55 posts categorized "Conferences" Feed

Announcing the 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference!

The 8th annual Kidlitosphere Conference, aka KidLitCon, will be held October 10th and 11th at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento, CA. 

2014KidLitConLogo

KidLitCon is a gathering of people who blog about children’s and young adult books, including librarians, authors, teachers, parents, booksellers, publishers, and readers. Attendees share a love of children’s books, as well as a determination to get the right books into young readers’ hands. People attend KidLitCon to talk about issues like the publisher/blogger relationship, the benefits and pitfalls of writing critical reviews, and overcoming blogger burnout. People also attend KidLitCon for the chance to spend time face to face with kindred spirits, other adults who care passionately for children’s and YA literature. 

This year’s theme for KidLitCon is: Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?

Members of the Kidlitosphere have been talking about the need for more diversity in children’s books for several years now, starting back when Paper Tigers launched with a view of discussing multicultural children’s literature. There was outrage within the community when the cover of Justine Larbalestier’s LIAR was whitewashed, and discussions of other books followed. More recently, children’s and young adult authors have used blogs, Tumblr, and Twitter to make a much louder demand for more diversity in publishing, through the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Other bloggers are listening and responding. Pam Coughlan just announced that the focus of this year’s 48-Hour Book Challenge at MotherReader will be on reading diverse books. The Cybils organization has been combing through past shortlists, to come up with lists of diverse titles. The pictures and posts on this topic are too many to count. And that’s a fine thing.

What we would like to do with this year’s KidLitCon (along with our usual goals) is discuss what book bloggers can do to make a meaningful difference in increasing diversity in children’s and young adult literature. This year’s keynote speaker will be Mitali Perkins, an author whose focus has long been on “books between cultures for young readers". Among other things, Mitali will talk about how bloggers can be agents of change in the conversation about diversity in children’s and young adult literature. Shannon Hale, who has written eloquently on the need for writing non-neutral characters, and who helped launch the Great Green Heist Challenge, is also expected to participate in the conference via Skype.

We will talk about other issues of interest to children’s and YA book bloggers, too. But it is also our hope to make a bit of noise on behalf of diversity in children’s literature. It is past time for that. 

The Tsakopoulos Library Galleria is a beautiful meeting space, located in California’s State Capitol. We are finalizing details on a room block at a nearby hotel. Registration information and a call for session proposals will be published soon. While we do not have the final schedule yet, we are planning to have sessions starting mid-morning on Friday and going through Saturday, with evening events Friday and Saturday nights. 

We hope that you will mark October 10th and 11th on your calendar, and start thinking about how you would like to contribute to the conversation on children’s and young adult book blogging. Please help us to spread the word. Thank you!

Tanita Davis and Sarah StevensonFinding Wonderland
Jen RobinsonJen Robinson’s Book Page

Please help by spreading the word! Be a fan on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! This announcement is also posted at the Kidlitosphere Central website, where we will be sharing the registration form and call for papers soon. 


Fighting Blog Burnout: An Infographic

Back in November, Sarah Stevenson and I presented at KidLitCon on Book Blogger Burnout. We came up with some suggestions for fighting burnout, and Sarah turned those into a nice little handout for the session. But we thought that this information would naturally lend itself to an Infographic. Sarah, who in addition to being an awesome YA author is a graphic designer, produced this Infographic from our ideas (click on the image for a larger view). 

FightingBlogBurnout

Feel free to share this, pin it, whatever. We hope that it will help some of our blogging friends to dig their way out of the periodic bouts of burnout that seem to hit us all. Happy 2014!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Session Recap: Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back

KidlitCon2013Last weekend at KidLitCon13, Sarah Stevenson and I presented on Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back. In this post, I'll recap our session, with emphasis on the strategies that we came up with for overcoming burnout. 

It has been our observation that anyone who has been blogging for a while experiences periodic bouts of burnout (or blogging blahs, or blog angst, or "the Blahgs", or whatever you would like to call it). I was struggling with this myself earlier this fall, after being sidelined by illness, when I ran across a post that Sarah wrote about her struggles to rekindle her love for blogging. A number of long-time bloggers responded in the comments of Sarah's post, with useful suggestions. Sarah shared some of these and her response to them in a follow-up post.

