Since today is a special day, my site will be an open blog which means all post for today is not about me or my writings. This post is for a friend who is also a blogger like me and not just a blogger but a book blogger who share the same passion for books. Her name is Rachel, she got a successful blog called Fiktshun, she lives in California and loves YA books. I was delighted to get to ask her a few questions and find out more about what her experience as a blogger has been like.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a fully-grown adult person with a very real full-time job that takes up a large chunk of my day. So, while reading, reviewing and writing are my passions, they have to come second to my day job. The bills do not get paid by blogging, no matter how nice a notion that is.
Of course I love reading, why else would I be a book blogger? And right now it’s YA books all the way. Yes, I’m one of those adults that like reading what some people call “children’s books,” but I love them and many of them are written so much better than the adult-aged books I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot.
When I was young I wanted to be a writer. I started creating stories even before I could write, and would make my parents write them for me. I learned to type when I was nine just so it would easier for me to write. I never liked writing longhand. But my writing career ended when I was sixteen and fell in love with the boy who became my husband. My characters were always fatalists and did not like the idea of a happy ending, so they packed their bags and headed off to find a writer more to their liking.
Quickie facts: I prefer salty to sweet, am a dangerous person to take to a sporting event (even if it’s not my favorite team, I will choose a team to side with, and be very outspoken), prefer sunshine to rain, prefer cold to hot, prefer action films to romantic comedies, am a lover of animals, prefer winter sports to summer games (though am a huge fan of all things skateboarding), am super protective of those I care about, and am totally sarcastic with everything except when it comes to books.
And I am totally shy with people I don’t know. Which is why social media is completely freaking me out. But once you get to know me, then you’ll be begging me to shut up. You have been warned!
2. Your site is up for six months now, as a new blogger what make you decide to put up your own site?
When I first started out, it was because a friend said I should try blogging about books since I read so much. I created a few posts, hated it and stopped. Writing reviews felt like writing book reports for school. It wasn’t fun. But I paid for the site for a year, so I left it alone just in case.
I give complete credit for starting up again to Amanda Hocking. I was stalking her site and noticed she was looking for beta readers of one of her books. I, of course, wanted to be one of those. To be qualified I needed to have a blog and a place to post a review. Well, I happened to have one, even if it was inactive. And, unbelievably she said yes! I completely re-designed the site and my very first post with my “new” blog was a review of her book, Torn. And the rest is history…only six months’ worth, but history nonetheless.
3. Has blogging changed your reading habits? Do you read books that you normally wouldn’t read now that you have your own blog?
Blogging has completely changed my reading habits. I used to read when I felt like it. Now I read because I am required to in order to have new content up on the site. I know this sounds terrible, but it’s not. I just read more than I used to, and schedule times when I will be reading.
The best thing that changed is that I’m discovering different genres and books that I never would have discovered on my own. I rarely read anything dystopian and never heard of steampunk before blogging and I probably never would have. They didn’t come up under Amazon’s recommended reads for me, and I didn’t search online for new stuff. I didn’t even know there were other book blogs out there until after I started my own.
I am also now seeking out books by new authors that I only have learned about as a blogger. That’s pretty cool and I love being a part of the adventure from the beginning.
4. How does blogging fit in with the other parts of your life? What things do you enjoy doing, besides reading and writing?
Blogging does not fit in with the other parts of my life at all. It’s an entirely separate part that is just for me, which is actually kind of nice. It does bleed into my everyday, because I end up talking about books all the time to friends and family who don’t want to hear it, but they still put up with me and like my enthusiasm even if it’s not theirs.
Oh boy, what else do I love to do other than reading or writing? I’m in California, so I love to head to the beach or go cycling. But I’m not a big fan of the great outdoors. I used to be, but I’m slightly accident prone. Don’t ask. So it’s just safer for me to stay away from things like extreme sports – not that I was ever good at those.
I love to go to concerts. Music is so much better live. And when possible take in a few sporting events. And, I am a film buff. Always have been. So going to the movies is a must.
5. What does being a book blogger mean to you?
Another tough question! You’re asking some great questions here. Especially for someone who tends to ramble endlessly.
