Armchair BEA: Networking…In Real Life?!

 

Today’s suggested topic for Armchair BEA participants is to talk about a real-life bookish experience. And no, “once upon a time, I exchanged witty banter with my favorite author on Twitter” is not a real-life experience.

As I admitted in my Intro Post, I’m a relatively new blogger, so I haven’t been able to go to ALL THE EVENTS yet. I haven’t yet braved the booths of a convention center or rubbed elbows with all my favorite authors. However, I have been to one event, where I met three fabulous authors and a group of Tennessee-based book bloggers. I’ve already gone into detail on the Author Event itself, where I met Myra McEntire, Amy Plum and C.J. Redwine, but I haven’t really recapped the blogger get-together portion of the day. So that’s what I’ll talk about today.

First, if you’re a newbie like me, you may be wondering how you even begin to go about getting to know other bloggers. And my strategy is simple: Twitter stalking. If I see a blog I like, I follow the blogger on Twitter. If I keep seeing people mentioning a certain blogger, I follow them on Twitter. And if I like the comments someone leaves on my blog, I follow them on Twitter.

I follow a lot of people on Twitter.

(You can always unfollow later if their tweets prove to be super-annoying).

Most people don’t follow back right away (or ever), and I don’t ask them to. But I watch their tweets, and I join in when they’re talking about something I’m interested in. The beauty of Twitter is that it’s all public, so it’s not really rude or creepy to insert yourself into a conversation the same way it would be if you just, for example, walked up to a group of strangers at the mall and started talking to them.

At least, I don’t think it is.

Please don’t burst my bubble.

So since I blog in Tennessee, I had visited the blogs of all the other Tennessee folks listed on Southern Book Bloggers and started following most of them on Twitter. And one day, I saw a discussion going on between a few of them about an event happening in Nashville in a few weeks. I butted into their conversation, got details, learned who the authors were (whose books I had absolutely not read at the time, but you better believe I read them before the event!), and next thing I knew, plans were made for many of us to meet up a couple hours before the signing at Panera.

Representing the book bloggers of TN were Hannah from The Book Votex, Nikki from Books Most Wanted, Marla from Starting the Next Chapter, Shalena from Writer Quirk, Megan from Myth-Illogical…and me.

I’ve got to admit, I was a little nervous. I mean, these were real bloggers (in my head, I was still kind of a pretend blogger, because it seemed bizarre to me that anyone would want to take my little blog seriously) with more followers, more subscribers, more blogger and author relationships, and longer histories than me. What if they didn’t like me?

Also, I should mention I’m a total introvert. I fake extroversion online, but in real life, I will do just about everything I can to avoid human contact. So the fact that I invited myself along on this little excursion in the first place is kind of mind-boggling.

So, smacking down my inner introvert and telling her to shut up and stay in her corner, I arrived at the bookstore mostly on time. I drove through a flash thunderstorm on my way there that made me a couple minutes late, but nothing ridiculous. And as I parked, listening to my brakes squeal and repeating to myself for the thousandth time that the mechanic said that’s okay, I scanned the parking lot trying to see if I could spot anyone who was clearly the in-person version of their Twitter avatar.

I saw a clump of women. Some of whom had curly hair. “Hey, I’m pretty sure Hannah has curly hair,” I thought to myself. So I walked up to them (carrying so many bags it looked like I thought I was going to move into Panera for a week), and said something really articulate like, “Am I looking for you?”

And someone said, “Lauren?” and I said, “Yes!” and I shook many hands in what I hoped was a firm-but-not-bone-crushing manner. And we went to Panera.

And at Panera, I ordered tomato soup in a bread bowl, forgetting for a moment that consuming a post-soup bread bowl is one of the most undignified things you can attempt to eat in front of a bunch of people you just met, but not caring too much because whenever I have an opportunity to get a bread bowl, I get a bread bowl. Bread bowls rock.

We spent two hours talking about all sorts of things (mostly about how Shalena’s husband is Batman), and amazingly, very few of them were book-related.

I had this irrational fear that our entire conversation was going to consist of book trivia and I was going to have to admit that I haven’t read ALL THE BOOKS yet, and they were going to look at me with disdain and take away my Book Blogger credentials. Um, yeah, that was stupid and did not happen.

No, these ladies were very fun, very personable, and absolutely did not look down on me for one second for being the newest one to don the title of “Book Blogger.” On the few occasions where a book was mentioned that I hadn’t read, no one took away my Book Blogger credentials. They didn’t even take away my bread bowl and yell “No soup for you!” (which is good, because I would have fought for that bread bowl). They just said, “Oh, it’s great, you’ll love it!” and moved on with the conversation, where we talked about My Little Ponies and Batman and the police (not to be confused with The Police, who we did not discuss, unfortunately) and hoodlums. And some other things.

