Sunday 18 July 2010

Blogger Inquest - Adele (Persnickety Snark)

I wasn't planning on taking part in the Blogger Inquest but several people on twitter expressed interest in me doing so. Being the narcissist that I am I decided to give it a go.

Have you ever interviewed yourself? It is quite possibly the most boring task that one can undertake. Even worse, I wrote a series of questions for this series that I wanted to hear the answers from bloggers I admire...not me. Just choosing questions to answer was a tough task.

So here's hoping I haven't bored you as much as I bored myself.

Blogging can be unbelievably supportive and sometimes catty environment – what three guidelines do you find to be good rules to live by in the blogging world?
I am really not one to teach as I take things personally. But there are a few things that I am trying to do to make my life less stressful.

Three guidelines –
  1. Write your own reviews. Devise your own interview questions. Own your content...literally.
  2. Don’t respond to something hard or hurtful right away. Think about it. Usually there is something you can learn from it once you get past the hurt and anger. Allow yourself the opportunity to process it before reacting. This happened to me last week – it really made me think about what I am writing and the lack of thought I put into some of the most basic things I write.
  3. Blog for the right reasons and the bitching towards you will lessen. Bloggers can smell out a book hoarder from twenty paces. If you are blogging for the “free stuff” don’t. You disrespect the authors, the publishers and the bloggers that work their tails off on their blogs for hours every day.
Characterise yourself as a blog reader – monogamous, flirty or slutty? Lurker or commenter?
Lurker. The shadows are my friend. I read mostly the same blogs, sometimes diversifying if a twitter link grabs my fancy. I rarely comment as I don’t want to write something immaterial. BBAW is fantastic as I usually find new blogs with quality content. I am very choosy as my blog roll shows I only list blogs I read frequently.

As for commenting, I only make the effort if I have something I really want to add....which isn’t probably the best way to go about it. But I am hardly the ‘awesome haul’ kinda gal. I am much more inclined to write an email saying well done than doing so in a comment section for some weird reason.

What are some of the best and worst incidents of an author contacting you after a review?
Best would have to be in my first month of blogging (it really set a precedent) when I reviewed If I Stay. I had no idea how these situations went but I loved the book, wrote a review through my tears and then emailed Gayle Forman to share my thoughts on the book. She wrote back and mentioned FNL and then I was a goner. She showed that authors can be really approachable and sweet and made me much braver in my communications.

In terms of an author contacting me after reviewing their work.....hmmm. Beth Fantaskey was hilarious. She said she’d seen my review pop up on the Google alerts but seeing the name of the blog scared her. She shouldn’t have worried, I LOVED Jessica’s Guide for Dating on the Dark Side.

Worst. Hmmm. One author’s mother emailed me to say that I obviously didn’t understand the book because I was critical of one tiny aspect of the book (it received a good review). I am not sure if the author knows her mother does that but it was a little bizarre. I’ve also had an author try and shame me for not liking her book because of her life’s challenges. It made me sad but her home circumstances had nothing to do with the book and there was no reason she should have shared them with me. Even more bizarre.

How aware (and/or supportive) are people in your everyday life of your blogging?
Everyone knows that I do it from friends, family to co-workers. Reading (and blogging) are so much of a part of my life that it’s impossible to keep quiet. That being said, my family don’t read the blog. I don’t even think my mother knows the html address. I tested it earlier in the year by writing a really personal post on my siblings and nothing. Crickets ever.

My sister does know some of the lingo now. She used YA in an email the other day and I was so proud :P She was reading a lot of the books that would come to me for review and she’s a harder critic that I. Her normal response....meh. But she would keep reading. My brother and father don’t read. The latter hasn’t read a book since grade 10 which was 1968 – yeah, it horrifies me too. My mother is the queen of hippy dippy self-guided journey books and trashy brother is named after a kilt wearing hero. I wish I were kidding.

I’ve had a few things that should have sparked more response but didn’t. Being a member of the Inkys judging panel last year, having a quote used on the back cover of a book and meeting Melina Marchetta received a smile and that’s it. It’s been a wonderful way to keep it all in perspective and realise blogging isn’t as big as we sometimes make it in our minds.

What word is most overused on your blog?
It would be the phrase....”that being said.” Or awesome.

For the life of me I cannot find it within myself to like Ann Brashares work. Is there an author whose work you find yourself irrationally disliking?
Ann Brashares. I was lukewarm on the Sisterhood series (which got progressively worse). Then I read and loathed The Last much so that it actually hurt me. I read 3 Willows for review and declared myself done. My dislike is irrational as she does write well but I think it is a case of not liking the author’s voice. Purely subjective.

Publishers do a great deal for the YA community but what could they be doing to increase the effectiveness of the blogger/publisher relationship?
Target bloggers specifically for their interests. Stop sending out gratuitous amounts of ARCS. Be targeted, be specific. Send fantasy books to fantasy fan or focused bloggers, send contemporary to those that dig contemporary etc. Getting stacks of ARCs doesn’t make you a good blogger or better review writer. You improve when you make the time to deconstruct the book and you are not going to do that when the book isn’t your thing and you have stacks of books gathering dust around you. Rhiannon gave some great advice about how to direct your blog. Don’t do everything. Give your blog a specific stance and cater it to what you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to tell publicists that you would rather only receive a certain genre – you are saving their money and your time.

