The past two days has been such an eventful time for me as I've mentioned, having attended this year's Philippine Readers & Writers Festival and joining the panel for Book Blogging 101. It's an understatement to say that this is an event I'll never forget. It was surreal, amazing and so much fun.
I did not get much sleep, and had to wake up extra early to meet with fellow panelists / book blogger friends. It was the first time I met bookstagrammer extraordinaire, Eunice, but we immediately clicked and instead of talking about how we'll do the panel (as we do not have a moderator), we ended up sharing our mutual nervousness. Admittedly, this was the biggest panel I have though it is not my first and nerves were starting to settle in.
9:30. We started five minutes late and by then there were more people than we ever expected to attend. We were all skeptical of the two and a half hour time we were given, because we didn't know we'd be into the discussion so much, but here is a quick rundown of what we talked about:
- Finding the right platform - most of us are Wordpress and Blogger users and we discussed the pros and cons and reasons why we chose either of the two platforms, but we encourage people to try as many platforms as they can and see which one fits their need.
- Focusing on a genre - What do you want to blog about? Do you need to focus on a specific genre? The advice here is to check what you read. What do you want your blog to focus on? It can be purely romance reviews, YA (and there are sub genres in YA) or have discussion posts.
- Blog aesthetics - Hazel showed an example of blog designs she made and we discussed how your blog looks is as important as your content.
- Book photography - (This is where I started moderating.) Eunice, Hazel and Kate shared so much useful tips about book photography and to keep the discussion going, I asked the essentials: how long it takes, how many shots do they take, filters to use, when to post and the use of hashtags.
- Book reviews - This is where all five of us discussed how we review books. Some review DNFd books, some do not, which of course also depends on what kind of content you want to put on your blog. Is it just plain recommendations? Or do you review everything you read, whether they are good or bad? We also discussed book ratings and links to purchase.
- Establishing your social media presence - We discussed which ones we use (I do recommend Twitter as it is easier to interact there) and how we use them to interact with fellow readers, promote our reviews and talk to publishers / authors.
- Time management - As only 1 out of the 5 panelists are still studying, we talked about how we manage our time with our hectic schedules when it comes to work and school. An important tip here is: do not force yourself to read or blog. If you have time, you can schedule posts, or you can choose to keep a schedule. It is up to you. Hazel has a blog planner you can use!
- Connecting with publishers - There is a disclaimer here to not aim for getting free books as a motivation to blog. Believe it or not, bloggers do send "queries" for books and we do get rejected. It is important to remember that not all the books you request you will get, as there are things to consider: territorial rights, shipping fees, limited copies.
- ARCs - A very important topic where we explained how ARCs are NOT FOR SALE (it says so in the cover) and why it shouldn't be sold. ARCs aren't the final form / version of a book anyway and it doesn't help pay an author while publishers don't get anything out of it but spend to produce them instead. If a reader wants to support an author, we recommend to buy finished copies. We also discussed what we do to dispose ARCs: giveaways, trading or donating. Netgalley/Edelweiss are also a good alternatives to get ARCs.
- Is blogging a privilege?
The answer is no. Book blogging does not happen overnight. Bloggers work hard to get to where they are and it takes years and a huge amount of time. Blogging is a commitment. If we do get invited to events, we consider it as a perk and a bonus.
- Do you need a literature background to write reviews?
All five of us do not have / are not taking up literary degrees. Passion to share the love of reading is what made us write. Literary background is useful if you want to be a professional reviewer, but if not, just write.
- Taking photos: what if you do not have physical copies but a Kindle?
Props will help.
Before the panel ended, a question was posed to us: what can we do as bloggers to promote literacy and do we review in our vernacular. It was, frankly, the best 10 minutes of my life. The man (he is the one wearing the white hat in the photo above, an elderly man who told us he used to be a publisher before) told us that he sees us bloggers as influencers, and that we can do something to help. It made me realize that I am not just a mere blogger. That if I think about it, yes indeed, I can influence people. That panels like what we had can help promote literacy and create awareness for reading.
Oh, and we later found out the name of the man who asked us the question (and literally closed the discussion for us)? His name is Bienvenido Lumbera, one of the very few National Artists in our country and a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for journalism. I was floored. To have a National Artist sit there and listen to us talk about our passion made me feel so overwhelmed. It was an extraordinary experience.
Afterwards, we had people come up to us to ask more questions and take pictures. There was a lady who asked for more tips as she has been blogging for a while and want to do more and hopefully connect to more people who blog the same content as hers, as she is a teacher for the deaf. Ursula Uriarte was there. It was amazing!
We ate lunch and found ourselves unwinding at the Writer's Bar at the lobby of Fairmont, talking about what happened. And guess who was there?
|Yep, it's Anna Todd.|
What else can I say? Life changing day it was. And the ladies I am with made it such a memorable event, I'm not sure anything else can top it anytime soon!
I have here a SIGNED FIRST EDITION copy of Lauren Kate's Unforgiven which I will give away to one lucky winner.
All you have to do is answer this:
Did you attend the Philippine Readers & Writers Festival? (Or our panel, perhaps?) Which activity/event/panel/moment was your favorite and what else would you want the festival to have (a panel for something, an author you want to visit) next year?
As with the question, I will only be opening this to Philippine residents. Contest ends September 9th. RT-ing the tweet for this post / following me will be greatly appreciated but not required.