Sunday, September 22, 2013

Getting to Know...Book Blogger, Ionia Martin

Ionia Martin, book blogger
Anyone who regularly reads my blog posts knows I have nothing but the utmost respect for book bloggers and the support they've shown the Indie author community.  They provide book reviews, host contests, conduct author interviews and much more.  Many of them don't derive any income from their book blogging endeavors—they do it for the love of books.

Without a doubt, one of the most prolific book bloggers on the scene is Ionia Martin, whose popular blog, Readful Things (http://readfulthingsblog.com/) offers reviews (lots of them), helpful posts on marketing, author interviews and whole lot of other fun stuff.
I've been following Ionia's blog for the past year and she was gracious enough to read and review both "Sweet Little Lies" and "Live and Let Die" (I was thrilled that she liked both).  I was also curious to get, among other things, some inside scoop from her about the review process from a reader's perspective, some pitfalls Indie authors should avoid when asking book bloggers for a review and how we can stand out from the increasingly crowded pack.  As I expected, she had thoughtful and insightful advice.

Without further adieu, I give you, Ionia Martin.
1. How did you get into book blogging?

I would like to say something profound here, but I haven’t anything…It was an accident? Yes, I believe that describes it adequately. I have always been a book lover and a writer, so I think writing reviews for the books I read on Amazon and Goodreads led to an interest in having more control over formatting and content. Blogging opened several avenues I hadn’t enjoyed before, such as the ability to converse with other bloggers about what we enjoyed and didn’t about the books we read.

2. I love the title of your blog, "Readful Things."  How did you decide to use that name?
I did what all people in the book industry do. I stole it from Stephen King. Well, not really. Borrowed it without his immediate knowledge and adapted it from Needful Things. I didn’t want another blog out there called “So-and-so’s book blog.”
3. You're an extremely prolific reviewer.  Do you sleep?

I love that you asked me this question. Yes, I sleep. Holding a book. Honestly, I am not as busy as it might seem. Many of the books I read are pre-release titles.  Although it might look like I read ten books that week, chances are good that I read those books many months before and they all just sort of inadvertently grouped together on the blog because they were set for release that week. Also, I rarely watch the telly, so reading is my evening pleasure.

4. When an author pitches you their book, what are some of your deciding factors in whether or not you will read and review?
There are some things that are mandatory. Spell my name right and never begin with “Dear Reviewer.” I will answer to a lot of strange things, that is not one of them. Mainly, I look for people that are willing to put the work into their book to promote it, edit it and really believe in what they have to offer. If it is poorly written and badly edited, I see that as a waste of my time and theirs and certainly that of my followers. I do not put books on my blog that I didn’t like. My followers are friends and I want them to have faith that if I recommend it, then it is worth reading. I take length and relevance into consideration as well. If I know nothing about the subject, I will leave it for someone who does.

5. What are some pet peeves or do's and don't's an author should keep in mind when pitching a book blogger?
See answer four…lol. Seriously, if you approach the blogger/reviewer honestly and with the important information about your book, you have a good shot of getting a review. Bloggers tend to get overwhelmed with requests, so patience is a virtue. If you hear back from them saying they cannot take your book, it is often for that reason.
Nevers: Never get demanding with the reviewer. Never approach a reviewer that you don’t know when their blog is closed to requests trying to give them reasons why you should be an exception. That is seriously annoying. Biggest one: Never approach a blogger that clearly states they do NOT take your genre with a pitch for your book.

Do’s: Learn the difference between confidence and sounding like a pompous arse.

Do: Include your word count, publishing credits, genre, brief pitch and give them options for what format they would like the review copy in.
6.What are your favorite genres to read?  Any genres you don't care for?

I love romance. Always have been a romance fan. Second to that is fantasy. The only genre so far that I have been unimpressed with is the New Adult genre. Still fledgling, perhaps it will improve over time.

7. Favorite author and book of all time?  Or is that like asking who your favorite child is?
You are so funny, Bianca. You think I can pick one? I can. Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson. So far, no one can take her place, but Oscar Wilde has kissed her heels.
8. Jeanette Winterson is an amazing wordsmith.  I count Written on the Body as a favorite read. 

Your reviews are always so thoughtful and thorough. How do you approach writing reviews? In other words, what's the secret to writing a good review?

I don’t think there’s a formula. I have built my review blog on two principals. 1. Be honest. If you love it, say why. Don’t worry about making it sound professional or like it came from a big review organisation. If the cat was your favourite thing—say so. 2. When doing a negative review, don’t rip the author. It is the book you had an issue with. State what you did like, if there is anything and give supporting reasons also for why you didn’t like it. Just because you didn’t enjoy it is not an excuse to lose all manners.

9. What are your thoughts on the future of publishing?
Actually, I am excited. There are so many more ways to get books into the hands of people of all ages now than there were before. I don’t think that traditional paper books will ever really be a thing of the past, but just in case, I’m hoarding them. As with everything else, I expect a lot of change and much to remain the same.

10. I thought I was the only one hoarding print books.  Glad to know I'm not alone!
It's ironic that even though it's easier than ever before to become published, the competition has never been stiffer.  From the perspective of a reader, what tips can you give to fledgling indies about how to stand out from the crowd?    

Another awesome question. Do what you have to in order to stand out. Bianca—the covers for your books make me want to read them. This is #1 to me on my list of important advice for new authors. THE COVER IS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION. Pay attention to the first part of that word. IMPRESSion. If a buyer looks at the cover and thinks…amateur, what chance do you have against the big six? ZERO.

Secondly, write a blurb that kills it. Start it out with a one-liner that grabs the attention of the prospective buyer. If you were selling your home, would you clean it first? The light shed upon the contents of your book is all shining from one central location—the blurb. Write a good one, not too long, not too short. Hook that fish and don’t let it get away.  
Thank you, so very much Bianca, for allowing me to do this. It has been different and wonderful being on this side of the questions.

You are quite welcome, Ionia and what a delightful interview—of course!  Thank YOU for taking time out of your schedule to indulge my questions.  I shall let you get back to reading! :-)

 

12 comments:

  1. I 2nd that, Greenembers. I don't read many interviews, but this one was well done.

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  2. It was a pleasure to get to know you better Ionia.

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  3. This was a great interview, Bianca. It is always good to see the interviewer become the interviewee. Some interesting questions and some very erudite responses. A great way to learn more about the review process by one of the best, nay, the best, I say.

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  4. Glad everyone has enjoyed the interview! I really loved learning more about Ionia and picking her brain (so to speak) :)

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  5. Fantastic interview Bianca. I really enjoyed reading it.

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  6. Wonderful interview - great job Bianca and Ionia!

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  7. Thanks for all the awesome comments on the interview - we had a blast! :)

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  8. Ladies,

    I'll echo the sentiments of those above. I happened upon this blog as a result of reading - and being most impressed with - Bianca's two posts about book marketing on Riley's Blog. Now, it seems I have two new lights to follow, instead of one...:)
    Oh, and like Bianca's, this one is gonna be blogged, digged, pinned, faced, pinned, tumbled and stumbled...

    Thomas Rydder
    http://thomasrydder.wordpress.com/

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  9. Thomas,
    Thanks so much for stopping by and glad I'm making a good impression! :D

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