- September 21, 2011
I owe a big apology to my BBAW interview partner, Sarah of YA Librarian Tales. We exchanged our interview questions a few days before the interview day, and when I didn’t get a response from her, I made a mental note to email her . . . and then promptly forgot about it. Lo and behold, when I checked my spam folder yesterday, there were Sarah’s answers (along with emails from various bloggers, our author Ben Greenman, and many other people I’ve sent emails to before.) So here is Sarah’s interview! Read it and then go enjoy her blog. I know reading her answers has already made me curious about Kim Harrington—if it’s in the vein of Veronica Mars, that’s something I might have to check out. (And here’s my interview on Sarah’s blog.)
1.How does your job as a librarian influence your blog?
When I’m reviewing, it makes me consider what would make that book a good fit for a library. Is it a strong readalike to an already established YA author? Does it have strong reluctant reader appeal? Heck, is it written by a celebrity that teens will recognize and will want to read and you know it’s just something you need to have. I also like to look at books that may not be a librarian’s first choice to adding to a collection but should be given a second look because there may be something great in there for the teen reader.
2. I was really interested to see that you’re especially into contemporary YA, because sometimes I feel like contemporary YA doesn’t get as much attention as dystopian and other genres. Do you agree? Why is contemporary YA your favorite?
Unfortunately, contemporary YA doesn’t get as much attention as most YA genres. It is one of the things that continues to befuddle me because contemporary YA has by far some of the strongest young adult writers. It is reality, and sometimes that is harsh, so perhaps that is why some readers shy away from contemporary YA. Though I will say, if you hand a teen reader, or heck, any reader, a really great contemporary YA, they usually come back for more. Perhaps contemporary YA doesn’t have the “escape” factor that dystopians or paranormal stories do, but there is much to be said to seeing big decisions play out on the pages of a book rather than having to experience those drugs, that friend dying, or something else, in the real world. It builds empathy and understanding in readers. For me personally, I just prefer contemporary situations. I don’t need an apocalypse or a virus to make my stories interesting. Give me some well written teen angst, parental problems, or friend issues any day of the week.
3. You also focus on romance on your blog—what romances would you recommend to someone who’s never read anything in that genre before?
Right now, Victoria Dahl is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers. She is a very funny writer along with being incredibly sexy. Her characters are strong and the women are not meek or willing to have decisions made for them. They go toe-to-toe with their guys. Lisa Kleypas is my perennial historical go-to author because she just writes with such luxurious detail. Her heroes are perhaps too good to be true but they are sexy and will give real life male celebrities a run for their money. Likewise, Elizabeth Hoyt is at the top of her game as a historical romance writer. Lovely, lovely writing and interesting plots. And finally, I cannot recommend Nalini Singh enough. She is the only paranormal romance writer I still read and it’s because she is just a damn fine writer and knows how to keep her stories intriguing. Pick up Slave to Sensation and you’ll never look back.
4. What’s the best real-life experience you’ve had as a result of your blog?
Attending BEA and Book Blogger Convention this past May was really great because I got to meet several bloggers who I have talked with online. Putting faces to names and just being able to really talk face to face about books with these bloggers was wonderful. I have also been able to use blogging as a platform for work, using it for a presentation I gave at the Colorado Teen Lit Conference so it has enhanced my professional career also.
5. What are your favorite and least favorite book covers of the past year?
I’m not as passionate about covers as most readers. They tend not to make a big impression on me for whatever reason. However, I think debut YA author Sophia Flack’s cover for Bunheads is absolutely gorgeous. I think Melissa Walker has a great cover for Small Town Sinners that really speaks to the story, and I think Moira Young’s Blood Red Road is austere enough to match the book, in a positive way. There is one cover I absolutely have loathed this year and that is Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley. It hurts my eyes to even look at it.
6. What book(s) would you make into TV shows if you could?
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, an adult book, would make a great made-for-tv movie or even TV show since those TV people know how to string out a plotline. I can totally see Jason Segal or John Krasinski in the role of Lincoln, the main character. Also, Clarity by Kim Harrington would make a fun teenage detective series in the vein of Veronica Mars. Would love to see Emma Stone as Clare Fern, psychic. Set in Cape Cod, I can see it having an old school Dawson’s Creek vibe to it too.