And when it was time to go to the book signing, we went to the book signing. Which was amazing. You can read my recap of it here. Here’s Hannah’s recap. Here’s Marla’s recap. And here’s a recap from Amy Plum herself.

And what I learned from this, my first experience with authors and bloggers, is threefold:

1. Everyone is new at some point. Nice people won’t judge you for it, hold it against you, or demean you for being new and not knowing ALL THE THINGS. And not-nice people…well, why would you want to associate with not-nice people?

2. Book bloggers and authors are real people and have real interests outside of books, although they (I should say we) do love books with a fiery passion.

3. Lots of bloggers and authors are introverts too, and they understand that I may be horribly intimidated at the prospect of meeting people and talking to them and possible awkwardness. And they will try their best to make me feel comfortable.

Strangely enough, when I realized this, it was a lot easier for me to just be myself, in all my awkward glory. And it’s been easier since then to interact with other bloggers and authors (on Twitter, of course), because I’ve been initiated and it wasn’t scary and I didn’t die.

Did you hear that, 7th-grade me? I interacted with other humans and the world did not end.  If only I could hear myself.

LtR: Hannah from The Book Votex, Nikki from Books Most Wanted, Marla from Starting the Next Chapter, Me, Shalena from Writer Quirk, Megan from Myth-Illogical

So if you’re new to the world of book blogging, take it from me. People are nice. People are fun. People will not yell at you for being awkward and having no clue what you’re doing.

Or at least, that’s how it works in Tennessee.

Who knows, maybe by next year I’ll have worked up the courage (and, you know, the money) to go to BEA for REAL!

 

This post was brought to you by the Twitter Stalking of the following people:

@bright_soulfire

@Hannah_TBV

@marlastnc

@NikkiatBooksMW

@writerquirk

And of course,

@AmyPlumOhLaLa

@cjredwine

@MyraMcEntire

 

67 thoughts on “Armchair BEA: Networking…In Real Life?!

  1. I loved this story! I consider myself introverted also, but I am amazed at how comfortable I am around the bloggers I met in Miami. If it weren’t for their welcoming personalities, this past year of my life would have been hella boring. Now I’m moving away and have to meet an entirely new set of bloggers (hopefully!) but because of who we are, I know that I will have no problems fitting tight in. :)
    Smash Attack recently posted..Armchair BEA: Networking…In Real Life?!My Profile

  2. See, we seriously do need to be friends. Introverted friends who enjoy books, star wars and other nerdy things. Do you like wine? Please tell me you like wine. :-)

    I love your idea of meeting up with other bloggers before an author event. I may have to try to make plans to do that when the next “big” author comes to Atlanta! I’m sure there are plenty of us here (even outside of my new book club) and it’d be great to meet even more local bookish friends.

    Also, thanks for the link to Southern Book Bloggers! I’m not sure how I missed this until now!
    Sarah @ Breaking the BInding recently posted..Waiting on Wednesday: June 6, 2012: “The Crimson Crown” by Cinda Williams ChimaMy Profile

    • I DO like wine! Although I’m not hard-core. I like whites and blushes and I live for a good Moscato, but I can’t handle reds except in very small doses.

      PICTURE THIS: Big bookish/author event with bloggers from all over. Blogger GTG beforehand with wine and cheese and chocolate, because all of those things = YES. Star Wars and Joss Whedon discussion abounds. Followed by author event goodness.

      THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN.

      And glad you discovered Southern Book Bloggers! I’m counting down the days until I can join in on their ARC tours :-)
      TheHouseworkCanWait recently posted..Armchair BEA: Networking…In Real Life?!My Profile

  3. You sound JUST like me! I always feel so awkward when I have to meet new people! I’ve been blogging for around 2 years and I’m only just NOW getting the hang of the networking thing online (I’ll admit – getting on Twitter was probably the best idea I EVER had). I’m hoping to work up the courage for some IRL networking soon, and your story is very inspiring. For someone who’s been blogging for a while, I STILL feel like the newbie lol.

    Congrats on getting past your introverted-ness, and here’s hoping I can get over mine! lol
    Anne recently posted..Armchair BEA: The Best of the Best 2012My Profile

    • If I can do it, so can you! Fortunately, I married an extrovert, so in REAL life, he just invites people over for dinner, which forces me to be social and meet people. Otherwise I would probably have zero friends. Maybe one. But Twitter is a godsend for us introverted bloggers! I kiss the feet of whoever the first person was to tell me to utilize Twitter in blogging. Good luck!
      TheHouseworkCanWait recently posted..Armchair BEA: Networking…In Real Life?!My Profile

  4. I love this post! You are so right on with twitter. When I first started making connections with bloggers and writers on twitter, I did many of the same things you did. For blogging, I saw YA author Elena Johnson’s blog featured on Publisters Weekly and followed all her suggested blogs. I love your idea of finding locals, that takes a little more effort, but it can be done. I found a local person who self pubbed, her blog was super interactive and through her I’ve met a bunch of other writers in my area, including her in person.

