A few weeks ago I had the pleasure and honour of attending the very first Penguin Random House National Book Bloggers Forum held in the Random House Australia office in Sydney. For those on Twitter you were no doubt flooded with many tweets and retweets from yours truly and many others, especially if you were following the #NBBF14 tag. It was filled with wonderful pictures, many quotes and great reactions as each session progressed, new books were being revealed to us, and general excitements of the day.
I have been to many writers festivals and authors events before so going to a forum that is just about book bloggers was certainly exciting and very intriguing. Sitting at train station in the early hours of the morning I was thinking about how wonderful it would be to meet other book bloggers and after chatting with a few people throughout the day it is evident there are many different types of book blogs and wonderful people attached to them.
I’m not sure of the final numbers but looking around the room there were a few dozen of us, not to mention the lovely people from Random House and Felicity from Penguin Australia as well. Upon arrival we all gathered and chatted amongst ourselves as people continued arriving, getting our name tags, introducing ourselves to people already there and people just arriving. We were also spoilt with the gift of a goodie bag filled with books for us to take home, many I had heard of and some I hadn’t. After going through our swag and chatting with people it wasn’t long before we were making our way to our seats and got ready for a day filled with great sessions, interesting discussions, and more wonderful surprises.
Brett Osmond, the Director of Marketing and Publicity from Random House, welcomed us and the day officially began. What was wonderful was that Brett acknowledged us as bloggers as part of the book industry. He told us that we too are in the business of connecting readers with books, and when you connect books with readers “magical things can happen”.
Brett spoke about how publishing was changing, and how while nothing changed in the first 15-20 years of his career, the last three years alone have changed dramatically. After years of doing the same thing and selling to the same customer things were changing, they were becoming more sophisticated. Three years ago they had not sold an ebook in Australia and now they are 20% of their business.
He also told us Australians are some of the highest readers in the world, and added it doesn’t matter what format people read in as long as they read. It doesn’t matter if they are loose pages, tablet or Kindle, hardcover or paperback, what matters is the engagement and education reading can fuel. An excellent argument I agree wholeheartedly with.
After Brett spoke there were some wonderful tips and tricks explained to us by the digital guru’s of Random House as Eve and Ellie spoke to us about the digital aspects of blogging. Eve spoke about web analytics and how we can understand who is visiting our blogs and how to understand all the numbers that our stats generate. Ellie also helped us to understand the power and role social media can have in our blogging ventures. I found this session really helpful, not just about reading the numbers, but finding new and exciting ways to connect with people online, not only through my blog but through other social media as well.
Up next was Sneh Roy to talk about her blog-to-book experience. Sneh was the winner of the Best Australian Blogs Competition 2013 and is now the author of the new book Tasty Express. Sneh told us about her blogging experience and how she started blogging ten years ago, she also told us about her creative process when it comes to blogging. She gave us a few inspirational messages that were really important to remember such as blog for yourself rather than anyone else, don’t get bogged down by trends, and content is the most important thing, it precedes everything else.
Audience questions included asking how long a typical post took (4-6 hours including cooking, writing, and photographing); were mobile devices the cause of possible dwindling comments (Sometimes, especially if autocorrect becomes troublesome it can seem like too much of an effort to make it work properly on a device, plus there are so many more things out there and people have short attention spans and may not take the time); and when did blogging become more than a hobby (it is still a hobby, Sneh is a wife, mum, and blogger all in one, and she works around school times). She added that opportunities had come along, she took jobs, talked to people and it simply developed from there.
After these three talks had concluded, all this information been processed, and the lucky door prize had been drawn to win a copy of Sneh’s book (I was not successful in that part), it was still only 11 o’clock!
We took a break to have a wonderful morning tea prepared by Sneh and discussed the morning. Having no idea what to expect from this day it was going pretty well, I had met a few people and learnt a lot already and with so much of the day left to go it was shaping up to be a great day!
Stay tuned for part two!