Reading these suggestions, and just knowing that I wasn't alone in my situation, helped me to get my own blogging groove back. I wrote about this in some detail in this post, with particular thanks to Melissa Wiley, Gail Gauthier, and Adrienne Furness for their motivational suggestions. I received lots of additional suggestions and general encouragement in the comments of that post, for which I am also grateful. But essentially, for me, getting my groove back boiled down to two things:

  1. Returning to my blogging roots, the central passion under which I started my blog in the first place (growing bookworms); and 
  2. Taking steps to remove (mostly self-imposed) pressure wherever possible. 

For Sarah, who is still working on this, thinking about the issues and why she's struggling, and reading everyone else's feedback, helped her to realize this:

"If I am writing about what I find important and enjoyable and special, then it will be different (from other blogs) simply because it reflects my perspective. It won't be a mouthpiece for marketing or a regurgitation of information I can find anywhere else." 

Which is a pretty important start to recovering from the blogging blahs.

KidLitConBurnoutSessionSo when it came time to think about sessions for KidLitCon, Sarah and I thought that perhaps in sharing our experiences, we might be able to help other bloggers. We brainstormed together, and came up with a list of reasons why we think that book bloggers (specifically children's and YA book bloggers) experience burnout. For each of these, we scoured the comments in our posts, and other sources (like the results from a recent survey of book bloggers), to come up with concrete strategies for responding. (Photo of Sarah and me presenting taken by Rosemond Cates, and shared here.)

Sarah then turned this content into a pretty one-page handout, which we are hoping to eventually turn into an Infographic. But for now, I'll just share our thoughts here. I've also added a few extra suggestions that came up during the session, though we were too busy to take very many notes. 

Reason 1: I feel burned out because blogging feels like an unpaid job, like something I "have to do." This can be especially true for authors, who are told to blog to maintain a public face. 

Strategies:

  • Take a break. In a recent survey of 310 book bloggers (not just children's and YA books), 24% said that they take a break from blogging when they feel burned out. 
  • Cut back: Give yourself permission not to do the parts that feel most like work. For me (Jen), this has always included blog tours and interviews. But interestingly, Jennifer from 5 Minutes for Books said that blog tours help her, by giving her a deadline. It's all about figuring out what works for you
  • Self-examination: Have your reasons for blogging changed?
  • Change things up: Try cycling in guest posts or re-posting favorite older posts.
  • Start something new: Try a new feature to rekindle your interest.

Reason 2: I feel burned out because I receive too many books and too many requests for reviews, and I have too little time.

Strategies:

  • Give yourself permission not to do things, not to review everything. Here audience member Paula Wiley said that she's talking about books more on GoodReads, and only reviewing the ones about which she really has something to say. Maureen Kearney is doing something similar with LibraryThing. 
  • Set boundaries: use a review policy. For instance, after discussions with other bloggers, I (Jen) recently altered my review policy to say that I wouldn't necessarily respond at all to review requests. This was freeing (though controversial among audience members.)
  • Stop accepting ARCs. Blog backlist or library titles instead. Audience members mentioned that digital ARCs are particularly stressful because they expire on a certain date (possibly when one is still in the middle of reading them). We say, try saying no to these for a while, and see how you feel. 
  • Take a break from reviewing for a while, or stop reviewing altogether.
  • What's your favorite category of books to read? Stop reviewing those for a while, and just read for enjoyment.
  • And an additional suggestion from someone in the audience, clear your shelves, and get rid of the books that you aren't ever going to read. This can be very freeing. November/December is a good time for this, because many organizations are conducting book drives. 

Reason 3: I feel burned out because nobody's commenting, and/or I don't feel like I'm reaching enough people. (Many audience members agreed that comments and stats have been down in recent months, and that there's often a feeling like we are only reaching each other.)

Strategies:

  • Give comments to get comments.
  • Find new places to put the word out: Facebook, Pinterest, topic niches (i.e. parenting blogs).
  • Reach out to blogs that seem similar to yours. Comment, share posts. Strive for real connection. 
  • Set your blog up so it's easy for readers to share posts. For instance, I (Jen) often send a post out on a Tweet instead of commenting. If you don't have a visible Twitter ID that I can include, you won't know this.
  • Try posting book lists instead of (or as well as) individual reviews. Lists are often distributed more widely than other types of posts. The audience also agreed that individual reviews are among the posts that receive the least comments. 

Reason 4: I feel burned out because I'm too busy. I don't have time or energy for blogging. Other things in my life may take precedence for a while (new job, new baby, etc.). 

Strategies: 

  • Put the word out and let people know. Your loyal readers will understand and be there when you get back. Or, as I (Jen) put it during the session, the people who read your blog probably like you. 
  • Use the time to reassess. Do you miss it? Do you want to come back? Do you want to do something else?