For me, being a book blogger means sharing my opinions about and enthusiasm for the books I read. If I can even do a small part in promoting a book I love, or brightening someone’s day with a review I’ve written, then I’m happy. If someone discovers a new book or author they love because of something I’ve written or information I’ve given, then I’m ecstatic.
This is not a popularity contest for me. I know those follow stats mean something, but having discussions via comments on the blog or on my blog’s FB page are what make me smile. And I don’t blog to get the free books – if that was my hope, it would have died after the first month.
I am, and always have been, someone who loves to read, and having a blog gives me an outlet to share that love with anyone who stops by.
6. What do you typically look for when seeking new books to read? how do you go about selecting titles from the suggestions sent to you? What’s a good way to catch your eye to ensure a review?
It depends on whether it’s for personal reading or for the blog. But as a blogger, I am open to reading almost anything in young adult fiction. The cover or description, or both, have to appeal to me to make it stand out. Or if I hear about something new on Twitter or from one of the many blogs that I visit regularly, then I’ll check it out. I’m easy. It doesn’t take much to peak my interest.
In the past I would have been more limited in what I read, but as a blogger I keep myself open to discovering anything new.
Aside from several self-published authors reaching out to me, I don’t get many books sent to me. Maybe that will happen someday, but right now I have only received a handful, and those only recently, from a publisher. I plan on reading all of those books.
For the self-published authors who reach out to me by email, the more information the better. If I can read a sample of the book online, or check out their website, then I’m more likely to consider the book for review.
Catching my eye….hmmm… If I’ve heard of an author, and they reach out to me, that’s a no brainer. My eye is caught. But, I haven’t been blogging long enough yet for too many authors I know to reach out to me directly, and most would go through their publishers.
I’d say the next best thing would be to get to know me on Twitter. I’ve discovered a few great self-published authors that way. I find it’s the easiest way to get to know someone. Email is dicey. I’m really particular when getting contacted by email and I only respond to personalized email messages.
But, I don’t think, for any blogger, there’s a real way to ensure a review. Sometimes it’s a matter of timing, sometimes it’s the work itself, and sometimes it’s the approach. I received a really great email from an author requesting a review and I made the time.
7. Do you compose posts ahead of time, or do you write “on the fly”?
Ha! I would love to compose posts ahead of time. It almost never happens. Sometimes I can get something done a few hours beforehand, but typically I finish my posts minutes before I want to schedule them to publish.
My Random Thoughts posts tend to be more “on the fly.” When I write them I could schedule them for a later day or time, but I typically hit publish immediately. They are random after all.
8. What do you hope to accomplish with your book blog beyond sharing your love of books?
I don’t think I have any goals for the blog beyond sharing my love of books. There is no hidden agenda behind the blog to try to get in good with the publishers so that I could be a writer someday or to “friend” the authors in hopes of getting tips on how to submit a query or find an agent. If I wanted that, I would have started a very different kind of blog.
Of course I wouldn’t mind if my blog became more well-known or well-liked. Who wouldn’t? And I’d like to have it grow and include more interviews, more articles, maybe more discussion posts. But that still leads back to me wanting to share my love of books, which is my ultimate goal.
9. One of the features of your blog that I enjoy reading is the “Random Thoughts”, how do you choose the subject to write for your next article?
Thanks! My Random Thoughts posts are completely random. The ideas just pop into my head and then I just bang them out. Which is why they typically post at odd times of the day, and not just past midnight when my regular posts publish. Although for some I really wish I’d waited awhile before publishing.
At any given time I have a few of these RT posts in the drafts section of my blog because I decide halfway through or when I’m done writing them that they’re better off not being published. Just because they’re ideas does not mean that they’re good or should be shared with the world.
10. Since I live in the Philippines, I’d like to know what you think of international book bloggers?
I love that book blogging doesn’t end at the borders of the United States. It’s nice to know that my love of a particular book or author extends around the globe.
I do visit a number of international blogs, but as I am not too fluent in most languages, they are mostly blogs written in English, with the occasional ones in French or Italian.
I especially love checking out the international covers of books that bloggers post and discovering a few authors that haven’t yet published in the U.S.
As I am a reader first and blogger second, just knowing that there are readers around the world who are just as passionate to share their love of books with others, as I am, is awesome.
Thank you for your thoughtful answers, Rachel! I enjoyed doing this interview with you.