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 started the weekly interview series – Life as a Book Blogger.
Wanda is many things, a book lover, a Christian, a website designer, a graphic designer, and more. She has been blogging since 2010 and blogs about the three B’s in her life – Books, Bible and Blogging – on her blog The Watered Soul.
Hello Wanda! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Can you start off by telling us a little about yourself and your journey as a book blogger?
Wanda: Hi Freya, thanks for having me. I’m a southern girl living in the natural state, Arkansas. I often refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist that has a love for words. By day I’m a case management director but in my free time I’m a blogger, blog designer, and book enthusiast.
Why did you become a book blogger? What were the early days like?
Wanda: Book blogging is something I sort of stumbled upon. In my early days of blogging, I would visit different blogs and I would notice many bloggers reviewing books. At the end of their posts, they often mentioned they received the book free for review purposes. As a book lover I wanted in on this elite club because I’m one who is never too far from a good book. However, I didn’t know how to get on this exclusive list until I learned to follow the trail. In an effort to help my fellow newbies, I wrote 10 Book Review Programs for Blogger Newbies. Becoming a book blogger was the perfect way for me to read the latest books without breaking my budget.
What do you enjoy the most about blogging?
Wanda: The thing I have enjoyed most about blogging has been the connections I have made with other bloggers. When I first started out blogging, I honestly had no idea anyone would ever read my blog. However, it’s been such a joy to connect with individuals from all over the world.
Do you think you will ever stop blogging?
Wanda: For me, blogging seems to have its ebbs and flows especially since I’m one that writes more by inspiration rather than a set editorial calendar. This year I have experienced one of my longest ebbs but I’m learning to rest in the season of life or blogging that I find myself.
Where do you get review copies of books from? Are you a part of sites like Netgalley?
Wanda: My review copies typically come from blogger review programs such as Litfuse or Bethany House Publishers. I am a part of sites like Netgalley, although I have yet to use Netgalley itself.
What’s a typical day like for you? How much time do you spend on the blog?
Wanda: My time on the blog varies since blogging and book reviewing is something I do in my free time.
How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use in posts?
Wanda: Creating and finding pictures can be quite time consuming. On average I would say around 15-30 minutes, if I don’t let my perfectionist ways take over.
How do you handle spam comments on your blog?
Wanda: I have tried to handle spam in a three prong approach. Along with using the Akismet plugin, I have my WordPress discussion settings set so that a comment author must have a previously approved comment before it is displayed. It is also set so that any comment with more than two links is held in moderation for me to review. Another thing I tried recently that cut down remarkably on the number of spam comments was automatically closing comments on posts after a certain number of days. It’s not a perfect system but it makes it manageable.
Now on to some fun questions in our quick fire round 🙂
Which was the last book you bought? What caused you to pick up that book?
Wanda: Honestly since I started reviewing and swapping books through Paperback Swap, I actually purchase less books. But one of the latest books I picked up was The Complete Guide to Clinical Aromatherapy and Essential Oils of The Physical Body by Elizabeth Ashley. I chose the book because it was on Kindle top 100 Free books list and I have been interested in learning more about essential oils since I found them helpful in relieving my headaches.
What’s your number one pet peeve as a book blogger?
Wanda: Besides there not being enough time for me to enjoy all of the great books I would like, I would say impersonal requests or requests that are address to the wrong site. I think it’s just common courtesy to at least look up the person’s name so that you can address them properly.
Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook or GoodReads. Which is your favorite?
Wanda: I would say Pinterest. It’s one of my go to places to search for information.
What’s the hardest thing about being a book blogger?
Wanda: Beyond the time commitment it takes to read books (which reading is something I love), I sometimes feel the weight of trying to accurately convey to readers why I like the book without ruining their reading experience, if they choose to pick up the book.
How many books do you read every week?
Wanda: It varies. Some weeks none and then others I might read one.
Ebooks or physical copies? Which do you prefer and why?
Wanda: I’m still a die-heart hardcopy book fan, although I have an extensive ebook collection. There is just nothing like holding a real book in my hand.
What happens to books that you don’t finish?
Wanda: At times they go back on the shelf for later and others I try to swap.
Who is your all time favourite author?
Wanda: I can’t say that I have an all time favorite but I do enjoy books from Kimberla Lawson Roby, Victoria Christopher Murray and many others. I’m open to reading books from many authors and being a book blogger has given me the opportunity to discover authors I wouldn’t have otherwise.
And before we close, a couple more serious questions. 🙂
What inspires you to write?
Wanda: I write to make sense of the swirling thoughts in my head. I’m a thinker more than a talker and writing is a way to capture and process all that I’m learning as I walk along my journey in life. It is my hope that my reflections encourages and enlightens others.
Who are some book bloggers that you follow?
Wanda: Because I don’t just consider myself a book blogger but rather a blogger that happens to love books and shares about them, I tend to follow others who do the same. I like following individuals who do a mixture posts. I do follow companies like Litfuse, etc.
What are your top three tips for someone just getting started with a book blog?
Wanda: My advice would be don’t get caught up in comparison. Do not be afraid to do what feels right for you even if it defies conventional blogging wisdom. I believe blogging should be a creative outlet we look forward to. It takes time to find your unique voice. Like us, our blogs are always a work in progress. Don’t let the fact that there is more you hope to accomplish with it stop you from putting your unique voice out in the world.
That’s valuable advice Wanda. Thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions in detail. It was wonderful having you join us. 🙂