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.
This week we have Julie from ChapterBreak answering our many questions about life and book blogging. 🙂
Julie is one half of the dynamic duo behind ChapterBreak (the other half being Rose). An environmental engineer by day and a book blogger by night, Julie loves to read books in the paranormal genre, whether they are paranormal romance, paranormal YA, urban fantasy, or sometimes horror; but she also enjoys dystopia, YA and NA contemporary. Sometimes she also does read regular fantasy and sci-fi. 😉
Aside from this Julie is also the co-creator of the popular ‘That’s What He Said Thursday’ Meme.
Q: Would you tell us a little about yourself? How do you balance work and blogging?
Julie: Hi there 🙂 Well you already know a bit about me from the bio above. The blog was my co-blogger’s idea. We started last year while my husband was on a deployment, so I had a lot of free time. Now I’m finding it isn’t as easy to set aside time to work on the blog. I tend to do most of my blogging in the morning when I’m eating breakfast, and at work during breaks and while eating lunch. I certainly don’t blog full time, so it is just a hobby to do in my free time (whatever that means).
Q: Why did you become a book blogger?
Julie: I thought it would be a fun way to connect with other book lovers, so Rose and I embarked on this crazy journey heh. I already knew a lot about blogging from my personal blog, so we were able to hit the ground running and start getting our blog out there.
Q: What’s the story behind your super popular “That’s what he said Thursday” meme? How did you go about getting so many other book bloggers to participate?
Q: How can a blogger participate in your TWHST meme?
Julie: All a blogger has to do is pick a direct quote from a book they’re currently reading (or any book, really) from the guy to his girl, and post about it on Thursday. Then, it is important that they remember to link up on our post so we can see it and comment as well. Of course we also like the participant to link back to our blog so others can find the meme to join if they would like to do so.
Q: How did you create your rating system? And how do you get your ratings to show up so nicely on your posts?
Julie: Ooh this is actually a really cool plugin, just called “Rating Report”. You get to pick your 5 category names (you see the topics we picked below) and we assign star ratings to the book in the review post. It averages the overall rating for us, and that is what we use for the final rating of the book in the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin rating section. These two plugins are very helpful for book bloggers.
Time for our quick fire round. 🙂
Q: Ebooks or physical books – which do you prefer?
Julie: I am kind of torn on this one. I LOVE my e-Reader for the convenience, reading with just one hand, the built in light in my case, etc. etc. But there is just nothing like holding a print book in my hands, feeling it while I read and knowing where I am in the book based on where my bookmark is. Also, I love having a physical library with the lovelies lined up on bookshelves. Ok so this wasn’t a quick answer lol.
Q: Where do you get your review copies of books?
Julie: I get my review copies mostly from Netgalley and sometimes from book tours. I haven’t been accepting many review copies lately though. I have a lot of backlog to catch up on.
Q: Last book purchased and why?
Julie: I guess the most recent purchase would be Ruin & Rising, the final book in the Grisha Trilogy, on audio with a credit from audible. I did the first two books on audio so it is time to finish the series.
Q: How did you come across Rebel Belle and what caused you to review it?
Julie: Rebel Belle was a library borrow actually. One of my online friends was trying to run a virtual book club, and that was the selection. I was on the wait list at the library for some time but eventually was able to borrow it and listen (I mostly do audiobooks nowadays due to my long commute and reduced time to read at home). I try to pick somewhat popular recent books to review and this one fit the bill for an upcoming review book.
Q: What is your pet peeve as a blogger?
Julie: One of the behaviors that annoys me the most in the blogging community is bloggers who think they are above it all. Part of being in this community is interaction – and that includes commenting on other blogs, returning and replying to comments, etc. But when bloggers are above responding and returning comments, I find that to be rude and inconsiderate. Why should I follow a blog that doesn’t make the effort?
Q: Where do you see your book blogging career in a few years from now?
Julie: Hopefully I’ll still be doing this awesome book blogging thing in a few years. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, but lots of things are changing in my personal life (such as my first child is due to make his arrival mid-November) and my blogging time is getting even more limited. I think my blogging will become more focused on fewer quality posts, but hopefully they will still remain regular. I don’t expect that I’ll have time to do as many other memes or special features though. It is also possible Rose and I might decide to bring in another co-blogger to help us out. So I guess we shall see.
Q: Top 3 best things about being a book blogger?
- Getting to chat about awesome books with people who get it.
- Learning new things about blogging, the bookish industry, and myself.
- Books! 🙂
And before we close a couple of serious questions to help newbie book bloggers.
Q: How do you manage to keep your blog updated in the face of your busy day? How much time do you girls spend on your blog?
Julie: I think I spend a lot more time than I thought, but it is sporadic. I try not to let typical posts take more than about a half hour to write, and some take a lot less time than that. For example our TWHST meme and our Chat Between Chapters weekly discussion feature don’t take too much time since they are short in nature, but the follow up is what requires some time. We like to respond and return all comments on the discussion feature, and of course visit everyone participating in the meme and view their weekly quote selection. That definitely takes more time than the post itself. But, I tend to do it in little bursts. If I have 10-15 minutes, I’ll go and visit a few blogs and return a few comments. It might take a day or two, but I’ll get all the comments returned. Just in time for the next big post heh. If I find myself with a lot of free time on the weekend I’ll try to get a lot of posts written and scheduled in advance so that I have more time during the week to just check in here and there and visit other blogs.
Q: How do you drive traffic to your blog? What are your top three tips for book bloggers just starting out?
Julie: I think interaction and quality posts are key. We started out doing a lot of memes and book tours, and those did drive in a lot of traffic and get our blog noticed. Then we realized we weren’t really getting quality comments or interaction on those posts, and we scaled those back and tried to come up with good features of our own. Now we have people who return to the blog because they enjoy the types of posts we do.
As for tips:
- Get to know other bloggers and make friends. When you comment on each other’s blogs and share each other’s posts, everyone benefits.
- Share on social media and join blogging tribes. Triberr.com is a good way to share and get shares, because the more people talking about your post, the more likely someone will visit, right?
- Enjoy what you’re doing! If your posts feel forced, others will notice too. But if you write posts you enjoy writing and people feel that you’re genuinely interested in what they’re reading, they’ll respond to the post much better. That means turn your posts personal. Share why something made you feel a certain way, what you liked and did not like about a particular book, etc. The more people can relate (or share an opposing view) the more interaction you’ll see.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our many questions in detail Julie. 🙂 Your tips and advice will be helpful to a lot of new book bloggers out there.