So, I made it through Day #1 of my very first BEA!!! It was looking a little touch and go there for a while, since my flight was delayed by about 2 hours (and some flights from Chicago to NYC were cancelled). I was just praying that I would make it here at all!
My poor roommate (Jennifer from Live to Read, Read to Live) flew all the way in from Ireland and got here at 2:00 PM, but couldn’t check in because she didn’t have a credit card. So I spent the day yesterday scrambling around, calling places, trying to get someone to help me figure out a way to get the poor girl checked in! Luckily she had a book and didn’t mind reading in the lobby while we got it all sorted out. (Which we did finally.) I didn’t get in until after midnight and I did NOT want her to have to wait until then to check in! Luckily, it all worked out. Oh, except then we found out that we only had one bed – even though I had called the front desk and confirmed the we would have two. By that time, we were just happy she didn’t have to sleep in the lobby, but it was all a bit crazy. “Hi, nice to meet you in person (in the middle of the night). Now let’s share a bed.” Luckily we’re both laid back people!
So, on to today. Today was the BEA Bloggers Conference. I attended four sessions – the first two were great, and the second two were so-so. The last session actually created a lot of controversy, but I’ll tell you about that in a moment …
Session 1 – Design 101
I got some really good design tips here, some of which I will probably incorporate into my blog (especially simplifying my sidebars). My blog really doesn’t mesh well with the current trend of “simple and uncluttered,” but I don’t know that I’ll change it up too much. Even though my header is a bit busy, I love it. One thing I definitely DID get from this session is that I definitely want to migrate over to WordPress. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but have been too nervous to actually take the plunge because I didn’t want to lose my design, etc. Ashley over at Nose Graze was one of the presenters and lots of people highly recommended her to help with a move to WordPress, so I’ll probably use her services (unless I can manage it all by my lonesome, but I’m not counting on that).
Session 2 – Software 101
This was a very fun session, mostly due to the humorous bloggers on the panel – especially Sarah over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. This session further convinced me that I should move over to WordPress so that I can make use of awesome plug-ins like Jetpack and Co-scheduler. It also made me think a bit more about my use of social media (or lack thereo) and how I can do better.
Session 3 – Blogging and the Law
This session wasn’t super exciting, but I kind of didn’t expect it to be. I don’t worry too much about someone plagiarizing me (though maybe I should) and I already know not to use images that aren’t meant to be free and the other copyright info seemed only mildly applicable to me (though there were some interesting facts given that I hadn’t really thought about before – such as the fact that we’re not liable for comments made on our blog, etc). The most interesting part of the session was hearing author Allison Leotta’s personal story of how her book was stolen and republished under a different name by an “author” who just changed the main character to a man (turning it into a gay character) and a few other minor details. Otherwise it was her book – word for word. Wow! He did book signings and everything. Her publisher got everything shut down, and Leotta chose not to sue – which was refreshing to hear in this world of litigation. I really liked Leotta personally and would love to read one of her books now.
Session 4 – The Publishing Process – How Bloggers Have Changed the Game
Okay,this is the session you’ve all been hearing about. The big controversy. The description for this session was written very poorly and was terribly misleading because it wasn’t really about bloggers at all, but about YouTube vlogging. Apparently, Alexandra Bracken worked with a very popular YouTube vlogger who really helped spread the word about The Darkest Minds. That, in itself is great, but some statements were made alluding to how much better vlogging is than blogging because it reaches so many more people, and the atmosphere in the room started to get a little chilly. I don’t think the panel intended to make it sound like vlogging was amazing and blogging was unimportant, but it did start to kind of veer that way. Honestly, I think if the description had correctly stated that this session was going to specifically be about vlogging rather than blogging, I don’t think it would have been so bad, but the focus was a big surprise to everyone except the panel. And, in a room full of mostly bloggers (not vloggers) the statements that made it sound like vlogging was superior were met with increasing hostility – quite a few people actually walked out.
I actually felt really bad for Alexandra Bracken – I spoke to her afterward for a while and she seemed genuinely distressed that mixed messages were sent. She came prepared to talk about her experiences with vlogging because that’s how the session was pitched to her and she never wanted to imply that vlogging was better (for the record, most of the statements that came off that way were from the vlogger herself, who I think really just wanted to share how awesome she thinks vlogging is and made the misstep of making comparisons between it and blogging that made blogging seem like the inferior choice). Anyway, I just have to throw in a little defense for Alexandra Bracken because I talked to her a bit and she seemed genuinely very nice and hated the thought that her panel had upset people. (In fact, I just found out that Bracken addressed this today HERE.)