It has been awhile since I have done one of these but I feel this post will probably be more of a Confession than anything else. I could have titled it “How I went to NY, felt like a bit of a fraud (yet didn’t) but enjoyed every minute of it”—however that was a little too long.
Buckle up because this is going to be long, probably won’t stay on topic, and the pictures will be in a separate post–so you can skip it all together if you like visuals!
I will say that I am hoping this post will help those that have crisis in whether or not this blogging, vloggin, podcasting, booktubing, bookstagram, etc is really worth it. Also I am pretty sure I misspelled half of those—sorry 🙂
Also before I get to any of it: A very special thank you to Stephanie for being my person for the 3 days. Also Joc (AudioFlow), I know we just met but having you at both Happy Hours made me feel like we are now forever Partners in Crime.
Confession Part (then the rest is really the happy crazy stuff)
So this year I won The Audiobook Blogger of the Year Award from the APA and at the time I couldn’t think of what to say. Last year when I got runner up I knew what to say but this year was a bit different. I wrote the Love Letter to the community because that is how I feel about everyone. It was sappy but truly you guys are a bright shining light in my world. The community is fantastic, awesome, weird, wild, crazy, and downright one of the best communities to be part of. From the listeners to the authors (that embrace their audio) to the narrators and all the crew behind the scenes that bring the stories to life. Just hands down, the most welcoming book community ever (romance is a close second–very close).
I didn’t know what to say because there was a point last year where I really thought about (was 2 days from) quitting. Some people know this, some people don’t. My hosting was up in September, I wasn’t sure it was worth the time, drama because even the best communities have that, or effort anymore. I was really burnt out on writing reviews, hearing bad things about bloggers, and from a technology POV wondering if blogs themselves were too much for the ADD tech world. I am not talking about people but technology is going to the get it built, delivered, processed in short easy bursts in general. So what I do for a living was really making me think about where (or if) I wanted to continue doing this and if I did, how would I continue. To be honest, I don’t have a solid answer for that. I now have 3 more years to figure that out (though I did move hosts). My reviews have gotten shorter. I have played around with doing short videos as a test of whether or not I would be OK with weekly videos that went over the week on the blog. I have researched podcasts though truthfully not for this blog and maybe I would do better with that than the video. I have brought on a reviewer, something I resisted forever, because I hit a reading slump. Seriously last year I barely made 100 books, normally do around 200 average, and that was just because I did a ton of rereads in Dec.
So when I won, a part of me (huge part) felt undeserving. I love audiobooks. I love promoting, in my own way, audiobooks. I love the community. I even love messing around with the technology, which BTW is why I got into blogging in the first place in 2006 but that is another story. I just felt my “blogging mid-life crises” made me a fraud in a weird way. However, I think that blogging crisis is just part of a whole crossroads type of thing I am at so maybe it was a leak over from that. I do NOT feel that way now (fraudish) but initially I did. Now I think maybe this award was what I needed to get me really thinking about how best to support this community I adore and how to use this raised platform in a good and supportive way. It really has me brain storming but more importantly it has me re-energized. So now that I have confessed let’s get on to the good stuff!
The Audiobook Part of my trip not including the Audies (those I will do last)
Oddly, this trip was really educational. I learned a lot about what type of team is needed to bring audiobooks to life. I learned about prep, schedules, booth vs in-home studios, networking, and behind the scenes stuff. I did all of that without attending their APAC conference (which I crashed for 5 min to say hi to some people during one of their breaks).
Quick, not as fun as the rest of it, side note: So I got asked one question by a number of bloggers about what do you win as the Blogger of the Year. I am going to be totally transparent and not just because I am opinionated. I know that for 90% of us, we do this as a hobby. One we gladly do and ultimately do out of our love for a good story. We are not paid by anyone and all of it comes out of our free time/pockets which we all know can add up. I loved the honor. I loved the chance to be part of that inner circle even for a minute. It was well worth the stuff I had to buy in order for me to experience the full effect. What I won: 2 tickets to the Audie Awards & a cash prize (which I used to purchase my dress and stuff for the gala). Yes I had to pay for my own flight/hotel and it did not include tickets to APAC or BEA.
