This post details PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF administrator Shannon Muir’s experiences talking about book blogs and other resources for finding new book reads as part of LOSCON 43, held November 25-27, 2016, at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott.

On Friday, November 25th, 2016, PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF blog administrator Shannon Muir discussed book blogs and other tech-based methods of discovering new reads at LOSCON 43. Her co-panelist, Aviya Amir, holds an interest in books both for leisure reading as well as academically, as she currently works on a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Riverside. While LOSCON 43 gears for science fiction primarily, with some emphasis on fantasy as well, the interactive discussion with the audience held many applications on a general level.

Shannon started off giving an overview of what it is like to run a blog and how she gains information about books to feature. The audience learned that while some people send cold submissions to Shannon, many come in via organized blog tours arranged by various suppliers Shannon is signed up with. They give her a synopsis of the book, the types of content available for the tour, and the dates it runs. Shannon then checks not only to see if the offering fits her schedule, but if it offers the type of content she looks for; she made it clear she does not focus on reviews for a variety of reasons and prefers (as a writer herself) to showcase insight into other writers via interviews or guest posts. When asked if she had any information about how successful book tours area for authors, Shannon admitted she actually gets little feedback on this and would be interested to know herself.

Aviya got a discussion started about the wide variety of ways to gather information to make informed decisions. Besides looking at reviews on blogs, or sites like Amazon or Goodreads, tools discussed included using shared drive cloud documents among reader groups – whether online or in person – to help track not only lists of recommendations but the reasoning behind them, to allow for records of discussion and debate for making reading selections. Resources included being willing to look outside resources normally geared solely for an area of interest to see if there might be titles on similar themes that might not fit the criteria that certain blogs or magazines that special interest areas might focus on.

Willingness to go outside one’s comfort zone became a theme that came up several times in the audience discussion. Some people are admittedly fine staying reading all of a similar type of book and not having other experiences, though this didn’t prove true of those in attendance at the panel. As a whole, the conversation emphasized various people sharing their personal experiences of how they challenge themselves to find and read things they otherwise might not have.

Everyone who showed up was active and engaged, and the interest greatly appreciated.

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