(NOTE: Blogger would't let me upload pics, so I'll do another post Saturday for the pics!)
Let me give you kind of a run down of what I heard and learned.
Friday Night was a reception for all the attendees. We got to mill about and meet some people. I'm pretty shy so I didn't meet many people. I did however bump into Steven Brezenoff author of The Absolute Value of -1. And when I bumped him I caused him to spill some of his drink! Thankfully just a little and just onto his hand. Way to start the conference uh? After the reception we go to listen to panel from the Merry Sisters of Fate. This included Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver), Tessa Yovanoff (The Replacement) and Tessa Gratton (Blood Magic). They are critique partners, and they shared what that was like. It was really fun to hear how they work together and help each other grow as a writer. One thing they decided to do was write a short story every week or a year! They said it really helped them grow as writers! Not sure if I could do that. They were great to listen to, and I'd love to find some critique partners like them!
Afterwards they signed books. I not only got a book signed for myself by Brenna Yovanoff but one for the student who wrote the guest review on it.
The morning started with various pastries and thankfully lots of coffee! Maggie Stiefvater was the keynote speaker for the morning and she talked about what she has learned about blogging. She was as funny as ever to listen to, and I took away a few key points. The main thing that stuck with me was was that blogging should be a conversation and that means replying to people who post on your blog. I will trying to do more of that! The other thing was that we can open up our lives to our followers but remember where to draw the line. I've always done this when it comes to my children, but I've not taken more steps to make sure I'm being "safe" on my blog. It's something to step back and think about.
The first session I went to was on blogging the backlist. This was interesting and gave me things to think about. Sometimes I do feel like I'm reviewing books that everyone else is reviewing as well. Taking at look at "older" books that I've loved would add to my blog, share my excitement and maybe let you learn a bit more about me. There are a few books I've loved forever that I will be featuring. This session really gave me food for thought and a new way to step up my blogging. I also learned about the Betsy-Tacy books and actually won one :)
This session focused mainly on blog tours. It was interesting to hear about blog tours from and author's perspective. I've always wondered how it was for them. First they talked about good interview questions and ones that aren't as good. Good ones are basically ones that show you taken the time to get to know a bit about the author and/or book before you send the questions. Questions that really allow them to share about their book are good too. I'll be keeping this in mind when I write interview questions.
The super cool part of this panel was when Swati Avasthi and Jacqueline Houtman presented. Avasthi(Split) talked about making your tour unique. Her blog tour for Split tied with a fundraiser for an organization that works with domestic violence. She donated $1 for every comment she got. It was very cool! Houtman (The Reinvention of Edison Thomas) talked about reaching out to blogs that have nothing to do with reviewing as a way to reach other readers. Her book involves a ton of science, so she visited science blogs. I got her book known in other places. She also shared the super cute cupcake cake she had at her release party. It was the periodic table made out of cupcakes!
After lunch there was a panel of publishers talking about working with publishers as a blogger. It was interesting to hear their side, but since I don't worry too much about getting review copies I wasn't super focused. The main thing I took away from it is to be professional and if you can get your contact information right away in your bio, so they don't have to dig for it.
This was my favorite because it was about blogging middle grade books and how it differs from blogging YA books. The presenters were from the AWESOME middle grade blog From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. They talked a lot about how their blog came to be and how blogging for MG differs from YA blogging. The biggest thing I took away from it is that when you blog for MG you are really blogging for their "gatekeepers" - teachers, parents, media specialists. When you blog for YA you blog for the actually reader. That was something I had not thought about before. I'm thinking about how I can format my blog to make sure that's what I'm doing.
Author Visits in the Multimedia Age was the focus here. It was a lot about how author visits have changed with all the technology especially through the use of Skype. I've never used Skype, but it did give me some ideas about when I could use it.
After that we needed go home. Between all the sessions, sharing, talking and author stalking my brain as full! I'm sooo glad I attended! I met great people and learned ton! Next year Kidlit Con will be in Seattle and in 2012 in New York! I'll have to see if I can go!