FAQ and Other Miscellany

My name is Cassandra, and I blog at Indie Reader Houston.  I am the one in charge of this blog and the @BookBlogUNCON Twitter (which I really need to spend more time on).  I chose to become involved in the UNCON because I have been experiencing traditional convention burn-out.  Even though I’m really nervous (see FAQ below) about the lack of a set schedule, I am also excited about the opportunity to abandon that schedule and to be a part of an event that is all about the blogging.  I was involved in conversations with other BBC attendees just after the conference last year, and we expressed a desire for something smaller, less formal, and more manageable. That is what I hope the UNCON will be.

Q:  Isn’t the UNCON just your way of rebelling against the BEA organizers and their vision for what the BBC should be?

A: When the idea of the UNCON first got put out there following the announcement that the BBC had been purchased by Reed, I was on board.  Nothing really happened, though, until the day that they asked for conference attendees to supply stats.  That is true.  While that was what got the conversation started again, it was not the deciding factor, especially since Reed responded to those concerns quickly and thoroughly.  When another problem arose regarding press credentials for BBC attendees, Reed stepped up and quickly fixed the problem for all those affected.  They are doing a pretty good job in getting all this together and handling attendee concerns, especially since they had such a short window of time to work with.  Planning an event that large is hard.  As I’ve said here before, it is an event worth attending.  It’s just not my cup of tea anymore.

Q:  Why does the UNCON have to be on the same day as BBC? Why are you making people choose?

A: Many of the people who want to attend the UNCON had already made their travel plans and were already going to be in New York that day. It’s as simple as that.  It was the day that worked best for the majority of people because it didn’t interfere with BEA plans, and it didn’t require new travel arrangements.  Since we got such a late start, this was the only way to make it work.  If it works out nicely, and it is something that we want to do again (see below), then perhaps we can schedule it on a day that is still convenient but that doesn’t directly conflict with BBC.  For now, this is what works the best for the most people.

Q: Are there going to be other UNCONS? Will they be in New York?

A: We hope so. We don’t know.  I know that, after I’ve had the experience of this first one, that I would like to put one together here in Houston. There are a lot of book bloggers in Texas, and I would love to have an event that we didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for in terms of travel. I hope that other people are inspired to take it home with them, too.  I’ll keep the site up and running after New York, and if anyone wants to organize their own event, then I will be happy to help them publicize it.

Q:  Why are there no sponsors?  And aren’t freebies a good thing?

Freebies are a good thing.  But most everyone coming to the UNCON will be attending BEA, and there will be plenty of freebies.  Swag can be distracting.  If people want to bring snacks to share or blog-related stuff, like business cards or bookmarks, we can trade stuff. That’s cool.  Since we’re not giving things away, though, there does not seem to be a real reason for sponsors. Some of the bloggers involved are donating time, snacks, and materials, and we thought we’d just stick to that.  If you’re planning on coming and want to help out in some way, visit the Volunteer page.

Q: I know what to expect from BBC, and this whole no schedule thing is scary. How do I know which event is more worth my time?

It’s scary for me, too. I’ve planned more traditional conferences, and I’m usually the one that makes the schedule. I find them comforting.  I want to push my self out of the box, though, so I am taking a chance.  We’re not going into things completely blind, as we’ve asked people to propose topics they’d like to see covered.  We’re keeping a list of links, and you can take a look anytime.  Closer to the day, I’ll do a breakdown post.  I’ll also post a rough schedule of times – we just won’t know what will be happening during those times until we decide in the morning.  We’ve got one of the attendees from Book Camp joining us on the blog with a post describing her experience there, too. You’ll see.  It’s not scary. (I’m telling myself that, too).

Q:  So could I got to the BBC, and if it’s not my thing, could I make my way over to the UNCON and join you guys?

We do have limited space at the UNCON, so if you think you might like to hit both events, we’re going to ask that you register with us as if you were attending the whole day.  There’s no money involved, so don’t worry.  And logistically, it’s feasible.  There is a shuttle running to the Javits Center from a hotel down the street.  If you think you might try to do both, consider sending me an email (bookbloguncon@gmail.c0m) and letting me know ahead of time.

I think that’s it for now.  If you have other questions, please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll answer them as quickly as I can.

Announcing the Book Blog UNCON

WHO?   Book Bloggers

WHAT?  An unconference dedicated to book blogging

WHY? Book Bloggers asked for an event that focused on entirely on book blogging.

WHEN?  Monday, June 4, 2012

WHERE?  The Center for Fiction, Midtown Manhattan

COST?  FREE.

Jeff, aka The Reading Ape,  proposed the idea of an unconference on March 21, after it became clear to him that the alternative, BEA Blogger Con, was not going to be the kind of event he had hoped for.  It turns out that there are a lot of people who share that sentiment. It is not that BEA Blogger Con will not be a valuable experience for those who choose to go. If they have not attended the Book Bloggers Cons of the past, then attending this new event will definitely be a worthwhile experience.  For many of us, though, the event will not focus enough on the actual book blogging.  We want a forum where we can share our experiences, trade ideas, and have a whole room of other bloggers with whom we can discuss new ideas.  One commenter envisioned it as a giant twitter chat, but with everyone in the same room.  With snacks.

The beauty of an unconference lies in its flexibility.  The event is what it needs to be on that day. We will decide, as a group, what we talk about and who leads those discussions on the day of the UNCON.  We will all have some idea going in what we want those topics to be and (likely) who will be leading those sessions, but we are not going to set a strict schedule that must be followed.  For some of us, that is going to be a new concept, so Jeff is going to come back and talk more about that in the near future. In order for this model to work (at least the first time around), we are going to limit the number of participants to 100 book bloggers – and it will be a book bloggers only event.

The Center for Fiction has been generous enough to donate their space for the day. We will be asking for volunteers to help with some things on the day of the event, like set-up and clean-up.  We will also need to round up some of the materials that we might need that day (easels, large paper pads, sharpies, nametags, etc).  All informational materials will be made available digitally after the UNCON through this blog, so there is no need for copies.  We are not giving away swag. There will be plenty of that over the course of the week. We are not seeking or accepting sponsors.  And all of us on the planning end are volunteering our time, too.  The UNCON is free.  Period. And if you think you’d like to attend, just fill out the simple registration form.

We just want you to bring yourself, your ideas, and some lunch money.  Oh, and if there is a local who wants to work on figuring out the best options for lunch that day, let us know.  In fact, anyone who wants to volunteer their time that day should send us an e-mail – BookBlogUNCON [at] gmail [dot] com.  We also hope that you will help spread the word.  Talk about it on your blog.  Mention us [@BookBlogUNCON] on Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you.