- Bloggers Jackie Parker (Interactive Reader) and Colleen Mondor (Chasing Ray) gave a session on Making the Most of the Community: Blog Tour Events. Jackie and Colleen coordinate the Summer and Winter Blog Blast Tours, the only mixed author blog tours offered online. They're not in favor of the blog-tour-like-bookstore-tour events set up by publishers. (These publishers tours have the same author on blog after blog day after day answering similar question which can't be exciting for readers.) These bloggers and the other handful who participate in the Blasts strive to offer a good mix of authors that fit in with their varying interests. Their big tip for authors: give good interviews and do them on time.
- Next up I attended a session with Pam Coughlin, aka Mother Reader in which she offered tips to Kick Your Blog Up a Notch. Pam gave a dozen suggestions for being a bigger (not necessarily a better) blogger. These include having a distinct voice, filling a particular niche, updating daily, commenting on other blogs, and doing self-promotion. Self-promotional efforts can be as simple as including your blog on your email signature, sending out occasional updates to your email list, and asking other bloggers to mention something super-special that's going on on your blog. (Note: Pam volunteered to coordinate the 3rd Kidlitosphere Conference next year in D.C.)
- In Mark Blevis' session, he updated the classic book starring lovable, furry old Grover to There's a Podcast at the End of this Book. Mark, who along with his wife Andrea Ross, produce the popular podcasts for Just One More Book!!, emphasized content, context and delivery in terms of what makes a strong podcast. Then he talked about lots of techie audio geek stuff which I didn't fully understand but wrote down some of: libsyn.com, Samson Zoom H2 recorder, Skype, podsafe music network, Podcasting Legal Guide. Truthfully, all the podcasting business really didn't seem as complicated as I imagined. And I spied Mark with recorder in hand throughout the weekend.
- After lunch (I had a great prawn salad with mint citrus dressing and mangoes in the hotel restaurant--the other option was eating at the airport) conference co-coordinator Laini Taylor and blogger Jen Robinson (Jen Robinson's Book Page) discussed The Bridge Between Authors and Book Reviewers with much focus on protocol. Bloggers should offer review policies on their blogs and authors should read them and follow them, says Jen. When authors contact reviewers, they should personalize their request as much as possible. (In Jackie and Colleen's session they noted that reviewers can tell if an author doesn't read their blogs when you contact them. That's a no-no.) Authors should never pester reviewers--they have a lot of material and get through, the majority of which comes straight from publishers (which Jen prefers, as it's less pressure for her).
- Greg Pincus (Gotta Book) offered Promoting Your Book and Yourself on Facebook/MySpace and Other Social Networking Tools. He conducted his own mini self-promo experiment which he ran through with us. Your goal as an author/blogger, he says, is "setting yourself up for the happy accident." He suggests you have a FeedBurner (rss) account. You should give blog posts a strong title (for example the stronger, "Goal!--A Soccer Poem" vs. simply "Goal.") You should link to your blog from your facebook page. It's much harder to reach people if you're not trying to reach people, he says. Check out this wiki link for more tips.
- The last session I attended was with the fabulous author Sara Zarr on Balancing the Personal and Professional on Your Blog. Sara starting blogging around 1999/2000, and ended up deleting five years' worth of posts that were very personal once she got her book deal. An author's blog, she says, needs a voice--posts should represent the face you want to show to the world. It's an author's most controllable aspects of publicity, wholly the author's, not dictated by a publisher. Don't be shy about sharing good news and don't assume that readers are equally interested in your bad news (save that for trusted friends). Don't post anything you wouldn't want your editor or agent to read. In terms of controversial subjects like sex, religion and politics, don't censor yourself, but those types of post must really be thought out, really composed.
After the conference dinner and raffle (for which no one at my table was privy to the fact that we needed raffle tickets and therefore had no possibility of winning prizes) the amazing and awesome readergirlz threw a party to celebrate the amazing and awesome Holly Cupala's promotion to official readergirlz Diva!