105 Ways to Give a Book

KidLitCon Seattle: Sessions and Stuff I

It makes the most sense to start with the session I did, even it is the one that I’m having the hardest time writing up. In order to combat my own writer’s anxiety, I’ve decided to break it down into points, and you’ll simply have to assume and/or understand that we went into far more depth at the session itself.

Bloggers and Writers and Pubs! Oh My! was a panel discussion of the relationships among the players in the kidlitosphere. Liz Burns and I, with author Kirby Larson and Little, Brown representative Zoe Luderitz, opened up the questions with what we loved, didn’t like, and wanted to convey to each other. Some thoughts then:

Writers: Bloggers love when you are engaged with the community and contribute to conversations other than publicity for your book.

Bloggers: Publishers and writers love what you do to promote their books, and while they would love a review, even a title mention is nice.

Publishers: Bloggers love when you send out catalogs with checklists — either electronically or by snail mail — as it allows them to select the items to review according to their interests and expertise and...

Bloggers: Publishers don’t like when you check off everything on that list.

Publishers: Bloggers don’t like when you send things that are way off-base.

Writers: Bloggers don’t like when you argue with their review in the comments or by email.

Publishers: Bloggers want you to understand that they are generally not paid and are doing this for their love of reading, writing, and/or community — not to get free books.

Bloggers: Publishers want you to understand that they are trying to navigate this newer world of blogging with the techniques developed from a century of print reviewing, techniques that are still evolving.

Writers: Bloggers and publishers want you to understand that your website — kept up to date, with a blog that has your name and books clearly listed — is a valuable publicity resource.

Bloggers: Writers want you to understand that there are people behind the books, people with feelings, and they’d rather not receive the tweet about your one-star review of their books.

While I would say that these are majority viewpoints, a key factor of our presentation was that it was less about coming to a consensus of answers — in fifty minutes or less — than about starting the conversations with the questions. So, I give them to back to you to discuss:
Bloggers/Writers/Publishers: What do you love/dislike/want to convey to each other?


Ms. Yingling said...

I try to be very clear that how I feel about a book is a direct reflection of what my students are asking for. I mention books that didn't suit me because they might suit others. Mentioning "weaknesses" in a book is not something done to be mean, but to let authors know what would be better for my students (their target audience). It's nice when authors understand this. Geoff Herbach was VERY understanding when I got slightly testy about his word choices which led me to not purchase his book, which I thought was excellent.

Saints and Spinners said...

I'm glad to know that a title mention is appreciated, as I often feel remorse over not giving a book a proper review. I would like to echo the point that "bloggers don't like when you argue with their review in the comments or by email." There have been only a few times that an author has broken the "fourth wall" to approach me directly about a review. Each time was off-putting, which was unfortunate.

Unknown said...

As a blogger, I want publishers and authors to know that I hate waste. It breaks my heart to get a lot of unsolicited books that I'll never read. I'd much prefer to get the offer by email and have the choice. I do still prefer reading print and will rarely read a digital review copy, except for the Cybils where it's a requirement of participation.

As a publisher, I want bloggers to know that I don't mind critical reviews, as they can often be very informative. And frankly, a critical review is much better than no review at all, because someone might see a book that interests them. I do think that snarky reviews, which use humor at the expense of the author & book, are uncalled for, and not that different from middle-school bullying making fun of someone to get a laugh.

I thought that your panel was very interesting and helpful. Thanks for putting it together.

Melissa said...

I agree that your panel was interesting and helpful. I would like to add to writers that I don't really want to be nagged about responding to your email. I get TONS of emails every day asking me to review books, and if I don't respond, it's either because it got lost in the hoard or because I don't want your book. If it's the former, and you send a second email, I will respond. If it's the latter, and you send me three, four, or more emails to review your book, I'm just going to get pissed off.


Unknown said...

Also, I'd like to add for writers, publishers, and publicists: please don't put me on your email list to be notified of every award, good review, etc that a book gets. I've had a few do that, and it doesn't make me want to review the book, it just annoys me. So please don't do it. Actually, it's usually authors and independent publicists working for authors that do this. Publisher marketing people generally have enough perspective to know not to do this.