I know, it's been far too long since I've been here - my bad. We have a bunch of great people who are still to come in the HELP sub-blog, and today's guest is nothing short of amazing. Misty Rayburn, the queen blogger of The Top Shelf, is here to talk about blogging, her experience in the lit world, and advice for writers looking to get reviewed and succeed. Enjoy!
1. Aside from the generic 'follow the rules', is there anything you would like to suggest to the writers out there on how to up their chances of getting reviewed vs going straight to the bottom of the pile?
What rules? I've heard there's some list of rules out there somewhere but I've never actually read them! Only rule I really ask authors to follow is be patient with me. Things got really big really fast for The Top Shelf and I'm only one person! There is no certain thing with me that would cause me to throw a book to the bottom of a pile. I want to read every book I agree to. Although I do give priority to book tours. I think it's a great way to drive users to a site while at the same time sending readers to your books.
2. What does it take to review a book above and beyond the basic step of reading?
A lot of things and I didn't really realize it until I started reviewing. While I'm reading, I think about all sorts of things such as flow of plot, are there any really huge holes that make me raise an eyebrow? How fast I'm reading. Does it really suck me in? Is it making me behave in a certain way because I don't want to put it down? An example of that would be reading at the dinner table.
3. Why do you review books? What do you get out of it?
I had just gotten out of physical therapy for my back when I got my Nook. I was still a little sore and feeling a bit helpless as most people do who have been in pain for a long time. I realized that people were really paying attention to my book recommendations and so I decided to start reviewing to help out authors. What I get out of it is the satisfaction that comes with knowing you're making a difference.
4. What is your take on paid reviews?
I as a reader take them with a grain of salt. I think it's kinda silly to pay someone to review your book when there are tons of bloggers out there that will do the exact same thing with the same quality for free. Perhaps even some bloggers that are more in touch with the everyday reader than a paid reviewer would be.
5. Have you ever been threatened by an author because of a bad review?
I haven't yet written a review that was less than 4 stars. I don't know if I've just been lucky or if it's because I only request things that I know I'd like to read. My readers are like you always review really awesome stuff and I was like I know! Maybe I'm some sort of book psychic or I have some sort of really awesome reading radar or something.
6. What pitfalls are writers running into now-a-days that you see entirely way too often in a story?
We've been seeing a lot of vampires and werewolves lately haven't we? Now zombies are making a comeback and that I'm really excited about. I think one big pitfall is the sense that you always have to have a happily ever after to a story. Books tend to stick with me longer if they have something out of the norm like talking statues or the author does something you don't see everyday like killing off the main character.
7. With the advent of ebooks, has your job become any easier?
I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for e-books. What really is interesting is when I get paper books for book tours where the books are available in e-book or if I get a book for review in paper that's available in e-book.
8. When is your busiest time of the year for review submissions?
There's no certain time a year where I have a slow down period. I get anywhere between 1 book and 4 books a day in my mailbox and it hasn't changed yet. I told you things got really big, really fast!
9. How do you like to review - in a chair sitting up, bed lying comfortable, or other?
In a box, with a fox... No wait that's green eggs and ham. Most of the time when I'm reviewing I'm sitting here right in front of my laptop. Although I've been told I have the complexion of a vampire from being indoors so much so I've been trying to go outside more.
10. If you could give authors out there any piece of advice about the publishing industry and reviewing world, what would it be?
No guts, no glory! Underline it, engrave it into your brain and make it your mantra. It's the whole foundation for myself as a reviewer and my blog. I didn't think the big six would give a little reviewer like me the time of day with a blog that's only been open a year and six months. I tried anyway and I've got some really great reads on tap for review such as The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King.
11. Due to the declining newspaper sales and print-reviews, how has that impacted you?
It hasn't! I was a blogger born from this whole e-book revolution. It's a really great time to be a blogger.
See, I told you it was good! How can you go wrong with a Dr. Seuss reference? Many thanks to Misty for taking the time to answer some questions with some candid answers. I hope that you got some great input out of this post. Please be sure to let her know by commenting below, Sam I am.
Misty Rayburn is a graduate from Capital University with a BA in English Literature. She was a live event photographer, covering a lot of Columbus’ local scene but a back injury kept her out of the scene for two years. While recovering, she created The Top Shelf. Misty doesn’t have a TBR list, she has a mountain! Come visit us!