Today sees the start of a new weekly series on the blog, Befriend a Book Blogger. I wanted to give back a little to book bloggers and the book blogging community, as they have been great to me and they are an important part of any publishing process. Author, publisher and blogger are in a symbiotic relationship, each not being able to exist without the other. (In the case of self-publishers, they are one and the same when it comes to author and publisher.) So, with that in mind, this series aims to showcase the brilliant book bloggers out there. To tell you a little about their blogs, what they’re doing on them and what their loves are. You may find some little gems in here that you want to follow yourself. I hope you do.
My first book blogger is Joanne of Portobello book blog and I’m pleased to welcome her. Joanne has hosted me on her blog and is extremely generous with her time. Let’s get started!
Joanne is a married mum of two teenagers and lives in Portobello, which is by the sea in Edinburgh. She’s a book lover (obviously!) and a keen cook and baker (she loves the Bake Off!). She loves that she lives in a city but can see the sea from her window and can be in the countryside in about ten minutes.
Welcome to the blog, thanks for stepping away from yours for a few minutes to answer some questions about book blogging.
We’ll start with the easy questions and then see where we go from there!
How long have you been book blogging and what prompted you to start?
I started blogging in April 2015. I’ve always read a lot and love talking about what books I’ve read. To save boring the pants off my friends, I thought a blog would be good way to blether on about books I’ve loved.
Tell us a little bit about your blog, what will blog readers find there?
There’s a mixture of different features. There are reviews of course, author interviews or guest posts, occasional cover reveals and a Friday Feature. For more than a year, I’ve been running a Blogger in the Spotlight feature, highlighting book bloggers, just like you are doing just now! Although I’m still happy to have any bloggers who haven’t appeared, I’m also starting a new feature called the Friday Four for anyone really – four bookish categories, four answers.
What’s your favourite part about book blogging?
Being part of a community which loves to shout about fantastic books as much as I do!
What has been your highlight since you’ve started?
There have been many great moments such as favourite authors following me on Twitter (Patrick Gale!) or replying to tweets and reviews. But for my highlight I think I’m going to choose the lunch I organised in Edinburgh in June 2016 when around 30 authors and bloggers got together for a noisy and fun afternoon. It was great to meet properly people I had been chatting with online. We’ve met up a few times since then and I feel a lot of the members of the group are now friends. You can see some photos from that afternoon here.
If you could carry on blogging but could stop doing one thing (that’s maybe a necessary part of the process now) what would it be?
I have been racking my brains but I really can’t think of anything I don’t enjoy about blogging!
What advice would you give to anyone who is considering starting a book blog?
Make sure you use your own voice – sometimes it might feel like everyone else writes better reviews than you but your readers want to know what you have to say about books you’ve loved. Also interact with the blogging community – Book Connectors on Facebook is brilliantly supportive but you have to have your blog up and running before you can join! In the meantime, follow bloggers on Twitter and via their blogs.
How much time does it take up?
Quite a lot! The reading isn’t an issue as I would be reading anyway but writing up a review and prepping a blog post can take anything between half an hour to an hour. With a post most days, that can add up.
What are your reading habits like?
I’m quite an obsessive reader and am never without a book or a kindle. I hate to think there might be a spare five minutes during the day when I could be reading!
What state is your TBR (To Be Read) pile in?
Depends whether you mean my blogging TBR or my other books! At the moment, mid-December, I am completely up to date with my blogging commitments so am planning to spend the rest of the month reading books I got for Christmas last year! I already have about 20 books on the list for January and February. However, I am slightly scared to look at the number of books on my Kindle!
What do you drink while reading?
That can be anything really since I read at any opportunity – usually found with a large cup of Earl Grey in the morning but can be a glass of red at night.
Where’s your favourite place to read?
I like reading in my living room where I have a very comfy couch and can look out to the garden and I can also see the sea.
What book would you recommend, that gets little attention, that you haven’t really seen talked about? And why, what is it about this book that you love?
This is actually a really hard question to answer because as part of the blogging community my Twitter feed and Facebook timeline is full of people talking about books. I think I’ll choose And The Land Lay Still by James Robertson. I read it a few years ago on holiday and thought it was brilliant. It is a huge novel which covers 60 years of Scottish social history through the eyes of various characters from the world of politics, music, the arts, everyday people, immigrants to Scotland. As it covered a period of my growing up, there was a lot I could relate to. It sounds a bit heavy but it really isn’t, he’s a terrific writer. I have a signed copy which is rather precious.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these. It’s been a pleasure having you.
Thank you for having me – I enjoyed thinking about your questions.