What is life like for a reviewer? What does it mean to be a book reviewer? How does book blogging impact their lives?… These questions tell a reviewer’s side of the story, and that is a side we hardly get to hear (compared to authors, that is). To bring a balance and to ask these and many more questions of book reviewers, we’ve started the weekly interview series – Life as a Book Blogger.
Aloi from Guiltless Reader answers our many questions about life and book blogging this week. 🙂
Aloi is a Guiltless Reader 🙂 , she reads books from the quirky to the obscure; always on the lookout for that unforgettable read. She will read almost anything – from Classics to Fantasy and Chick-lit to Non-fiction!
Aside from reading Aloi also enjoys all things bookish. You should check out her collection of bookshelves and bookmarks, you are sure to want some of these!
Q. Would you tell us a little about yourself? Your life beyond books? Your quirks?
Aloi: My life beyond books is pretty run-of-the-mill. I’m your regular gal, with a family, and a full-time job. I’m from the Philippines but currently residing in Canada.
My bookish quirks? I’m such an eclectic reader that the mere thought of having to stick to one genre for a better blog focus, common advice for bloggers, makes me squeamish! That’s akin to having a diet of only one type of food!
Just like my reading appetite, I’m an adventurous eater. I started in the blogosphere as a food blogger but found that taking photos of the food interfered with the eating part. 😉
Q. Why do you review books and why did you start a book blog?
Aloi: For as long as I can remember I have loved the written word. But with life happening — getting married, having a child, work — I found that I simply didn’t put reading high up in my list of priorities. I also noticed I read the same books over and over again. I was in a reading rut and I wanted to change that. So to keep me accountable, I decided to start a blog so I could remember what I’d read…
Q. You have an elephant logo on your blog. What does it signify?
Aloi: Elephants always remember, right? Though this elephant is a little bit more sassy.
Q. Who did the design for your blog? Did you design it yourself?
Aloi: I enjoy fiddling around with my blog design and in fact my blog has gone through so many reincarnations I sometimes worry that people won’t remember it! My current blog design is a premade template called Versatile which I bought at ThemeForest. It’s been tweaked to death … by me, of course.
Q. What is your BookMark Monday meme all about? How did the idea originate?
Aloi: When I first came to Canada, bookmarks were given out in the library pretty liberally. I started collecting them. Then I turned to the internet and came across even more unique, creative designs. I think it was inevitable that I’d be posting pictures of bookmarks and opening it to be a meme.
While I have a secret desire to hoard bookmarks, I’ll let you in on a secret: while I love them and collect them virtually through this meme, I rarely use them because I often dogear!
Q. You’re quite active on GoodReads. How do you use GoodReads? How does that help you as a book blogger? Where does it fit in your overall activities blogger?
Aloi: Goodreads is my go-to for cataloging my reads. It’s a simple way of keeping organized. Not only is it an amazing tool, it has a very enthusiastic community. I also go there to keep a tab of new books, comment on reviews, join in discussions and their giveaways. Book blogging and Goodreads are like ice cream and chocolate — they’re great on their own but even better together!
Q. How do you cross-post reviews to GoodReads? Does it help bring more traffic to your blog?
Aloi: I used to cross-post full reviews. But I’ve decided to simplify and only post snippets which link up to the full post. I don’t think it drives much traffic to my blog.
Q. Have you ever participated in a GoodReads giveaway? What was the experience like? Would you recommend it to other book bloggers/readers?
Aloi: All the time! It’s fun to get an email saying you’ve won and then getting a new book in the mail. I definitely recommend it!
Time for our quick fire round. 🙂
Q. Pinterest, Twitter, Google or GoodReads. Which is your favorite? Where does most of your traffic come from?
Aloi: I’m surprising myself by saying Google+. A lot of interesting interactions and discussions happen there. Because I don’t have too many contacts there, I find these interactions so much more focused and meaningful.
Twitter gets me the most traffic for giveaways, while Pinterest gets me a rather surprising spike in traffic for specific bookish things posts.
