Blog City: My Time at the BlogHer Writers Conference

A very poorly executed representation of my place at the conference. (click to enlarge) - photo: northwesternflipside.com

Looking back on my time at the BlogHer Writers Conference, the opening to Jan and Dean’s “Surf City” makes a splash in my head:

Two girls for every boyyyyyy.

Though it would be more like:

One hundred and twenty gals for every guyyyyy.

I think that attendance for the conference was upwards of 250. Two of us were dudes, but it wasn’t weird at all. I only had a fleeting moment of apprehension at the very start.

I strode into Thursday night’s welcome reception ready to unleash an arsenal of small talk. However, when I got to the bar, the swell of voices, all in the higher register of the fairer sex, disarmed me.

It wasn’t that I was nearly the only guy there. I was mainly afraid that everyone knew each other. (Many looked like they were reconnecting.) It’s hard for me to meet people in situations where everyone is eager to see their friends. Fortunately, there were many others who were attending their first BlogHer conference, too. Small talk was launched and eventually evolved into big talk about blogging, parenting, and even a long discourse on the current state of sci-fi.

The welcome reception was a great setup for Friday’s conference, which was all kinds of incredible. The organization and execution of the whole day were stellar, and I probably ate my registration fee’s worth of food.

Some takeaways from the day:

CONTENT

  • The various sessions covered the ins and outs of publishing, like turning a blog into a book, finding an agent, and what a publisher does. We heard from professionals in all areas of the industry.
  • There were small group mentoring sessions. I chose a memoir group, and a literary agent gave each of us tailored advice for writing our memoirs and working to get them published.
  • Three successful authors talked about their different paths to getting published. Common themes were dealing with rejection and staying persistent. One author had her first two novels rejected by a total of 80 agents before she landed a deal with her third.

NETWORKING

We sat at tables for the sessions, which was great for meeting small groups of people at a time. Every conversation was an opportunity to find out what people are blogging about, which directly leads into learning about their lives. I love doing that.

BOLDNESS

More than a few people commended me for my boldness in attending a conference that was marketed to women. I didn’t feel particularly bold by being there, but I knew what they meant. I’m happy that I took initiative to:

  • Consistently approach people that I didn’t know.
  • Stand up and ask a question during the general session. I usually shy away from doing that kind of thing in large crowds. BlogHer CEO Lisa Stone, who moderated the session, welcomed my question by announcing, “It’s a man!”
  • Tell people about our blog without feeling like I was “shamelessly plugging” it. Of course, this is a lot easier at a bloggers conference, but it was a good start.

Obviously, I had a great time at the conference, and I feel inspired, and more educated, to write. Hopefully this means that I can finally knock out this memoir that I’ve been toying with for the last year and a half.

And I have no doubt that BlogHer throws amazing events. We’ll be sure to attend next year’s annual conference, conveniently taking place in New York City!

5 notes on “Blog City: My Time at the BlogHer Writers Conference

  1. Sarah P.

    I will tell you that when you asked the question, the heads at the Penguin table (who had been previously engaged in checking their telephones) swiveled in your direction just as you spoke the name of your blog.
    They loved the title.
    S.

    Reply
  2. Kara

    I was very impressed that you asked a question! And I loved not being the only “newbie” there. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Good luck with your writing!!!

    Reply
  3. Tarable

    I didn’t officially introduce myself but did remark to someone about you being “not Neil but the other guy”. Glad you could hang with being outnumbered and overwhelmed with estrogen. Not all men can.

    (Also, you don’t really seem like the Sigma Kappa type. Were you a legacy?)

    Reply

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