Bloggers are the lifeblood of authors at my level, and without the selfless hard work of so many of them I doubt very much that my first book for Bloodhound would have done so well or got my name spread around social media to the extent it has. So I thought I’d turn the tables and let bloggers have their say; let the blogger be the blogee, as it were. Below is the first of them, the delightful Abbie Rutherford of Bloomin’ Brilliant Books.
My name is Abbie and I’m a Yorkshire lass. I love Alaskan Malamutes, rock music and, of course, books.
I LOVE to read! Reading and books have always been a huge part of my life and it’s a passion I get from my mum. I read every day and feel bereft if I do not have a new book to read once I have finished my current one.
Bloomin' Brilliant Books was set up in 2016 to connect with other readers and spread the word about great books, to support authors and publishers, and to have my thoughts in one accessible place as a record of the books I have read. The blog has steadily grown (beyond my expectations!) and I was delighted to win the Best Newcomer in 2017's Annual Blogger's Bash Awards and to be included in Feedspot’s top 200 book review blogs.
I have decided to use my enthusiasm for the written word to train as a proofreader and I have completed a few proofreads and beta reads. My dream is for this to eventually become my career.
Abbie’s Q&A Responses
Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Abbie and my two greatest loves (apart from the hubby!) are books and dogs, in particular Alaskan Malamutes (that’s dogs not books!). I used to be a social worker and hope to be a proofreader in the future. I have an obsession with stationery and love rock music.
How do you find time to both read and review books as well as keep a blogsite running?
I didn’t realise when I first set up Bloomin’ Brilliant Books how much time it would actually take up, although I guess it’s down to individual choice as to how much time you spend on the blog and how often you post. I tend to read before I go to sleep, so most of my reading takes place at bedtime. As soon as I have finished a book I try and get the review written before I start the next book (often easier said than done) and I take notes while I’m reading to help me with my reviews. I try and have one day per week which in which I get the blog posts set up for the following week, leaving me free to concentrate on other things. It’s hard work but I love it! It’s very easy to say yes to everything when you first start blogging especially if, like me, you don’t believe anyone will ever look at your blog let alone ask you to review their books. This can, however, lead you into having a huge ‘to review’ pile so I urge caution!
What is your favourite genre?
I like a wide range of genres and I guess I’m quite eclectic in my tastes. I adore a good psychological thriller or crime novel, but I like to take break from them and often opt for women’s fiction for respite. I love literary fiction and historical fiction and if I could write I would love to write a historical fiction novel. Anything that is beautifully written, gets me thinking and taps into my emotions is always good.
Have you ever had anyone criticise you for criticising their work?
Luckily, no. I tend to choose books I think I will enjoy as I have to spend time reading them, however, there have been some that just haven’t hit the mark for me. The thing with reading is that we all have such individual tastes and what doesn’t work for me may well be loved by others. With this in mind I always try to find the positive things in a book which I haven’t really enjoyed, there is usually something, and try not to be critical but rather have a balanced view of what did and didn’t work for me, if that makes sense?
Do you believe you can influence how a book is perceived by the public?
Ooh what a question? I’m still not sure that that many people read my reviews! I don’t think my very humble opinion would change how a book is perceived by the public. I’m very much a small fish in a big pond and my views are merely my own.
Does it make you feel good when an author thanks you for your review, or is it just part of the job?
I love it! Blogging and review writing is quite a lot of work and it is done for free so it’s always nice to feel appreciated. I still get as big a buzz from it as I did when I started reviewing over a year ago.
How many hours a week do you devote to your blog?
Probably too many and much more than I ever imagined.
Why and when did you start your blog?
I started the blog in May 2016. I had lost my job due to a chronic health condition and had been through quite a difficult time in my life. Reading has always been a huge part of my life and it certainly helped me to escape from the tough time I was having. I discovered Netgalley and my husband encouraged me to set up the blog. It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the authors and publishers and a way of letting them know I appreciate all that they do and what they ultimately give. Hopefully, readers of my reviews discover books and authors they may not have come across before and get as much joy from them as I do.
I was originally going to do an English Literature degree with a view to being an English teacher but instead took a different path and ended up being a social worker. The blog has led me, in a round about way, back to my original path and I’m hoping to eventually have a career as a proofreader. The blog has been an absolute God send as it has given me back my sense of identity, one that isn’t solely wrapped up in my illness, and given me back some of my self-confidence. I owe my hubby a huge thank you for encouraging me.
Has your approach to blogging changed since you started, and if so, how?
My approach has changed in many ways over the past year but is still essentially the same. I was totally new to Twitter when I started the blog but it has become the social media outlet I prefer. I have quite a lot going on at the moment and it is so difficult and time-consuming to keep up with social media, something has had to give. I spend less time on Facebook (which I feel guilty about) as a result.
I’m trying not to take part in as many blog tours as I have a huge backlog of books I want to get through and am turning down more requests for reviews (which I again feel guilty about!). The blog helped me to discover indie authors and publishers and I try hard to support them more than I did at the beginning.
In relation to the actual blog, my approach to reviews has remained the same. I tend to stick to certain days in which blog posts go out in order to fit in other stuff I want to do and rest time which I need.
Any advice to fellow bloggers?
As tempting as it is, don’t say yes to every review request you get … it quickly becomes overwhelming!
Don’t be afraid to ask other book bloggers for advice, they are an incredibly warm, supportive bunch of people.
It’s okay to take a break from it every now and again.
Run your blog your way and enjoy it!
Any advice to authors?
If approaching a blogger for a review, take the time to read their review policy and find out a bit about them. When you email them for a review request make your email personable and refer to the blogger by their name (and their correct name – I once had an email that started ‘Dear Jennifer’!).
If the blogger has said that they can’t review because they are too busy, it’s not a genre they read, etc don’t harass them. Sadly, this has happened to a few bloggers and it is very upsetting.
Finally, which other bloggers do you admire, and why?
All bloggers! Blogging takes up a lot of time and bloggers are dedicated and hardworking, often for no monetary gains. I admire all the bloggers I have got to know over the past year for their enthusiasm, their friendliness and their passion.
Abbie’s Web Presence