We’ll be taking a few days off from reviews here to participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week, hosted by the lovely people over at The Estella Society.
Today is one of the most exciting days of the event for me, as it provided the opportunity to meet and engage directly with another book blogger. I find that I always learn so much from how other people approach blogging, what motivates them to blog about books, and anything else they’re willing to share.
I had the wonderful fortune of visiting with Beth F. of Beth Fish Reads. Beth is a freelance editor, reviewer, and journalist whose blog includes reviews, guest posts, author interviews, and some other great content.
Me: You’ve been blogging for a number of years now. What strategies do you use to stay energized and keep your content fresh?
Beth: I work hard to come up with a variety of ways to talk about books. I get my ideas by paying attention to how I talk about books in other media and to my friends and family. That kind of thinking made me realize it’s okay to talk about a book I’m still reading and to feature books I’m looking forward to reading. Not everything has to be a formal review.
Me: I like the idea of taking different approaches to talking about books. I can certainly appreciate how it adds variety to your blog, while still keeping some consistency that followers can value. Speaking of looking at books in different ways: I notice you’ve reviewed a fair number of audiobooks. Do you find you approach thinking about and constructing a review differently for an audiobook than something you’ve read in print? How much consideration do you give to the narrator vs. the story itself in your overall opinion of the book?
Beth: Because I want to reach a wide audience, I tend to write my audiobook reviews in two sections: first the general book review and then a paragraph or so about the narrator and performance. There have been exceptions, of course, but that’s my general approach. That way print readers can skip the audiobook part, if they want.
It’s definitely true that the narrator can make or break a book, and when I feel the performance strongly influenced my reaction to the overall story, I make sure to say so. I think it’s important to name the narrator and to comment on his or her performance. Lately, I’ve also tried to remember to embed an audio sample right in my post so my readers can make up their own minds.
Me: I’ll definitely have to check out more of your audiobook reviews! Since I don’t get much time for audiobooks myself, I tend to shy away from some reviews for fear that they might not represent the experience of reading the book on paper. Breaking it up they way you described sounds like it’s helpful to both those who listen and those who read.
You note on your blog that you’re not only a reviewer, but also a freelance editor. How has that experience impacted your reviewing and blogging? How has running a book blog impacted your work as an editor?
Beth: I definitely read books with an editor’s eye (which is why audiobooks are my friends). I’m probably much less tolerant than the average reader in terms of plot holes, factual errors, grammatical errors, and writing style. When I read an ARC (advance reader copy), I have to remind myself that most of the problems will be caught before the book goes to press, but it’s still grating. Sometimes, however, I can’t stand it, and I’ve abandoned books (final copies even) because of poor editing. I don’t shy away from discussing editing issues when reviewing a book, but I also try to review from the general reader’s standpoint.
I don’t think my book blog has had an effect on my life as an editor. I’ve been a freelance for many more years than I’ve been a blogger, and I tend to keep those two parts of my life separate.
Me: I can definitely relate to looking at books with an editorial eye. I was thrust into proofreading myself after noticing the frequency with which I was catching glaring errors in the published books I was reading. I’m glad to hear that you’ve been able to find a balance between the two without one getting in the way of the other.
One other thing before we close. While your blog is primarily about books, that’s not all readers can find there. You also run Weekend Cooking, a weekly food-related feature, which encourages other bloggers to post about their own cooking-related adventures. What inspired you to launch that, and have you learned anything unexpected from the bloggers who participate?
Beth: When I first started blogging I thought about having a blog that was all about food and cooking and the books I listened to on audio while I cooked. Fortunately, I realized, even before I began, that I was more comfortable in the book world than in the food world. But because I love to cook and to read about food and cooking, I came up with the idea of Weekend Cooking. The number of people who participate has fluctuated over the years, but I enjoy writing the posts and—more important—I love reading everyone else’s posts.
Me: Well, it certainly doesn’t look like there’s a shortage of participants judging from the past few weeks. Thank you for taking the time to visit with me!
I encourage you to check out Beth Fish Reads for some great content. I consider myself a bit of a foodie, though I don’t get near enough time to cook at home as I would like, so I definitely know I’ll be keeping an eye on the Weekend Cooking posts going forward…
For more Book Blogger Appreciation Week interviews, check out the post over at The Estella Society.