Monday, June 04, 2012

BEA Day 1

Good morning Publishing!

The Javits Center is a full tilt wreck this year. Honest to god I hope the Reed Exhibitions got a discount for this.  The extension of the 7 train line has torn up the street in front of the place, and the refurbishing going on inside means a hard hat wouldn't be out of place.

Dear old Javits.  I remember the year they couldn’t get the air conditioning on, and the year they couldn't get it off.  Now this. There's only one consistent problem: the line at Starbucks is so long you could conduct a three round auction in the time it takes to get a latte.

The actual registration process is so smooth however you wish Reed ran every hotel in the country.  I think it took 45 seconds to get my two badges. And that's cause I dropped one. I waited in line for abut three minutes.  Of course, the trick is to come early.

The first panel was about GoodReads.  I don't know much about GoodReads so I figured I'd stop in and learn a few things.

The presenter was Patrick Brown, Community Manager and Author Program Manager.  Here are some of the things he told us:

GoodReads has 9 million users; it's the world's largest site for book reviews and recommendations. (when asked in the Q&A who he saw as GR's competition: Facebook and Amazon)

GoodReads' mission is discovery: help people find books they love. That's a mission I can certainly get behind.

Best way to build presence on GoodReads is early in the life of the book. This gets the book into the algorithm GoodReads uses to put books front and center. Need HUNDREDS of review to make it to this algorithm.

Half of active GoodReads users cross post to FaceBook

GoodReads reviews are syndicated to Google, Powells, USA Today, and places like the LA Public Library

Erica Barmash, publicist at Harper, talked about her experience using a wide swath of advertising and networking sites for promoting the paperback edition of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP:

GoodReads had a higher percentage of clickthroughs per impression. Some sites had more impressions, some had more clicks, but click/impression ratio was highest on GoodReads Other sites: FB, EW, People.

GoodReads can also tell you what the clickers do next: add the book/reviewed the book/rated the book, which other sites can not.

Thus GoodReads can measure (somewhat at least) the efficiency of the ad.

Erica was convinced GoodReads gave her the best value for her investment dollar.

Average giveaway gets 850 entries. A lot of people who enter giveaways list the book as To Be Read.

Giveaways (in Q&A revealed that only physical books are eligible now, GoodReads not set up for ebook giveaways) are good for building number  of reviews (see above for purpose/advantage of reviews.)

BookClubs on GoodReads
There are 20,000 book clubs on GR.

Unlike general GoodReads, bookclubs are moderated.

Authors can join groups as readers, lay the groundwork for their own book being discussed.

I left feeling like I'd learned a lot.  Some of my clients have had brutal experiences over at GoodReads, so I'm interested in figuring out how to have that NOT happen, and also how to reach a nice chunk of those nine million people!

The next panel I attended was TWEET THIS NOT THAT

I'm not going to complain that the presenter didn't have the correct adapter for her laptop cause really, that could happen to anyone. 

I am going to complain that it was clear no one had given a single thought to how slides work in a large room.  This is NOT rocket science.  This is Presentations 101.

Slides should be visible and readable to the folks in the back of the room.  Not only were they not, I couldn't see them, and I was about half way to the front. And just to make sure it wasn't me, I asked the woman next to me if she could see them, and no, she  couldn't.

And the presenter, when tasked with the fact her  slides could not be read did NOT do the one thing that was easiest: read them aloud. No, she said she'd post them on her slide show account later.  Well, fuck that. Later I'll be someplace else and later I've forgotten where she posted it and later to all this anyway.

And then, she reviews the basics of twitter.  I'm about ready to blow my stack at the BEA education panel organizers. Could someone over there please get it through their thick heads that we know what Twitter is! We know what hashtags are! What we want is to hear about the stuff we don't know about--what works, what's effective, and most important what ISN'T.

So after three "case studies" that weren't--they were basically screenshots of twitter accounts, and some facts about Twitter advertising (the least affordable thing on Twitter and the least likely things authors are going to use) she STOPPED. And asked for Questions!

The audience was as perplexed as I was. Questions about what? There wasn't anything of substance here.  We couldn't see the slides, she'd given us no insights or strategy.

I can't remember at what point the presenter referred to GoodReads as a small social networking site about books, but that was what did me in.  GoodReads isn't a lot of things,  but one thing it IS is big. Unless you think nine million people is small, in which case I remind you that's the number of people who live in NYC. 

I left.

