In 2011 I took a leap of faith and entered the world of book blogging. With no technical knowledge of where to start, or indeed of how maintain a website, I enthusiastically signed up to a free blogging platform which had a simple interface and good graphics. However, having the website wasn’t enough, my blog needed a name and so with the help of Jaffa, my glorious ginger cat, Jaffareadstoo was born. Initially my blog was simply a place to add my thoughts and when I started to tentatively add my book reviews, I did so safe in the knowledge that no-one would read them.
I’m not a professional book reviewer and even though, at the time, I was reviewing books for an independent book magazine, initially my views on Jaffareadstoo were just for my own pleasure. Then something quite remarkable started to happen, Jaffa sprinkled his magic book dust and soon my blog viewing numbers started to rise quite steadily. People were actually stopping by to read my reviews. I was absolutely astonished and utterly delighted. Jaffareadstoo’s reputation grew rapidly and when we started to be approached by authors and publishers who liked what we did and who asked if they could be a guest on the blog or who wanted us to read and review their books or take part in organised blog tours, well of course, Jaffa and I were delighted to help out.
When I was asked to describe a day in the life of a book blogger, I had to really stop and think about what I did and realised just how much time I spend in the book blogging world.
My day starts at around eight in the morning when I log onto Jaffareadstoo. I try to have a blog post every day and schedule posts at least a week in advance but there are usually last minute changes to be made and always reviews to be written. Writing book reviews doesn’t always come easily, I always seem to have my best ideas late at night or when shopping in the supermarket, so I always have a notebook and pencil to hand to jot down my thoughts. I spend a long time preparing reviews and always strive to give a balanced and thoughtful appraisal, spoiler free, of course.
Putting blog posts together takes time and patience, and by trial and lots of errors, I have found what works and what doesn’t, and hope that each blog post looks as good as I can make it. Once I am good to go, I share my blog links on social media. I have a successful Twitter account with an active and increasing following and I also have a dedicated Jaffareadstoo Facebook page.
I am always delighted to be invited to take part in organised blog tours as they are a really fun activity and I enjoy being able help to promote books in such a positive way. Blog tours give me the opportunity to share exclusive extracts, Q&As with the author or to offer a copy of the book in an enticing giveaway. Blog Tours usually generate a great deal of social media interest and it’s a wonderful informal way to interact with authors, readers and, of course, other book bloggers.
I find that it helps to be organised and I have a comprehensive monthly reading plan plus several book diaries so that I don’t miss deadlines or book publication dates. However, I use the term 'organised' rather loosely, as I can, and do juggle books around to suit my reading mood.
Once my blog post for the day goes live, I then spend quality time online, interacting with other bloggers on social media. I belong to a couple of really good Facebook groups, A Bunch of Book Bloggers and Book Connectors, whose support and encouragement is invaluable.
Tackling emails is usually a big part of my morning as my inbox is always full to overflowing!! I enjoy receiving book review requests from any and every one, from independent authors to big name publishers. I try to respond to all review requests but there is a limit to my time and I simply can’t read everything. I do have a comprehensive review policy which explains quite clearly the type of genre which doesn’t suit my personal reading taste.
Of course in order to review, first I must read, and I have an eclectic taste in books and can’t imagine a day where I don’t have a least a couple of books on the go. With Jaffa curled up nearby and armed with copious amounts of my favourite Darjeeling tea, I read in the afternoons and late into the evening and can comfortably read an average length novel in a day.
Seven years, and over 2000 blog posts later, Jaffareadstoo continues to survive and thrive in a competitive world. Being a book blogger is an absolute joy and it’s always a real privilege and such an honour when an author trusts their work with me.