Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blogger interview: Book Smugglers

book-smugglers

Today, please meet Thea and Ana from THE BOOK SMUGGLERS.  Thank you for joining us today, girls!

*How did it all start?   And how long has it been?
Thea: The Book Smugglers actually began in a really weird way. See, Ana and I are huge LOST geeks. No, seriously, we are HUGE LOST geeks. Like, spending hours upon hours theorizing, hunting for spoilers, making assorted caps/gifs, forum-posting geeks. One day, we both learned that we shared another obsession: reading. It was a shared obsession that had gotten so far out of control, that our respective boyfriends threatened to take dire action if we didn't stop buying books. Naturally, both Ana and I are devious little things, and instead of stopping our purchases of books (AHAHAHAHAHAHA! Can you imagine!?), we had the separate but IDENTICAL idea to order books online, get them delivered to our offices, and then we would sneak them home in large handbags, our boyfriends none the wiser. Fast-forward a few months, and Ana asked me if I would like to start a book blog with her - it was only natural considering our shared evil genius and addictive personalities. I, of course, agreed. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Ana:  This was about 3 years ago. I had started reading blogs back then searching for recommendations for Romance novels when I felt the need to have a blog where I could write about the books I was reading. I sent a message to Thea asking if she wanted to join, she said yes and here we are. 

* How much time and energy do you put into your blog?
Thea: The Book Smugglers has long gone past being a simple hobby for us. Both Ana and myself probably spend a minimum of four hours a day organizing, writing, emailing, etc for the site. In fact, I've grown so enamored with books and the business, that I enrolled in NYU's Master's program for Publishing (with a focus on digital applications). So, you could say that the blog eats up a whole lotta time and energy - in a really, really good way. I love it. There's no way I could spend so much time and effort over the years on The Book Smugglers if it wasn't something  I loved.

Ana:  A LOT of time and energy. I wake up early and the first thing I do is checking emails and comments on the blog; then it’s reading time before going to work. Then I read again over my lunch break and again when I get home. Basically all of my free time (and let’s be honest, some of my work hours too *ninja*) are about books,  reading, reviewing and blogging. It is a second full time job and as Thea said, it is purely out of love.  

* What is the best and the worse part of blogging for you?
Thea: The best and the worst parts are the actual books. There is nothing I love more than getting a much-anticipated ARC in the mail, or seeing one of our blurbs on our favorite authors' books. At the same time, the mail gets OUT OF CONTROL. I have moved multiple times over the years that we have been running the blog, and the physical act of moving my entire library, redirecting the never-ending stream of review copies, coordinating recycling and donation trips...it's exhausting and a part of blogging that I could seriously do without. Ebooks. It is all about the ebooks.

Ana:  I love so many things about blogging but if I had to pick one, it would be the sense of sharing good books: reviewing and reading about them in other blogs. The worst part? Hummm….can’t think of any, really.    

* Do you enjoy doing memes and if so, which ones can be found on your blog?
Thea: Hmm, we haven't really been tagged in any memes for a while now! They are fun, and we've done a couple. All book related, of course!
Ana: what Thea said.

* How would you describe your review style and how do you handle reviews when you didn't enjoy the book?
Thea: LOOOOOOOOOOONG. Both Ana and I tend to be somewhat...verbose. I also think my reviews tend to be more technical - I try to hit on plotting/worldbuilding, characters, and narrative structure/style in each review. I do like fun, creative reviews (with a book like John Green's <em>An Abundance of Katherines</em>, for example), but for the most part, I try to cover the basics and give readers an informed opinion about each book that I've read. I will say that I am not above gushing, though. If I find a book that rocks my world, I will fangirl gush all over it.

As for reviews of books I didn't like, well, both Ana and I have a policy of being brutally honest with every book we review. It doesn't matter if it's an author we know, if it's a review copy, whatever - we pride ourselves on being completely forthright. For better or for worse!

Ana:  I just can’t write short reviews and believe me, I tried. I always aim for a balance between the technical side of a book and what made it work for ME but I have to say that I love to play around with the format of my reviews and the way I express my ideas. Sometimes I even try and mimic the format of the book I am reviewing because I think it is more fun like that.

I handle reviews of a book I didn’t enjoy the same way I handle those of the ones I did.    

* What can we expect from you in the future?
Thea: More reviews! We are trying to review more this year and rely less on author/guest posts (although we will have a ton of those too, naturally). I personally have a goal of reading more contemporary science fiction and horror this year, too.

So far as the blog is concerned, I am never happy with a single layout - so I'm trying to think of ways to jazz up the site, create web-based mobile apps, etc. Lofty goals, I know. But what can I say? We're never satisfied!

Ana:  Definitely more reviews. I really want to read more LGBT books this year as well as more classic works of Fantasy and Scifi. 

* What advise would you give new book bloggers out there?
Thea: POST! Stick with your blog and make sure that you post frequently. It doesn't have to be particularly long, nor do your posts always have to be reviews - just make sure that you don't forget about your blog and let it slide into obscurity. Also, if you want to get a wider circle of readers, the best thing to do is read other blogs! See what others do and emulate those posts. Comment, reply to your commenters, and, well, have fun. That's the key.

Ana:  Exactly. And don’t forget to be awesome, dudes!

You can visit the Book Smugglers here:

Ana Grilo & Thea James
The Book Smugglers
www.thebooksmugglers.com
www.twitter.com/booksmugglers

Thank you once again, Girls – fun interview!!

If you want to join in the fun, you can contact me through the comments below or my “contact me” page.

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