Reason 5: I feel burned out because blogging just doesn't feel as rewarding anymore.

  • Start a "FeelGood" folder for storing supportive comments or emails. Refer to this folder from time to time. 
  • Get back to your blogging roots. Blog your passion.
  • Share your struggle. Knowing that you are not alone can help. 
  • Try something new. Someone in the audience mentioned here that it's ok to blog about other topics if you like, apart from your core blog mission, and that sometimes such posts generate excellent responses. 

In summary, a more general plan for fighting burnout:

Pinpoint the specific reasons YOU are feeling burned out. It may sound obvious, but once you starting thinking about it, you may find a deeper reason than you anticipated. You may THINK you're depressed because your posts don't go viral, but stop to consider: was that your original aim, to be viral? If not, then maybe that's somebody else's priority, not yours-and the real issue is that you feel pressures that you didn't feel before, concerning somebody else's definition of blogging success. Go back to the beginning, and get in touch with why you blog-ask yourself the important questions about why you're doing it.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Why am I blogging in the first place? If you don't know, it's well worth spending some time to figure that out.
  • Who do I want my audience to be? Parents, teachers, kids, other bloggers?
  • What is it that gets me fired up about blogging? What am I excited to share?

Our thanks to everyone who helped us to think these things through before KidLitCon, and to everyone who participated during our session. Blogging can feel like a lonely thing. You sit in front of your computer typing up posts to which people may or may not respond at all. Attending KidLitCon was a reminder that we are NOT alone. Those of us who blog about children's and young adult books have formed a community of like-minded individuals. We are kindred spirits, who share a passion for connecting kids with books. And when times get tough, we are there for one another. That is what community is all about. 

Thanks for listening! -- Jen and Sarah

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page and Sarah Jamila Stevenson. All rights reserved. 


KidLitCon 2013: Connecting with Kindred Spirits

KidlitCon2013I'm back after spending four days in Austin for KidLitCon. I lived in Austin for 3 1/2 years a while back, and I am always happy to have an excuse to visit. Of course I would go almost anywhere to attend KidLitCon, but it was a bonus that it was held somewhere that I wanted to visit anyway. An extra bonus was that I got to spend some time with close friends who live there. 

For me, and I've stolen this idea from Leila at Bookshelves of Doom, what sums up the KidLitCon, and the Kidlitosphere in general, is the phrase: "kindred spirits". I go to KidLitCon every year so that I can hang out with my children's book-loving tribe. Something that became clear during this year's conference is that what distinguishes the Kidlitosphere from other book blogger communities is that, much as we love the books, most of us are out there blogging, week after week, because we think that it's important to connect kids with great books. We share a common passion for children's books and literacy. 

KidLitConDinnerScholzGarten
Here are some of us together at dinner on Saturday night (photo borrowed from MotherReader). 

What this means when we come together for a conference is that we're not having sessions about how to "monetize" our blogs, or retire from our day jobs, or get our hands on more sought-after ARCs. No, what we talk about is:

  • Community (welcome speech by Pam Coughlan from MotherReader)
  • Authenticity, and understanding your own mission and philosophy of blogging (keynote by Cynthia Leitich Smith). 
  • Overcoming burnout by getting back to your blogging roots (Sarah Stevenson and me).
  • Ways that you as a blogger/reviewer/author can work to increase diversity in children's publishing (Lee Wind).
  • Ways that you as an author can build relationships with people who may help you to spread the word about your books, rather than trying any "hard sell" tactics Molly Blaisdell). 
  • The difference between writing a negative review and writing critical reviews, and why critical reviews are important (and exhausting) (Kelly Jensen and Kim Francisco from Stacked)
  • Things authors and illustrators need to know about digital art (Laura Jennings).
  • How authors and illustrators can become involved in the online community of children's and young adult literature (MotherReader)
  • How to spice up your blog with HTML and CSS (Sheila Ruth).
  • Reviewing middle grade books when we, the reviewers, are not the target audience for said books (Charlotte Taylor, Melissa Fox, and Katy Manck). 
  • The past, present, and future of the Kidlitosphere, and how we can keep our community a welcoming, connected space (Sarah Stevenson, Jen Bigheart, Leila Roy, Sheila Ruth, and Lee Wind). 