The twitter panel last year at BEA was a disaster. I couldn't believe it could get worse. This was worse.  And it didn't have to be. I'm not sure if the presenter isn't used to giving talks like this, or if she hadn't practiced, or hadn't done any research on what people want to know, but it was a #panelFail on all three accounts.

It was really disappointing cause I'm always on the hunt for companies that know how to do this stuff, and can help authors. This company probably can do that; what they can't do is teach it.

I collected my minion and headed for the bar.

I've got about an hour before I need to go stake out seats for the Buzz panel at 4pm.  That panel fills up FAST and I've learned the hard way to get there early and defend my seat with hostile vibrations.

(more on the buzz panel, which was wonderful, later)

This is a typical BEA education day: a good panel, and a panel that could have been good. Unfortunately the organizers have no way to know if a presenter is good or prepared. All they see are the topic titles.  If there's a way to fix this, I sure hope they figure it out.  I'm really tired of learning stuff the hard way. I'd really like to benefit from what some other people have learned about social media.


Colin Smith said...

Thanks for the report, Janet. Don't they have any kind of feedback card/sheet/web page/Twitter account? :)

Maya Missani said...

Am picturing (vividly) JR protecting her seat with hostile vibrations.

Anthony said...

Thank you for the GoodReads lowdown!

Ali Trotta said...

Your description of the Javits Center made me laugh out loud. I could've lent you a hard hat. ;-)

I love GoodReads. I've found a lot of books that way (by seeing what my friends are reading), and I do try to leave reviews for those I love.

As for the twitter panel, that is a huge disappointment. For me, Twitter has been a great learning experience. To me, it's one big conversation. I would've been interested to know about some other strategies/insights.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

Joyce Tremel said...

Thanks for keeping us informed!

You and former minion Meredith should have done the Twitter presentation. It's all your fault I spend so much time on Twitter, you know.

Michael Seese said...

I agree with the others: nice reportage. This is tangential, but what do you think of the Javits Center as a convention site? I spoke at an infosec conference there, and it was the worst conference I ever attended. The opening keynote had literally two dozen people, and seats for...I don't know...800. Then, all of our sessions were in the lower level. You never saw the sun unless you left.

Christine said...

Janet, you made my evening! I was laughing so hard at your descriptions of this event, I nearly fell off the chair. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about the buzz panel. (Hope your hostile-vibration defense worked as planned.)

Rena said...

Nice info about GoodReads, I'd thought they were just filling my inbox with C549, but I guess I should pay attention.

And as a side note, I *just* joined twitter, and what freaking moron doesn't understand hashtags after fifteen minutes of being in the trenches?

Seriously, I make ppt. slides professionally, maybe they should hire me next year... #justsayin

Lysander said...

At the London Book Fair I attended a panel on self-publishing which turned out to be a small vanity press advertising their publishing "packages" for which you, obviously, have to pay. I didn't learn anything and I felt insulted at having been lured in to attend in such a manner.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thank you for all the info about GoodReads. I keep saying I'm going to sign up but then my bookshelves beg me not to.

Jaleh D said...

I use Goodreads for myself really, as in to keep track of books I've read and those I want to read. I have a bad memory for titles and authors combined with the fact that I read A LOT, so I love having a place to note them all down. I suppose I should work harder on posting reviews as well.

Anonymous said...


I'm fairly new to Goodreads - there by recommendation from a fellow-goodreader - and your post couldn't have been more timely. Sooo... do you think you could post all that in your slideshow account so that I can check it out later? I almost feel sorry for... no, I don't. Not a bit.

Excellent post!

The Writer Librarian said...

Let me know when you figure out the good panel/bad panel mystery...I'll pass it on to the organizers of ALA (a conference that often runs into similar issues).

Thanks for the insight on Goodreads too...

Rita Meade said...

No one is asking the most important question...HOW WAS THE BAR?

BP said...

HOSTILE VIBRATIONS. You bring tears of laughter to my eyes. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

Daisy said...

What are your thoughts on an aspiring author joining goodreads to get familiar with the community and lay the groundwork for later? Good idea, or time better spent writing?

Anonymous said...

Tracy Bermeo gave me the link to this glad that she did. Your honest appraisal of your day was immensely helpful...especially the info about GoodReads, which I joined over a year ago but haven't done much with regarding my thank you. It's important to know where to expend your energy and spend your've helped narrow down the field. :)

Voracious Reader said...

Goodreads is only going to get bigger as those of us who use it tout it to those who don't yet. At the rate I'm adding books to read I have finally come to the conclusion I can never die. Instead of being known as A Voracious Reader I will need to change my name to Immortal Voracious Reader. Can there be only One?