Sharon Goodwin of Jera’s Jamboree, shares some of her thoughts on book blogging

531961_399792066754144_972518444_nI met Sharon on Twitter, having been introduced online by a mutual friend, the lovely Mel Sherratt.  We have three things in common (although this may turn into the Spanish inquisition if we’re not careful), our name, a certain town in Dorset, and our love of books. Oh yes, and Mel of course, so that’s four (I told you it would turn into the Spanish Inquisition).  So, there was no way we weren’t going to hit it off!  Sharon is super-busy at the moment – not only does she run Jera’s Jamboree but she also runs a book tour service, Fiction Addiction, and also holds down a day job, so I was thrilled that she took some time out to talk to me about her blogging habits.  Here’s what she had to say:

Name your top 5 peeves from author review requests.

SORRY SHARON, CAN ONLY THINK OF THREE!

Top of the list has to be authors using the contact form on my blog to request a review, despite my Review Policy page saying I am not accepting reviews unless I already have a blogging relationship with you.  This either tells me that my Review Policy isn’t being read, or that it’s being ignored.  Don’t get me wrong, authors are more than welcome to either guest, be interviewed or use my blog for promotional material (which I make clear on the Review Policy). I am more than happy to promote indie as well as published authors.  At the last count in February I had 49 paperbacks and 59 on my Kindle on my tbr (some are bought!) and with the best will in the world …

Linked to that, I always respond to requests via the contact form politely saying unable to review but welcome to guest etc … and a lot of the time I receive no reply at all.  These authors are not doing themselves any favours for future writing projects.  This is NOT the way to build professional networking relationships based on give and take, mutual sharing.

Another peeve is when an author follows me on Twitter and they immediately tweet me requesting a review.  They haven’t taken the time to interact or get to know me at all.  Again, it’s all to do with courtesy.  You wouldn’t go up to someone, say in a coffee shop, and ask them to review your book.  Just because we’re sharing the same ‘space’ or in the same network, it doesn’t mean that basic manners have no value. Yes I say in my profile that I’m an avid reader … it also says my family and pets are important to me and I love my job in education J

The same genre can encompass many different types of story – for example, fantasy ranges from Terry Pratchett to Twilight and everything in between. How hard is it to remain objective in your review if a feature of a book doesn’t float your boat? Say you get a fantasy about unicorns and unicorns are just not your bag, how does that influence your opinion?  

All reviews are subjective.  Anyone who says they have written an objective review is not telling the truth.  We bring our own life experiences to reading and relate to characters and plot (no matter the genre or if they are mythical creatures) through that coloured lens.  It’s interesting to read reviews of the same book because they are personal.  If I don’t connect with a story I will spend time thinking about why and even if I can’t quite put my finger on it, I will say in my review that I found it difficult and link to other positive reviews so that readers of my review have a balance.  For example my review of Seducing Ingrid Bergman.

What are your feelings on the growing army of indie authors? How does the quality of their work hold up against traditionally published? Do you accept reviews from both and what would it take to change your mind on your current policy?

One of my favourite authors is local indie Shalini Boland.  I think as readers, if we don’t read indie then we are missing out on the richness and variety that is available to us.  The changes in publishing have meant some published authors have gone indie.  There are other authors who are not prepared to wait it out to go the traditional publishing route who self publish.  All of my experiences with indie have been positive.  I have to admit that I was really surprised to see on an Amazon US forum that indie authors were taking a bashing!  The books I’ve read have been edited well, formatted, have strong plots, great main and satellite characters. Styles of writing have engaged my imagination and I’ve wanted to read more by the same author.  I’m looking forward to taking part in Say It With Books Indie-Self Published Author Event in June!  I’m hosting a guest post and an interview (I would also have reviewed if my tbr wasn’t so huge).

Describe your reviewing schedule. How many hours do you put in a week/ day? How does this impact on other aspects of your life?

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had a book on the go (well before my blogging days).  I read between 1-2 hours a day when it’s term time and longer in the holidays.  I make notes while reading of either basic info, info I know I will include in my review, a sentence that I particularly like because it has had an effect on me and my personal thoughts.  This makes reading a book longer but it means my review is exactly how I want it to be. It takes me a minimum of 2 hours to write a review. I review at least one book at week, sometimes two and if I’m catching up in the holidays then three or four!  I’ve read for so long though that it has very little impact on my life now as it’s such an integral part of it.

What started you book blogging? What makes you continue to do it?

I started book blogging to share a love of words.  I think the main thing that makes me continue (apart from my addiction to the worlds I can explore without leaving my chair) is the fabulous book blogging community that I’m a part of.  I’ve met a couple of blogging friends in real time which has been amazing.  From a shared love of reading, bonds of friendships are formed.  It’s a sense of belonging and the support nearly everyone gives each other.  You just can’t beat it!