Instead of taking notes during the sessions that I attended, I was live-tweeting the conference. While I could theoretically share all of those tweets with you here, I prefer to send you off to follow the #KidLitCon13 hashtag on Twitter. Just set the view to "all" instead of "top" and scroll down to November 9th, and read upward. You will find many useful tips, like: 

For more details about the sessions and events around KidLitCon, here are some excellent recaps:

  • Charlotte at Charlotte's Library says: "The main thing I learn every time I go to Kidlitcon is how much fun it can be to talk to people. Sure, I talk to my family and co-workers and friends in real life, but rarely do I talk to them with passionate interest about really interesting things like children's books and blogging and candy crush."
  • Kelly at Stacked says: "If I had to give three words that summed up the biggest themes talked about during the event, they would be diversityauthenticity, and burnout."
  • Sherry from Semicolon shares 10 things she learned at KidLitCon. My favorite: "Sheila Ruth (Wands and Worlds) and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Library) are NOT the same person in disguise, but they are both authorities on fantasy and science fiction".
  • Sarah says at Finding Wonderland: "You are all the most lovely people. We have such an amazing community, I can't believe it sometimes, but Kidlitcon always reminds me how incredible it is."  
  • Melissa at Book Nut says: "Kidlit Bloggers are Awesome. Seriously. They are fun, and smart, and interesting. And I want to bring them all back to Kansas and have them move in next door so I can hang out with them all of the time. I knew this already, but it's worth reiterating."
  • Liviania (aka Allie) says at In Bed with Books (a brief post): "honestly, it was just nice to meet people.  Jennifer Donovan, as it turns out, lives close to where I work.  Molly Blaisdell has a book coming out in 2014, PLUMB CRAZY, that sounds right up my alley. Plus, there's nothing like a group of people that knows each other's blog names better than their real names."
  • Pam focuses more on the social aspects than the KidLitCon sessions in this post at MotherReader, saying: "I was able to talk with Sherry Early, who I met for the first time that weekend. She confirmed the feeling I'd had all weekend, that the smaller scale had made it so easy for people to really get to know each other."
  • At 5 Minutes for Books, Jennifer says: "There is a difference between this and other blogging conferences because it really is about a common love — books." My feeling exactly!
  • At Confessions of a Bibliovore, Maureen says: "I am not a person who loves meeting people, you have to understand. But I always, always love meeting people at KidlitCon, because I know without being told--by the fact of their presence--that they are kindred spirits". Do you sense a common theme here?
  • At Big Hair and Books, Rosemond Cates says: "I met so many kindred spirits who love children's literature as much as I do!"
  • At Wands and Worlds, Sheila says: "The people were the best thing about the conference. It was great seeing old friends, and I met such wonderful and interesting new people."
  • At I'm Here, I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?, Lee Wind shares the top 7 lessons that he learned at #KidLitCon (including one from me!).
  • Emilia from Flippy-Do Reads! says: "it was a successful and lovely conference", and discusses several sessions in more detail.  
  • ... more to come. If I missed your post, let me know and I will add it. 

My session with Sarah on overcoming blogger burnout was well-received. We could perhaps have spent a bit less time on the reasons for burnout, and a bit more time on our tactics for overcoming it, but we did share a nice little one-page handout (compliments of Sarah). When our schedules allow, we'll turn that into an Infographic. I'll also share more details about the session (including our recommended burnout-recovery tactics) later this week. 

WelcomeTableWhile I found all of the sessions that I attended interesting and rejuvenating, the real reason I go to KidLitCon is to spend time with kindred spirits. (See photo to the left, which Sarah took, of Pam and me manning the registration table.)

FiestaHighlights from this year's conference included meeting Leila, Sherry, Jennifer, Katy, Maria, Kim, and Rosemond for the first time, after visiting with them on blogs and Twitter over the months and years. I also enjoyed meeting new blogging friends, like Daniela, Allie, Emilia, Jen, Holly, Julie, Molly, and Heather, and finally meeting authors that I've wanted to meet, like Margo Rabb, P.J. Hoover, and of course Cynthia and her husband, Greg. (Photo is of the entrance to our Friday night function room at El Mercado.) 

KidLitConBreakfastBut what brings me back to KidLitCon year after year, is spending time with my peeps, like Pam, Sarah, Lee, Sheila, Charlotte, Maureen, Melissa, CamillePaula, Chris, and Kelly. (Some of whom are shown in the Sunday breakfast photo to the left, which I lifted from Pam.) I am especially grateful for Pam, without whom this year's KidLitCon would never have gotten off the ground. I can't say it enough. Spending time with people who "get it" -- who share my passion for getting the word out about great children's and YA books, and getting each of those books into the hands of the right reader at the right time -- is a gift. 