- September 19, 2011
For anyone not in Brooklyn (or in Brooklyn but living under a rock), yesterday was the Brooklyn Book Festival. There were three things that made this year’s event the best yet for me:
1. It was not 90 degrees or freezing and rainy.
2. I live a 15-minute walk from the festival site now.
3. We shipped our boxes to the festival in advance instead of bringing them there the morning of.
Seriously—why did we ever schlep into the office at 7 am on a Sunday morning to haul boxes to Brooklyn? That was very foolish. Anyway, this year started off a little slow but quickly improved once we started offering a free tote or T-shirt with every purchase. We were visited by some of our authors—Simon Van Booy, Justin Taylor, Adam Wilson, Rachel Fershleiser, Austin Kleon (who happened to be visiting from Texas!), and many more. We sold lots of books—Andrew Shaffer’s Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love was the very first. We tried to be nice to everyone, though my patience was tested by the guy handing out 9/11 bookmarks who tried to guilt me into taking one by saying “the 9/11 whistleblowers have suffered for you” (My response: “That’s great, but I still don’t need that bookmark”) and the guy who tried to sell us the phone number 212-Authors and wouldn’t take no for an answer. But perhaps my favorite moment was when Mark (the online marketing manager for Harper hardcover who was helping out at the table) asked me what I thought the best book on the table was—and then two people immediately wanted to buy it!
I utterly failed in taking pictures of the booth, so we’ll have to use these:
(from left: Mary, Maya, me, Amy)
(This photo is totally book-related. See, that’s Zooey, and he works at Donadio & Olsen as an assistant to agent E. Carrie Howland.)
(You can’t see the booth in this one, but it was taken there, and it was in the New York Times!)
All in all, it was a lovely day spent talking about books. What could be better?
- September 16, 2011
It’s the last day of book blogger appreciation week! Though of course here at Harper Perennial we appreciate book bloggers all year round. Today’s blogging topic is about tried and true practices for blogging, so I thought I’d share some tips for what we love to see on book blogs. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to every rule and that these are only opinions—but they are the opinions of someone who has read A LOT of book blogs and who has to think all the time about how to distribute limited numbers of review copies and galleys. Some of these things might seem pretty obvious, but . . .
#1: NO MUSIC!
I can’t stress this one enough. Please don’t have any music set to play on your blog. While I read plenty of blogs at home, I’m also doing quite a bit of blog reading here in my office, and music suddenly blaring from my computer is annoying to everyone. This is the #1 thing for me that makes a blog seem unprofessional.
#2: Keep it simple.
I know that design skills vary, and so do personal tastes. But when in doubt, keep your blog’s design simple. I’m visiting your blog to read your writing, not to see a million buttons or flashing graphics.
#3: Let us know when you review.
If I sent you the book, please please send me a link to your review. If I didn’t send you the book but we’ve emailed before and you review a Harper Perennial book, send me the link. Or tweet it at me. There’s no way I could retweet or post all reviews on facebook, but I try to make sure I do it for most bloggers at least once every so often, and I send ALL the good reviews on to the editor and author.
#4: Don’t just tell me to send you stuff.
This one might be a little less obvious. I’m always very happy to add a blogger to our email list. But please don’t email me and say “I like literary fiction. Send me some books!” (I’m paraphrasing, but I’ve gotten emails not far off from that.) I wish that I had time to read every single blogger’s blog cover to cover, so to speak, and recommend things immediately, but I don’t. Our entire marketing team is two people (yes, that’s two people marketing more than 150 books a year), and it’s just not going to happen. The best way that I get to know blogs and bloggers is by what you request and what you review. If you’ve taken the time to do some research and figure out what we publish that you might like, I’m much more likely to go read your blog and figure out what else you might like. Saying “I’ll review whatever you want me to review!” (and that is an exact quote) only shows me that you don’t have a vision for your blog.
#5: Don’t ask for 100 books in the first email.
