Armchair BEA Day 2 – What do Readers want?

I’ve been to several Author Events, in various different locations, in differing styles and different levels of “fame”. There has been only one author event that is definitely marked under the “downright awful” title.  I won’t mention the author, or where I met him, but all he did was read extracts from his book(s) in a low monotone voice and barely looking up from the page. Considering he was supposed to be a teacher, he was certainly lacking in the engagement department and he soon lost his audience, the majority of whom disappeared in search of alcohol, never to return.  I have no idea whether he twigged what had happened.

letters book readWhat do I think makes an event successful? That the author is engaging, articulate, willing to look the audience in the eye (we’re there to buy the book in the end, right?). I’ve had a warning that one relatively famous author was known to be a little “difficult”, but on the day was lovely, took questions, gave promotional info on her new book, and then signed everyone’s book (even chatting with the starry eyed fan who Wouldn’t Let It Go) etc. If that was “Difficult” then sign me up!

I’ve noticed that I can get tongue-tied with various authors, and it must be hard for them in return to make some kind of connection. Terry Pratchett signed for me a couple of times, and remembered me once (because of my unusual name) and was relatively easy to talk to. Neil Gaiman is harder to talk to because I’m such a fan-girl. Henry Wrinkler? The loveliest man I have ever met, I was the last in the queue in what I knew had been a hard day for him, so I just shook his hand and wibbled.

Diversity at author events

Now in terms of diversity…well? Define “Diverse”!  When choosing my comic books, I try to consciously choose stories written or drawn by women, have a strong female lead, have a gay lead character, or ISNT written by Orson Scott Card.  Local book stores here are doing more diverse events, such as poetry, open mic, historical, book clubs and YA. One store in particular is able to get fairly large names into a local events venue. Next week I have a comp ticket to go see Arundhati Roy, who has written her first prose book in 20 years. But “diverse” in terms of non-WASP authors or topics? If the events are happening, then I don’t see them, but is that because I’m not looking? Or are they not happening because people are asking for them, and is that because the books aren’t being published because people aren’t asking, or aren’t buying? I honestly don’t know.

Getting more diversity in mainstream books.

Something I hear time and again is that Mainstream Publishers don’t like taking risks. They have an idea of what their market is (I would hope they have an idea of who buys their books!) and tend not to rock the boat. So those that have built a backlist of white authors writing about White Western stories will not take the risk on a non-white author writing non-white western stories, on the grounds that it won’t sell. Well it might not sell *for them* because they’ve built up a set of readers who will only read one style of book.Rhode Island Red cover

I hope that with the continued use of e-readers, and people self publishing, or smaller publishers producing back lists, then the bigger companies will see that people DO read outside of their traditional market. Due to places like Netgalley and Edelweiss, I’ve read books from all over the place, including Rhode Island Red by Charlotte Carter, whose main character is a black female saxophone playing busker who gets pulled into the rougher side of life on the streets….I would never have read this if I relied purely on Traditional Publishers for my reading habits

Armchair BEA 2017 Day 1: Introductions

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I usually attend Armchair BEA (Now called Armchair Book Expo), and I am usually a LOT more prepared than this!” It only really came up in my twitter feed the other day, and it turns out that I can’t get to the main site from here! Boo!  We shall see how we get on. Anyway, as usual, there’s the space for Introductions, so here’s my answers to some of the questions.

I am…Nordie, a crafter, reader, tweeter, comic book nerd etc.

Currently, I am not reading as much as I should, even with 3 books on the go.

My favorite genres are: Romance, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction,

My Least favourite Genre is: Christian Fiction. I end up feeling slapped around the head with a very unsubtle brick. I dont read non-Fiction or Poetry, not because I hate it, but because I simply don’t find it interesting.

My Social Media Links include: twitter (as @Brumnordie), Facebook (closed, Personal account), this blog, google+.

My summer plans . . . there’s a lot going on this summer In Real Life, so there is nothing planned for the summer. However, there is a bookish meet later in the year, that I am currently planning on atteding

My blog/channel/social media . . . chat with me on any of the following social media outlets

2017 Blogger Resolutions

It’s now becoming traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done by the end. Many of these are based on resolutions from previous years, which I have had mixed results in achieving.

