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ALA 2013: The Bloggers’ Summit

2013 July 6
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On Friday, June 28, I had the pleasure to moderate one of the panels at YALSA’s YA Bloggers’ Summit preconference. The only blogging I do is here on The Hub, but all the panels offered useful advice.

The first panel (the one I moderated so my notes are nonexistent) was “Reviews and Blog Features” with Sarah Flowers, Gillian Engberg, and Sarah Bean Thompson. All offered very good insight into how and why they blog. One of the standouts in the conversation was the difference between negative and critical reviews. All panelists were in agreement that it is okay to not like a book as long as you are respectful and explain what elements about it didn’t work for you as the reviewer. It was also very refreshing to hear that both Sarahs used the library as a source to get their books for reviewing.

The second panel, “Marketing Your Blog,” had The Hub’s own Gretchen Kolderup and Emily Pukas. One major thing both panels mentioned was social sharing: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are a great way for a blogger to connect with their readers. Emily mentioned that a giveaway is almost a guarantee to gain new followers but should also connect giveaways with bloggers to raise your visibility. Make sure you keep the content up to date and do more than one thing. Participating in features that are done on other blogs is a great way to become part of the community.

IMG_6673After a quick break the session was back with a panel of authors featuring Holly Black, Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Gene Luen Yang. Most of the authors have been blogging for more than 10 years, but Yang described his blog style with the quip, “I’m the kid who’s only nice to you when you have a birthday coming up,” meaning he only blogs when he has a new book out. Black likes using Twitter as a way to connect with other writers and opening up the process to readers. Dessen treats Twitter as her water cooler and says she has readers of her blog who have never read her books. Anderson uses blogging and Twitter as a mean to discuss anything from the banning of her books to showcasing rural life. Authors admit that they are trying to navigate blogging as much as bloggers are; Dessen called it the Wild Wild West.

The last panel featured Anna Jarzab from Penguin Young Readers, Chrissy Noh from Simon and Schuster Children’s and Ksenia Winnicki from Macmillan Children’s. They all gave good advice and shared what they look for when working with bloggers. They want rich content, stats, and reviews, but they admitted that it’s a complex algorithm with a relationship with the publicist being key, in many cases. They stressed being professional and not demanding. Publishers will promote certain books to blogs that have built an audience and respond positively to the book. The best advice they gave was to blog about books because you love it!

Did you attend the Bloggers’ Summit? Let me know if I missed anything in the comments, and if you were there for the breakout sessions, please leave your name, Twitter handle, and blog in the comments!

— Faythe Arredondo, finally reading Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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