Bookmark Your Thoughts

Jenna is the woman behind the blog Bookmark Your Thoughts. She has very kindly agreed to tell us about her blogging, bookstagramming, and reading world.

Why did you start blogging about or featuring books? After university, I found it hard to get back into reading. I missed that JOY of reading, but I hadn’t read for pleasure in a long time. My roommate at the time mentioned I should review books that I read, providing some kind of outlet and reason to read. After I grew my love for reading once more, I just didn’t want to stop blogging J

Bookstagram became a hobby after I grew obsessed with all these beautiful book photos on Instagram. I’m still not THAT good, but I enjoy it.

What type of books appeal to you and why? I’m a sap for happy endings, since life can be dark enough as it is. I’ve been REALLY enjoying realistic fiction, that coming of age or slice of life style. It’s incredibly fascinating to read books following characters who face and overcome some kind of struggle. Some examples would be a lot of Emma Mills’ books, such as Foolish Hearts. A lot of these tend to be romances, but I don’t enjoy the books as much if the SOLE focus in romance.

I’m also a lover of urban or Victorian fantasy. There’s something very appealing about this genre. I love the supernatural, so that’s an added incentive.

Do you concentrate on a specific genre? If so, can you tell us a bit about your passion for that genre? No. I read a lot of genres and review most of the books I read (with the exception of comics and manga’s).

Who are your readers and followers? How do you engage with them? The visitors and followers of Bookmark Your Thoughts are a group of beautiful and wonderful beings that enjoy reading and discussing literature as much as I do. My biggest hope for my blog is that these special individuals feel safe and welcome to discuss their thoughts without being judged or ridiculed. I also cater to a large number of bullet journal lovers, such as myself!

Connection wise? SO MANY COMMENTS HA-HA! Honestly, I love interacting with everyone. The more comments about a post, the happier I am. In the bookstagram world, comments are also a number one way of interaction. But a large number of us also communicate via direct messenger and story posts. I share my photos and my mundane life with them, hoping to provide some sort of joy or laughter.

If you have a blog, what features does it offer? For example, ‘best of’ lists, author interviews, a book rating system. Oh … I have quite a few ha-ha! There are quite a number of features beyond book reviews: author interviews, unboxings, book tags and book memes, a book rating system and a book policy, etc.

The major two features outside of book reviews that seem to be fairly popular on Bookmark Your Thoughts are my Bullet Journal monthly layouts (Plan with Me series) and my Buddy Reading series. I really love bullet journals, so I post mine to help others if they want to track their blog process and other life things. I also really enjoy buddy reading, so I recently started a buddy read series (I still need to write a formal “what is this” post).

What ways do you use to attract new readers and followers? I feel silly saying this, but I don’t really think about ways to gain followers? I just blog because I love to write about books and I honestly love this community too much to leave ha-ha! In my monthly wrap up posts, I do ask if there’s anything people would like me to write about (i.e. recently, people have grown curious for me to post some lifestyle posts … which I hope to begin soon).

I’m probably going to sound VERY selfish, but I write for me and to provide people that same outlet to talk about books in a safe environment. So I suppose my main method of attracting new readers would be to let them know this is a safe zone, providing them a number of book reviews and book memes to leave a comment on.

How do you interact with authors and publicists? I’m still too shy to message them directly. A few have emailed me directly through my blog, which is always a lovely thing. I do peruse through NetGalley and request books, though this can be quite dangerous. There are a number of authors I’m acquainted with on Instagram as well, who allow me the privilege of reviewing their novels. People ask how I managed to have them contact me … the biggest piece of advice that I can provide is tagging authors when applicable. I tend to do this when I either post a review about their work or simply take a photo of their novel, both as a curtesy and as a way to reach out more. This has led me to connect with some, who have all been very lovely people! There are also a few who have asked for their books to be reviewed after they see I’m a bookstagrammer and book blogger.

What trends or changes have you noticed in the book world? This might just be me getting more comfortable with myself, but I notice that people don’t feel as “ashamed” of their reading choices; I think it’s because the community is, overall, pretty loving. I hate to say this, but I still find a lot of backlash and hate in the BookTube world. But with bookstagram and book blogging, there seems to be this aura of love and respect, even when you don’t have the same opinion on a book or topic. I’ve also just noticed how “popular” it is to not only buy books but have bookish merchandise.

One thing I’m shocked to see is the number of physical books people still buy. I have a hard time with eBooks and audiobooks, so I tend to buy paperback or hardcover novels. I thought more people were going the eBook route, but it looks as though the physical copy of the novel is still very popular.

