Note: Today, we’re welcoming Samantha Bates from The Book Corner to the SocialBookshelves.com blog! Samantha is a full-time primary school teacher as well as a book blogger, and she’s going to talk about how she manages to balance her two passions.
I wanted to share with you what it’s like to be a book blogger and how much work goes in to it. First of all, book bloggers don’t get paid. We have other full-time and part-time jobs and we read as a hobby. As you must realise, we really do have a love for books. Being able to escape the day after a hard day at work is brilliant and you get to slip in to another world for a few hours.
Personally, I review books because I love to read and I want to help spread my love of reading. I love to discover new authors and to help them make a name for themselves in the book and publishing world.
So how did it all begin? Well I realised I was reading a lot, and I mean a lot! Some of the books I was reading made me think, ‘”wow – I’d love everyone to know about this book and to read it.” That’s when I decided to create my blog – The Book Corner. Now, I’m not very good with computers and I had no idea how to create a blog, but after some time on YouTube I managed to teach myself the basics. I began by researching other book bloggers’ sites to see what kind of information I needed to include, and then I went from there.
It wasn’t long before I began to get review requests – to begin with, these were self-published authors or debut authors who needed some reviews to boost their book. I gladly accepted these books in return for an honest review. I’ll never promote a book and give it 5* rating if I don’t think it’s worth it. I’ll only comment fairly and if the book isn’t for me then I’ll say so, but I’ll also give it a more general review. After a few months, I began to speak to publishers and I managed to get on to their bloggers lists, so I now normally receive e-mails about what books are up and coming.
On an average day, I receive lots of e-mails asking for reviews – it’s taken me a long time to decide to say no to some of these requests. To begin with, if the book was in a genre that I enjoy, I used to say yes automatically, but I learned that you can’t always do that – you receive so many books that you can’t keep up if you say yes to all of them.
That took me the best part of a year to work out. At times I’d get really stressed at the number of books I had to read and worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep on top of them. Now I read them as quickly as I can, but I don’t worry. I know that once I’ve read them I’ll review them and post it on my blog, on Amazon and on Goodreads, and I feel like that’s all I can do.
I’ve also come to realise that most publishers know you hold down a full-time job – in the past, I’ve explained that I couldn’t review a book but that I was more than happy to help out in other ways, like by offering guest posts and interviews. They’re normally happy to accept what you can offer.
Being a book blogger is something that I love – it’s become a huge part of my life and I don’t want it to end. I love the thrill of waiting for the postman in the morning to see if I have any books arriving that day. I also love the joy of discovering something new and perhaps a genre I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up before I started blogging.
I also participate in a lot of blog tours – this can include reading and reviewing a book, as well as perhaps a guest post or a giveaway. I get many of these e-mails and again, I have to decide which of them fits with the audience of my blog the best.
At the end of each week I prep and schedule my Weekly Wrap Up – this shows what I’ve managed to read during that week, as well as any books that I’ve bought or received. This is a great way to share my reading habits with others and it helps me to connect with fellow book bloggers, discussing our future reads.
I love to meet like-minded people through Twitter and I’ve found that there’s a wonderful community of book bloggers who support each other and help each other out as much as they can. Over the past year, I’ve made some very good friends and have been lucky enough to meet them at some of the book launches I’ve been invited to. This is another brilliant perk of being a book blogger, and to be able to meet some of the authors who’ve written these fabulous books makes it all worthwhile!
And I occasionally work on features for The Book Corner to help promote other book bloggers. I’m currently organising The Summer Feature 2014, which is full of guest posts revolving around summer reading. It’s been left very open so that the bloggers can share their own opinions and inject their personalities in to the guest posts, and if it’s successful then I’ll look at running a winter feature later in the year around Christmas reading. You’ve got to love a Christmas-themed book!
So as you can see, running a book blog isn’t easy – it can be hard work and it’s important to stay on top of it. I’m really pleased that I’ve had my blog for over a year now and I’m looking forward to many more years of blogging about books. Yes it can be stressful, but planning your time right and getting in to a routine makes it a lot easier. If you do decide to become a book blogger, don’t give up. It won’t happen overnight but you’ll learn so much as time goes on and eventually you will find your feet.