Stay tuned for more KidLitCon recaps. And before you know it, we'll be planning for KidLitCon 2014. I hope to see you all there! 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 


KidLitCon Session: Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back

KidlitCon2013I'm pleased to announce that I'll be presenting at this year's Kidlitosphere Conference (KidLitCon #7) in Austin, TX. Sarah Stevenson and I are hosting a session on Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back. 

Here's the overview that Sarah and I submitted: 

Anyone who has been blogging for a while has experienced occasional bouts of blogger burnout. Many of us put in an inordinate amount of time on our blogs, for which we are largely unpaid. And sometimes, we lose focus, or start to question what we're doing. In this presentation, we'll share our own recent experiences with blog burnout, and the suggestions that other bloggers made to help us to get our respective grooves back. We'll also seek other suggestions from the audience.

We've started making lists of:

  • Reasons that kidLit bloggers experience burnout (putting out content and not receiving any response, for example); and 
  • Things that bloggers have done that have helped to pull them out of a bout of burnout (refocusing on the reasons you started your blog in the first place, for instance). 

If you have any suggestions for us for either of these lists (or on this topic in general), please share (and we will of course attribute your input in our presentation). Or, if you're coming to KidLitCon in Austin, we hope that you'll share your thoughts during the presentation.

Still undecided about attending KidLitCon? The deadline for registration is this Thursday, October 24th [Updated: extended to November 1st]. Here are three recent posts on other blogs that may help encourage you to attend:

  • Charlotte from Charlotte's Library is organizing a panel with Melissa Fox (Book Nut) and Katy Manck (BooksYALove) on blogging middle grade books. They'll be looking at things like "who are the various audiences for middle grade blogs, and how we can keep our blogs growing, extending their reach and their depth?". See this post for details. 
  • Leila from Bookshelves of Doom admits in this post to having been nervous about attending KidLitCon for the first time last year. But now she says, "It was like... the internet allowed me to Find My People and to get to know them, but it was at KidLitCon that they really became MY FRIENDS. There's just something about meeting face-to-face that makes the relationships more REAL, somehow." I know exactly what she means, and I can't wait to finally meet Leila in person. Do read the whole post
  • Greg Pincus from GottaBook will, sadly, not be able to attend this year. He says: "You should go! Seriously - hanging out with blogging pals is the best."  

Still need more? Well, a partial list of attendees has been posted. Click through to see some of the great blogs that will be represented. Have you always wanted to meet Kelly Jensen of STACKED or Maureen Kearney of Confessions of a Bibliovore? Now is your chance! Click through to see more names and blogs. 

We're finalizing a couple of details with the agenda, and will have that published shortly. But honestly, the reason to attend is to hang out with people who love blogging and talking about children's and young adult books. To find your peeps, and make them your real-life friends. Don't wait! Register now for the 7th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference, KidLitCon 2013

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 


Time is Running Out: Kidlitosphere Edition

Cybils2013SmallThere are two important deadlines in the Kidlitosphere today. First of all, nominations for the 2013 Cybils close tonight, October 15th, at midnight PST. This is your last chance to give props to the well-written children's and young adult titles that you think will most appeal to kids. Don't know what to nominate? Bloggers from all around the Kidlitosphere have been publishing lists of titles that they would like to see nominated. Start here and here for links. Many thanks to everyone who has nominated, suggested titles, and/or generally spread the word about the Cybils this year!

KidlitCon2013Second of all, today is the deadline to obtain our group discount for the KidLitCon hotel (the Sheraton in downtown Austin). You can still register for the conference until October 24th, but you may find it harder to find a hotel nearby. MotherReader (who negotiated our hotel discount) adds:

"Yes, other hotels around will be cheaper but this one is about .5 miles from the conference site, and is between the conference and dinner location. It looks lovely and has a lounge where we can hang out! I'm sorry, I mean where we WILL hang out." 

I have to tell you that one of my very favorite parts of KidLitCon is sitting around a hotel lobby or lounge late into the evening, with a glass of wine in hand, talking with my peeps about all things books (and life). If you'd like to join us, today is the day to sign up, and lock in the discounted hotel rate. Contact me if you need more details. 

We've also finalized some details about the conference, and the Friday pre-conference event. See the beautiful flyer below for details (with thanks to Tanita Davis and Sarah Stevenson). 