Publishers also need to realise that by canvassing the blogosphere isn’t going to sell their book more. They are better off cherry picking a number of bloggers and letting them sell the book on opinion alone. Being hit by marketing spam from publishers and authors on three different fronts of social networking doesn’t make me want the book – it makes me predetermined to NOT like it. If the book is a strong read, it will sell itself to bloggers. Proof in that is Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. It didn’t hit the bloggerdom hard but over six months word of blog grew and it made most Top 10 lists of 2009.

Book tours – effective marketing or blog flooding?
I don’t like them. I don’t find that they make me want to buy a book. They certainly don’t make pull me in with their content. Their saturated presence annoys me as in most cases it is the perfect example of lazy interviewing. Some of the guest posts make me wonder what the author was’re trying to sell your book and writing with that piece?

I’ve even stopped interviewing on the blog for the last few months because I am sick of my own lazy interviewing. This interview series has taught me that the questions are important as are the people you blog tours have the same principle.

What is something that makes you immediately groan when looking at another blog?
GIVEAWAYS plastered everywhere. I really don’t care. I suspect that they don’t either. Seeing bloggers giveaway books they probably don’t care for annoys me. Giveaways or promotions for products completely unrelated to books also make me feel icky.

Also rainbow fonts....posting in alternating colours *shivers*

And crappy interviews...I used to sicken myself with the same expected questions so I just stopped. If you can’t be inventive and draw interesting or entertaining answers then that’s on you.

Thanks for reading! You can catch me here or as SnarkyWench on twitter :)


Marie Lamba, author said...

Hey Adele,

I enjoyed your interview with, well, yourself, quite a lot. Probing questions, honesty, info for other reviewers to learn from. You obviously know your interviewee well ;)

Thanks for this,

April (BooksandWine) said...

Oh, Adele I have a lot to say on giveaways. It's like a game, practically. For awhile, I hated the game. But then, I see all of these people who have barely been blogging as long as me hitting 1000 followers where I am stuck at 500. where you are stuck at 500, despite constantly generating great content. How do they do it? Oh, it's totally not reviews. That's bullshit. It's definitely giveaways. People are lying if they think they are at those levels because of content. Now there are exceptions, like Steph Su, The Book Smugglers, The Story Siren. Those ladies turn some phrases. But, it's a game sometimes. The person who gives away the best crap gets the biggest audience. I know there are some great blogs out there with big audience, but I also notice when you deluge with contests that's when your audience gets HUGE. I hate myself for this, but I've started to 'play the game'. However, I'm also in the "I need to downsize my books" mode. It's just hard ya know, because there is pressure to be competitive. There's pressure to keep up with the Joneses. Real or imagined, I feel it. And I hate that, really I do. So, thanks for your honest on this topic I love that. And although you aren't at 1000 followers yet, you've got more heart and more quality and I love that. Please, don't sell out, ever.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading your opinions, it never gets boring although I don't always agree (I really like Ann Brashares).
I used to like blogs with a specific very content (ya, romance, general fiction)but lately I started appreciating blogs that cover different genres mainly because it helps to understand who is behind that webpage.

Anonymous said...

I liked this interview...with yourself!

Anonymous said...

Hi Adele,

It is great that you interviewed yourself. What a neat idea!

I like giveaways as long as they are simple. The really complex ones don't really interest me.

Your blog is wonderful and I will be back for sure.

Alex Bennett from Electrifying Reviews said...

I love these posts!

Nomes said...

Cool interview, haha. LOL @ the authors mum! Classic :)

Anonymous said...

I've really loved this series Adele - and it was great to get your answers as well!

Megan Burke said...

Really good answers, Adele. I always love to read about what other bloggers think about blogging!

BookChic said...

I am just now going through all these fabulous interviews. I enjoyed reading your interview with yourself, lol.

I kind of disagree with your answer to blogger/publisher relationship. I do agree that publishers need to target bloggers and be more effective with sending out ARCs rather than just sending blindly. However, I don't think that you need to pick a niche, unless you count YA in general as a niche. I love reading all genres in YA and am not going to just, say, only accept romantic comedies to review. I think if you do have a favorite genre and want to make your blog just that, definitely do so and let the publishers know that you only review a certain genre. But I love a bit of everything and I like jumping genre to genre; it keeps things interesting.

I agree with April about the giveaways. Yes, I'd love to have like 1000 followers, but I'd rather people follow me of their own accord rather than because they want an extra entry in a giveaway. I don't think I'll ever do that sort of extra entry. In not doing that, I can see just how many people really read my blog and seeing 350 people there makes me happy. I think the other thing is to balance giveaways and actual content. Usually, any giveaways I do go along with some great content and are not just random. I also don't do giveaways all that often, though recently, I have done more. But before that, it had been like 5 months or something. I'm broke, lol.

Anyway, LOOOONG comment. Long story short, you rock and I love this series. If you ever do it again, I'd love to be a part of it.

Chachic said...

It's funny that you interviewed yourself but I did enjoy reading your answers. :) I liked what you said about publishers picking out specific blogs to review their books. It makes sense to ask bloggers to review books that fall under a genre that they're familiar with.

I've never done an interview on my blog because I'm scared I won't be able to come up with intelligent questions! I don't want to ask authors the same things that other people ask so until I've thought about the questions that I'd ask and I've come up with something really interesting, I won't even ask an author for an interview.

Steph Su said...

Ohh, we have almost the exact same idea for future blogger-publisher relations. Excellent! I say that if we think of bloggers more as professional parts of the book-selling industry, then things would be much better off. An agent's not going to sign up every book and every author who writes them. Why should a blogger do something similar? I'd love to see publishers do research themselves on bloggers and their content!

Anonymous said...

I am doing research for my university paper, thanks for your helpful points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

- Kris