Thursday, October 21, 2010
Blogger Interview: Roof Beam Reader (recovered)
Adam, please tell us a little about your blog and what we can expect from you in the future.
RoofBeamReader.net is my personal book blogging website. At the moment, I am the one and only contributor/moderator, except for the occasional guest blog or author interview (I will be incorporating more of these in the future). I might invite other bloggers, new and experienced, to begin participating in certain aspects of my blog as well - such as themed postings or discussion leaderships. In the future, you can expect many, many more book reviews (because that's 90% of what I present on my website) as well as other book-related goodies. I just started a companion blog - http://www.readingtheromantics.blogspot.com which is hosting my "Autumn Adventure" - reading the classic Romantic poets, from October through December 23rd. A few people have jumped on board with me and will be reading along with the same poetry list (which I am generating for each poet: Blake, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, and Wordsworth) and every two weeks we discuss the poet and his works. It should be great fun, and all are welcome to join!
Why did you start blogging? And how long has it been?
I started blogging about five years ago. At first, it was like keeping an electronic journal. I wrote about my day-to-day events, feelings, experiences, etc. I was very interested in creative writing while in college (and I still am), so the blog was a great way for me to get experience expressing ideas and being just generally creative with words and language. Eventually, as I began to read books on a more regular basis and to study literature, my blog transformed (through many different hosting sites and account names) to what it is today, a place to keep my thoughts on the books I read and on what is happening in the literary world in general. I always say that I don't have the greatest memory in the world, so keeping a book blog is a great way for me to keep abreast with my reading and to remind myself of why I felt a certain way about such-and-such a book at such-and-such a time. It is also helpful when I find myself needing to compare authors (or even the same author's different works) or to provide recommendations to others.
How much time and energy do you put into your blog?
Well, I think I put a fair amount of time and energy into it. I do try to post very thoughtful responses to my reading experiences. It took some time, but I did create a book review template which I find to be comprehensive and fair, no matter which genre I happen to be reading/reviewing. I also participate in all different types of events, such as Banned Books Week and Blog Fest, which is time consuming. I write a weekly feature post on my own blog called "Saturdays, Uncensored!" which is all about censorship and banned books. Currently, I am hosting my fifth giveaway - this one being in relation to "Saturdays, Uncensored!" and Banned Books Week. I always try to spin my Giveaways towards meeting a certain of my own criteria (Classics, Literary Fiction, Banned/Challenged Books, etc). All in all, I would say each week is different, depending on how my "real job" goes that week, as well as the personal life, but I always make an effort to be active at least once or twice per week (usually more) and to respond to all the comments my readers leave for me.
Do you enjoy doing memes? Which ones can be found on your blog?
Oh, boy! I answered this one a bit prematurely in the last question. Yes, I do enjoy some memes. I participate every once in a while in the "Book Blogger Hop," which is a great meme for finding other book-minded bloggers - introducing oneself and making interesting connections. I tend to get a few followers with each week I participate, too - and that is always a great thing! I also sometimes participate in "Top 10 Tuesdays" - each week is a different list of the blogger's "Top 10" of something. Last week, we talked about our Top 10 Favourite authors, which was a lot of fun! There are more, like "Mailbox Mondays" and "Teaser Tuesdays" which I participate in rarely, but they are worth mentioning. Of course, there is also my own meme, "Saturdays, Uncensored!" which isn't so much a meme, seeing as how I host it completely on my blog (though people are welcome to share on their own) - so I tend to call it a "theme."
How would you describe your review style and how do you handle reviews when you didn't enjoy the book?
I would say my review style is comprehensive and unbiased - or at least that is the goal! I use a template each and every time a review (again, this template took some time to develop, and I'm always open to adjusting it when I find that something might need to be changed) but the template allows me to weight each book based on what I feel are the most important aspects of fiction (Plot/Summary/Style/Characterization/Additional Elements). I rate 1-4 in each of these categories, so books that might rate low in Plot could score very high in Characterization, for instance, so the overall review remains as balanced as possible. I also remain fair with books that I did not enjoy. I still discuss each point on the review template, and I explain my feelings about why the book lacked in certain areas, how it could have been improved, and where other readers may disagree with me. I am a proponent of Reader-Response Theory, so I always welcome disagreement or debate about books. We all read differently!
What advise would you give new book bloggers out there?
It's tough at first, so expect this. You won't have people jumping up and down to read your reviews right away, or to comment. It really does take time. The best way to approach your blog is, quite honestly, to be yourself. Instil your own personality into your blog - let your readers know who you are, get to understand where you're coming from, and get comfortable with what they can expect from you and your reviews. Also, very important points: respond to your readers. Engage them! If you want people to really read your reviews, you need to recognize them when they comment - thank them for stopping by, and respond to their questions or comments. It's courteous and it's beneficial. Finally, please, please pay attention to your blog's style. If it is difficult to navigate and/or read, you're not going to get quality followers. Don't try to lure people with Giveaways (I offer Giveaways once in a while, but they're usually content or subject-specific, and I don't always "require" someone to be a follower in order to win). Also - get to know other bloggers! If you build a relationship via Goggle Connect, Twitter, or other networking sites, those bloggers will naturally drive readers your way. Take an interest in what they're doing, and they'll likely return the favour.
Thank you so much for your time, Adam and also for your great advise for writing reviews. I am a new reviewer myself and will definitely start using some of your ideas.