A few weeks ago we started a series of blogs on our friends in the book blogging community – asking them how they got into it, why they like it, and tips for anyone wanting to start out now. We’ve had some lovely responses – if you missed them you can read parts one to three below:
Blog on blog(s) – part one
Blog on blog(s) – part two
Blog on blog(s) – part three
And we’re not done! Today, Liz from My Favourite Books steps up to the chair to talk you through her experiences…
Name & blog
I am Liz de Jager and I run My Favourite Books
Tell us a bit about your blog…
MFB started as a blog about genre fiction. Then, it grew from there when I started getting followers and people engaged with me as a reader and reviewer and publishers liked what we were doing. More stuff came in, not just genre books, and I threw open the gates and now we review everything we can get our paws on. I’ve got a great team on MFB – I dragged my husband, Mark in on the reviews and my friend and fellow-aspiring writer, Sarah Bryars. Together the three of us chomp our way through books by the hundreds. And we love it.
How did you start blogging?
I wanted a place to remember the books I was reading. As an aspiring writer I thought (laughs hysterically) that this would be a good way to suss out how it’s done. I took Stephen King’s advice to “read read read” more literally than he intended, maybe. What started as something personal and unformed and vague for myself grew into something much bigger and now I can’t remember a time when my reading was without wanting to tell the world about this awesome book, or this annoying character, or this hot boy or this kick-ass girl, or this mad adventure the main characters are going on.
What’s the best thing about blogging?
The thing about blogging, once it’s in the blood, nothing gets it out. The perks of becoming a blogger: meeting people you admire in the industry, not just your favourite author but editors you have heard great things about; being able to help bring a new debut author to the attention of readers who may not have even thought about picking up that title because they don’t know about them; finding older gems and reminding the world about them; showcasing diverse voices and new genres to try and taking part in mad book challenges but also, being treated with respect by publishers, by people who value our input and respect our integrity.
What kind of books are you most excited about reviewing?
I love both adult fiction and YA and MG [Middle Grade] titles. I have a soft spot for picture books too and have started a combined blog for picture books with two others. It’s called The Picturebook Shelf and it’s early days yet, but we are hoping it’s going to rock even more than it does now. I love falling in love characters. I don’t care if they are hot teen boys or girls or strong adult protagonists. Character and voice sells a book for me.
Who are your favourite authors?
Where do I start? Joe Abercrombie for fantasy, along with George RR Martin and David Eddings. For urban fantasy I would say Kate Griffin, Mike Carey, Kevin Hearne, Ben Aronovich. Contemporary fiction my vote goes to Julie Cohen, Katie Fforde, Sarah Addison Allen and Ali Shaw. In crime, Jack Reacher rules my heart, so it’s Lee Childs and Duane Swierczynski and Tess Gerritson all the way. For YA and MG titles: Frances Hardinge, Cornelia Funke, Sarwat Chadda, Sarah Singleton, Tanya Byrne (everyone MUST read Heart Shaped Bruise the second it comes out), Courtney Summers, Marie Lu, Kirsten Cashore, Will Hill, Garth Nix, Anthony McGowan, Sam Enthoven, Graham Marks, Bill Hussey, Karen Mahoney…and I’ll stop there for now or we’ll be here all day.
Do you have any advice for new bloggers?
Don’t do it for the free books. Be honest with yourself: when those books start coming in, realise that it is going to put masses of pressure on you. And you are going to suffer guilt. You will be utterly miserable and yes, it may be nice at first, seeing all those pretty books on your shelf but you will have to review them. And you have to fit that in around your homework, your housework, the kids, your husband or your wife. Start small, buy the books you love to read, review them and be honest. Let your own voice develop and grow and then totally own it. Follow other blogs, see what you like and don’t like. Find us on Twitter and talk to us. Don’t ask us to link to your site if you’ve got 3 books up for review. It sounds arrogant, but really, build your site first. Show the community and publishers that you’re not just after free books. We’ve seen enough flash-in-the-pan blogs come and go. Get to know how things work. Don’t beg for books online on Twitter or Facebook. Go out and buy them or better yet, get them from the library. Never stop reading and telling people about the amazing, annoying, disturbing, beautiful, romantic, adventure packed books you are reading. If you shout loud enough, they’ll listen.
Thanks so much Liz and all the bloggers who have taken part so far!
We’d love to invite any book bloggers who would be interested, to guest post for us occasionally about a subject of their choice – if you fancy it email me here!