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Book blogger spotlight: Book Thingo

Kat Mayo says Book Thingo, a blog she runs with about half-a-dozen regular contributors, is a site for ‘readers, browsers and compulsive book hoarders, mostly of romance novels’. She spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘Book blogger spotlight’ series.

Describe your blog in under 50 words.

Book Thingo is one long conversation about books. It’s for readers, browsers and compulsive book hoarders, mostly of romance novels. We read other books—sometimes we even talk about them—but the romance genre is our first love, so that’s where we mostly hang out.

What makes your blog unique?

We do a few things differently. Book Thingo is one of the few romance book blogs that also hosts a podcast. We like to try new things. We created a zine, and one year we were so annoyed at romance not getting a seat at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, we created a postcard project out of it. And while we love to shove our favourite books and authors into peoples’s bookshelves, our book reviews are independent and critical. We value and prioritise the voice of the reader.

When and how did you get started?

Book Thingo started in 2008 as a spin-off from my personal blog. At the time, it was difficult to find information on release dates for romance books in Australia. A lot of the online resources were US-focused, and it was often frustrating to discover that books available in the US weren’t available in Australia yet.

How do you find out about new books?

We get emails and books from publishers, authors, publicists and book-tour organisers. But my favourite way to discover new books is through other readers, usually via Twitter. I’m also on romance-specific publisher lists, which makes it considerably easier to filter which books are romance and which ones aren’t.

What audience do you reach?

Our audience size is fairly modest and mostly from North America (70%). We get about 10% each from Australia and the UK. The rest are spread out all over the world. For the podcast, we get about half of our audience from North America, and a quarter from Australia and the UK.

What other book blogs do you regularly follow?

I love reading Shallowreader, Sonya’s Stuff and Romancing the Social Sciences, all of which are run by Aussie readers. I also love Miss Bates Reads Romance, Chachic’s Book Nook and, of course, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. These blogs have one thing in common: they show me new ways of looking at romance books.

What has been your most popular post?

Hands down, that would have to be our cheat sheets for J R Ward’s ‘Black Dagger Brotherhood’ books. Readers of this series are serious about their books! Another popular post is the one where I talk about my list of romance books that feature a vomit scene. Our most popular podcast episodes include our interview with Australian author Sally Thorne and historical romance author Julia Quinn.

What’s your favourite social media platform, and what recent trends in social media have you noticed in book blogging?

Twitter is my favourite platform for interacting with other readers. I love Litsy and Instagram, but I fail at book-styling. Goodreads is great for keeping track of what I’ve read, but I’m not committed to its ecosystem. I was into Wattpad in a big way last year. Their in-line commenting system adds a new dimension of enjoyment when I read books on that platform.

I’ve enjoyed watching the #LoveOzYA community grow, and I’d love to see something similar for romance fiction. We have a heck of a lot of readers, but it isn’t always easy to find each other.

What are you reading now?

Unpublished manuscripts. They can be a mixed bag, but when you discover a gem, it’s a fantastic feeling. As for published work, I just started Valentine by Jodi McAlister (Penguin), who is also a contributor to Book Thingo. I’m also reading Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase (Thorndike Press) and An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole (Kensington).

Photo credit: Kristyn Maslog-Levis



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