This is the opposite of #4 in some ways, but nothing bothers me more than someone who sends me an email with a long list of books (like we’re talking 10 or more books), some of which are Harper Perennial and many of which come from other Harper imprints, asking for all of them. One or two, sure. Even five? Sure. But if you’re asking for more than that, it’s suspicious—especially if I then never see any links from you, or you “review” each book with one sentence on your blog. And while we’re at it, if we’ve got a relationship established, and you see an Ecco book and you email me to ask if I can get it for you, or put you in touch with the marketing person for Ecco? That’s great. If we’ve never worked together before, but you only have my email, and so you acknowledge that some of the books aren’t Harper Perennial but you need some help finding the right person? Fine. But if you’re a book blogger, and you want to be treated like a professional, it makes sense to put some effort into learning about publishers’ different imprints. Does it matter to the average person? Maybe not—but I’m not sending the average person review copies.
I don’t want this entry to seem super negative. The vast majority of the book bloggers I deal with are amazing and have made my job amazing. But there are some bad apples out there, as well as people who just don’t know better, and I think a lot of people are afraid to turn people down or point these things out for fear that someone will take to twitter and complain.
- September 13, 2011
It’s not the official Book Blogger Appreciation Week topic today, but it is the Top Ten Tuesday topic: books I read because of other bloggers. Here are some books I might not have read this year if it were not for other bloggers. After all, it’s my job to push books on all of you, but these people did it for nothing more than the love of books! Links go to their original reviews/features:
A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
recommended by: Jen at Devourer of Books and Ron at Beatrice.com.
why I read it: I was already intrigued, but hearing praise from Jen and Ron convinced me to read the book even though I hated the cover.
Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
recommended by: Jen at Devourer of Books
why I read it: Girls was originally recommended to me at BEA by my friend and Harper Perennial editor extraordinaire Maya, whose word is enough to convince me to get on a book signing line for a book I had never heard of. But it was Jen’s review that convinced me to pick it up off my shelf and actually read it.
You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
recommended by: many bloggers, but one that sticks out is Alison of Alison’s Bookmarks
why I read it: Her review starts with “Every American should read this book,” and goes from there.
Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
recommended by: Rebecca at the Book Lady’s Blog
why I read it: While I often rely on recommendations for fiction, it’s nonfiction where I find they’re extra crucial for me, since sometimes I can be lured into a not-so-excellently-written book by a good topic. I’m also very tempted here to make a joke about Rebecca knowing all about sin, but I’ll somehow resist!
What books have I recommended that you’ve enjoyed?
- September 12, 2011
Welcome to Book Blogger Appreciation Week! For anyone who doesn’t know, BBAW is a week to celebrate book bloggers and all that they do. (There’s also an awards portion, and we’re up for Best Publishing Industry Blog! Click on that link and scroll down to the bottom for voting instructions.)
Today’s theme is community, and bloggers are supposed to highlight other bloggers who’ve made blogging unique and fun for them. Since we work with so many bloggers, all of whom are wonderful in their own ways, I’m just going to mention a few people I appreciate for reasons OTHER than their awesome book blogs.
Lori at TNBBC: Lori does not live in New York City, and yet I’ve probably hung out with her more than almost any other blogger. That’s because she will hop in her car and schlep herself here if the situation warrants it—like a Blake Butler event, or the Brooklyn Book Festival, or of course BEA. Sometimes I don’t even make it to events at BookCourt, and it’s a 10-minute walk from my house. I am always in awe of her dedication, and happy for it because it means we get to hang out!
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket: Nicole excels at a very difficult task: wrangling our real-life book club! Really, we wouldn’t even have a book club if Nicole hadn’t decided to organize an NYC blogger meet-up a few months ago.
Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelves, Jen at Devourer of Books, Dawn at Too Fond of Books: Ladies who lunch . . . at Chipotle. They’re always ready to enable my addiction.
Michelle at my books, my life and Michelle at Galleysmith: So You Think You Can Dance is one of my favorite shows, and they’re some of my favorite people who talk about it on twitter.
I could go on and on. But what this list shows is that aside from being very insightful about books, book bloggers are a great group of people!
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