Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why join a blog alliance? A reader’s perspective

by Narelle Atkins and Jenny Blake (aka Ausjenny)

Jenny and I recently set up the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA). During our many conversations, I asked Jenny to share what a reader would gain from belonging to a blog alliance. I understand authors need to build a marketing platform and blog tours are one way authors can interact with readers and promote their books online. But, what exactly are the benefits for readers who join a blog alliance?

Jenny: There are a few benefits for readers, one being free books to read. With so many new books coming out and the cost of books, receiving one or two free books a month to read and review is a real blessing. Readers also get to know new authors. Readers who join blog alliances and are faithful in posting reviews will sometimes find authors contact them to promote their books which leads to more free books to review. Also, being in an alliance can bring new readers to your blog and open new opportunities. One other benefit is the html is provided for the post so the only additional information to add is a book review if you request the book.

Narelle: What inspired you to start blogging?

Jenny: I actually fell into blogging. I joined Shelfari, a site where you can keep a record of books read, leave reviews and connect with other book lovers. On this site I met Rel from Relz Reviewz who also has a book blog for Christian fiction. Through her I came in contact with Camy Tang (Author) and her blog. I became a regular follower and Camy had a meme (a few questions to answer) on her blog and challenged others to post on their blog. I had to join Blogger to post on the blogs and decided I could have a blog to post reviews. Camy's challenge was my first real post. I then started posting reviews. This was December, 4 and a half years ago. When I posted my first author interview with Mary Connealy I was so excited. My blog has developed since then to include an author interview most weeks.

Narelle: What information do you include in a book review?

Jenny: In a review I tend to use information from the book blurb, my impressions of the book but I do not give information that happens after the first couple of chapters. Authors often have hidden gems in books. For example one book I read the hero had a brother with health issues that were more an issue to the hero. The hero is trying to contact him and he is not answering. The brother then turns up where the hero is which leads to a few other interesting turns of events. In this situation the Author hasn't mentioned the brother in the blurb or the first few chapters as it's a surprise for readers. I would not mention this at all in a review no matter how much it impacts the book. I also like to say what issue the book deals with. For example if the book is dealing with trust issues or forgiveness I will mention this. You do not have to say why. If the book impacted you you can mention this without giving the story away.

Narelle: What do you do if you request a review copy and don’t like the book?

Jenny: I have had this happen to me. Most recently it was because of the language in the book which was fine for America but in Australia it was swearing. I wrote to the co-ordinator of the blog alliance and explained that I just could not read any more of the book because of the language. I still posted the html but because of the language I put a note that the book may offend some Australians. In other cases I have requested a book only to find when I started reading the book I found I just couldn't connect or didn't like the book so I didn't finish it but again I let the co-ordinator know I just couldn't get into the book. I have learnt what genres I like now and can normally tell by the blurb but in some cases the blurb can be misleading and not give an accurate description of a book.

Also, if you don't like a book and would give it under a 3 star rating, you may want to email the co-ordinator and let them know explaining why you didn't like the book and ask if they still want you to review it. Not everyone will like all books. Personally if I don't like a book after a few chapters I do not keep reading. Even if a book is only a 3 star you can still review the book and mention the positives and mention why you didn't like the book. If I can't give a book 3 stars I will not put up a review.

Narelle: Do you have any advice for readers who are thinking about blogging and reviewing books?

Jenny: My advice is just do it. Blogger is so easy to use and if you are new at reviewing just put down your thoughts for the book without giving away secrets or the plot. You will find your way with practice and people will get to know you and your voice. Decide what you want your blog to be about and how often you want to blog. Some people will set up a schedule where as others will post when they have a review to put up. Try to post at least twice a week at regular intervals.

acrba

If you're interesting in joining the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance, please visit the ACRBA blog. International members are welcome. http://acrba.blogspot.com

JENNY BLAKE (aka AUSJENNY on most blogs and forums) is an avid reader from Australia. She started a library at church with most of the fiction books being donated by her. When not reading she enjoys watching cricket, in fact you could call her a cricket fanatic, scrapbooking and cross stitch. She volunteers at the local Christian bookshop where she can recommend fiction to customers. She has a book blog where she reviews books and interviews authors. Her goal is to help promote new books and encourage authors.

NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She has published Bible Studies on Smashwords and blogs regularly at http://30MinuteBibleStudies.wordpress.com

To learn more about Narelle, please visit her website.

18 comments:

  1. Hey, Jenny! So good to see you here!
    I had never heard of a readers alliance before. Thanks for enlightening me Narelle & Jenny :)

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  2. Looking forward to this. And Jenny glad you shared your experiences of what you do when you don't like a book you asked for. I have had that recently. One I could find some postives and mentioned them but also my reservations. The other I could find nothing positive and wrote to the publisher asking did they still want me to review it.They were very gracious is saying they wouldn't force the issue and I will still get books from them.Language seems to be a recurring problem these days in many books outside the realm of Christian fiction, which is a sad comment on our society.

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  3. thanks for having me Narelle, Eva its similar to other alliances but focus's on reading the books and then a review. We do have authors in the alliance and they are more than welcome.
    Dale I agree about language I find some christian fiction also uses it not a lot but I do cringe and often it will make me not want to read that author again. the good thing about blogs alliances is you do not have to request every book. Most recently I have had to write to say I haven't read a book due to ill health and the recent death of my mother. I am so tired I just cant read much and they understand. I still post the html but the co-ordinator can let the publisher know why there isn't a review yet.

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  4. Great Interview. It's nice to know more about you Jenny. Praying for you as you mourn the loss of your mother. I'm excited and looking forward to being part of the Alliance.

    You are a Blessing

    Nora St.Laurent
    TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

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  5. Thanks Nora and sorry for your loss also I heard today and feel for you and your husband.

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  6. Great interview, ladies. Excited to see more from both of you with this Alliance!

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    1. Thanks Lisa, we are excited about this venture there have been some issues healthwise etc but its on track and will be a wonderful way to promote books from all over.

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  7. Jenny, thanks for visiting with us and providing helpful answers :) Eva, Dale, Nora and Lisa, thanks for your enthusiasm and encouraging comments. We're very excited that the first blog alliance book tour starts in less than two months!

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  8. Hi Jenny,
    Thanks for sharing today. Let me assure you that not all Americans are so offensive. I've spent years explaining to my kids how so many words are offensive even though their friends used these words often. I remember one time I picked my youngest and a friend up from school. The other boy said a word I find offensive. My son grabbed me by the arm. I glanced at him. His eyes begged me not to give him "the speech." It still makes me smile even though it was over 10 years ago.

    It sounds like you handle the situation appropriately.

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    1. Thanks Jackie this book was a war book and it was a slang word English use but has always been considered bad her. I know its used a lot by older men etc but for me I couldn't read it. It is one of the few books I have read (christian) that I have had an issue with.

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  9. Great post, ladies, and I enjoy interacting with the bloggers from "Down Under" and reading your reviews and interviews. Many blessings!

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    1. Thanks Carrie it will be exciting and we have some good books lined up.

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  10. Thanks ladies. I am excited about being part of this alliance, and looking forward to my blog tour in November. My publicist at Baker Publishing was thrilled to hear that my book would get this exposure - and I'll have a couple of free books to give away on the tour. Also looking forward to getting Mary's new book for review next month.

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    1. thanks Shirley its great having you onboard. Cool about the give away to.

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  11. Welcome, Jenny! Thanks for all you do for Christian books. I'm honored and blessed that you reviewed Rainbow's End and interviewed me. Hope we'll talk again! :)

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    1. Thanks Valerie, I love good Christian books and love to help promote authors and a blog alliance is good for this. We need more international reviewers as we hope to grow to maybe more tours at some stage next year.

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  12. I'd just like to comment on the "offensive language" thread. It can be that what is fine in the one country's version of English is not fine in another's. When I was a new writer, I wrote a devotion for The Upper Room. I wasn't happy about a description, so sent it in to a large on-line writers' group I belonged to for advice. The group was horrified by my language! Not in the description, but the sentence before. I had made a comment that in South Africa explained a harmless and common action. In American English, this meant something totally different and sexual. If a couple of the group members had not written to me and explained, I would probably never have had another devotion accepted by The Upper Room!

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  13. thanks for sharing..

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