Kidlitaustinflyer2

In case you're having trouble viewing images, here is some of the key information in text form:

Join keynote speaker Cynthia Leitich Smith, readers, bloggers and friends at the 2013 Kidlit Con at Austin. Kickoff meetup will be held Nov. 8 at the UT-Austin iSchool Campus, Tocker Lounge 1-4 p.m. The main conference will be held November 9, with coffee starting at 9:15, and the keynote at 10 a.m. Rekindling Your Love of Blogging. Panels and discussion, catered luncheon. Round out the day with a buy-your-own group meal at Scholz Beer Garten in downtown Austin. Conference Fee: $65. Registration deadline: October 24. See Kidlitosphere Central for more information. Register here.

So, get your Cybils nominations in, and book your hotel room for KidLitCon today. And don't delay registering for KidLitCon, because that deadline is approaching soon, too. I hope to see you there. 


Keynote Speaker for KidLitCon Announced

KidlitCon2013I posted last week about the registration and call for proposals for the 7th annual Kidlitosphere Conference. Today, I'm happy to share the news that the keynote speaker for the conference will be the fabulous Cynthia Leitich Smith, children's and young adult author and long-time blogger at Cynsations. Cynthia will be speaking on Saturday morning to kick off the main conference, and she's sure to be a hit. 

KidLitCon will be held November 9th in Austin, TX, with a precon event in the works for Friday. You can register for KidLitCon here. If you register by October 11th you'll receive a $10 discount off of the already quite reasonable $65 registration fee. We're also accepting sessions proposals for KidLitCon here. The deadline for proposals is this Friday, October 4th, so please get yours in soon. 

Here are links to other posts about KidLitCon from:

Don't miss out on all the fun. Register for KidLitCon today. Or, as Tanita said in her post:

"Once upon a time, this was an idea - then a potluck - and now for seven years running, a place where many people meet up with Their Tribe. Will you be there?"

I will!

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 


Register Now for the 7th Annual KIDLITCON!

Kidlitosphere_buttonIt's official. Here is the announcement from MotherReader at the KidLitosphere Central website:

The seventh annual KidLitCon on November 9th in Austin, Texas is officially accepting registrations!

While we would love to be ahead of schedule with well, a schedule, we invite you to register now to help your organizers plan for attendence. Registering early will also give you a chance to suggest topics that YOU would like to see at KidLitCon 2013. Register before October 11th for $10 off the registration fee and a chance to win a prize package of books and goodies!

Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for sending your check or money order. Hotel information will also be available, hopefully with a discount for our group. 

We are still accepting proposals for workshops and panel discussions. Past KidLitCon sessions have included topics such as ethics of reviewing, diversity in children/teen literature, effective marketing, kidlit social media, and online community building. If you are interested in presenting at KidLitCon, please submit a proposal soon. 

Look to this website for updates to the schedule, including our Friday evening event. 

Lots more info to come. For now, start spreading the word! Be a fan on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! And best of all register to attend KidLitCon 2013.

And now back to me. Why should you sign up now to attend KidLitCon 2013, when there isn't even a schedule posted yet? Because attending KidLitCon is one of the most rewarding things you can do as a children's and/or young adult book blogger. KidLitCon is not like other big, monetization-focused, swag-focused conferences that you may have heard about. KidLitCon is a small conference (between 50 and 100 attendees), populated by children's book bloggers and authors. KidLitCon is:

  • A chance to meet face to face people you have interacted with only online, and confirm that yes, you are really friends. 
  • A chance to be surrounded by people who share your passion for children's literacy and literature. 
  • A chance to learn more about blogging if you are new, and to recharge your energies if you've been doing this for a long time. 
  • A chance to talk about things like the ethics of blogging, the relationship between authors and blog reviewers, blogging new releases vs. backlist titles, and much more. (If you register now, you can give your input into which specific topics should be discussed this year). 

I wasn't able to attend last year's KidLitCon due to illness, though I had attended the prior five. I missed it terribly. KidLitCon is where I connect, face-to-face, with my peeps. It's a place where everyone around me knows what the Cybils are, and when the next Divergent book comes out, and who the National Ambassador for Children's Literature is. KidLitCon is home. 

The registration fee is $65, plus $20 for the Friday precon. This is a very reasonable conference fee indeed. If you can at all swing travel to Austin in early November, and you love blogging about children's books and encouraging kids to be readers, you should come. You won't be disappointed. Submit a proposal if you like, but no pressure on that front. The important thing is to come. Register now! The dealine to register is October 24th. 

I hope to see you all there. 


Registration for the 6th Annual KidLitCon is Now Open!

