The BookPushers on Blogging and Books
I wanted to know more about the romance community and have asked some of the bloggers to share with us how they got started blogging, what they love about it, what is hard and what 2012 books they are excited about. Today’s bloggers are The BookPushers.
Lou: The BookPushers started off as the Book Pushers Anonymous with Has and I starting out as newbies back in 2009. Has and I first met over at an author board in 2008 where I bombarded her with PM’s asking about the spoilers for Acheron. We struck up book conversations and realised just how much book twinsies and spoiler whores we were. After a year had past by, I discussed with Has about setting up a blog of our own — and so we did. Neither of us had any experience with writing book reviews, and we were wary of offending authors with negative reviews (ahh, memories of newbiedom). Ebooklover soon joined us whom we were friendly with on another author board, and we realised that we were book triplets! Ying then joined us through another author board, and last year I emailed MinnChica asking her if she wanted to join our site, and the gang was complete!
Back in the early days we reviewed books we purchased ourselves and it was only in mid 2010 that we started getting review requests. That’s something I would tell people who want to start blogging. You’re not going to get review copies straight away, and if you’re expecting them straight off the bat, you’re going to be disappointed. Blogging is hard work — even with a group of us running the ship. With five of us, we allocate reviews by sending lots and lots of emails to one another sharing the review requests we receive. Thankfully, there are no battle royale fights with who reviews what. We all have similar tastes and different tastes in our genre books. If there is a book where we all say MINE, we do joint/group reviews.
What I’ve learned about blogging is that it’s hard work, and if you want to build your blog into a success, hard work is what it takes. There are times where you are literally tired from blogging — and that can be the downside because it feels as if it takes over everything. But on the other hand, I’ve made friends for life who really have enriched my life. Yes it sounds sappy, but I would bet my precious Kindle that it’s a similar tale across the board.
MinnChica: I first started blogging when I read a glowing review for a book I absolutely hated. I thought to myself “really? REALLY? I don’t agree with that at ALL. I should start my own blog…” and it all went from there. I started reviewing books that I purchased, checked out from the library, and had sitting around on my shelves. Then, once Sarah asked me to join The Book Pushers, I struggled keeping up with two blogs, so started writing exclusively for Book Pushers.
For me, there is so much that goes into blogging that people don’t realize happens behind the scenes. Yes we get to read lots and lots of books (sometimes much earlier than everyone else), but for me, I’ve always treated blogging like a business. There are multiple trips to the post office – since I send out print books to the girls overseas and a lot of our giveaway books. I get tons of emails each week from authors that want us to review their book that need to be answered within a reasonable amount of time. With 5 of us reviewing, that just compounds the number of emails we all exchange in one day. =D There are social networking site to be maintained, our facebook page, goodreads pages and all of us have twitter accounts. (Although that is my favorite aspect of blogging. I love talking with other book lovers.) But it all adds up to almost a full time job, on top of actually having a full time job! I’m very lucky in that the girls at The Book Pushers are all so sweet and great to work with. They put up with my crazy OCD tendencies and don’t yell at me when all I go all crazy-dictator about silly things. =D
I have to agree with Sarah, blogging is a lot of work, especially if you want your blog to be “big” or “popular”. For me it’s not about that. I just love talking about book, reading books, chatting with friends about books, making new friends who love the same books as I do. It’s all about books for me, plus the friendships that have forged over reading that one great book.
I love that all us Book Pushers have similar tastes in what we like, and yet we all differ just enough that we have a lot of different content that we cover on the blog. That is one of the things I get the biggest kick out of. I can email E or Has or Lou and tell them all about this great new book I read that might not be up their normal reading alley, and convince them to give it a try, and get them just as hooked as I am! My first and biggest love of blogging is that I’ve met and become friends with some of the most amazing women. Other bloggers and readers are some of the sweetest, nicest and most wonderful group of women that I’ve been blessed to call friends. For that reason alone, I do all the “other stuff”.
E: I have always loved reading and talking to other people about books, but I avoided writing like it was the plague. I blame that on having to write book reports that were basically a summary of the book, identifying the main characters and not being able to include my thoughts about the book. I was surfing the internet one day when I found an author’s forums and decided to lurk for a while before I finally decided to say something. There I met Lou and Has, and discovered that our book collections had a lot of similarities. I’d heard them discussing their blog but didn’t really consider asking to join because to me that would just be rude. Time passed and then they asked if I wanted to join and after I got over the shock I accepted. The rest they say is history *grin*.