You also do not get a medal or an award. I have to admit that part is a little disappointing. I was also asked by a lot of people who were not bloggers where was my award, was I getting one, and so on. I am hoping that next years winner will at least get one of the medals or an award (even if they have to pay for it) because they are really cool. Also, so that you have an answer when someone asks you because I was not good with on the spot answering that. UPDATE: They sent me a medal so you do get one of those 🙂 YEAH!!! However, I will point out that I will be begging all of you to enter next year because you do not have to go to NY if you win. Do not feel like if you can’t afford to pay for hotel/food/plane for NY that you should not enter. You will still have an elevated platform and honestly the love you get from the narrators, publishers, and community is amazing. In fact, it was a publisher that fought to get us recognized in the first place so do not think for a minute they do not appreciate us (this is more in reference to my first paragraph confession) but also just so you know how much the audio publishers appreciate you. Also because if you go to NY, it will be worth every penny you spend to hang with, talk to, and just be around the community at the height of their season. So even though I was disappointed about that no medal thing, I am not at all disappointed with the overall experience (which I will detail in full the last part of this post)
Back to the fun stuff! So where did I get the insight/education that I did? There is a very fun post-APAC happy hour that they go to in order to decompress about the day. The narrators/producers were hashing out stuff, talking about what they learned, and I am a really good listener. I think audiobooks have really taught me to multi-task–I could chat with folks while still picking up tidbits from conversations around me. Who knew? Audiobooks giving us life skills LOL. It was insight that I truly hold dear. It didn’t change how I feel about audiobooks other than to say I love them more than ever now. I also feel that my reviews are going to start saying something about production/editing too. I don’t know why I just didn’t consider that a big part of the process considering it is probably the part that most accurately correlates with how my company sees me (aka until it isn’t done right no one even knows you exist but if it is done wrong it is super obvious). It really truly is important so I will be giving kudos when done right and not just pointing out when it is done wrong in the future! So if you ever score a post-APAC happy hour invite I insist you go. You won’t be disappointed! You will make friends. Get secrets (that I won’t ever tell). Have a blast! I want to say a special shout out to Anne F. and Aiden! Total giggles—both of you!
Book Expo –totally different than Chicago
I didn’t actually spend a whole lot of time at Book Expo this year. In fact I brought home a total of 12 books but you should know I went in with a total “you have to read it all before August” thought process. Also though, if you are a Childrens, YA, Lit Fic, or Political reader there was tons for you to see/do. For me, the mystery/thriller spotlights were strong (8 of my books fell in there) with many books that looked good coming in the next 6 or so months. Loads of books in that genre at almost every main publisher and small publisher too. The graphic and fantasy selections grew mainly because of TOR. They had a good show. I was super impressed. What was missing at Book Expo: Romance. There just wasn’t a lot going on even at Romance Publisher areas. Harlequin, Sourcebooks, Entangled all had more YA spotlights than any adult romance. They also focused more on some of their non-romance titles. I hear that romance had a bigger turn out for Book Con but if Romance is your main reading material there wasn’t a whole lot going on during the Expo for us. Though I also heard a rumor that is because many decided between RT and Book Expo where to focus their energies. If that is the case, I think they made the right decision as the crowd was different for this year too. I did however get to see Al Franken so the entire 50 Bajillion steps I took walking to and from the Javits center, walking around the Javits center, eating $10 hotdogs was worth it. Seriously that man was a delight. I also really liked the other stage presentations with Dennis Leary, Isla Fisher, Tor Books, and another Graphic Novels one. I guess the plus side of very little romance was I got to concentrate on the talks and have time to browse the vendors. I did manage to see many of my blogger friends that I had not seen in ages or had never met. Also many of the librarians that I talk to all the time (cause y’all know they are my favorite people) so the entire steps thing worth it.
Side Note: If I ever get to go to an ALA don’t be surprised if I totally ignore any books and authors and totally spend my time fangirling over librarians. I have a feeling that is the reality of what would happen!
The Audies/Naudies/Pre-Get Together —the highlight of my trip
I know this post is already terribly long and breaks all the good “blogging” rules. However, this part is going to be a doozy and also really sappy so just hang in there.
I am still not sure how to accurately describe the whirlwind evening that was the Audies. First I want to thank 8 people upfront before they get buried in the wrapup!
- Karen for being my “date” and getting me an invite to the pre-party launch at Hillarys!
- Hillary for that amazing pre-party launch and awesome photograph.
- Audiobook Community/APA aka Jennifer Richards for introducing, guiding, and making sure I got the VIP treatment all night!
- Scott Brick for being the final say on my win.
- Megan and the entire Hachette crew for just being awesome. They know what makes them awesome but truly they are just awesome!
