This past weekend, I attended and spoke at the 6th annual KidLitCon, a convention for those who blog about children’s literature (and those who are interested in those who blog thusly!). It was great, as always (and you can get a sense of it from co-host/organizer Betsy Bird’s wrap-up).
My talk was about a topic that I’m quite passionate about - Avoiding the Echo Chamber: Bringing the World of Children’s Literature to the World. And it illustrates something I love about KidLitCon: I was speaking to kidlit bloggers about how we have to stop speaking only to each other, and everyone was cool with that.
I will quickly add here, as I did there, that I love my fellow children’s literature peeps. A lot. And we should be talking to each other online. In fact, one of the great joys of the internet is that it helps us find like-minded people. We form groups. We find our tribe.
Most of us don’t live in just one tribe, online or off. We wear different hats at different times. And it is in those areas of overlap and intersection that we can all work to spread the word about children’s books.
Our put another way… those fantasy baseball players you hang out with? Some are moms, some are dads, some are aunts and uncles and grandparents and teachers and journalists and and and. All of them are possible book buyers or word spreaders.
Now, it’s not like you’d go into that group saying “BUY MY BOOK!” or demanding conversation be about books in general. But conversation does move around, and if folks know you’re a trusted source on children’s literature, you’d be surprised how often they’ll ask for or listen to suggestions you might make.
This is, of course, the essence of my talk at its simplest. I also gave practical steps to take to find different tribes, how to act when you’re out playing in traffic, how to listen and gain information, and much more.
The points I hit are true no matter what business you’re in. However, we have an advantage in our field: unless you’re giving a hard sell on your own stuff, folks don’t tend to get upset about someone who is excited about kids reading books. It’s viewed as a good thing, ya know?
Avoiding the echo chamber is key for authors and illustrators hoping to increase sales, yet it’s also important for all advocates of children’s literature. There’s nothing wrong with us talking to each other. I still do it a ton. I simply want to urge everyone to branch out, think bigger, and help bring the world of children’s literature to the world.
As always, I’m curious to hear what you think (whether you were at KidLitCon or not)!