Well where should I start? Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (Does anyone else now have The Sound of Music stuck in their head?)
As it says on my profile, I started blogging back in January 2012 to help deal with my stacks of novels that I hadn’t even read. I recognise now that I probably had an addiction to shopping for books! I mainly used The Book Depository (https://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=thecosydragon) at the time, and I reviewed everything that crossed my path including the literature novels that I was reading for my BA. I had a rule that I had to read and review 10 old books from my shelf before I could read one from the newly bought package. Of course I broke this rule sometimes, particularly with visits to my local library where I could get books ‘for free’.
In June 2012 I worked with another blogger for the first time! This was quickly followed by reviews on books that I had ‘won’ in Goodreads giveaways (http://www.thecosydragon.com/2012/06/karen-tyrrell-me-her-a-memoir-of-madness.html). I did some online book tours with mixed results – I didn’t see a real jump in my traffic, and some of the books were terrible.
In August 2012 the first author to trust me with reviewing their novel was AJ Conway with her debut novel My Nova (http://www.thecosydragon.com/2012/08/a-j-conway-my-nova.html). We had a personal connection through the University we were both studying science in. By December 2012 I had quite a few Indie authors offering their books for me to read as eBooks, and I took up as many as I could manage while still reviewing books from my shelf (many of them rereads).
I reached out to traditional Publishers next, with a general email with my blog statistics and a specific novel that I was interested in reading from their ‘coming soon’ selections. In August 2013 I finally received my first ever ‘Publisher’ novel from Scholastic (http://www.thecosydragon.com/2013/08/james-phelan-the-last-thirteen-1.html) Since then I have increased the number of Publishers I work with and I now work with almost every major Australian Publisher. I receive novels that I have requested, and often novels that I haven’t asked for. I try to review everything, but sometimes the novel is really off the mark.
I make it my business to reply specifically to every author that contacts me for a review. I usually offer Interviews or Guest Posts to the authors who have taken the time to check out my website. One of the most frustrating things is when it looks like the message has come straight from a mailing list (that I’m not signed up for). I’ve stopped reviewing eBooks unless the novel looks like it will engage me from the very beginning.
When my floor to ceiling bookshelf got full, I had to think about getting rid of novels. I now release <3 star books into ‘the wild’ after I have finished reading them. If I wasn’t that taken by them the first time, I’m certainly not going to read them again! I had a brief and unsuccessful period selling books on eBay. Now I just ship off some books to Fishpond (https://www.fishpond.com.au/browse/seller-listings/name/The+Cosy+Dragon/) because I’m too lazy to list them myself (and worry about postage etc). The return is pathetic – I’d make more from a garage sale with $1 books!
I suffer from reviewing slumps where I read a bunch of novels too close together and I just can’t face writing all those reviews. Or I read a trilogy and the books start to blur into one. My message to beginning bloggers is that you should always try to go back and review them – and send the review on to the Publisher or author regardless of the delay (some of mine are more than a year after the release date!) My other piece of advice is to get some posts going on your website first, then start looking for traditional Publishers if that’s what you want. It was the consistency of my posting and the history of my blog that made all the difference – not the traffic.
You can find my reviews (or links to them) on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/TheCosyDragon), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheCosyDragon), Amazon and Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/TheCosyDragon).
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