You can follow Sharon on Twitter or check out Jera’s Jamboree for all the latest book news, info and reviews.  You can also like Jera’s Jamboree on Facebook.  Tomorrow will be the turn of lovely Liz from Liz Loves Books to share her thoughts.

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29 thoughts on “Sharon Goodwin of Jera’s Jamboree, shares some of her thoughts on book blogging

  1. You’ve just got to love those, ‘thanks for following, now buy my book, follow my blog, and join me on Facebook, direct messages! They drive me crazy!

    • Doesn’t everyone hate those direct messages? Most of them are automated too, which is even more annoying. I agree with Jera – building up relationships is key. Isn’t that what Twitter and Facebook are meant to be all about?

      • Ha ha, don’t worry Clare, it was early! Yes, you’re right, people forget the social part of social media. If we just wanted ads we could watch TV. 🙂

      • Oh yes most definitely Clare. Social media is an excellent tool for having a network that is supportive and watching out for you. I have to say that in one of the FB book tour events I set up, an author posted their own book! Unbelievable. And not remorseful at all. I am very fortunate in the network that I have 🙂

        You’re one of the authors taking part in the Say It With Books event 🙂 Look forward to hosting your interview on 21st June! Shaz

    • @Glynis: If they think anyone likes them then they are mistaken. If I get too many from one author I would end up unfollowing & deciding to NOT read said book. Great result, authors 😉
      @Sharon G: Yes, reading is an integral part & I think reviewing is worth it. I hope it’ll be a life long thing even if I won’t manage to do it as much in my near future (by this, I mean, a year or so?)
      @Sharon S: How much do we have in common? Not the name at all 😉 Do you like cats? I must ask.

    • No-one minds PR if it’s done in the correct way Glynis. When I’m followed on Twitter, I always hit the tweets button to see what they’ve been tweeting. If every or every other one is a promo about themselves I know now to stay far away…

  2. To both Sharons: this post offers such a great insight into the hard work that goes into book blogging. I know there’s a whole community of authors out there who are grateful for your time and passion. Thank you, from one of those grateful authors. x

    • Ah Hannah, you are such a lovely person (notice I didn’t label you there haha). You could give lessons on author/blogger relationships 🙂 I’m honoured to read your worlds. Shaz x

  3. Thank you for your comments! I was honest otherwise there was no point in me answering Sharon’s questions.

    Sharon, thank you for inviting me to be a part of your feature.
    Shaz

  4. Shaz ~ it is SO wonderful to see you here in the spotlight! Thank you for appearing here today and for your great answers to some very thoughtful questions. I love the way you describe your approach to reviewing and thank you for setting the record straight on the objective/subjective debate! You are a fantastic blogger, an ace reviewer and a wonderful friend. Hope you had a great time being the star of the show and…rock on! XXX

  5. Great interview, Sharon and Shaz. It makes me a little bit angry that you’ve encountered such rudeness from authors. Common courtesy, people!! It’s these indies who give the majority a bad name. I’ve seen the indie-bashing on Amazon and unfortunately it’s due to a few spammers who have no idea how to interact with people. Consequently, if I ever visit the forums, I will now never ever mention my own book or even that I’m an author for fear of death by a thousand paper cuts.
    PS. thanks for the mention, Shaz. I heart you too ❤ xxx

    • Thank you for your great comment. It’s true that there is a naughty minority of indies but thank goodness it is a minority. I would want to avoid death by paper cut too!

  6. Great post ladies.
    I’m a big fan of Shaz’s and guested on her blog recently.
    And now I’ve found another fab blog to follow, from a local lass no less (I live in Poole).
    Keep up the good work!
    Nikki 🙂

    • Yes, I do live up north now, nikki but my family are still in Bournemouth so I feel as though I have two homes! It’s lovely of you to visit the blog and thank you for your kind comments 🙂

  7. Nicky – you’re another author who treats bloggers as the people we are 🙂 I consider you to be a true friend.

    Thank you for your comments.

    I think the majority of us write HONEST reviews but they’re definitely subjective!

    I’m honoured to be here with Sharon and yes, enjoying being the star for today 🙂 x

  8. Can I just say…….I love Shaz. She has been so supportive to me when I began blogging and I am proudly a host for Fiction Addiction. I have to agree that reviewing and blogging take up a considerable amount of time and I’m not sure many people realise just how much. That combined with a day job and family means a lot of time! So, I do get slightly annoyed when I have authors being rude. Although I have to say I have had mostly good experiences and have made many wonderful friends. The book blogging community is generally a very supportive one and I love being a part of it all.

    • Thanks for stopping by and your comment. I’m just beginning to understand how much time you guys put in and I’m truly grateful to you all. So if you ever catch me bring rude, even by accident, you have permission to slap me! 😉

  9. I love that no one can give an objective review. Love, love, love that! Reading is so subjective and we all like and dislike different things. It’s great to hear a book blogger be honest in this way. A great interview.

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