Jun 6, 2012

Armchair BEA Day 3: Networking in Real Life - How to Get Your Book Fix

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Welcome back to Armchair BEA! If you're not sure what it's all about be sure to visit the Armchair BEA headquarters.

Today we're discussing networking. I find this to be just a fancy word for interacting within your chosen community. In this case, we're talking about meeting & working with people in your bookish community. As it was part of my job, I am pretty good at working with groups & individuals to fulfill their bookish needs. Rather than bore you with some of my successful events, I'm going to tell you a few things I have learned along the way.

  1. Befriend your bookseller, especially the indie stores. They can tell you what books are coming out when & even host some great events! I spent a great deal of time at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC for several events. They seemed to be in touch with a variety of authors & genres that appealed to all ages. Even better though was my book relationship with Sarah at Borders. She was a regular employ who was almost always the one ringing me out, so she kind of got to know my reading habits. We'd make small talk on slow nights & one day I came in to find books being held for me in case I was interested. I also got lots of promo/display items that were being tossed out & dozens of book recommendations. Find that person or that store in your area (I know it can be harder when you live in a small town, but making the drive for some great events is totally worth it!) & just start talking. You'll be amazed at how much you can learn!
  2. Use your library! I know that sounds dumb, but they are so much more than a place to pick up and drop off books. Many libraries now have bookclub resources that vary from library-hosted bookclubs, kits with books & discussion guides for outside-the-library bookclubs & sometimes even meeting spaces. Does your library not own the book you want? Do you know about InterLibrary Loan (ILL)? Most (if not all) libraries have the ability to request certain items from other institutions. It's a way for book collections to be shared at a mutual benefit to both groups involved. Ask about this option the next time you want a slightly less popular title. Don't forget about the library's events too! While a lot of programs are aimed at getting the younger folks into reading, there are still some teen programs with prizes & even some adult programs with incentives.
  3. Join Twitter! While many people have been tooting this for a long while, I was very skeptical & very resistant to getting on Twitter. I would see people tweeting & wonder what all the fuss was about. Finally I thought, "I'll give this a week. If after that I don't get it, then it's just not my cup of tea." It was such a relief to find it so simple & interesting. I am able to follow several of my favorite authors, businesses, & other bloggers. There are contests with authors & publishers, snippets from daily writings, & get some all around fun! A lot of my daily news comes from this source because it's just so easy to get the information out there. At times I do get frustrated because I can't keep up & I miss out on some things because I'm not attached to it, but that's part of the fun. It's constant & never dull.
  4. Don't be afraid of interacting with strangers, in real life or online. I'm sure "Stranger Danger" is running through your mind right now, but I'm sure you all understand my meaning. A smile & comment in a waiting line can make all the difference. I've met other book bloggers (like the ever so lovely Vania, queen of the book trailers!), new friends & several lovely authors by simply being nice. You never know who you're going to meet or how awesome they can be if you don't at least try. A lot of time other people are just as nervous as you, but as social creatures we usually find something in common to bond over.
  5. Finally, think outside the box. Can't get anything good at your library? What about a bookswap (wither locally or via one of the many online versions like or Want to do a giveaway, but don't have a book? Why not team up with a seller on to giveaway something related to something bookish? Got a lot to say & think it'll take more than one post? Create a special week long event! There are no real rules, so have fun with it! I have done all of these things & the ideas came to me when I was running out of options. I LOVE partnering with other bloggers, artisans, & websites. My motto has always been, if you don't ask then the answer is always no. You never know what you might get in return either. Some of the Etsy artisans were even kind enough to give me a discount & work with me on designing something special for my giveaway.
There you have it folks! I've tried all these methods over time (as my confidence grew & I became more comfortable in my blogging role) when nothing but success. This list is by no means all encompassing, but it's a great start. Feel free to leave a comment talking about an experience that you've tried. I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve my book community experience!


Becky B. (Bibliognome) said...

Hi, great post. :)

Definitely agree with the Library and Twitter tips. I work at a library and it's always surprising that people don't know just how easy it is to request books from anywhere via ILL.

Kate said...

I never really considered swaps or befriending indie bookstores. This is a great list of tips. Thanks for sharing.

Maidenveil said...

I love the people in our local bookstore! People who loves books, works for and/or with books are love!

Stopping by from Armchair BEA. :)

-Len of Musings of a Reader Happy

Michael @ Literary Exploration said...

Great list, so many good great ideas. Love my local bookseller and library and Twitter is the greatest networking tool alive (over exaggeration maybe).

Shelleyrae @ Book'd out said...

Some great ideas - thanks for sharing them!

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

Preet @ A Written Rhapsody said...

I love Etsy! I never actually thought about working with a designer to make a prize more theme related. Great advice!

Sarah said...

I love your advice! I was the SAME way with Twitter, but I finally did a poll on my blog asking if I should get a Twitter account and the response was overwhelmingly positive, so I did. And now I can't imagine life without it, LOL!

Also, I love your advice about teaming up with Etsy sellers!

Happy ABEA :)

Leonicka said...

I definitely need to work on talking to strangers. I'm always worried I'm bothering them!

Valerie StuckInBooks said...

Twitter is the BEST way I have found of getting connected with authors. Glad you discovered it too.

Thanks for participating!

Here's my networking post


Leanne Yang said...

My school hosts book swaps a few times a year, but I never have any books that I want to swap with others... they're all just so precious. But I agree with the idea of befriending people at a local bookstore, not that I know of one.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for all of the great advice.

Evangeline said...

I like your Etsy idea... I'm going to try Paperback Swap and Thanks for the tips!

Kristin said...

These are some really good tips! Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by my blog.

sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books said...

You give some great tips! Twitter is definitely a plus for networking. I might start looking into the local libraries for a YA book club soon too, if I can't get any help from a local indie. :)