I have spent the past few weeks deeply immersed in the wonder that is planning for KidLit Con. Jackie Parker-Robinson (of CYBILS fame) and I have been fielding emails from bloggers asking about presentations, publishers asking about advertising in the booklet (yes, there will be a handy guide for the con this year with information on every attendee), authors asking about what the con is like, and, well, basically everyone asking everything about all of it.
It's totally fabulous and I'm so excited I could scream.
All the answers (or at least the start of the answers) can be found at the Kidlitosphere site. You can register there or submit a presentation idea or find out more about the hotel (free wifi!!!). What the site can't tell you though is why KidLit Con matters - and more importantly why it is something YOU should attend. Jen Robinson handles that over at her blog though with a post all about how the con has mattered to her in the past and why she is looking forward to it this year as well.
It's funny, but I'm not usually the type of person who attends conferences or conventions or, well, basically large gatherings of any kind. It's not that I'm shy (please) but more that I'm wary of the value to be found in such events. I understand going to see Springsteen in concert - I get to enjoy the music - but sitting in a room listening to a bunch of panelists talk about books and blogging? Is that a good use of my time? I really wasn't sure when the first KidLit Con was held in 2007 and I went to Portland in 2008 mostly because it was convenient and Jackie was going and could split a room and there was a chance to meet some friends I'd made online (like Jen!).
Also, to be perfectly honest, it was a chance to be alone without my husband and child for the first time in years. YEARS.
The getting out of town part was the value for me and everything else was just icing on the cake. That's the way I felt about it going down on the train anyway but after amazing meetings with authors Sara Zarr and Sara Ryan, after spending time with Jen and Sarah Stevenson and Greg Pincus and Lee Wind and Pam Coughlin and Betsy Bird and after Jackie and I very nearly talked ourselves senseless, well, the value increased hugely for me. KidLit Con was where the idea for Guys Lit Wire came together, where I decided to try out twitter, where I had several conversations about social media and what it can mean for authors, where frankly I stepped up and took a few lessons on not the craft of writing but the craft of participating in the publishing industry.
See, I think being a valued part of the litblogosphere is something you need to work on and work at and put time into. If it's something you want - if you see value in being here - then you need to take the time to find the best way be here. Some folks call it community, others say work on design, others will tell you it's all about varied content. WHATEVER. But if you want to take things up a notch and not just be a person with a little hobby but someone who is out there, mixing it up, asking questions, sharing thoughts, exchanging ideas, then just like anything else you are going to want to spend some time with other folks who are out here too. You will value that time with people who understand what you are trying to do and you will value the things you can learn from them as they will value what you have teach.
KidLit Con made me realize what I could do in this place I have carved for myself here and now, as my own book gets ready for release (even though it is not officially a kid book....), I feel a lot less terrified. I'm not alone out here and for a debut writer that is huge; that is the difference between fear and joy in more ways than you can count.
I'm sorry - I'm just too excited about how this year's con (SCOTT WESTERFELD IS KEYNOTE!!!) is coming together and I soooo want you to be involved in it and be there so I can meet you in person and you can be part of all the weekend awesomeness. Right now I must go and listen to Amanda Palmer very very loudly. You should too. And you should come to Seattle because in a thousand different ways it is totally and completely worth it.