Joy’s Book Blog was featured on Nina Amir’s site: Writing Prompt: Profile Bloggers Knight, Filian, Riter, Moll, and Wakeman, by guest blogger Amanda Socci (Edited to fix blogger names — thanks for the correction, Amanda!). The site is called Write Nonfiction in November and features writing prompts. She invited her readers to write a profile of the featured bloggers that day, but she also invited the bloggers to answer a series of very thoughtful and targeted questions. I couldn’t turn down that opportunity, so here goes!
(1) Your book challenges are fascinating, but I don’t know exactly what they mean. Are you encouraging your readers to participate or are you reporting on challenges that you have completed?
In the book blogging world, reading challenges are events where bloggers, and other readers, are challenged to read a certain number of books, usually in a specific category and often in a year or some other time-frame. The best way to find reading challenges is at A Novel Challenge, a blog whose sole purpose is to list upcoming challenges.
I ran two shorter-term challenges on my blog. The New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge ran from mid-December through January (and I plan to run it again starting in December this year). The Back to School Reading Challenge is running now through September — it’s not too late to join us!
(2) The purpose of your blog is succinct and clean: “Joy’s Book Blog.” Have people asked you to read and review their books for a fee? Is this a service you provide?
No and no. Most book bloggers would turn down that opportunity since it would make it hard to provide an honest review. There are legal and ethical issues of taking a payment that keep book bloggers away from such arrangements. Many book bloggers accept free books and will take them but with the understanding that accepting a book is not a promise for a review, much less a positive one. I get free books at the library and so only rarely accept books for review.
(3) How do you come up with book recommendations? Are they based on what you read on the Internet, things that people tell you, or your own research?
I read other book bloggers for recommendations and use my exceptional librarian super powers 🙂 to navigate the library’s online catalog to find things I like.
(4) Your travel adventures are fascinating. Are you traveling for business or pleasure? Are you researching books while you are traveling?
So far, my travel adventures have been for pleasure. I would love to use exotic settings in novels and have an excuse to travel to those places, but that opportunity hasn’t arisen yet.
(5) Would you ever consider implementing a unique grading system in which you give your recommended books a grade (A, B, C, etc.) or a star (1-5 stars) as you recommend them? Would you consider adding blurbs explaining why you feel certain books are worth reading?
I rate books on Goodreads (my Goodreads profile), but don’t feel like I do it very well. I rarely finish a book that I don’t like, so almost all books get 3-stars or above. If I like a book, it gets 3 stars. If a book delights me, it gets 4 stars. If a book changes my life (yeah, that’s a pretty high bar), it gets 5 stars. In practice, nearly every book gets 3 or 4 stars but I don’t feel like that is helpful information to anyone but me.
As a librarian, I’m wedded to these two laws of library science:
- Every reader his or her book.
- Every book its reader.
More interesting to me than rating a book is figuring out what kind of reader would like this book. That’s why my reviews have a section called Appeal where I can tease out that information.
(6) What exactly is an online book club? How does it differ from other book clubs?
Good question. And even though I claim that I’m currently running the Back to School Reading Challenge and Wednesday Book Club, I don’t really have an answer. It was just a way to get in people’s minds that we would be “gathering” through a post on my blog on Wednesdays. I guess it’s more metaphor than a real thing.
(7) Your “Wondrous Words Wednesday” should be a mandatory meme for all bloggers! What a great way to boost your vocabulary and practice what you’ve learned. Would you consider hosting link parties on your blog as a means of actively recruiting others to learn and practice new words?
Wondrous Words Wednesday is a wonderful meme and BermudaOnion already hosts the link party on her blog. Here’s this week’s: Wondrous Words Wednesday. I’m sure she would be happy to have more participants. Visiting the various posts each week is a great way to learn new words.
(8) You stated you are currently reading Michael Larsen’s “How to Write a Book Proposal.” Do you think it’s important to learn to write a book proposal before finishing a manuscript? Would you consider self-publishing as a viable alternative for your manuscript-in-progress? Why or why not?
For most nonfiction books, proposals are written before the manuscript. I wrote a first draft to be sure that I had enough material. Before working on a second draft, I want to complete a book proposal. I will use the book proposal to help me craft an improved manuscript and to begin to market my book to agents and publishers before the manuscript is fully completed.
I may consider self-publishing my book, but I want to give conventional publishing a chance first.
(9) Your book blog contains a pretty big section on non-book blog posts. Specifically, you dedicate a good amount of space to dieting, nutrition, and exercise. Seems like you have become pretty proficient in these areas. Would you consider moving those topics to a separate blog altogether to give them a wider audience of people who are trying to live a healthier lifestyle?
I think of my niche as healthy lifestyle books. As a librarian, my “brand” is placed more squarely in the book world than the fitness world. I feel like I can use this position to attract, especially, book readers who also have interests in health lifestyles. And, I occasionally manage to grab some people who are more interested in the health issues but also pick up a book now and then. I like the cross over too much to make a separate blog.
(10) What advice would you give to people who are reading books and posting book reviews and recommendations, just as you are? Do you have any thoughtful lessons learned to share?
I suggest becoming involved in the book blogging world by participating in challenges like Back to School Reading Challenge and Wednesday Book Club or weekly memes like Wondrous Words Wednesday. Visiting book blogs and commenting on their posts is a terrific way to build a community of readers.
Thanks, Amanda, for these great questions!