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1100, excluding twitter followers
  • Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 12000)
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 1100)
  • Read and review 60 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks.
  • Post at least twice a week
  • Mamet use of sharing with Facebook groups as appropriate.
  • Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content.
  • Take part in twitter chats such as #Blogtacular #bookbloggers etc
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate.
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!
  • Continue doing more non-review posts, such as Sunday Salon posts, which I hope people find interesting – they certainly generate comments!
  • Look to do more non book related posts – get out into Birmingham more and write about stuff! This includes stuff at the museums etc.
  • do more posts about sewing, my cross stitch and quilting in particular. I’m not putting numbers on this.
  • Comment more on other people’s blogs – I’m not going to put a number on this as it’ll be a nightmare to track. Just “do more”.
  • Release more books via Bookcrossing. I still have half a crate left over from the closure of a couple of OBCZs and the bookcrossing UK meetup in Birmingham in September 2016
  • Reorganise my bookshelves (Haven’t been done in two years – about time they’re done!)

State of the Union 2016 address – Resolution updates.

It’s now becoming traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done at the end of the year. Following are the resolutions I set at the beginning of the year.  As you can tell, I didn’t do as well as I hoped! There was a lull in the second half of the year, which meant that I hardly read, never mind blogged, so that took a large dent in my stats.

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1100, excluding twitter followers [I still got new followers, taking me up to 773]
  • Double annual page hits to this blog (to 12000) [considering the drop off in the amount of content I was producing, page views remained steady, at a same as last year’s stats]
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 1100) [i went some way to this, in getting to 690]
  • Read and review 75 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks. [i did a much better ratio of paper to ebooks, but didn’t hit the 75 mark, coming in at under 60 books.]
  • Post every other day [as I mentioned above there was a period I didn’t blog for several weeks, so missed this goal]
  • Make better use of hashtags on twitter [the increase in followers on twitter is due in part putting out other content than my own, as well as making use of tags]
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.  [Yes, this was done, especially by About and Review Policies]
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate. [the death of my laptop late the year has meant that I haven’t used the spreadsheets that I used to use for tracking scheduling. However, what’s wrong with a simply diary?]
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!
  • Continue doing more non-review posts, such as Sunday Salon posts, which I hope people find interesting – they certainly generate comments!  [I did run out of subjects that I inspired to produce a post for, but I’ve found some more and will be posting some new content in the new year!]
  • Pay better attention to sites like Problogger and Hubspot for social media and blogging tips to see how I can achieve some of my goals [I did follow some additional sites in looking at producing content etc, but I don’t think I made best use of them. I certainly tried to comment more on other people’s blogs – not all of them about books, and attended several blogging events. I even managed to go to this year’s Bookcrossing event where I got some of my mojo back in terms of reading and releasing books – look out for more on this in the new year – I hope! ]

So, did you have any goals, and how did you do? Feel free to comment or link to your update post!

Sunday Salon – will you read everything on your TBR?

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I wrote a short post about this topic a few years ago, but I thought I’d re visit it. It’s the reader’s equivalent of “we need to talk about Kevin” with “we need to talk bookshelves.

my TBR bookshelfIf I’m honest – looking at my bookshelves I’ll probably not read every book on my TBR stack, but I’ll give it a darn good try!  This is what my bookshelves look like at the moment. They dont show the books that are stacked under the coffee table – thankfully I’ve got rid of the books hiding under the bed and in the cupboards! I’m trying to never get to that point again! However, even if I dont bring another book into the place, I’ve got enough books to last me several years (if not several decades!).Birmingham and Midlands Institute Library

By taking the reading challenge sword from over my head, I’ve been able to balance my reading between ebooks and paperbooks much better.  It has resulted in me reading some of the hardbacks that have been lurking around for a number of years, but many of which I will never be getting rid of (so I will still have a packed set of shelves!).

