03 October 2012

It's a Small World After All

Managed to get out to KidLitCon this past weekend. KidLitCon is for bloggers, by bloggers, and it's on its sixth year. Seeing as the conference was in New York, and so am I at the moment, I just had to go. It wasn't easy, mind you, as getting up before the crack of 3PM is not easy for me. Not to mention staying awake and paying attention for a full twelve hours. How do you people do it?

On Friday, I had the chance to attend a publisher preview and upon sliding open the door, I was greeted with a huge conference room filled with editors and bloggers.  I had no idea the presentation would be on such a large scale. Silly me.  I felt like a total delinquent for rolling in late.

Aside from gifting everyone an incredibly huge bag of books, HarperCollins walked us through their upcoming titles.  I saw quite a few I've been waiting for, such as Ellen Oh's Prophecy, Debra Driza's Mila 2.0, and the Defy the Dark anthology edited by fellow 2009 Deb Saundra Mitchell.  I'm also pretty intrigued by Soman Chainani's The School for Good and Evil, which sounded promising and had quite the eye-catching cover -- one that I guess hasn't been released yet.

The main takeaway I got from the preview was this: there are a lot of books coming. Yes, a lot of books. I guess I knew that but when a room full of editors take turns presenting all of their titles, it becomes a deluge of blurbs, descriptions, and covers.  It really made me stop and think about how many new YA/MG/children's books are dropped each year.  I've heard the number for YA alone is something like 4,000+, which seems gigantic. Are there really that many?

It's at once intimidating how many books authors have to face off against each season, and also cool to see so many fun books coming out.  Plus, seeing all these books presented at once definitely opens your eyes to some trends.  For example, kids who go to sleep only to wake up years later are on the rise.  You heard it here first.  Or third.  Or fiftieth.

As someone who's never worked in publishing, and as a simple author not privy to many things, I found it educational to peek behind the scenes and see editors talk about the books.  In a way, it was like being at a marketing meeting, one where the publisher is enthusiastically pushing titles toward librarians and bloggers.  Normally I see books pushed by writers to agents, and agents to editors, but haven't had much experience at a different part of the food chain.  It makes me want to experience it all, from every level.  Quick, someone invite me to more things.  I'll be quiet, observant, and on time.  Promise.

Having never attended BEA or ALA or anything of the sort, I've never been around so many people who, in theory and in reality, share the same interest in these two things: blogging and books.  One hundred percent of people in the room you could talk about something you were both passionate about.  That rarely happens, at least for me. Usually big roomfuls of people and I only have one interest in common, or maybe none.

I should probably get out more.

There are fine recaps of the conference so I'll link to them below.  Before attending, I didn't realize the whole thing was volunteer run, so Betsy Bird (A Fuse #8 Production), Liz Burns (A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy), and Monica Edinger (Educating Alice) clearly put in a bajillion hours -- on top of their normal jobs -- to pull the whole thing off.  Really quite amazing. Thanks to them for their hard work and did I mention this entire thing was free?

I'm ready to cyber follow everyone who attended, since that's pretty much my hobby, which is handy since the main KidLitCon page has the links to everyone who went. There were some people I totally wanted to talk to but couldn't find the opportunity. I think it would've been ideal to have like rounds of meet and chats. Although maybe that is weird. Ah who cares, let's do it next time anyway.
Here's some of my highlights and stuffs: Spent the afternoon post-publisher preview and before dinner talking to Shelia Ruth about her many interests, experiences, and expertises. Among many other things, she's a judge for the Cybils; runs Wands and Worlds, a community space for children and teen fans of scifi/fantasy; and is a whiz at social media.

Finally meeting Sheela Chari after missing her at various events from coast to coast. Her book, Vanished, not only has one of my favorite covers but also features a plot centered around a disappearing instrument.  I can count on one finger how many books I've read in YA/MG with such a great premise, especially one featuring a minority protagonist. Also, Sheela's co-presenter, Michelle Schusterman (YA Highway) has an upcoming series, I Heart Band, that is about well, band.  Anything with band geeks I'm into, as I was the loneliest -- read, only male -- flautist for many a band in my youth.

Getting to hear Nova Ren Suma talk about her incredible blog, Distraction 99. If you aren't following it, I don't even know what you're doing with your life. Recheck those priorities. I saw Nova read from Imaginary Girls at Teen Author Reading Night last summer and have been a fan since. She did a presentation with Kelly of Stacked Books about running a successful blog series.

Trying to figure out if that guy two rows over was E.C. Myers.  I could only see the back side of his head and since I've only seen/conversed with him online, it was tough to identify him.  Authors should present full 360 degree photos for ultimate stalkage. Just saying. It could eliminate those tricky "is that?" moments.

Speaking of guys, at any conference where 90% of the attendees are female, the guys gotta say hey to the other guys, right?  Geoff Rodkey introduced himself to me at dinner and we got to talking.  Cars, explosions, guns!  Actually no, none of that.  He did tell me about his recently released book for middle graders, Deadweather and Sunrise: The Chronicles of Egg, Book 1.  I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but I assure you it's fantastic because after spending time with Geoff, I find it hard to believe he could have written anything less than stellar. I'll be reading Deadweather and Sunrise very soon, to confirm my hypothesis.

And in one of those New York coincidences, I literally ran into librarian Henry Drak on the corner by my apartment.  Eleven o'clock at night in Brooklyn, nobody else around and I see this dapper young man standing around lugging all the same tote bags as me.  Kismet I say.  Without him I never would have made it to KidLitCon the next morning on time, so for that I'm super grateful.

Finally, found out that one of the attendees was married to the lead singer of a band I love quite a bit. I don't even wanna say who it was, to protect her identity, but mostly so I can have this fact/secret all to myself.  I was giddy and may have fanboyed by proxy. Or proxy fanboyed, I dunno, whichever one makes more sense.

KitLitCon was great, let's run it back!