Liz Burns graciously gave us her view of KidlitCon and an answer that most burning question of all: why should I attend?
So, Liz, in your own words, what exactly is the KidlitCon?
KidlitCon is where the Internet becomes real. Children's and young adult literature bloggers, who usually only have the time to meet and "talk" virtually on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, email, (insert technology of your choice) get to meet in person (wow, that person is shorter in real life!).
Because flying for hours and paying for a hotel "to meet someone I met on the Internet" is exactly what we tell teens not to do, instead of it just being called a meeting, it's a Conference. Doing all that for a Conference? People understand that.
Like any conference, there are panels and workshops that give bloggers both the chance to learn and grow as an audience member and as someone giving the talk. The panels are specifically for children's/young adult book bloggers, so covers both the subject matter we blog about as well as the technical aspects of blogging. Like any conference, part of the importance from attending is networking with our peers so plenty of time is also built in for that. "Networking" means talking while food and drink is around.
Book bloggers who blog about children's and young adult books. People who are interested in blogging about children's and young adult books. People who read book blogs. Authors and publishers and other industry folk. Actually, sometimes there are split sessions, with one talk aimed at the "book bloggers" and another aimed at authors/publishers, because while we have a lot in common, we also have unique interests and concerns.
I'm a bit fascinated by the marketing and advertising aspect of books, especially how book blogs are becoming part of the marketing of books. So, from that point of view, I'd add that booksellers and librarians would also benefit from attending. These blogs are what customers and potential customers are reading; these blogs have information that customers may want to know.
How will attendees benefit from coming?
Part of what I love about the kidlitosphere (that is, the online community of children's and young adult book bloggers) is that you realize "I'm not alone." Here is your tribe, of people with a shared interest! If you remember how awesome it was when you realized that? Think how more awesome it is when you meet your tribe in person. My friendship with Pam (MotherReader) is stronger from having met in person; same for Michelle (GalleySmith). When I get in new books to review, I'll recognize an author who I met.
Because KidlitCon is on such a smaller scale than the "biggees" like ALA or BEA, the chance of meeting people (during a workshop, or breakfast, or lunch) is much better. Which means that bloggers have the ability to really connect beyond just saying "hi". Because there aren't panels all over the place, it helps create a real sense of community over the time of the conference. If, say, people get together at night to hang out (with beer, wine, water or cola, whatever they prefer) it's all happening in one place.
I also love how KidlitCon is on a weekend. While I'm lucky enough to be able to take time off the day befor and after, being able to minimize the time I'm away from work (and the vacation days I have to take) really helps.
What has been your favorite part of each conference?
Meeting people in real life. Being able to sit down and have that instant connection. Also, always, I find out something new, something fresh from the panels.
What would you say to somone who is on the fence about attending?
Sometimes, you have to take care of yourself. What better way than spending an entire weekend with people who love what you love?
I'd also suggest that anyone who is on the fence about submitting a panel -- do it! Yes, it can be a little scary if you've never done one before, but you'll be in front of friends who are really interested in what you have to say. You couldn't ask for a more welcoming crowd. Also, it's great practice. This year, KidlitCon, next year, your local library conference, then ALA or BEA!