Once every few years, I do a mass re-order of my shelves. A few years ago they were changed from height order (easier to pack your shelves I think) and changed them to theme order (e.g. all the books by specific authors, or similar themes, such as “India”). During these re-oreders I check the book and ask myself if I’m realistically going to read it. If the answer is “no” then it leaves the house – either via bookcrossing or being given to a friend. I’m due another re-order if I’m honest, as the “theme” thing isnt really working out for me (though grouping books by the same author does, especially if they’re in some sort of series).

I’ve managed to slow down my intake of ebooks – finally! I’m still taking on perhaps one or two a month, but I’m also trying to go through my older books in order to get through them (and improve my dreadful Netgalley rating of 56% – eeek!). I started two books a few weeks ago, and have yet to finish either of them. I think I’m down to the last 50 pages for the last week on one of them. I’ve given up looking at my reading challenge on Goodreads as I know I will have missed it, potentially quite significantly, considering how low it was to begin with.

So what about you? What’s your relationship like with your TBR, and do you have any plans in the new year?

Sunday Salon: Yearly reading goals

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In looking to wind the year down, it’s time to reflect back on some of the reading subjects that tend to crop up most years, and I’ve found this question floating round the internet:

When you set a yearly reading goal, do you set it high to force yourself to meet that goal or do you keep it low and normally go over that goal any way?

For a long time I didnt track how many books I read, or even which books I read – the horror, right? Then, several years ago, I was listening to a couple of bookish friends compare notes as to how many books they had read, what were their top 10 etc – how could I list a top 10 when I didnt even remember what I’d read that year?!

Therefore in 2011 (had to go off and check there!) I started making use of Goodreads and their reading challenge facility. 2011 – 2014 I challenged myself to read at least 95 books, and each year read more than that. However, by 2014 I had realised that the challenge was no longer fun to be reading that number of books, and that by the end of each year I was finding myself reading short and light books simply to get the numbers up – and the reviews could be light on detail too!  (And I still dont produce top 10 lists!).

Book pages text
Patrick Tomasso via Upsplash

Therefore in 2015, I plonked for something more realistic: 60 books, with the very real chance of reading more. And I did – I read 64. 2016 was the same level of 60, which I may or may not meet. It’s meant that I’m not trawling Amazon for the freebie romances to boost my numbers. I’m reading the hardback books that have been on my shelves, unread and unloved, for years. Some of the books I’ve been reading are longer, genres I’ve not tried before (YA books and the SummerReads books from Quercus are examples) and a better mix of paper and ebooks. So whilst my numbers arent high, they have meant that I think my reading is more rounded as a result, and I will probably do the same again next year.

So I put the same question to you now:

When you set a yearly reading goal, do you set it high to force yourself to meet that goal or do you keep it low and normally go over that goal any way?

 

 

 

Do you practise Book Pologomy?

From Epicreads
From Epicreads

Not entirely sure how I came across the above flowchart but my notes say I got it from here – I thought it amusing and worth sharing.

Yes. I can and do practise “book pologomy”. I usually have two books on the go at any one time. I sometimes have 3 going, but end up switching between two main books and finishing one before I truly progress on the third.

I can’t read two books of the same genre at the same time, as I usually get myself confused as to plots and characters. Because I am trying to read more paper books, I tend to have one ebook and one paperbook on the go – where I read them depends on the physical copy of the book itself. If I’m reading one of my hardbacks (and/or a book I want to keep in reasonable condition), it never leaves the house.  If it’s one I don’t really care about the condition afterwards, then it comes along with me in the handbag.

One of the reasons I read ebooks almost exclusively for two years is the ease of carrying them around. My iPad goes into the handbag and is pulled out whereever I have a free time. One of the nightmare scenarios for regular readers is not having a book to read – with an ereader you just go to the next book and not have the dredded question of carrying multple books around with you when leaving the house (or even worse: do you leave the nearly ended book at home and bring a new one with you, or bring the one you’re reading and run the risk you’ll finish it, and have nothing else to read?).

So, Constant reader, how many books can you have on the go at any one time? how do you resolve the riddle of the nearly finished book?