Yes, my Kidlitosphere friends, it's that time again. Time to register for KidLitCon. As previously announced, this year's conference will be in New York City, at the main branch of New York Public Library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, on September 28th and 29th. This year's host, the fabulous Betsy Bird, has all of the details here. Or you can go straight to the KidLitCon registration form.

Betsy and her equally fabulous co-hosts, Monica Edinger (Educating Alice) and Liz Burns (A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy), are sure to put together a can't miss event. Not only that. The main conference, on Saturday, is free for registered guests. Free! Can't beat that. 

It's also not to late to submit session proposals for the conference. The deadline for that is August 15th. 

KidLitCon is an annual gathering of people who love and promote children's literature. Conference sessions are designed to edify bloggers, including both reviewers and blogging authors. It's a relatively small conference (attendance this year is expected to be between 100 and 175 people), which makes it a great place to meet people. It's not the place to go if you are looking to collect hundreds of free ARCs. But it is definitely the place to go if you would like to:

  • Get ideas for stepping up and/or revitalizing your blog;
  • Meet people who you only know through their blogs; and
  • Be surrounded by other people who love children's and young adult literature as much as you do.

KidLitCon. It's the place to be! Register now!


Call for Papers for KidLitCon

It's that time of year again. The time for children's and young adult book bloggers to think about KidLitCon. This year the 6th annual Kidlitosphere Conference (aka KidLitCon) will be held in New York City on September 28th and 29th. This year's host, the tireless Betsy Bird, just posted the call for papers at A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy says:

That’s right, folks!  We are now accepting proposals for presentations at KidLitCon 2012!

We are looking for 50 minute presentations, panels, and keynotes that will appeal to and edify Kidlitosphere bloggers. Our goal is to provide a balanced selection for a wide range of interests and include, but are not limited to, topics of diversity, reviewing critically, evaluating illustrations, social media, marketing, and technology, and industry relationships.

Proposals are due by August 15, 2012, so be sure to get your ideas in soon!

We’ll only be accepting proposals submitted in the form found here."

Conference registration opens Monday, July 30th.

The conference changes location each year, to make it easier for a range of people to attend, moving Central to West to East. Past conferences have been held in Chicago; Portland, Oregon; Washington, DC; Minneapolis; and Seattle. For those of you on the East Coast, this is your chance to attend a relatively local KidLitCon. Of course I always think that KidLitCon is worth traveling for, wherever it's held. Stay tuned for more details! But now is the time to start thinking of session proposals ... 


KidLitCon 2011: Wrap-Up Post

Kidlitcon_logo2 I'm still digging my way out after my trip to Seattle for KidLitCon 2011 (which was followed by a quick cross-country trip for a family event). I've been reading the wrap-up posts that other people have shared on the Kidlitosphere Central website, and continuing to following the #KidLitCon hashtag on Twitter. Much as I would love to, I don't have the bandwidth to do a detailed wrap-up, talking about all of the sessions, and all of the people I met, and friends I reconnected with. Only so many hours of babysitting time are available to me, and most of those need to be spent on work. But here are a few comments:

  • Colleen Mondor and Jackie Parker-Robinson are marvels. KidLItCon 2011 was highly successful, thanks to their tireless efforts. The hotel was beautiful, the service was excellent, and the meals were delicious. The number one food hit was definitely pudding cups. The only miss, logistics-wise, was on the hotel's part, in not providing a cash bar downstairs during the reception (one could go upstairs and into the hotel restaurant, but this was time-consuming). But that was a tiny issue - overall everything was great.
  • The conference booklet, prepared by Colleen and Jackie with the help of Sarah Stevenson, was both beautiful and useful. (My one tiny suggestion for next year would be to include the presenters' Twitter handles right there with the session titles - that would have saved a step in the live-tweeting).
  • The sessions were all excellent. I didn't find any that I attended to be a waste of time. I spent much of the conference live-tweeting, and could barely keep up with the witty sound-bytes and useful suggestions. If you have time, do check out the #KidLitCon hashtag on Twitter, from Friday afternoon until Saturday night. There is a ton of great stuff there. (Perhaps someone could archive that portion of the chat stream?)
  • Scott Westerfeld, the keynote speaker, was brilliant. Smart and funny and completely accessible. He was able to attend a big chunk of conference events, and I think that he now finds himself with a host of new and newly invigorated fans.
  • We together raised more than $1700 for RIF, between donations prior to the event and 10% of book purchases during the conference. Isn't it great when you can do good while enjoying yourself? Many thanks to everyone who donated and/or bought books.
  • As usual, the best part of KidLitCon was spending time with old and new friends. Hanging out with Colleen, Jackie, Pam Coughlan, Liz Burns, Anne Levy, and Kelly Jensen on Thursday night, doing a bit of last-minute setup. Planning our conference session over lunch on Friday with Maureen Kearney and Melissa Fox (and missing Terry Doherty, who wanted to be there). Being able to present on Moving Beyond Google Reader with Carol Rasco (and missing Melissa Wiley and Greg Pincus, who wanted to be part of the panel). Meeting Els Kushner and Chris Singer for the first time. Talking over lunch Saturday about the impact of school librarian layoffs on state booklists with Roseanne Parry and Sarah Stevenson. Talking Cybils with Anne, Jackie, Sarah, Mary Ann Scheuer and Sheila Ruth. And seeing so many other friends, and meeting new ones - I could keep going on and on, but you get the idea.

