Wow, it’s Thursday – which means it’s #ThrowItForward Thursday. I love it! I love shining the spotlight on people who spend so much of their time putting authors center stage. It’s so fun to get to know book bloggers and contest runners and cover designers and … okay, you get the picture!
Today, I welcome Donna McBroom-Theriot. Donna graciously agreed to review A Man of Character over the summer, and delighted me with her very positive response to my book. But Donna doesn’t just review books – visit her site, My Life, One Story at a Time, to discover all the irons she’s got in the fire: book reviews, product reviews, recipes, organizational tips. You could spend hours discovering everything Ms. McBroom-Theriot has to offer, and not get bored.
Luckily for me, and for y’all, Donna took time away to answer a number of questions – so grab your hot chocolate and spend a few minutes peeking into the life of a book blogger. And please, leave some comment love below, if you would!
What made you decide to start a book blog? My book blogging actually came about quite by accident. I was just started writing stories on my blog and was stumped for a topic. I had just completed a book and thought, why not review the book? There were a couple of book reviewers following my blog at the time and they messaged me, encouraging me to try my hand at book reviewing. They also sent a few sites and my book reviewing career was born.
How long have you been blogging about books?
I have been a book review blogger since 2009.
How many review requests do you receive per month?
I receive approximately 200 requests a month for book reviews.
[ML: I feel especially privileged that Ms. McBroom-Theriot chose my book, considering how many author seek her out monthly!]
How many books do you review a month?
For a while in the beginning, I was obsessed with reading as many books as I could fit into my schedule. I have since realized I could not possibly keep up that ridiculous pace and slowed things down a bit. I regularly schedule three reviews a week. This allows time for other writing I enjoy doing – recipes, my “Lucy” adventures, book blasts, etc.
How do you deal with reviewing a book that wasn’t quite your cup of tea?
I am fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose which books I review. It wasn’t always this way and I did read a few that I struggled to review. I never wanted to hurt someone’s feelings or turn down their requests for reviews. I quickly realized that this was not fair to the writer, to me, or to my followers who expect a truthful review. There have been a few books that I have not liked along the way and I am honest about them. As long as I am able to read most of the book, I do try to find something positive to say while still expressing my dislike or disappointment in the book. As I said earlier, I am now in a position to pick and choose my books and I rarely come across a book that I do not like. When I absolutely do not care for a book, I email the author or publicist and let them know that I do not like the book and will not be reviewing the book. I also refuse to spotlight a book unless I have read at least a chapter of the book and it is within the genres that I enjoy.
Oh my! Free books of course! But, also importantly, I have met some really nice authors along the way and we have become “internet” friends. I would say that is the best part about being a book reviewer.
What’s your least favorite thing?
My least favorite thing about being a book reviewer is turning someone down for a review. I write and I have friends who are writers, so I know the time and angst that goes into a book. This is why I have submission guidelines on my blog. I think the second thing I dislike is saying yes to a book and then have it turn out to be really bad. I do not like having to go back and let the author know the book wasn’t for me.
What do you wish authors and/or readers knew about book reviewing?
I think some authors forget that book review bloggers are not paid to review their books. We have lives and sometimes life gets in the way of our deadlines and reviews are sometimes late. This does not pertain to all authors, only a fraction. I think readers and authors need to realize the time involved to post reviews. Books sometimes take a couple of days to read. Then, unless the information such as the blurb, book cover and author social links, etc. are included, the reviewer can spend up to an hour or more looking for these items. The actual writing of the review can also take up to an hour, especially if you post quotes from the book. Then, there is the posting of the review on social media and book sites such as Amazon, GoodReads, and others. The entire process may take up to two hours or more. That is a huge amount of free time and publicity that the author is receiving. I would tell authors to be grateful for each and every review they receive.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give authors seeking out reviews?
I would tell authors that they have taken an inordinate amount of time writing the book, take a little more time and write a proper presentation to the prospective reviewer. Visit their blog to make sure they review your genre. If they do not, then just as you wouldn’t send your book to a publisher who does not review your genre, do not send it to the reviewer. Also, read some of the reviewer’s reviews or stories and mention them in your email to show that you’ve actually spent time on their blog and not just grabbed their name and emailed them. The last and probably the most important thing I would tell authors, (because I’ve deleted more emails than I can count because of this) is write a decent email request to the reviewer telling them who you are and what your book is about. DO NOT just say “you can find my book here – link”. I delete these requests. My time is just as valuable as yours. One last thing – if you are doing a mass mailing, make sure the font of the “insert blog name here” is the same as the body of the letter. That tells me I was part of a mass mailing and you don’t know who I am. I delete those as well.
Do you connect and commune with fellow book reviewers, or prefer going it solo?
I did connect with a number of book reviewers in the beginning. Later on, my reviewing took on a more solo approach simply because publishers and publicists began contacting me and I got busy with other avenues of reviewing. It would be nice to have a group where I could spend time conversing with other book review bloggers.
As I mentioned before, I’ve slowed down and only review three books a week at the present time. I can see myself still reviewing books in five years. It is something I really enjoy doing. I’ve been a reader my entire life and unless my eyesight decides to play hooky, I will be a reader until I close my eyes. So, in five years, I still expect to be reviewing books, although I may be limiting my genres.
Thank you, Donna! Great answers – and I think authors like myself will find your tips for approaching book bloggers to be wonderfully helpful. I wish you the best, and look forward to our future encounters.