Today I’m here with Melanie Zhang to talk about book blogging. If you’re Australian (or just a book blogger, really) here are some great insights to how you do it. Mel comes to us from YA Midnight Reads, which is a fantastic blog with reviews, discussion posts and giveaways. Plus, she’s a teen like me!
When did you first get into book blogging, and how?
Believe it or not, I used to HATE reading. Full on hate. So I guess the gap from detesting reading to book blogging is pretty big. And it only too half a year for me to fill.
In March 2012 my mum would borrow books from our local library as she really wanted me to read like some of the other kids in my class. There were stacks of them (the books). And I touched not a single one. So there they sat, in the corner of my room, picking dust. I think, we can all agree that when your mum nags you for a long enough time, you eventually give in and listen to her. So, two months later, I picked up a random book from the stack that looked half-decent and “pretended” to read it. (So yeah, I listened to my mum, but I’m not actually going to read the book. I just stared at the pages the flipped the page every now and again. I KNOW. I used to be horrible.) Anyway, instead of just staring at the pages, I found myself legit reading the novel in my hands. I don’t know how I went from staring to actually reading it but something must have caught my eye to make me actually want to sit torturous hours reading words. The book’s name was Evernight by Claudia Gray. I found it a pretty cool read at the time. So somehow from then on, I got really interested in the series. I even looked it up online. You may not know, but when you search a book’s title and author in Google, the first thing that shows up is Goodreads. I clicked on the link, loved the site, got myself an account. Then I got addicted. I mean, there were so many books that were like Evernight! All these YA books. And then I was the one borrowing stacks and stacks of books from the library as opposed to my mum borrowing them for me.
But then how did the book blogging begin?
Basically, I also loved reading the reviews on Goodreads. A lot of reviewers include a link to their blog at the beginning/end of review so I clicked on a link one day and absolutely loved the idea of a blog. The blog’s owner was actually the same age as me (thirteen) so I thought why can’t I? Then that was the birth of YA Midnight Reads. (Exact day: December 21, 2012)
What was the first ARC you got, and how did you receive it?
My first ARC was an Australian novel, All This Could End by Steph Bowe. I requested it from Text Publishing Australia and I was so surprised when I actually received it in the mail.
What sort of following do you think a blog needs before they can start requesting ARCs/review copies?
Definitely a few months of experience. Don’t go requesting the second you created your blog. ‘Cause trust me, no publisher is going to send you a review copy. You’ll also need pageviews. A lot of them. The purpose of a book blog is to share your thoughts to other readers and influence them. How are you going to influence anyone if no one visits your blog?
What’s your favourite part of book blogging?
Most definitely the people I have met. Everyone is so friendly and I can relate to a lot of them. I haven’t mentioned this before but I was in a depression mode before my love for reading began and it really helped me get out of it and realise all these brilliant people. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
Recently, you’ve added a co-reviewer and co-blogger to YA Midnight Reads. What’s been your experience so far of having more people?
It was nerve-wracking at first. I wasn’t 100% I wanted any. I mean, YMR is MY baby! But then I knew my blog would be barely active without any help, and that made me decide that I had to get some awesome people to work along with me. Celine and Larissa are seriously the best! I started school last week and only managed to post 2 times. Which made it clearly obvious that the decision was a good one. I’m not saying that if your blog isn’t active almost daily, that you should get more bloggers, but if you’re considering getting some, go for it! No regrets.
Is it important to you to support Australian authors?
Yes! Aussie contemporary is my favourite, the writing style just feels authentic, rich and strangely beautiful. So whenever an Aussie author asks for me to review their book, it will almost always be a yes.
Do you have any tips for book bloggers who are just starting out?
Book blogging is a hobby. It’s not a chore. So don’t treat it like one! If you feel like it’s taking your real life a way, take a break! Book blogging is just something you do for fun.
Also, blog commenting helps so much to get your blog out there and make friends. So when you can, go visit other people’s blogs and don’t be shy to interact.
Favourite Aussie writers?
Hmm…Fiona Wood, Markus Zusak, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
Favourite book you’ve read this year?
This year as in 2014 so far? That’s hard…I’m thinking On the Fence by Kasie West or Bird by Crystal Chan.
And finally, how far do you try to reach in a book before giving it a DNF review?
It really depends on how bad the book is. I DNFed a book recently at 18% because it was just that unbearable and a waste of time. But I’ve also DNFed at 70%. I guess if it start feeling like a chore, then I’ll stop. Reading is a hobby as well, so treat it as one.
Thanks so much for answering my questions, Mel! To everyone else, if you have more questions leave them in comments. I’d love to answer. There’s also a Goodreads group for YA Australian Bloggers – join if you like, it’s lots of fun!