- Erin/Noah because you two truly made both the Naudies and the other HH one that felt like hanging out with friends. You are truly amazing individuals and thank you for the congratulations wine!
- Traci your green dress and your amazing personality and willingness to just accept me into the group—MUAH!
- Michelle Cobb–we didn’t see each other often but you were always checking to see if I was OK like you knew I needed that extra push!
So after getting all gussied up which is something I actively avoid doing and heading over to Karen’s hotel the night began. Karen and I headed over to Hillary’s for a small pre-party Happy Hour that included great talk, new to me narrators, fav narrators, and mostly just what I needed to take the edge off. They didn’t make me feel at all like an outsider. They made me feel like a star (dammit I am crying as I am writing this). They will never know how much that meant since this type of thing is so far outside my normal activity range, I was borderline having a mini-anxiety attack. So THANK YOU!
We then headed to the Audies at the Fashion Institute. The venue was beautiful (hot) but it was truly a spectacular evening. The gala started with a pre-show dinner and drinks. J.R. from the APA took me around to meet everyone who was anyone. Showed me around to all the different publishers and people. I got to meet Scott Brick and January Lavoy. Y’all know my love for January and she didn’t flinch at me being a fan girl. Y’all should know I totally fangirled. I almost cried but then I remembered I was going to be on screen so I held it back. Jennifer made sure that my drink was full and my plates were carried. She took pictures with my favorites and made me feel like I was part of the club. It was fantastic! In fact, she was so nice that she may randomly get flowers one day from me because I am pretty sure she went above and beyond the call duty. Then we headed downstairs to the main auditorium to do a dry run of the show. Megan was my partner in crime all night. Y’all she is freaking hilarious, wicked smart, and well our not so inner smart asses got along famously. She is also the person that fought for us to be part of the ceremony and to be recognized for our contribution. In other words, she believes in us and we couldn’t have a better cheerleader. She is a spitfire and my kind of gal! Karen, her, and I had a blast. Karen doesn’t know this but we thought about going off script and making her go up too. She better be glad we tapped down our inner rebels! One more glass of alcohol and we would have! I could describe the Audies but hopefully you watched. Paula Poundstone was awesome and thanks to Jennifer. I got to meet her after the show and get a picture. After the show, was the post show champagne/dessert. Also where tons of fun was had and y’all I got to meet Angela “freaking” Dawe. At that point, you could pretty much stick a fork in me cause I was over the moon! Jennifer also took more pictures and honestly she was the biggest rockstar of the night. I can’t thank her enough. After that we headed to the Naudies. I did the Naudies last year so I knew that would be a blast. It was total fun and a public event. You ever get a chance to go to one—please do. It is the last thing they do so there is loads of congrats, fun, and drinking. It truly is awesome! Plus, I got to meet even more narrators that I had somehow missed during the entire thing. Also I learned more secrets I will never tell and not just because I had a ton of wine. I remember but I also keep my word so NEVER FEAR! I also totally did miss connecting with some of my favs: Lauren and Rachel particularly!
So while the pictures I do in a post tomorrow will give you a visual—I hope this was a decent recap of 3 days that felt like a once in lifetime thing. However since I was asked very nice by someone I owe particularly for this 3 days–here is my acceptance speech should I have given one:
I have seen a lot of award shows so I know who I am supposed to thank but since I am outsider I figure I can sing my own tune. I want to thank my fellow listeners/bloggers of audiobooks particularly romance but not excluding the others. This award is not about me. It is about how much our community means. It is how we impact the industry. It is how we stand together, chat together, cry-laugh-scream together. We matter! Books and Audiobooks are not going away because we are growing their numbers by being staunch cheerleaders for the art form. So, this award is not for me but for all of us. However, I feel like I should also thank my Mom, Dad, and Step-mom for instilling the love of reading and of audiobooks in me since the 70s/80s. Also probably Pete’s Dragon and The Hardy Boys for being my first Audiobooks. This community rocks and readers/listeners we matter! Where is my wine?
During her non-reading time you can find her hanging with her rescue furr children named after book characters: Lizzie a beautiful cattle dog mix (Pound Pup), Cinder a beautiful Shep/Pitt mix (Pound Pup), and Minerva a beautiful Shep/Pitt mix (Foster Fail). Gathering with friends and family, attending conventions, watching movies/tv shows, rooting for the 49rs, and crocheting.
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