Monday, October 19, 2009

The Conversation Continues: Kidlit Bloggers Conference 2009 #kidlitcon

This is where I played all weekend:

The Author Panel: "It's Not All About Your Book"
Kidlit Blogger Conference, DC, 2009
Wendie Old, Sara Lewis Holmes, Caroline Hickey, and Laurel Snyder

I had a wonderful time at the conference, and if you're thinking about going next year, you should definitely do it.  I also know that I should blog every last detail, but between the revisions underway on the WIP and the Operation Yes promotional stuff, it isn't going to happen. Even these pictures I had to beg from the generous Jama at Alphabet Soup. EDITED TO ADD:  And she has a full report on everything discussed, along with more pictures. Seriously, her post is jam-packed, honest and thorough. Get yourself there to read it!)

Me with Jama's cutie-pie bear, Cornelius

But . . . I do want the conversation that was started around the Author Panel to have a place to continue. You have unanswered questions; you have thoughts that didn't hit you until later; you were inspired; or you were uninspired and still want to be; you now know what to blog about and you want to tell us----whatever it is, please use the comments section here on this post to talk to each other about it.

And since there were two specific questions that were left in an earlier post about blog audience, I did want to answer those directly.

The questions were:

madelyn said...

I will be going to the conference so I suppose I could ask this there, but just to get the discussion started I will ask a multi-layered question (because I love frosting): Who do you think of as your audience when you're blogging? Your readers or other writers? I realize they are often one in the same, but one of my worries about kidlit blogs (oh, worries isn't the right word, and I'm waiting to be set straight on this point anyway) is that it seems as if the audience is often other bloggers and writers, as opposed to that illusive child reader or the equally illusive parent of child reader. Some blogs I follow seem to be kid oriented; others seem to be writer oriented. How do you strike a balance? Who do you think about when you're blogging?

lgburns said...

My question is very similar to Madelyn's, and I hope that if this issue is discussed at the conference that one of you will blog about it!
I see my blog as a place for my readers (kids and adults) to go and see what I am up to. I write a bit about my work, and a whole lot about things that interest me, mostly books and science and the natural world. I think I do an okay job of staying on task and I think that my blog archive is a great place to go and learn a little bit about who I am and what makes me tick. That said, almost all of my subscribers, readers, and commenters are other writers. I did not anticipate this at all when I started the blog. And while I adore those few readers I have, and appreciate their readership, comments, and encouragement, I don't quite know what to do with the unease I feel over the fact that I don't blog with them in mind!

And my answer would be two-fold:

1) You may target an audience, but you can't control who reads your blog.  Your content will bring you the readers who most need that content.  Don't try to be all things; instead, showcase what you do or love best, be that scientific research, punctuation lore, or the particular slant with which you view your reading/writing life. In short, be authentic, and be aware that your readers may extend beyond what you planned for.

2) I don't think it's a failing that kids don't read most of our blogs. Kids don't read blogs in general, as Greg Pincus of GottaBook pointed out in his fabulously detailed social media talk.  I personally believe that kids are more likely to find your web site, as part of a class project. So keep that "static" site up-to-date, perhaps archiving some of your more relevant, kid-friendly posts there as articles.  (See Laura Purdie Salas's Poetic Pursuits on her site for a perfect example.) Anyone else want to weigh in on this?

Okay, that's enough talking from me. Your turn!


  1. (Argh. Just wrote a lengthy response to this and deleted it by mistake. Will try to remember what I wrote.)

    First, Sara, it was a great panel, fiery and full of life and DIFFERENCES, which really brought home how much a blog reflects (or should reflect) you.

    I think I came to a similar conclusion to Sara's answer after listening to her panel and others during the day. Content will drive your visitors. Many of us are interested in talking about writing and the writing process, which means our readers are going to be other writers. Not a problem!

    When I see the sites that really attract kids, they are just that -- sites and not blogs -- so I'm assuming Sara is dead on there as well.

    And, riffing off of what Sara and others (Pam? Greg?) said about your presence on the web being your home online, I'm now starting to think about it like this: If your web site is your couch or your avocado refrigerator (Coke Zero, anyone?) than your blog is the conversation you have there. Which brings into question: while you'll build up a loyal audience, is there anything to say that the conversation or visitors can't change from time to time? For instance: Could you write on your web site (or living room wall) that you want to hear from teen-agers about XX on the last Thursday of the month? Would you hear from them? Would you hear crickets?

    You want to bring young readers and their parents to your book, but does that necessarily mean that you have to bring them to your blog to do that? I'm thinking not, especially if it's just one limb of the cyber you.

    Okay, this isn't nearly as well thought out as I wanted it to be (if my personality is scattered I'm afraid that means my blog and blog-of-the-future will be, too. Is that a death knell?) But I'm pausing. I do want to add, though, that the conference gave me lots to think about and some things are starting to gel. Thanks Sara, Pam and everyone who was part of the collective brain.

  2. First, I wish I'd been there.

    Second, regarding Madelyn's question, I think librarians (and probably teachers?) are also reading author blogs, even if they aren't commenting, and we're definitely in the business of talking to kids about books, so I think you reach your books' target audience indirectly that way. When I am recommending books and booktalking, I often throw in bits and pieces I know about an author--things I've read on their blogs or in interviews. Parents are usually more interested than kids in that kind of thing, but often you have to sell the parent on a book. (For instance, when parents are nervous about their kids reading Jon Scieszka's books (I know, I know, but some are), I always tell them that he was an elementary school teacher for many years before he became an author. This always calms them down.)

  3. Madelyn, thanks for the feedback on the panel...and the use of the term "one limb of the cyber you." I'm going to steal that! Good rambling thinking, too. I like hearing your process as you figure it out.

    Adrienne, that is hard to believe about the distinguished Mr. Scieska! Hee, hee. I love your point about blog information giving librarians, parents, etc. a connection to the author. I'd never really thought of it in that particular way. Cool.

  4. I think you raise a great point, Sara, that even though kids don't really read blogs, they can stumble into your blog or site any time - either accidentally or as part of a project. It's key to make sure you have something for them when they get to you.

    I also agree that being authentic is key... and that your readers may, indeed, extend way beyond what you plan for. Waaaay beyond at times!

    Great to see you on the eastern seaboard for a change... and will see you in cyberspace until the next time!

  5. Sara, I think I thanked you on the facebook link for this, but I returned here after Jama's report and got even more on a second reading. So thank you again! So much to think about!

    And it sounds like it was a fun time, too.


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