I went to my first big ALA (American Library Association) conference a couple of weeks ago. My young adult novel, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME made the 2009 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers list, and as a result, I was invited to attend a coffee klatch sponsored by YALSA. At this event, authors go from table to table of librarians to talk about their books. Because I don’t have any books coming out for awhile, I couldn’t do any signings or other promotional events, but I still wanted to go. I wanted to go, if for no other reason than, to be around a lot of people who love books as much as I do. I can tell you now, I’m so glad I went.
A conference like ALA allows you to connect with people in a new way.
I met authors I’ve known on-line for years. Our on-line friendships quickly became more, and I can't wait to see these friends again!
I met librarians who told me about the teens who read and love my books.
I met book bloggers who tirelessly share their love of books with the blogosphere because they simply want to spread the word about good books!
I got to spend some time with someone from my publisher, and talk to other authors over dinner about promotion and reviews and all kinds of things.
And finally, I attended the Caldecott/Newbery award banquet and heard the winners’ acceptance speeches. Neil Gaiman’s speech (THE GRAVEYARD BOOK won the Newbery, in case you’ve been under a rock) was honest, witty and heartfelt, and I loved every word of it.
You walk away from an event like that with mixed feelings. On the one hand, you think, so many amazing authors – and then there’s little old me. On the other hand, you think, how blessed I am to be a part of the world of books for kids and teens.
Librarians are good at reminding us that there are many, many different kinds of kids. There are kids who want the literary books, there are kids who want the fantasy books, there are kids who want the non-fiction books, there are kids who want the romantic books, etc.
It felt good to be told that there are also kids who want books like the ones I write. I had one librarian tell me there is one teen who has been in her Teen Book Club since it began, but the teen had never finished a book until she read I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME.
Librarians get books into the hands of teens. Not only that, they get the *right* books into the hands of teens. In case it’s not obvious by now, I’m a big fan of librarians. And ALA is a great place to celebrate all they do for us!