My family marvels that I have a side hobby that is basically, as MinnChica said earlier, another full-time job that requires me to do the one thing I hated and that is writing. But I told them that it’s just like talking about the books to other people — only I get to put my thoughts down in writing in my particular style and not something someone else has decided is the “right” way. It is a lot of work. We review books that we have purchased and also receive review requests from authors and publishers. A lot of thought and email goes into determining if we will accept that request or not. Since we all love talking about books, we pick things that we expect to find interesting — if not enjoy. And we all understand that because an author or publisher has decided to take a risk and spend money on providing us with their work when we accept, we owe them the best review we can write. By best, that doesn’t mean glowing. It means an honest well written review that explains what we liked/didn’t like/what worked/didn’t work and why for the individual reviewer. This means that sometimes in joint reviews we get to have rousing discussions, but that makes it seem more like an actual conversation and less like writing *grin*.
I am very glad that Lou and Has invited me because since then my world has grown. I have pushed and been pushed, I have found new favorite authors, found wonderful friends some I have met in person and others are still on my list to meet. Not to mention I have 4 great ladies that I can talk to about books or life anytime — thanks girls! I have learned that wherever I travel across the world I can probably meet someone I have chatted/tweeted with regarding books and that is a wonderful thing. I also like to think that I have provided others with hours of entertainment if they have tried and liked a book or author they were introduced to via The BookPushers.
Has: I had never thought about being part of a blog to review books. I LOVE chatting and recommending books and authors, but during the early days, the idea of writing reviews and doing it on a regular basis scared me. It takes dedication and discipline and I admired those who blogged. But like Lou said, we all got together and created the blog organically because we talked so much about books and authors that we loved. We later asked E and MinnChica because we shared the same tastes, but we also recommended each other books we wouldn’t have picked up otherwise — and I think this is the key thing for reviewing about books.
Blogging and reviewing definitely takes a lot of energy and time, and there are periods where you feel burned out by reading or writing. There are also times though where you feel energetic and excited, especially when you discover a brand new author whose book has ignited your inner giddy radar. And I don’t think I would have discovered some of the books or authors if I wasn’t a part of The BookPushers.
Another aspect in blogging and reviewing is interviewing authors or publishing professionals. It’s been one of the best aspects we’ve done as part of the blog because we’ve learned so many different things about this industry, especially in light with the recent changes going on. We also enjoyed coming up with ideas for regular features such as the debut series or recommended books on their release months. Ideas like these help to forge an identity for us, and a regular feature which will help draw in a dedicated audience. I also loved writing opinion pieces about subjects linked with books, publishing or even general stuff. It’s given me a voice and freedom to express myself, and working with my co-bloggers and being friends with others has been a fantastic experience for me.
Bloggers and online reviewers will gain a greater voice and influence in the world of publishing, and it’s really exciting to be a part of this. If you’d like to jump off that cliff and start a review blog, do it! It takes a lot of hard work and time, and you also have to be professional and realistic that you won’t get the hits or the requested books.
Concentrate on your readership because people will be attracted to your reviews because they share the same tastes in books or opinions, and you may even help push an author whose book which has been outside your comfort zone. You will then find yourself having your own little community but also a part of a larger one, and you can’t beat that feeling of belonging to something really exciting!
Lou: So far 2012 has been a slow year for me in book reading. There have been some top rated books, but none that gave me a book giddy feeling. That changed when I read The Master of Crows by Grace Draven. It’s a wonderful fantasy romance that concentrates on the characters of the story without diluting from the world building. Silhara is an anti-hero, but he didn’t feel that he was put together as one on purpose. Martise offset him brilliantly, and even though Martise was enslaved (not through Silhara) she really was his equal in many ways. Throughout the time I was reading the book, I got excited about reading again. So far that alone, Master of Crows is a jewel in my eyes.
MinnChica: Jane also asked us to recommend or highlight a book from 2012. For me, this is EXTREMELY difficult. Given that it’s only April, I’ll be looking at books I’ve read so far in 2012. Although I’ve only recently discovered and fell in love with the m/m genre and have been reading the majority of smutty man on man books, I think my favorite so far this year has to be LAST MAN STANDING, the final book in the Black Ops, Inc. series by Cindy Gerard. I love all this romantic suspense, and I was so sad and excited and giddy to read the final book in this series. If anyone out there had yet to read these books, DO IT NOW!! :)
Has: One of my book highlights this year is Firelight by Kristin Callihan. I loved that the established trope was twisted on its head that made the gothic tone refreshing, especially with how the paranormal elements were incorporated into the story. I also found the romantic tension between the heroine and the hero was built up wonderfully.