Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Book blogger spotlight: My Cup and Chaucer

Tonile Wortley started a crime fiction blog in 2011, but she now blogs about a broader selection of adult fiction at My Cup and Chaucer. Her day job—digital and community coordinator for Dymocks—also has ‘a huge impact on my TBR pile!’ Wortley says: ‘I work alongside the book buyers at Dymocks and I get exposed to new releases months ahead of their publication dates’. She spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘book blogger spotlight’ series.

Describe your blog in under 50 words.

My Cup and Chaucer—across its website, Instagram, and Twitter accounts—reviews what I’ve been reading lately and showcases upcoming releases. I write mostly short reviews of multiple books per post, rather than long reviews of individual books, and I focus primarily on thrillers and general adult fiction.

What makes your blog unique?

My day job as the digital and community coordinator at Dymocks exposes me to hundreds of new books each year, and there aren’t many people in the industry that have their own blog, so I think that gives My Cup and Chaucer an interesting point of difference. Like most bloggers, I try to be as authentic and genuine as possible, so I occasionally post more generic lifestyle content beyond books that I know my regular readers are also interested in.

When and how did you get started?

I started my first blog called The Crime Files back in 2011 after I started working full-time outside of the book industry. Prior to that, I’d spent over three years working at Dymocks Chermside and I really struggled to let go of the books, so I thought blogging would keep me connected to the industry. I read and reviewed crime fiction solely for a couple of years, but after a while I began to feel trapped by only reading a certain genre.

I closed The Crime Files, moved to WordPress, and launched My Cup and Chaucer. Naming the new blog was a surprisingly simple task; I’m an enthusiastic drinker of tea and I wanted to incorporate that into the name somehow. ‘My Cup and Chaucer’ sounded way more interesting than ‘Tea Time with T’ …

How do you find out about new books?

This is where my day job starts to have a huge impact on my TBR pile! I work alongside the book buyers at Dymocks and I get exposed to new releases months ahead of their publication dates. (It’s also very handy to work above the Sydney CBD Dymocks store, though it’s not so great for my bank balance.) I do get sent proof copies from publishers and I still get a thrill out of it every single time, but I do my best to share them around the office once I’ve read them.

I supplement my professional knowledge by reading other book blogs, following hundreds of avid readers on Instagram and Twitter, and listening to bookish podcasts. I’m on the mailing list of just about every bookstore in Australia, America, the UK and Canada, and not a day goes by where I don’t log in to Goodreads and NetGalley.

What audience do you reach?

I’m a haphazard blogger (I’m trying to be better, I promise) so I stay active on Instagram and Twitter, particularly when I’m feeling guilty about not blogging as much as I’d like to. Because of that, my blog reach isn’t as high as other bloggers—I get an average of 500 blog views per month.

My core demographic is Australian women between 20 and 40, but because I tend to focus on adult fiction my overall audience skews slightly older than the better-known Australian book bloggers who focus on young adult fiction.

What other book blogs do you regularly follow?

I’m a huge fan of Crime by the Book. Abby, the blogger, is based in America and works in publicity for Dutton Books, and she has the best crime and thriller recommendations out there. I’m also a big fan of Kate from Lillytales and Jeanie from Sam Still Reading, as we share similar reading interests, and I’m an avid reader of the Readings blog.

Although she’s not strictly a book blogger, I follow Liberty Hardy religiously on Instagram and via the podcast she co-hosts for Book Riot called All The Books. I don’t think anyone in the world reads more than Liberty does.

What has been your most popular post?

It’s not a post related to books! I wrote a post in June 2013 after a particularly bad day on the internet. Looking back on it over four years later, my attitude towards feminism and my own personal inconsistencies has certainly changed somewhat, but I can still recall the furious way I pounded the keyboard to get all those words out and I only wish I could write with that same passion more often.

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

Although my photography skills leave a lot to be desired, I prefer Instagram. For me, Twitter has become an increasingly aggressive and volatile environment to spend time in. Even though Instagram isn’t without its issues, I find it far more positive and enjoyable than Twitter. People seem more willing to talk about what they’re reading on Instagram and it’s an incredibly useful tool to discover new books. It does also give me inspiration to make my photos better!

What are you reading now?

I’m nearly at the end of The Late Show by Michael Connelly and after that I think I’m going to go on a psychological thriller binge. I’m also slowly working my way through It by Stephen King for the first time, and I hope to have that finished before the movie comes out in September.



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