Wednesday, October 21, 2009

KidLitCon: Overview Part Two

As promised, here's the second half of my conference day.

Greg Pincus of the Happy Accident kept us wide awake, even after lunch, with his presentation on Social Media for Fun (and Profit?) His advice? Go play in traffic--meaning put yourself out there in the online stream. Things will come to you much easier if you go where they are, and even pursue them. Something else he brought up that I tend to forget is that all forms of social media are simply tools. So MySpace is on its last legs, Facebook is (allegedly) fading, and Twitter may soon hit the downslope. There will be something else to take its place. What's important are the connections you make through it, and how those connections help your goals or enrich your life. One example is the most excellent Mitali Perkins' recent idea of Twitter book parties, where she tweets the title, author, audience, and publisher of a novel published that day and encourages everyone to retweet. This has become such a success that non-kidlit authors are running with the idea. Finally, remember to comment, say thank you, and generally play nice online. I'm not always the best at remembering the "social" part of social media, so I was glad to get this refresher.

After that, we had a panel discussion on Authors, Publishers, Reviewers (and ARCs). This starred Sheila Ruth of Wands and Worlds, Liz B of A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, author Paula Chase, and Laura Lutz of Pinot and Prose, who also works for HarperCollins as their School and Library Marketing Director. They discussed how the three groups see each other, and the way that the lines have become blurred. Also touched upon was the Liar controversy, also known as "that one time all the bloggers started talking about a cover at once and got the publisher to change it," as an example of the new power that bloggers are gaining and the need for responsibility to go along with it. Laura also talked about things from the publishing end, and pointed out that often bloggers are names in a (sometimes outsourced) marketing database with little room for details, which explains how a kidlit blogger can randomly receive an adult cookbook.

Our last (formal) session of the day was Coming Together, Reaching Out, with Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page, Gina Montefusco from PBS Booklights Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub, and Ernestine Wells Benedict of Reading is Fundamental. We're all in this gig because we want to connect kids and teens with the best books possible. They talked about what happens beyond the blog, or how to leash the passion and knowledge of the kidlitosphere for others. The PBS Booklights blog is an example of this--written by experts for parents, its focus isn't on the hottest new picture books but on how to read with and to your kids to spark their love of reading. From the audience, Laurel Snyder had the idea to get various literacy organizations together and host a read-in day across the country. The response? "Absolutely, let's do it!" Awesome.

And that was it for the day! We had a dinner in the evening, where I shared a table with Karen and Bill of Literate Lives, Lara and Julie from the new company Grow Up With Books, Mary Lee of a Year of Reading (and her husband) and two more people who I remember talking to but can't quite recall their name. Oh dear. If this is you, apologies and please leave your name in the comments!

I have one (1) measly picture from the day, which was when BookNut came over with her camera. Here you can see our elegance and decorum.

Again, great time and thanks to everyone who made it so, especially MotherReader! I shared a hotel room with the woman and I can tell you, she worked her tail off on this one, even the evening before and the day of. I can only imagine the months of work that already went into it.

If you didn't make it this year, there's always next year. No firm place yet, but I heard Minneapolis being thrown around. (Not the actual city; that would be loud. And I imagine distressing to Minneapolites.) I can tell you, being one of only four people who've made it to all three conferences thus far, it's worth it.

Check out the Twitter transcript over at The Happy Accident, and look for more roundup posts, collected in the comments of this MotherReader post.

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