Riding the Waves Conference Spotlight ~ Kat Mayo (Book Thingo)

Welcome to a conference spotlight

from the

Riding the Waves conference!

Today we have Kat Mayo who with Kate Cuthbert and Sarah Wendell will be presenting the workshop NAVIGATING THE CHOPPY WATERS OF ONLINE REVIEWS .



Kat Mayo runs Book Thingo, an Australian reader blog with a focus on romance books, Australian authors and local book industry news and events. When she is not blogging, Kat is often found on Twitter, where she is known as the fairy killer (someone who reads the ending of a book first). She co-organises Aussie Author Month, a blogging event celebrating Australian authors, and is a contributor to the Australian Women Writers Challenge blog and the Australian Romance Readers Association newsletter. She has been featured in the (sydney) magazine (pictured surrounded by stacks of Mills & Boon books) and recently curated Raunchy Romance Storytime at Customs House Library.

KateCuthbertKate Cuthbert is a reader, writer, reviewer, twitter-er, blogger, and starter of readers’ groups, all devoted (mainly) to romance novels. She’s written and reviewed for The Courier-Mail, All About Romance, Booktopia, Bookseller & Publisher Magazine, and the New York Journal of Books. She now heads up Harlequin Australia’s digital first imprint, Escape Publishing.

Sarah Wendell is author of the book Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels, co-author of the book, Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels, and co-founder of Smart Bitches Trashy Books.com, one of the most popular blogs examining romance fiction. The site specializes in reviewing romance novels, pondering the history and future of the genre in digital form and in print, and bemoaning the enormousp revalence of bodacious pectorals adorning male cover models.


Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

I run Book Thingo, a blog focused on romance fiction.

Have you presented sessions at previous conferences, for RWA or other organisations? 

Last year, I was a panelist at RWA Clayton’s Conference, chatting about ‘What readers want’. This is the first time I’ll be presenting in person at an RWA conference (she writes nervously).

In another first, I’m moderating an author panel for the Australian Romance Readers Conference this year (this will probably be posted after the event, so fingers crossed it went well). I also did my first ever radio interview about romance books with 2SER.

Previously, I was a panelist at Ultimo Library’s discussion on ‘Sex, love and passion – the appeal of romance novels’, and I curated ‘Raunchy Romance Storytime’ at Customs House Library.


What prompted you to put together this workshop for “Riding The Waves”?

Following a Twitter discussion, Nikki Logan emailed me, suggesting that an exploration of the value of reviews and how authors use and respond to them might make for a good workshop topic. I was definitely interested, but it took me some time to turn her ideas into something that I felt could be presented at the RWA conference. Sarah Wendell, Kate Cuthbert and I got to talking at last year’s GenreCon, we bounced some ideas off each other, and finally, the structure of the workshop emerged.


What will participants take away from this session? (OR what is the key outcome or take-home message?)

Our aim is to provide authors with effective strategies for dealing with ethical and professional issues they might face when dealing with online reviews. We also hope to provide some insights into the unwritten ‘rules’ that  authors should keep in mind when interacting with readers in different online communities.

Will there be audience participation?

Absolutely. We’ll have an introduction to frame the discussion, and we’ll be guiding the session to ensure we cover the topics we’ve outlined, but I really hope the majority of the session will be interactive—more of a panel than a workshop. We’re more than happy to take questions throughout the session, and if you have specific scenarios that you’d like us to work through, I think that would make for a very interesting session.



Which members will benefit most from this session?

‘Navigating the Choppy Waters of Online Reviews’ is aimed at authors who have an online presence or are in the process of establishing one. I think it will be particularly valuable for authors in niche markets, where reader/author interactions online are more common, and authors who rely on social media to build and sustain their readership.

That said, I think that any author who reads online reviews of their books will find the workshop worthwhile. One of the things I’m very conscious of is ensuring that the workshop is author-friendly, so we can have open discussions of your biggest concerns.

Anything you’re particularly looking forward to at the 2013 Riding The Waves conference in Fremantle?

I’m not going to lie—I’ll probably be completely ridiculous when I meet Julia Quinn! That aside, I’ve been to a few RWA conferences as a bystander and each time I’ve been impressed by the vibrant atmosphere and just general feeling of goodwill among participants. This year, I get to see what it’s like from within the conference, and I’m so excited!




Thank you, Kat!

The next conference spotlight will be tomorrow.

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1 Comment

  1. Bookmarked - April 12, 2013 – Book Thingo

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