This Week’s Theme:
Reasons I Love Attending Book Events/Conferences
(feat. Book Expo America)
Many entries this week may feature swoon-worthy romances that give all the feels but with the coming and going of many book events as of late (e.g. Book Expo America, American Library Association Conference, Ontario Library Association Super Conference), I thought I’d depart from the main prompt to glimpse into nostalgia and up-vote book events being a rad experience and why you should consider going if you have the resources to attend.
I should also preface this post to say that for many industry events, the focus is for librarians and educators. Not saying it always is, but bloggers and other influencers need to be mindful of that fact.
For the purposes of this post, I’ll be highlighting standout moments from Book Expo America 2017.
Reason #1: New Voices, Stories, and Faves
What is any book convention without the printed word at the forefront? It’s thanks to events like Book Expo that I’m able to speak directly with authors and publicists alike, learn what everyone’s excited for, and share these favourites with everyone! (The books featured in the image below are titles received and promoted last year.)
For the record: DEAR MARTIN (Nic Stone), LONG WAY DOWN (Jason Reynolds), NYXIA (Scott Reintgen), EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO (FC Yee), and THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END (Adam Silvera) — are some great reads I discovered during Book Expo America…to the extent that my recommendations are now a staple at a location at Indigo Books & Music, a chain bookstore in Canada. (Yes, non-employees have to use the Kids Pick sticker with an appropriate age…)
Reason #2a: Community
The book community is a worldwide congregation of [mostly] online flailing. So to be able to put a voice to a face or even sparking new connections is another wonderful reason for attending these conferences.
Between my rooming situation with bloggers from four different countries to rendezvousing the floor hall leading me to cross paths with other Canadian influencers (it’s cool to meet up with hometown crowds in another country!), there’s an unspoken sense of unity, love, and belonging that emanates from the joy of being together. Sure it’s not a long time that you get to spend with people (assuming you’re from out of town), but when you converse with them often enough online, it’s like no time has passed.
Reason #2b: Muggles Everywhere
It is so often that authors, like many celebrities, are put onto a pedestal as a result of the art that they create. Perhaps their words came to us in a time of need. Maybe their characters’ views shifted our own perspectives. Or their writing could just be captivating and entertaining.
But we mustn’t forget that they’re [mostly] muggles like the rest of us, so it’s just awesome sometimes to run into authors on a whim.
Also: can we talk about how Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin, HAS MY BUSINESS CARD ON HER UNICORN HEAD? Truly a highlight meeting Nic in person; who is fully deserving of the “Best Author on Social Media” award from two influencers on my 2017 Thinker Book Awards.
Reason #3: Behind the Scenes
The face of the event is what we usually see in our socials, and as much as I’m happy to also report on that, it’s the intimate events at a publisher’s office etc. that sparks the most insight for me to takeaway. It’s simply more relaxed and personable and with large [unfamiliar] crowds giving me anxiety, the intimacy of smaller focus groups allow me to develop further dialogue. On another note, as I’ve only experienced the Canadian arm of book previews, it was a great experience to be invited to attend seasonal book previews with Hachette, Penguin Teen, and Bloomsbury; an opportunity I wouldn’t have otherwise had if not for being in the city during the week of Book Expo.
Reason #4: Inspiration and Empowerment
As an offshoot of the previous Reason, attending panels and discussions involves a lot of sitting around and actively listening, but in that, there’s invariably so much learning that can be had. All it takes is being open to reciprocate other voices and apply the same moving forward in the everyday.
Further to this, I was asked to be a moderate a panel at Blogbound Con (a mini convention by [book] bloggers for bloggers) and as a forever-student, being surrounded by brilliant minds who consistently churn out refreshing content was uplifting and empowering to get back into the swing of blogging culture. If you’re a veteran or newbie blogger, I implore you to take a second to reflect on all of your effort that you’ve put forward and the connections you’ve made along the way — you’re awesome!
Reason #5: Traveling, but Bookish.
Downtime is inevitable at any conference, and you’d be surprised at how many memories are created during the event when you’re milling about the area on a food run or just walking around. But unlike the dynamics of travelling with family or friends of many years, there’s a different take with book friends. Plus, it’s also fun when new settings are tackled by mild incompetency due to everything -new- and so you are able to attract interesting laugh-out-loud memories.
Sightseeing means visiting Strand Book Store. It means hanging out at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. It means eating dope $1 pizza and getting lost in the NYC subway system and having to double back to find friends. And it means fun and a host of other emotions.
Reason #6: Being Present
As much as I’ve been doing this book “thing” for the good part of four years now, there’s always a part of me that wonders ‘what if interest wanes?’ so much that this doubt encourages me to go forth and capitalize on current hobbies to enjoy these moments and events while I can and while I’m still interested. And I am extremely thankful for that. Truly.
What does this all amount to?
Me suggesting that, if you have the opportunity and resources to attend book events and conferences, that you should consider going because the moments you create from immersing yourself with the art of written word are more than just the word itself. It’s the community and memories that come with it.
Some questions for you:
Have you attended BEA, ALA, etc.?
Do you have plans for a book conference in the future?
Who’s one author you’d love to meet?