I spent last weekend in Chicago, in the cold and rainy Chicago to attend the First Annual Chicago Young Adult Book Festival. There were five panels and seventeen authors. The themes were very eclectic and the authors were given questions and topics that really made them think about their answers. I can't touch on every topic on the panels but there are a couple that I would like to discuss in depth. If anyone has any questions about things aren't discussed please email me and I will be happy to discuss any part of the event(s).
External Voices influencing writing:
This topic touched on fan fiction, social media, bloggers, and other writing influences.
Some of the authors thought that fan fiction is basically taking their ideas and writing them but with slightly different situations, characters, etc. Then, there were other authors that said they would be flattered if someone wrote fan fiction based on their novels.
[Please note that EVERY author had their own opinion and it cannot be assumed that they all felt the same way.]
Social Media pretty much was a 50/50. Some of the authors don't even use it and some use it regularly, not necessarily to promote themselves but for the fun of it.
Now, we're getting to the Blogger topic. This is a touchy topic because many things were said and not specifically explained so one could have taken things one way or another. The problem with that is if it's taken the wrong way - out of context it seems to be negative. Very negative. So, I am going to shed some light on the subject.
ARC's - Advanced Reading Copies = Free books released to bloggers early for honest reviews. Completely used for the intentions of early promotion and buzz for a new release.
One author was against the ARC program. The author had nothing but bad experiences and felt as if the program was being abused as the free books went out but reviews did not come in.
Some had no opinion at all, they didn't mind the program and hadn't had these same negative experiences.
Then there were the authors that were absolutely fine with bloggers receiving ARC's because they knew that the reviews and power that bloggers have in the reading community help them tremendously.
[Please be aware that there were authors that had never had direct contact with bloggers and some that had, good and bad. Not all answers can be assumed for all of the authors.]
Of course the subject came up of the different types of reviews that received these ARC's. The authors said that there were "professional reviewers" and then there were "bloggers". This was not meant to belittle bloggers in any way, this was a fact stating that there is a difference between the two. And there is. Professional reviewers work for companies specifically for reviewing and get paid. Bloggers do not. They instead spend their own time and money. Bottom line is both are opinions of the individual. No review can be "right" or "wrong" they can definitely heavily influence people but again, it's just an opinion.
[I would like to add here that reviews written by bloggers are NOT meant for authors. They are meant for other bloggers and readers. An author really shouldn't be reading reviews written by bloggers, there is nothing that can be done at that point as the book is already written. Hence, the blogger review is only an opinion, a valid one but still an opinion.]
Glamorous/Not glamorous truths:
This panel was last and in my opinion the best.
Several things were discussed during this hour and it was all about the authors and their lives.
"What did you do with your advance?" Oh, the answers we got from this!
Terra Elan McVoy - Paid off Student Loans
Andrew Smith - Saved and bought daughter a special sweet 16 gift
Ted Goeglein - Purchased a bootie. For reals.
Christa Desir - Donated to help rape victims. - ALL 3 Advances!
Carrie Mesrobian - Bought rad boots and paid bills
M. Molly Backes - Bought a car, not so glamorous but one that still keeps her going today.
Another question was 'How do you deal with bad reviews' and again, we have a mix of answers. One author just blows it off, another really takes it personally and questions the ability of her writing. One doesn't necessarily read them, one consults close friends for advice and another does crafty projects to make light of it and feel better. Basically to "own" the review. Obviously none of them particularly like or want negative reviews but they know that it's inevitable. One thing that all of them did agree with is that if someone wrote a negative review and hated the book, they shouldn't send the author the review or tag them on social media. Really that's only hurtful.
I think that sometimes bloggers forget that authors are just people and that they have feelings too. I also think that the same goes for some authors, they don't take into consideration the feelings of a blogger when it comes to reviews. I think that we all need to come to a common ground and stick together because we're all in it for the same thing. We love the books, and our love of books sell books. It's that simple.
Bottom line, it was a fun and informative day and I am looking forward to going back next year.