Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Reviewing by Lori Gondelman

Today I am very pleased to have Lori Gondelman of Lori's Reading Corner as a guest blogger. I think you'll find some interesting info. here about book reviewing. PLease check out her site at http://www.lorisreadingcorner.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Lori!

Interview Questions

Q: How did you become a book review blogger?

A: I belong to an amazing book swapping site ~ www.paperbackswap.com. Basically you post books that you no longer want. When another member requests your book, you mail it off to them. Once they receive your book you earn a credit, with which you can then order a book that you want. Nice and simple. My friends started calling me “the book pimp” because my book recommendations would cause their wish lists to grow. Several of them started “bugging” me about doing a book blog. I put it off, because I honestly felt like I had nothing worthwhile to say. Eventually I gave in and it’s taken off. I’ve met and become friends with several authors as well as made some great contacts with publishers.

Q: How do you decide what books to review?

A: I’m pretty open to reviewing anything. I usually read a lot of mysteries, thrillers, suspense and women’s fiction. But I’ve tried to push the boundaries of my reading comfort zone and have accepted reviews for books I would not normally read. Although I do think that the majority of authors, publishers, promotion book tour sites can get a sense of the books I read from my blog and base their request for review on that. And if it’s something I know I really will not be able to get into, I am upfront about it while at the same time offering to host a blog tour/guest post for the author instead of the review.

Q: What is the demographic of your readership, and do you choose books that are marketed towards them?

A: When I started my blog I thought only my PBS friends would be reading it, since they were the ones that pushed me to start it. Now I have about 150 followers, not sure how many subscribe and 26,000 “hits”. Since I don’t know who is checking out my blog and what their reading interests are, I tend to read for myself. Of course I’m always hoping to turn someone on to a new book or author, but I like to read what I like to read.

Q: Do you ever do reviews to intentionally expose your readers to books they might not otherwise pick up on their own?

A: When I first started, that wasn’t my goal. It was simply to let others know what I thought about the books I was reading. But as the requests to review books that were out of my ‘comfort zone’, I figured if I could try something new, maybe someone else could as well.

Q: How much does cover design and title influence your decision about doing a review?

A: The only time a cover design or title my influence my decision to read it, is if I’m in a book store browsing the shelf and it catches my eye. But in terms of it affecting whether or not I review the book, not at all. The story itself is what is important.
Q: When reading a book for a review, do you read as you would strictly for your own pleasure or are you keeping an eye out for certain components?

A: I generally read for my own pleasure. I don’t want to turn my love for reading, which I do to “escape” into “work”. But if there are key elements, a phrase or specific things I think those reading my reviews should be aware of, I’ll take the time to jot down some notes so that I make sure to include them in my review.

Q: What is more important to you, quality of writing or the actual story?

A: For me, the story is more important. As long as I can feel as if I can relate to the characters or am a part of the story itself, I can get past an authors writing style that may not be exactly what I am used to.

Q: Do you compare your reviews of a given book to those of your peers? If so, do you find your views are generally similar or dissimilar?

A: A lot of my paperback swap friends started book blogs shortly after I did. We tend to share a lot of books with one another and will all post our reviews when we’re done. Because our taste in books is so similar our reviews tend mimic each others. I do like to browse other book blogs for reviews of the books I’ve read and am always interested to see how others feel. Sometimes it’s made me see parts of the books differently.

Q: Do you think the consolidation of the publishing industry has been positive or negative for the quality and diversity of books that make it to the market?

A: To be honest, I haven’t really noticed. All I know is I have over 400+ books in my TBR pile at home with more coming in all the time, I haven’t seen any difference in the quality of books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year, or one that came in today.

Q: Do you think e-books are going to make printed books obsolete like CD’s have become in the wake of the ipod revolution?

A: I hope not. I always swore I did not want an e-reader. Then my brother and sister in law got me one for my birthday. While I love the ease of use, the light feeling and how convenient it is to hold while walking my dog (yup – any chance I get to read, I take), there is no greater feeling than holding a book in your hands. And without those printed books, there would be no sites like paperbackswap, making it difficult for people without the finances to buy an e-reader, kindle or brand new hardcover to get the books they love to read.

Q: What is the best reward for you from blogging about books?

A: First off, of course, is just to be able to share my love of reading and my thoughts on the books I read. I love having people comment on my posts about how they’re now going to check out a book I reviewed/recommended or who come back after reading my review and then tell me how much they loved the book and wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t written about it. It warms my heart to know I’ve given someone else the same joy I received from reading a book. I’ve been fortunate enough to make some great contacts at Harper Collins, Random House and several other publishing houses. Publishers who have “stumbled” on my blog and would like to send me advanced reader copies to review. Most importantly, I’ve developed some terrific friendships with some fantastic authors, two of which are Jessica Conant Park and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Both have been very supportive of me and my blog, offering encouragement, advice and even providing me with autographed copies of their books to use as giveaways. Two recent things that have just floored me ~ I was asked by a national woman’s magazine to do an interview for a best of summer beach reading article. Unfortunately my part was cut, but the fact that of all of the amazing book blogs out there, they would even want to interview me was just incredible. And just yesterday, Jessica contacted an author she is good friends with (and who’s series I have read) who is almost done with her latest manuscript, for me to help them with the proofing of it before it heads off to the publisher. That they think that much of me means more than I could ever put into words.

Q: What are your three favorite books?

A: Because I read so much it’s hard to pick just three. My top 3 recent reads are Serendipity by Louise Shaffer
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Henry’s Sisters by Cathy Lamb
I have to mention three of my favorite series.
Chelsea Cain’s Gretchen & Archie series,
Brian Freeman’s Jonathan Stride Series
and Jessica’s Gourmet Girl series. These are all must reads! Plus The Wine Lover's and Michaela Bancroft series (that goes without saying).

1 comment:

Sheila Deeth said...

Fascinating. Great questions and great answers to questions I've always wanted to ask. Loved this interview.