Day One, Part Two. I should point out that for most of the conference, there were choices between two panels. Much like saying to someone, “do you want ice cream or a brownie? no, you cannot have both.”
One is Silver and the Other’s Gold: A Discussion on Blogging Backlist vs. New Releases, and Why It Doesn’t Have to Be Versus by Maureen Kearney, Jen Robinson and Melissa Madsen Fox. To be honest, I sat down in this session believing that I don’t blog enough backlist titles, I do too many new releases, and that this panel would energize me to review more older titles.
I came away energized to review more older titles, yes; but also with the realization that I am blogging backlist titles and didn’t even know it. One of the first things the panelists said was that, for the purposes of the panel and blogging, they defined “older books” as ones that had a publication date of six months or older. Yes, that’s right; six months. As Maureen explained further at her blog, Confessions of a Bibliovore, “For the purposes of our discussion, we said that “older” meant it was published more than six months ago. While that sounds massively silly, the topic came up at last year’s KidLitCon that publishers have a window of three months before and three months after the publication date of a book that seems to be the golden time for the publicity blitz. After that, it’s on to the next thing. So six months? Collecting Social Security.”
While the six months may cause some authors to pull out their hair and throw their laptop across the room, really, the good news is that blogs aren’t limited to what the publishers perceive as the “golden time.” (Actually, I would love to have a bigger, in depth conversation about this, the time period, what it means in terms of book sales, etc. As pointed out at the panel, some of it, from the publisher point of view, is simple time constraints: six months after a book’s publication, the publishers are concentrating on the then-current new books.)
Reasons for blogging the backlist: it builds trust with your readers when you blog a book they’ve read; it allows a blogger to review an entire series; books that are available in paperback are being currently reviewed, which helps those buyers who only buy paperbacks; and it’s freeing to review books without being driven by the external publication date. Also, often as bloggers, we blog about the books we have access to and those books are the older titles. Also, “books are all new to [readers] if they haven’t read it before.” Blogging older titles also helps deepen a blogger’s own knowledge of children’s literature, and to see books in a historical context. Examples for this included being aware of dystopian YA before now; reading The Dark is Rising against the backdrop of Watergate.
Melissa of Book Nut gave what may be my favorite quote about blogging: “My blog is for me … I blog for me. Everyone who reads it is just coming to my party.”
How to Build a Better World With Your Book Blog by Chris Singer. Singer spoke about his blog, Book Dads, that was originally begun by others. The original purpose of the blog was examining the portrayal of fathers in media, but, especially under Singer, it has expanded its mission to promoting literacy. Singer discussed not just his blog, but also his personal history (such as working in Uganda) that led him to this mission. As sometimes happens (especially, it seems, at kidlitcon!) discussion turned also to reviewing books versus recommending books and critical blogging. Different organizations that were mentioned for working with for promoting literacy included RIF, LitWorld, Reach Out & Read, First Book, We Give Books, and Books for Kids. (I’m also mentioning Kids Need To Read, founded by P.J. Haarsma, who attended the first Kidlitcon in 2007 in Chicago.) Singer spoke about different ways that could work; or also creating projects, such as Bucoseh, the book drive for Haiti.