Book blogger - Clare Diston from

2 March 2014 / Leave a Comment

How did you become a book blogger?
I became a blogger just after I started a new job in 2012. Part of my job was connecting with bloggers, so I spent a lot of time researching and reading other people's blogs, and I thought, 'I could do this, it looks like fun!'. At the time I was also attempting to read 50 books in a year (I'd failed miserably for a few years previously), so I thought I could combine the two - hence my blog's name, 50ayear. It just seemed natural that I would write about books - reading is just about the only thing that I do constantly all year round, without too much effort because I enjoy it so much - so I knew I'd always have something to write about. Plus, any excuse to connect with more book-lovers.

How do you decide which books you would like to review?
To start with, I have a HUGE collection of books that I've bought over the past few years: I probably own about 1000 books now (!), of which I've read about four hundred. As soon as I finish one I go and sit in front of my bookcase for a few minutes, fondling covers and reading blurbs until one jumps out at me. I also find books online - occasionally I see a publisher advertising a new book and, if I really like the look of it, I'll ask for a copy (that's one of the best perks of being a book blogger!). I also connect with writers through Goodreads and if I think a book looks really interesting I'll try to organise a collaboration with them.

There are lots of different factors that will push a book to the top of my pile: sometimes I want to read a book before the movie comes out, sometimes it's a glowing recommendation from a friend, and sometimes I want to work with the writer on a blog post (such as an interview) so their book will take priority. But generally I don't know which book I'm going to read next. I like it to be a spur-of-the-moment decision every time!

What are your best tips for authors trying to pitch their book to reviewers/book bloggers?
I would say, know a bit about the blogger. If you've written an amazing sci-fi epic it's no good pitching it to someone who's doing a year of reading only the classics. Just take a few minutes to look through the blog and see if you think your work would be a good fit there. On my blog, I tend to read a mix of genres - fantasy, sci-fi, classics and modern literary fiction - but I steer clear of murder mysteries and romance. Know the blogger and, when you contact them, let them know that you've looked at their blog - that would be my advice.

What advice would you give to others about the art of writing a review?
My reviewing style has changed a lot since I've been blogging, and I still don't have any structure set in stone, but I usually try to find some interesting 'hook' to start with - often it's the story behind where I got the book, or a particularly weird part of the plot. Try not to be too dry (I often find myself slipping back into university essay-style writing; it has its place but it's not for entertaining people on the internet!), and pick out two or three elements of the book which you found really well done or unexpected. I end my reviews with a really good quote from the book that I think sums up the story. Basically, if you feel bored writing it, chances are your readers will be bored reading it - so simply try to keep it interesting!

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