Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 Book Bloggers Conference

I was off at BEA in NYC this week, but I feel like I have been gone from here since forever (and now you all know I don't schedule posts ahead of time, which is really surprising for someone a little on the OCD side).  Today is the official last day, and I was really hoping to be there, but it turns our that yesterday was my last day.

What did I do at BEA for three days, besides stand on long, long lines?

On Wednesday, I went to the Book Blogger Conference, which was more a lot more useful this year.  I met up with my friend Elizabeth from Silver's Reviews and she introduced me to Laura, a blogger from Library of Clean Reads and a senior coordinator at iRead Book Tours.  It's always nice to see old friends and meet new ones.

The day began with opening speaker was Maureen Johnson, YA author of 10 novel and contributor to two short story collections.  She was very funny, has an adorable new puppy named Zelda after Zelda Fitzgerald, and told us that book bloggers have and use their ability to shake up conventional reviews that tell us not to read a particular book and counter denouncements such as today's YA literature is too dark (Maureen started the YA Saves Campaign back in 2011 - read her article about UA in the Guardian HERE).  In short, bloggers can and should shake up the status quo.

After Maureen's keynote speech, we broke up into different sessions.  The first one I went to was Design 201 - Taking your Blog to the Next Level with Hafsah Faizal of Icey Designs and David Piakowski of BookLikes.  The basics of a great design were covered and include:

1- Color - use color to match your blog's theme: use dark colors, if your blog is dark; light if your blog is light.  But always use hues that you really love and don't limit yourself to one color.  Hafsah recommends using

2- Branding - this defines your blog.  Make sure to have a nice square logo that encompasses your blog and you, and be sure to include your blog's name in it and don't keep changing your logo.

3- Layout - make sure you have a responsive design which is a layout that accommodates all screen sizes: desktop, tablet, phone or any other device.

4- Themes - if your blog is on Wordpress, you can find themes at, starting at about $3.00, or at creative  I don't recall anything being recommended for Blogger.

5- Design - it's all about you and how your readers feel while visiting your blog.

Some more pointers from Hafsah:
1- Do make your content area 1000px
2- Do place icons for all your social networks in a visible location
3- Do make sure you have easy to follow navigation
4- Do add a search function to your site
5- Do make sure your site loads easily
6- Do ensure your graphics across social networks match your blog
7- Do use web fonts to spruce up your content
8- Don't clutter your sidebar with too many gifs and worse, animated gifs
9- Don't have annoying pop up messages

We were give 5 tips and tricks:
     1- Use gifs, you can find some at
     2- Be social - interact with your readers
     3- Have a proper photo of yourself
     4- Show what you read - put a bookshelf on your site
     5- Introduce yourself on your sidebar (longer intro goes on your about page)

The next session was on Software 101, Best Blogging Tools with Thea James of Book Smugglers, Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Stephanie Sinclair from Cuddlebuggery Book Blog, and Becca Brennan from Mad Mimi.  The panelists talked about histing, RSS feeds, scheduling posts, plugins and things that again mostly pertained to Wordpress, including Akismet for spam control, Jetpack and  Co-Scheduler and for male ware control, which gives you a free scan but the rests cost $$$.

Next was Blogging and the Law with Amanda Brice, Allison Leotta and Katie Sunstrom

The gist of the session was to know what is copyrightable and make sure you have a copyright on your blog.  You can register your blog with the United States Copyright Office and of course, there is Creative Commons.  Be sure to display your copyright on your blog.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a lot of information, including a Legal Guide for Bloggers which might be very helpful if you aren't sure of something.  If you think someone is stealing your stuff from your blog, you can find some help at PlagarismToday

Finally, the last session was called The Publishing Process: How Bloggers Have Changed the Game with Merrilee Heifetz, Senior VP, Writers House Literary Agency, Emily Meehan, Editorial Director, Hyperion Teen, Alexandra Bracken, author of The Darkest Mind series, Christine Riccio of Poland Bananas and Andrew Sansome, online Marketing Manager, Disney Publishing.

Apparently they didn't get the memo about the session topic.  It was all about YouTube blogging, which nobody in the audience was interested in.  Alexandra Braken was part of a vlogging video to promote her book, and that was OK, she was interesting to hear and we got free copies of The Darkest Mind, but the message we got from the rest of the panel was that vlogging was better that blogging.   People walked out!

The day ended with lots of giveaways, music from Tiger Beat and a free beer or soda.

It was a busy day, and for the most part productive.


  1. Wow! Sounds like it was a packed week. Thanks for the great info and links.

  2. Alex, thanks so much for taking the time to share all these wonderful resources :) Sounds like you had a good time :)

  3. Alex, it was great meeting you! Thanks for the mention and for the thorough review of the Blogger's Conference.


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