Book Expo America last year was meeting some of the bloggers that I'd already got to know online over the years, and meeting some new ones too.
I have to say I'm always pretty shy when meeting new people, or in new situations, so being at BEA and the Book Blogger Convention, I was a little out of my element, to say the least. On top of that, I was super jet-lagged the whole time I was there. There is a 13 hours time difference between Tokyo and New York so my body was on a completely opposite schedule!
It's also hard to meet up with bloggers on the BEA floor as everyone is rushing around to different signings and panels and whatnot. But I did manage to meet up with Stephanie (Stephanie's Written Word) and a few others for a very quick lunch one day at the Javits Center, and bumped into a few other bloggers here and there.
Otherwise, it was some of the extra events outside of BEA that allowed for a little more of a chance to chat. Harper Collins sponsored a Celebration of Book Bloggers Event one evening, and that's where I chatted briefly with Simon Van Booy (author of The Secret Lives of People in Love, and Love Begins in Winter), and met Wendy (caribousmom) and her husband, and Avis (she reads and reads), among others. It was a lively evening and even though I didn't get to meet or talk to many people for long, it was great to at least see many of the bloggers I was familiar with like Trish (Hey Lady! Whatch Readin'?), Candace (Beth Fish Reads), and Amy (My Friend Amy), to name a few.
There was of course the Book Blogger Con reception on Thursday afternoon, which was another good chance to mingle. I also tagged along on a couple of dinners that were planned that week and so got to spend some time with Amanda (The Zen Leaf), Amy (Amy Reads), Anna (Diary of an Eccentric), and Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit).
These are just a few of the bloggers I met in New York last year. Apologies to anyone else I met but didn't mention here. It was great to meet everyone and I only hope that next time I'm able to go to an event like BEA, I'll be more awake!
As for today's Armchair BEA writing prompt, about blogging tips and best practices, I've been blogging for over five years now, but over the last year there have been a lot of things in real life that have kept me from blogging as much as I used to. In many ways, I'm a good example of how NOT to blog, says the one who has been blogging very sporadically, and not keeping up with commenting or visiting others blogs nearly as much as I would like.
If I am to give any type of blogging advice, it would be to decide what you want from your blog, and be yourself. I often find that the blogs I'm most interested in are those where the blogger's personality comes through in their reviews and general posts. This helps you differentiate yourself from all the others too. Blogging should be fun, not about trying to do what everyone else is doing.
Personally I've never really understood the people who are all about the numbers. No way is wrong of course, that's the beauty of blogging. It's your blog and you can do whatever you want with it. But for myself, I'd much rather have a smaller group of readers that I can connect with than a whole bunch of strangers reading it in silence. Not that I don't love the lurkers out there too! I have never been, and will probably never be one of those bloggers that everyone knows, and that's ok with me.
So, what has worked for me? I didn't have a specific niche when I started blogging, but I think my focus on Japan and Japanese literature has helped to set me a little bit apart from other blogs. It has also helped me to find other bloggers who share my love of JLit and literature in translation.
And the best way to build up those relationships is to visit and comment on other blogs. This is where I've failed quite spectacularly lately but I'm thankful to have built up some good relationships before these "bad times". I've said it before, but book people tend to be good people. They're like good friends who'll stick with you through it all.
Twitter has been a good bridge as well. Even when I have been absent on my blog, I've been able to still connect with book friends there. And that casual online social interaction has kept me sane during some of the difficult times. Of course, Twitter is also a good way to share your blog posts with perhaps a larger or different audience, and to connect with publishers. In fact, as I'm typing up this post I'm enjoying reading some of the tweets of what's happening at the Book Blogger Convention taking place right now, from the perspective of bloggers and publishers alike. It's almost like being there!
By the way, if you haven't yet, don't forget to check out my Armchair BEA Giveaway for two of the books from last year's Book Expo America. And thank you to all of the Armchair BEA organizers, it has been a fun way to celebrate this week of books!
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