And here are a few take-home messages from the panels that stuck with me:

  • Although publishers prefer for bloggers to write full reviews, they also appreciate the mentions on Twitter and Facebook about books, anything that gets conversation started (from Bloggers and Writers and Pubs! Oh My!, by Pam Coughlan, Liz Burns, Zoe Luderitz, and Kirby Larson)
  • In some cases, publishers are interested in reviews for backlist titles, outside of the standard six-month time window in which press is emphasized for new books. (From comments during my session with Maureen Kearney and Melissa Fox on blogging both newer and older titles).
  • Thoughtful critical reviews (not mean reviews) are valuable for teachers and librarians, lend credibility to your blog, and (if professionally done) will not hurt your relationship with publishers. (From Going Deep: The Hows and Whys of Blogging Critically by Kelly Jensen, Abby Johnson, Julia Riley, and Janssen Brandshaw, though this topic was also discussed elsewhere)
  • We have the power to use our blogs to help causes that we care about. (From Chris Singer's wonderful talk on Building a Better World With Your Book Blog)
  • There was a LOT more, but you'll have to dip into the Twitter stream, or go and read other people's wrap-up posts to find it, I'm afraid. Because I have to get back to work.

Bottom line: as with the other KidLitCons, KidLitCon 2011 for me was well worth the time and money. It was rejuvenating to spend time with so many people who feel the same way that I do about children's books and literacy. The sessions made me eager to get back to my blogging, and make it better, more diverse, and more thoughtful. And best of all, I was able to spend time with people who have become, over these six years of blogging, close friends. KidLitCon 2012 will be in New York City (details to be announced as soon as possible). You may be sure that I will do everything in my power to be there.


Cybils, Kidlitcon, and Carnivals, Oh My!

Cybils2011 There's a lot going on out there in the Kidlitosphere right now. Today's big news is that the call for judges for the 2011 Cybils is up. Children's and young adult book bloggers are invited to apply as panelists for round 1 or round 2 of judging for the 2011 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (Cybils). You can find more details about being a panelist here. Or, if you're already familiar with the Cybils, you can click straight through to the Cybils judge application form here.

The deadline to apply as a panelist is Sept. 15th. However, Cybils founder Anne Levy urges you not to wait -- many organizers begin filling slots immediately. One important change this year: if you wish to judge in the new Book App category, you must have access to an iPad (more details about the new category here).

Speaking as the Literacy Evangelist for the Cybils (i.e., cheerleader and long-time organizer), I can tell you that being a panelist is a lot of fun, and is a chance to make a real contribution to the world of children's literature. It is a lot of work, especially for round 1 panelists, but well worth the time. Nominations open October 1st.

Kidlitcon_logo2 In other news, registrations for KidLitCon continue apace. The updated (though still tentative) schedule is here. The current list of registered attendees is here (with some time lag, since registration fees are sent by mail). And no, it's not too late to register. It's going to be a great time!

Also, the August Carnival of Children's Literature is now available at Great Kid Books. Host Mary Ann Scheuer (who is also the organizer for the new app category for the Cybils) has put together a fun and festive assortment of children's book-related posts. Or, as Mary Ann calls it, "a tasty schmorgesborg of delicious reading".

I-can-read-meme2 And, finally, the August I Can Read Carnival is now available at Jean Little Library. Host Jennifer has links to an assortment of posts about easy readers, beginning chapter books, and picture books aimed at new readers.

There are doubtless lots of other great things going on around the Kidlitosphere today. But there events should give you a great start. Happy reading!