A lot of people seem unhappy with the BookExpo America Bloggers Conference every year. I think the problem is that many of the topics are too basic and don’t dig deep enough into new/detailed content that bloggers care about. I’ve put together a selection of panel ideas that I think would be pretty interesting! Let me know what you think and feel free to share your own panel ideas. Maybe we can make them happen next year!
Optimizing your WordPress blog
This was a topic I actually proposed for this year, but it didn’t make it in. I don’t think it’s possible to fit both Blogger and WordPress into one panel like this, so I went with WordPress because there’s more to cover.
Make your WordPress book blog the best it can be by using the right tools and configuring settings in the best way possible. Learn it all—from plugins, to SEO, to backups, to security.
- Must have plugins
- What to look for when selecting plugins (safety)
- Ideal permalink structure for SEO purposes
- How to enhance your SEO and the best settings to use with the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin
- How to backup your blog/posts
- How to secure your blog from attacks, and other security concerns
- How to speed up your blogging process (using content templates/UBB)
- How to speed up your actual blog (caching)
- WordPress expert(s)
The truth about blog followers
Find out how people follow your blog and how they don’t follow. Which methods are actually useful, and which only show off an arbitrary number? Learn what methods are worth promoting and the best way to offer email subscriptions to your readers.
- How do people follow blogs?
- What follow methods should you promote?
- Should bloggers require that people “follow” when entering a giveaway?
- Which follow widgets should you ditch? Which should you keep?
- Different options for email subscription services and which one you should use (Feedburner, MailChimp, Jetpack, etc.).
- Maybe some kind of social media/marking expert who has insight on what methods people use to follow content online
How bloggers and publishers work together
Discover how publishers and bloggers can work together to market and promote a book. Learn about how to make—and keep—publisher contacts from an established blogger, and find out exactly what publishers are looking for when they hand out ARCs and organize blog tours.
- How bloggers can work with and communicate with publishers (NetGalley, Edelweiss, online forms, straight to email, etc.)
- What publishers look for when sending a blogger an ARC
- How publishers organize blog tours and how they invite bloggers to participate
- How do publishers really feel about negative reviews? If a blogger posts 5 negative reviews in a row for that publisher’s books, will that affect whether or not they continue getting approved?
- If a blogger only sticks to NetGalley/Edelweiss (no physical ARCs), are they less likely to be invited on blog tours or to publisher parties? Because NetGalley lacks that “personal” connection that comes with requesting physical ARCs (emailing back and forth)
- For the publisher: a blogger submits a request on NetGalley, then what happens? Do they view the NetGalley profile? Visit the blog? If they visit the blog, where do they look? Do they read recent posts? Look at the review archive? About page? Do they ever recognize a requester and immediately approve/decline them because they already remember their blog? Give us a step-by-step process of what typically happens.
- Do publishers read early reviews (submitted on NetGalley) and consider the criticisms? Have they ever made adjustments to the book based on those reviews?
- Blogger(s) who have publisher contacts
- Publisher(s) from the publicity/marketing division
- Maybe an employee from NetGalley, if they would be able/willing to provide cool statistics, like how many people on average request a popular YA book and what percentage of those get approved
The future of book blogging
Is book blogging on the rise, decline, or holding steady? Let’s look at the popularity of book reviews compared to memes, discussions, and other posts. We can’t tell the future, but we’ll try to make some pretty good guesses about what the future of book blogging looks like.
- Are reviews still popular? A page view/comment analysis of reviews, memes, discussions, and “other” posts and how they compare.
- The average “lifespan” of a blog. At what point to people quit blogging? And why?
- What book blogging might look like in the future.
- Will booktubing take over? Or can they exist alongside book bloggers?
- Bloggers who are in a position to analyze their page views/comments on different kinds of posts
- Someone who is both a blogger and booktuber and is in a good position to compare the two in terms of success
Coding a blog design
The ultimate panel for experienced blog designers. If you’re comfortable creating graphics but have no idea how to code it, this is your panel! Learn about different coding languages, which platforms use which ones, and start coding CSS to get you started.
- Broken down into two parts: Blogger and WordPress
- In each section, discuss what languages you need to know to code a design (Blogger: XML, HTML, CSS, JS (optional); WordPress: HTML, CSS, PHP, JS (optional))
- Discuss tutorial sites and ways you can learn those languages
- Get familiar with “inspect element” and how it can be useful when coding CSS and tweaking a pre-made theme
- Actual introduction to CSS and real time demonstrations
- You’re already comfortable with designing something yourself, just not putting it into action (coding).
- You already know basic HTML (paragraphs, bold, div tags).
- A successful designer for Blogger
- A successful designer for WordPress