    I’ll go check out your twitter now! Thanks for sharing.
    Stephanie Scott recently posted..Armchair BEA: Networking in Real LifeMy Profile

  5. Such a fun post to read! I didn’t realize it’s weird to insert yourself into random strangers’ conversations. I’ll have to remember that in the future. (kidding) But I do get your point completely. I’ve felt the same way at times, even with the public aspect of joining a Twitter conversation. I still weird putting in my 2 cent at times.

    The Flashlight Reader

  6. Love your story! It was kinda similar to mine – you know with the Twitter stalking – but different with the NO BREAD BOWLS! It is all true though – people are generally nice, and are not looking to be mean to someone at a book event. And everyone WAS new once upon a time….. and I am completely jealous that you got to meet Myra McEntire.
    Sarah Reads Too Much recently posted..Armchair BEA: Networking in REAL LifeMy Profile

  7. T_T it felt like the parting lines were completely directed at me :’(
    I’m soooo shy it’s not even funny…

    I’m the worse kind of shy… :/ but when I start and get to know people…I stalk… and FIERCELY!!

    :D This post rocks!! Wish one day I can go to any author events there….though I have to say BEA sounds SOOOO intimidating :/

    Here’s my ABEA post for today :D -> http://bookpics-reading2alba.blogspot.com/2012/06/armchair-bea-lets-talk-networking.html
    Alba @BookPics recently posted..Armchair BEA-Let’s Talk Networking!My Profile

  8. Hi from a new blogger, so I get the feelings you describe in here oh-so-well ;) Like you, I have found everyone to be helpful and welcoming. I particularly look forward to Sunday Night twitter chats (#BookBloggerChat). I love the background of your blog, btw. Looks great!
    Sarah recently posted..ArmchairBEA: NetworkingMy Profile

  9. Your post had me laughing! So funny!
    I also stalk a lot of people on twitter and butt in to conversations. Ain’t no shame in my game. I would really love to meet up with bloggers in my area, but I only know of one and I don’t think she does blogger meetups or anything. She’s a super busy person in general from what I gather.
    Plus authors don’t seem to like coming to DC all that often.
    Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog recently posted..ArmchairBEA: Networking In Real LifeMy Profile

  10. Great post, and great picture. Your note that we’re all new at some point can really refer to so many different things. When you’re new you’ve just got to put yourself out there and realize that everyone started where you are!

  11. Ha! I but into peoples twitter conversations too. Twitter is basically a big free for all.

    I’ve not had an opportunity to meet any area bloggers. Probably because there aren’t really any events central between us. You’ve got a good thing going there.
    sawcat recently posted..Networking:: Armchair BEAMy Profile

  12. Pingback: Armchair BEA: Beyond the Blog | The Housework Can Wait

  13. That looks like so much fun! I would love to meet other bloggers in real life. It’s funny how you say that bloggers are real people, too … If it’s a big blogger I follow, I’m sure I’d still gush and fangirl all over them! Then I remember that I’m a blogger, too … maybe not as big, but I’m doing it!

    Great post! :)
    Kristilyn (Reading in Winter) recently posted..ArmchairBEA: Beyond the BlogMy Profile

  14. First of, I love the title of your blog. So true! Second, it really sounds like a great time was had by all – and I love your account of it. And I’m so jealous that you got to meet real bookish people and talk about My Little Pony with them!
    Christina @ The Literary Bunny recently posted..Being BadMy Profile

  15. It’s so awesome that you were able to attend a signing and meet some amazing bloggers. And that they were super nice!

    And no, I won’t burst your bubble. Almost no one minds when someone joins a convo on Twitter. More the merrier and all that, which makes for some funny tweets since there are like 2 characters left to actually say something. :)

    I hadn’t realized until this year’s ABEA that there are so many introverted book bloggers. It seemed last year everyone was so super outgoing and I was the only one who was a totally awkward online book blogger.

    I’m glad you took a chance and joined this year’s event. And I hope you do get the courage up to go to BEA next year!
    Rachel recently posted..Armchair BEA: Beyond the BlogMy Profile

  16. Lauren it was so great getting to meet you! Even though I said like 2 words. I promise(ish) that I will speak more next time! lol. I can’t believe your only a few months old! You seriously are way better at this than I am lol.
    Hannah @ The Book Vortex recently posted..Covers I LoveMy Profile

  17. Pingback: Melanie's Musings: Book Reviews | Movie Reviews | Giveaways

  18. It’s never dignified for a grown woman to giggle (so I’m told… for myself, I don’t put much stock in dignified behavior), but I love it when I read something so funny and charming that a real giggle works its way out. I love this post, and I feel considerably less terrified at the thought of meeting real people though my blog than I did before I read it. Cheers–
    Kelly @ Reading with Analysis recently posted..Armchair BEA 2012 – A positive book experience?My Profile

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