KIDLITCON: THE PEOPLE
I love the feeling of community that the Kidlitcon fosters—it's not like any other conference I've ever been to. It's as much about that sense of community, I think, as it is about learning more about blogging, or creating networking opportunities, or getting to listen to knowledgeable speakers. And meeting people who've already met Tanita is always a kick--I can't help wondering if they think we're a strange duo...
Some of the people I saw at this year's conference I've known for a number of years but hadn't met yet, like Liz B. (Tea Cozy), Mary Lee (A Year of Reading), Charlotte (Charlotte's Library), Melissa Wiley (Bonny Glen), Mary Ann Scheuer (Great Kid Books), Laura Salas, and Camille (BookMoot). Others I only just met at the conference but still sort of felt like I'd known them for ages: Alice Pope, Blythe Woolston, Laura Lutz (Pinot & Prose), Elissa Cruz (From the Mixed-Up Files), Kirstin Cronn-Mills, and Toby Speed, just to name a few. (I know I missed some. Please don't hate me.)
I got to see some good friends again whom I'd met in person before: Jen Robinson, Pam @ MotherReader, Maureen Kearney (Bibliovore), and, awesomely, there was a cameo appearance by the legendary Kelly H.! So great to see you, Kelly.
I met the indomitable and amazing Carol Rasco (RIF) and was almost incoherent with awe. I met Susan Taylor Brown, who lives not far from me but yet I hadn't met in person until this weekend. (Same with Mary Ann!)
I'd be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful organizing trifecta of Brian Farrey (Flux), Andrew Karre (Carolrhoda), and Ben Barnhart (Milkweed). Thanks, guys, for such a memorable weekend!
And, lastly, a notable part of going to Minneapolis for me was getting the chance to meet with my acquisitions editor, Brian, and one of the publicists I've been working with at Flux, Steven. We had great conversations, and it's always valuable to be able to put names to faces in a work-related situation.
For pictures of people, check the Kidlitcon Flickr group. For more recaps of the weekend, check here.
KIDLITCON: THE PLACE
The conference was held at Open Book, a literary center located in a building called The Loft in downtown Minneapolis, a short walk from the hotel. I really wish we had a facility like this in my town: the bottom floor has a café, a gallery space and a supremely cool gift shop; the second floor has the Open Book center, complete with a classroom, a large meeting room and a spacious foyer for mingling (and, in our case, that’s where we had lunch); and the third floor was home to Milkweed Editions. So awesome.
I didn't spend my entire time indoors, though—on Friday, I met up with a friend who lives in St. Paul and she showed me around the downtown Minneapolis area. We took a fabulously long walk and I got to see some of the many bridges over the river. And the weather gods were smiling upon us—Friday was gorgeous, and it didn't rain on us until Sunday, and it didn't snow at all (which is good, since I have no snow-suitable duds).
KIDLITCON: THE EXPERIENCE
I think I'm going to follow the bullet-point format I'm seeing used so effectively on other recap posts, so this doesn't go on for eons. Here goes:
- Thursday night, I met Laura Salas, Susan Taylor Brown, Camille Powell, Camille's husband, and a handful of people from the local SCBWI chapter for a kidlit drink night in the hotel lobby. Very friendly company--what a great way to open the weekend!
- Friday, I did some daytime sightseeing and then returned in time to meet with my publicist, Steven, before the unofficial event kick-off event. Chatted and mingled most enjoyably during the wine and cheese reception.
- Critique Groups: The panel discussion about critique groups featured the Merry Sisters of Fate. I learned that they do real-time reader responses using instant messaging, which kind of blew my mind. I think I'm glad we don't do that in our writing group. My brain might implode.
- Keynote Speaker: Maggie Stiefvater was the keynote speaker, and she reminded us all that blog readers are real people and they might even be real WEIRD people who find out your pets' and children's names if you aren't careful.
- Best of Backlist: Blogging backlist titles enables us to share our passion for our favorite books, give new life to those books, help give your blog a personality, bring in new readers with similar tastes—and it can provide a resource for the greater good.
- Author Blog Touring: Each panelist talked about a different aspect of blog touring, but my favorite tidbits were these: Bloggers can help authors by asking in-depth questions that involve the reader and prove you've done some research on the author. And, for authors: think about different types of blog posts you can do while "touring" to mix it up a little; remember to be nice; and remember that self-promotion is a necessary evil. Oh, and author Jacqueline Houtman showed off this amazing Periodic Table of Cupcakes (see photo) that was at her book launch.
- Pro Blogging: Some print review outlets are facing financial challenges, which means increased opportunities in the online market. The voice you establish in your blog reviews may lead to pro blogging opportunities.
- Book Reviews and Publishers: Publishers want a clear way to contact you and a clear review policy, right up there on the front page of your site. If you're the one initiating contact, they want that same information. Some are also interested in blog stats/traffic.
- Poetry Friday: A whirlwind tour of Poetry Friday! How to get involved and so forth. You don't have to post an original poem—you can share a favorite poem or even review a book of poetry.
- School/Library Visits: Technology can help engage young readers, and they can use downloadable media in their school projects. Don't forget to ask whether kids are allowed to have their picture taken, if you want to include a photo of a school visit on your website. Similarly, make it clear if you don't want your picture taken.
- Cybils/Kidlitosphere: Pam, Liz, Jen and I gave a panel about the Kidlitosphere and Cybils, and it went rather well, if I say so myself. We had a Powerpoint and everything. I was nervous and thought I could have been more coherent. But aside from that, I think it was a good thing.