Perhaps you’ve heard of this small thing that’s brewing as an alternative to BEA Blogger Conference? The Book Blog UnCONFERENCE is the brain child of Jeff of The Reading Ape, and some prodding by a few other people, including Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog (and me, which mostly consisted of Twitter messages that just said, “YES!”).
I had the pleasure of attending the first two Book Blogger Conferences before they were bought by Reed Exhibitions, who runs Book Expo America. As a new blogger, the first year, I found the conference to be helpful and educational and I met some fellow bloggers that I never would’ve met or read otherwise. I didn’t know much about book blogging and having the opportunity to make connections with publishers, authors and fellow bloggers was a dream come true. I wasn’t taking review copies at that point, and I’d never thought that I’d have the audience to support such a leap. But here we are two years later, and I’m at a totally different place in my blogging.
I’m trying to actually make a career of this publishing thing – hence the Master’s in Publishing – and my scope of blogging is much broader. I feel privileged to have the connections in the industry that I do, but I also think I’ve got a long way to go.
At last year’s Book Blogger Con, I was less excited about the actual sessions, and more psyched about the connections I was making. One of my favorite moments from BBC: hanging out in the hallway with a bunch of fellow bloggers – some I knew and some I was just meeting for the first time – and discussing something totally unrelated to any formal session that was happening in the rooms around us. And those connections were far more impactful to me individually than some of the sessions BBC ran. Not because of the quality or topics of the sessions, but because I was at a different place with my blogging.
After some hullabaloo with registering for this year’s BBC, which included the powers that Be asking for blog stats, not publishing session topics or speakers and not making the BEA/BBC registration part clear, I was feeling very jaded by the whole shebang. I was not the only one. Jeff decided that we could totally host an alternative, one that is attendee driven, topic-focused, and organic. And the UnConference was born.
While it’s still in the planning phase, there’s a lot of excitement. The Center for Fiction has graciously offered up space for free, which means that registration for bloggers is free. A crucial part of making the UnCon successful is getting people to come, to suggest sessions, to just be their generally awesome selves.
Jeff noted this point on a follow-up post here that I want to reiterate. This is NOT a revolt or a protest, and its not directed at any one person or decision made by BEA/Reed. Its a matter of wanting to attend an event that’s by bloggers for bloggers, that takes our collective knowledge and puts it to work. We’re going to have plenty of time to interact with publishers and authors during BEA, but our needs and wants as bloggers are unique and we want an event just for us.
I’ll post next week with some conference session ideas I have, but please sign up and spread the word!