After lunch I attended Critical Reviews Fine Tuning Your Craft (Mark Fowler-Attorney, Janice Harayda- One Minute Book Reviews, Florinda Vasquez-The 3 R's Blog, moderator Barbara Hoffert-Prepub Alert, Library Journal.) I was hoping to get a little more technical tips and insight on writing reviews, but I was able to glean some nuggets of useful information. Janice pointed out that the early reviews of classic literature, such as The Great Gatsby and Madame Bovary, were not favorable and bloggers should feel free to be as bold as these critics. Today, we may be going the other way and the fear of the repercussions of negative reviews may sway some bloggers. Barbara pointed out that readers need to know if something is bad as well as good. My favorite item discussed was Florinda pointing out that critical and negative reviews are not the same and she advised that a reviewer should be useful and articulate where the book fell short while at the same time being diplomatic.
The next breakaway panel was Creating Community and Driving Engagement. (Mandy Boles-The Well-Read Wife, David Lee King-Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and David Lee King, Stacey O'Neale-Fantasy Book Addict, m-Jennifer Conner-The Literate Housewife.) I went to this talk because I wanted to know how to reach out to more people. Mandy said to "make people love you." Easier said than done, but she did suggest to bring your personal life to blogging. Jennifer admitted that the more she knows about a blogger the more she appreciates their reviews. They also talked about the power and usefulness of Twitter. David looks at Twitter as a "big, digital brain" and utilizes it for brainstorming as well as networking. "If you have no readers you have no community." One woman felt that Twitter is not a conversation anymore and wondered where the community was. I have to disagree with that. I've made some wonderful connections through Twitter and ironically, it was at the very first Book Blogger Convention in 2010 where several other people convinced me to sign up.
To be honest, last year (2011) I didn't get much out of the Book Blogger Con but I told myself I would try it one more time. The posts that I have been reading on the blogosphere have a similar complaint, that this year, the Bloggers Conference was not geared toward book bloggers but instead catered to the book industry. Also, there were issues with authors pushing their books or not knowing why they were at the breakfast and luncheon, a tense moment in a panel that I did not attend and general confusion about what the keynote speakers had to do with book blogging. Luckily, I did not have the same experience with the author breakfast/lunch and while I would have liked to have more specific and practical information pertaining to book blogging, I'm still glad I went. I would like to go next year because the best part for me, was talking to and meeting my fellow book bloggers.
Everyone has their own very astute experiences and impressions so please check out some of the links below for additional write ups. I would be very curious to see if the powers that be at BEA take some of these valid complaints seriously enough to implement changes.
The Book Smugglers
Crazy for Books
Janicu's Book Blog
The King of Elfland's Second Cousin
There's A Book
The Queen's Quill Review