after a dinner elsewhere in the city, $2.50 a ride I think it was), and one day that I walked. If I added hotel to that, it can go from $100 to up to $300 a night. I would say you probably could save on transport by staying in a hotel nearby (walking distance would be good) and rooming with someone, but it still would cost some money. With the cost of airfare from outside the US on top of that – yeah that’s going to add up cost-wise. :\

      • Yeah as I thought, that kind of price tag definitely rules me out!

        I just read online – curious about what we have on offer here – and discovered that Reed Exhibitions also bought Book Expo Toronto and the Toronto Book Fair in 2009 – and then cancelled both, saying they were going to focus their efforts on one singular North American book event, BEA in New York. I remember going to Book Expo Toronto in 2006, when I worked at a small publishing house – it was only for booksellers and librarians and a few other industry types, but it was still pretty cool and when I took breaks from our stall to walk around I too scored books and got to meet some authors, like Lynsay Sands (that was my first intro to her, in fact!) and Guy Gavriel Kay.

        Other than that, we still have Word on the Street, which is a pretty big book fair in September (you can get cheaper books but nothing for free, and there are authors there like Kelley Armstrong and Robert J Sawyer), and the Harbourfront Authors Festival, which I’ve never been to, and Polaris which I went to once thanks to wonderful Anna (Genre Reviews) – I’d like to go to that one again, it’s in July, though again it’s not a place where you get free books but there are great panel discussions and I got to meet Lesley Livingston and RJ Anderson and Michelle Sagara West. It’s a bit of a slog to get to though!

        So we don’t have anything like BEA – the big publishers pulled out of our Book Expo which I think was the deciding factor, but it means the smaller presses have fewer avenues to get the word out about their authors, which is a real shame. As usual, the big names in the industry pretty much have their way!

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