Armchair BEA: Networking in Real Life

In the spirit of SNL’s Stefon*:

Day Three of Armchair BEA: you know, it’s that thing, where a giant glob of people all flock to New York, but you can’t go. It has everything: cratefulls of bookmarks, hosted giveaways, bloggers connecting with other bloggers…

So, blogs are cool and everything, but have you taken the social networking experience to the next level?

Let me tell you how easy it is!

I started going to book signings at the incredibly amazing local bookstore Anderson’s Bookshop about five or six years ago (check out their events page). I’ve seen Jodi Picoult, Stephenie Meyer (pre-movie franchise – it was still nuts), Libba Bray and Meg Cabot. Oh yeah, they bring in the big names. When I started fanatically reading every YA I could manage giving I still worked a day job, I realized that Anderson’s brought in all the top children’s and YA authors early on, meaning I could see them before they sold out events. I’ve seen tons of other great authors that are buzzed about, almost all are willing to chat with fans during the signing. I’ve gotten writing advice from Simone Elkeles and Carrie Ryan just for showing up to free events like these. (Free, but buy the book and support the store and author!)

I noticed the same folks showed up to many of these events. Going solo, I would have loved if someone said hi and introduced themselves. Why not be that person? Exert all your extrovert abilities, and say hi to someone next to you. I’ve done it. I met a well known book blogger who happened to drive in from another state. Who knew? I already followed her blog!

A twitter buddy posted about going to see Beth Revis (Across the Universe) and I thought hey, if I go, we can meet! When we met up, I told her I was looking for a local writing group. She invited me to hers, which was part of the national organization SCBWI. I ended up joining which connected me with even more resources and local chapters – there are lots in the Chicago area. Sometimes one contact can open up even more connections.

The more active you are on blogs and on twitter, the more connections you make. Registering for a conference is a great way to meet fellow bloggers and writers. On some of my followed blogs, people were making plans to meet up at BEA. How cool is that! If you go solo, you can still meet up with a friend. All it takes is a little courage to reach out and make the connection. Sometimes it’s scary if you’re shy, but in my experience, most book bloggers and writers have been very friendly.

Check out the #ArmchairBEA hashtag on twitter for more giveaway opportunities. Here again is a link to participating blogs.

And because he’s the best, here’s Stefon:

 

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