There also seems to be this push for diversity in books … which is about time! Once upon a time, you wouldn’t have seen characters with so many different ethnic backgrounds in a novel or characters exploring their sexual identity. I still think we have a LONG way to go, but it’s slowly getting better.

If you could wave your magic wand, what would you change about the book industry? Finding a way for the purchase of physical books to be cheaper would be greatly appreciated, though I don’t know if that’s feasible. Typically, there are a number of great deals out in the book world … but I still find some hardcovers rather expensive.

Another thing would be more translation options, not just from one language to English but vice versa. A few of us bloggers have commented on the desire to read certain novels yet not having the opportunity to since they aren’t translated in our native tongue.

Though if we’re going to be waving magic wands around, I’d rather just request unlimited books and the ability to comprehend all languages!

Many thanks, Jenna for sharing your passion for reading. I’m going to have to look into bullet journals – sounds appealing.

You can find Jenna at her blog, on Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION –  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

A passion for reading with bookstagrammer @basicbsguide

Katie – aka @basicbsguide – is passionate about reading. She began using Instagram to share that passion some time ago. I’ve known Katie since she was a baby – and she’s one inspiring woman! Today, she’s sharing her story.

Why did you start blogging about or featuring books?

To be honest it was quite accidental.  I was recovering from a battle with breast cancer and was looking for an outlet to share my story and also talk about my favorite hobby – reading!  I soon found out that there was a warm and welcoming community of book lovers and I haven’t looked back since.

What type of books appeal to you and why?

I try my best to read diversely and over the past year have let mood dictate my reading life, but the stories that stay with me the longest are the ones that make me feel deeply and understand humanity and situations that are often unfamiliar to me.  I want to be a better person and I think through stories we can make strides towards that.

Do you concentrate on a specific genre? If so, can you tell us a bit about your passion for that genre.

For quite a while I was a thriller junkie and that got old very quickly.  I can only handle so many unreliable narrators.  Now, I tend to spread the love around and dabble in historical fiction, contemporary romance, literary fiction and lately nonfiction.

Who are your readers and followers? How do you engage with them?

My largest and most interactive following is on Instagram.  I post daily where I share reviews, feature upcoming releases and often follow along in book challenge prompts from other “Bookstagrammers”.  I also share quite a bit of my breast cancer journey and life in my Instagram stories and have a monthly story selfie challenge, where I encourage others to show their face.  Social media can be a place that people tend to hide behind the account so I’m trying to encourage people to make deeper connections.

If you have a blog, what features does it offer? For example, ‘best of’ lists, author interviews, a book rating system.

I don’t have a blog as of yet but I often wonder if I’m better suited for the blogging world.  I love sharing my story, inspiring others and having meaningful conversations.  Right now, Instagram is the place to be for the conversations and interactions.

What ways do you use to attract new readers and followers?

I host the occasionally giveaway for a new and upcoming release, consistently engage in others posts and reviews and again host my weekly selfie challenge.

How do you interact with authors and publicists?

This has changed greatly over the past couple of years.  I have now built great relationships with publicists so many of the books that I’m interested are showing up for consideration as opposed to me searching them out.  I love interacting with authors and would love to help promote and read every book but we know that’s not possible. I’m careful in my acceptance of review copies as not every book is meant for me.  I do have a little free library and many authors have sent me copies to put in there, which I’m happy to do.  When I read a book, I’m passionate about, I usually reach out to the author and publisher to try to figure out a way I can let a wider audience know about the book.  I’m a champion for authors and books I fall in love with.

What trends or changes have you noticed in the book world?

Over the past year, Instagram has become a bit saturated with book reviewers.  Everyone is wanting the “free books” and has forgotten why they even starting blogging and reviewing in the first place.  I’m hopeful that the true book lovers will stick around for the long run. I also think bloggers and authors are taking a step back from blogging and joining the Bookstagram community.

If you could wave your magic wand, what would you change about the book industry?

I think one of my biggest complaints is when the marketing of a book is way off base.  I saw this most recently with Lisa Taddeo’s novel, Three Women.  I was fortunately able to see past the marketing and found great value in the women’s stories but I think for most it was difficult to get past what they expected going in.

Thanks so much, Katie. Truly appreciate you sharing your thoughts and insights. Katie’s interview is part of a series on book bloggers and bookstagrammers. Stay tuned for more about those who share their passion for reading with others. 

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION – and other ideas about reading –  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.