Last Saturday at KidLitCon09, Pam Coughlan (aka Mother Reader) opened the session with The Blogger Within: An Interview with Your Inner Reader. Frankly, thinking about where I want to be, what my goals are, and how I’m going to get there set my frame of reference for the day. Looking back on my notes, many of my “homework assignments” are in some way connected to that early morning interview.
Rather than recap the event – which others have done so well – I am going to offer some concrete examples of how I am going to use the knowledge that I’ve learned.
Book Reviews – In listening to the discussions, both formal and informal, I realized that we don’t really review books. We talk about books: the ones we love, the ones that surprised us, even a few that didn’t strike our fancy. We don’t make recommendations, we just talk about the audience that might connect with the book. Am I splitting hairs? Maybe, but I can see the distinction. So from now on, we’re going to call the discussions Book Talks, not reviews.
Anchor links – I sort of knew what they were, but I didn’t fully understand what they did. Thanks to Michelle’s (GalleySmith) presentation, and her very helpful link to Anchors Aweigh, I get it now. Look for me to be more vigilant in using anchor links.
Refine the look – “Design is the front door to your blog,” Michelle (GalleySmith). Note to self: feng-shui the blog. I’m happy with taking the blogroll off the home page, but there is more work to be done. As I mentioned previously, in my haste to get the previous platforms of Scrub-a-Dub-Tub onto this one, I made quite a mess of tags. I have been pecking away at fixing them, and I will continue to refine and streamline both tags and categories. Taking Greg Pincus’ (GottaBook and The Happy Accident) analogy about one step further … comments are a way of inviting people to dinner, web style. Questions to self: Are you a good host? Do you make it easy for them to converse at the table or is there too much noise?
Make Yourself Transparent (not invisible) – As the Bibliovore mentioned (Kid Tested, Librarian Approved) there are a number of thoughtful posts on Mary Engle’s presentation about the new Federal Trade Commission Guidelines. See GalleySmith, Liz B (A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy), Jennifer Hubbard (WriterJenn), and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Library) for recaps and perspective. Suffice it to say, that while I am pleased by the news that we don’t have to disclose where we get our books, we will keep our policy in place and do it anyway. One of the themes of the day was “be professional,” and disclosure does that. Where the guidelines do affect us is the affiliate relationship. Look for these changes …
- On the website: a new above-the-fold statement on our book profiles and any page where we have a vendor image, whether we have an affiliate relationship or not.
- A new above-the-fold box on our blog homepage.
- A statement in every post that mentions a book, whether we link to the affiliate or not.
Be a better blog citizen – During the Book Bloggers Panel, Tricia Stohr-Hunt (Miss Rumphius) noted that it is important to get involved in weekly features. Although I make a regular habit of pointing folks to Nonfiction Monday, I rarely offer a link to Poetry Friday. Poetry is not my thing, but I can still encourage others to participate. At the same time, I need to better manage how I engage with the community. During his social networking session Gregory K started by saying that while the names and functions change, Social Networking is here to stay. I will be catalog all of the services where there is some form of an @ReadingTub and build a diagram so I can see how they work together (or don’t) and create a plan that is more efficient for us.
Remember It’s Bigger than You -The Reading Tub works to pay forward a love of reading. That is our mission, and thankfully, we are not alone. Ernestine Walls Benedict and I were talking, and we likened promoting literacy and reading to deciding when to quit smoking or changing your eating lifestyle. There is no one size fits all … there is an “it” that triggers the decision. Ultimately, it is a personal decision. The need to read is self-evident to us, but the world is full of people who aren’t us.
What KidLitCon09 did (as other have said) is renew my passion for not just books and reading, but making a difference, too. When we come together as a community (online or off), we are reminded that we need ALL of our talents. Reading is not a solitary avocation … it is (as Greg would say) a tool that gets the conversations started.