Q. How many books do you read every week?
Aloi: Depends on what’s happening in my life, my mood/s, and what books I have on hand. Anywhere from none to 3-4 a week.
Q. How do authors and publishers find you if they want you to review their books?
Aloi: Check out my review policy and contact info here.
Q. Ebooks or physical copies? Which do you prefer and why?
Aloi: Physical copies. As much I mentally understand the advantages of going digital, I’ll probably never go the route of an e-reader. I love the tangibility of the written word embodied by the sensation of holding and flipping through the pages of a book. And how else would I be able to I dog-ear? 😉
Q. How much time do you spend on your blog?
Aloi: Probably an insane amount of time! But I enjoy it …. and so it goes.
Q. Which was the last book you purchased and why?
Aloi: The classic How to Win Friends and Influence Them by Dale Carnegie.
Q. What are you currently reading?
Aloi: Salted by Aaron Galvin. It’s a fantasy debut novel that’s a modernized take on Selkies written by someone who has worked in the film industry and I can actually imagine this as a movie!
Q. What’s your pet peeve?
Aloi: SPAM. I think as a book blogger, I open myself up to this. I know authors and publishers are under great stress to sell books, but the obvious mass emails, the telltale signs that they never even read your review policy, and the demanding even entitled tone of some “requests” are off-putting. This is my personal book blog, I am not anyone’s personal marketing machine. I respect the process behind producing a book and pour a tremendous amount of time and energy into reading and reviewing, and I do it out of the love for reading and discovering new books and authors (and for free I might add!) … it’s a pity that a badly written email can spoil it all.
Q. What’s the best part about being a book blogger?
Aloi: Free books, awesome conversations, and absolutely no time for boredom.
Q: Apart from Bookshelves and Bookmarks, what other bookish things do you love?
Aloi: Anything! Although I admit I have a fascination for book-themed food.
And before we end this rather long interview 🙂 , a couple more serious questions that will help new book bloggers out there.
Q. You recently ran an interesting giveaway with author Will Chluho. How do authors get in touch with you if they would like to do a guest post and giveaway on your blog? Would you recommend these to new bloggers?
Aloi: I always welcome inquiries and pitches; I can be contacted here. I am picky about the books and authors I feature or host giveaways for. As a rule, if I won’t personally read the book, why would I bother with a guest post or giveaway? I also expect authors to provide me with original, exclusive content for my blog.
New bloggers, bide your time before deciding to open yourself to hosting guest posts and giveaways. Can your schedule accommodate this new layer of expectations? Be very clear what your own parameters are. Plan out your posts, be prepared for the back and forth emails with the author/publisher (and they can be many!), and remember that you are expected to deliver.
Q. How do blog tour companies get in touch with you? Do you recommend blog tours to book bloggers just starting out? What should a book blogger know about working with blog tour companies?
Aloi: Here. Just a warning that I’m really picky with the tour companies I work with and I prefer to contact them rather than the other way around. Over the years, I’ve noticed how tour companies are evolving. I think it’s important to remember that they are paid by authors and publishers to market books to drive sales. That being said, they are not always book blogger “friendly.”
For example, I only work with companies that don’t demand only positive reviews or a certain number of star ratings. If I liked a book, I say so; if I disliked a book, I say so. Just because the tour company gave me a “free” book doesn’t automatically guarantee that I’ll post a rave review, and I think it’s unrealistic for tour companies to expect that.
I think joining book tours is a great way for new bloggers to jump-start getting more new content on a new blog. My advice: Do your due diligence before committing to book tours or specific book tour companies. Read their fine print and decide if their expectations jibe with yours. Accept only books you are interested in. And deliver.
Q. What are your top three tips for someone just getting started with a book blog?
Aloi: Be yourself. Have fun. And never just do it because you’re in it for free books – that reason will get old pretty quickly! 😉
It was a pleasure to have you here with us, answering our questions without reserve. Thanks for joining us Aloi. 🙂