Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Book blogger spotlight: The Unlikely Bookworm

Londoner-turned-Sydneysider Lucy Pearson blogs about books and travel at The Unlikely Bookworm. Pearson reviews and recommends a range of fiction and nonfiction, and will soon be launching a series of ‘literary city guides’, which she says will be ‘an online resource for book lovers like me to hunt out the best bookshops and reading spots all over the world’. Pearson spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘Book blogger spotlight’ series.

Describe your blog in under 50 words.

The Unlikely Bookworm is a fusion of my two biggest passions: books and travel.

What makes your blog unique?

I think there are a few aspects of my blog that make it unique. While a lot of blogs tend to focus on new-release books, mine is a combination of both classics and contemporary books, and a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. I also see it more as a place for book recommendations, rather than a review site. I want it to encourage others to read and I know the impact a bad review can have, so if I really haven’t enjoyed a book I simply won’t review. It. I’m also going to be launching a series of literary city guides to fuse my love of both books and travel. This will be an online resource for book lovers like me to hunt out the best bookshops and reading spots all over the world.

When and how did you get started?

I started my blog about five years ago when I was living in London. I’d recently set myself the challenge to read the BBC Top 100 Books and wanted a way to document each of the books I was reading and my thoughts on them. I was working in beauty PR at the time and hoped that having a book blog would help me segue into working in publishing.

How do you find out about new books?

There are numerous ways I find out about new books, and publishers often reach out to me with new releases and authors they’re promoting. Instagram is also a great way to find out about new books and I follow a number of trusted accounts that share beautiful pictures of new releases. Finally, there’s nothing I love better than visiting my local bookshop—Gertrude & Alice in Bondi—and asking the staff there for their latest recommendations.

What audience do you reach?

My audience is mainly split between the UK and Australia, with a percentage of readers residing in the US. Readers are predominantly women across all platforms, and I have a combined social media following of over 15,000, which has taken a lot of hard work to achieve! I’m very active across each of my platforms and see the most engagement from Aussie-based book bloggers and Instagrammers, though while I was living in London, my most engaged audience was based there.

What other book blogs do you regularly follow?

One of my very favourite book blogs is Project Lectito—we connected on Instagram a while ago and I’ve been an avid follower of Margot’s ever since. I regularly read The Bucket List Diaries—Krish is working her way through the BBC Top 100 so I really enjoy reading someone else’s perspective of the books. I also enjoy reading Crazy Book Lady’s blog, as well as a few blogs based in the UK: The Writes of Woman and The Booktrail.

What has been your most popular post?

My most popular posts are often my more personal, travel-related ones, but in terms of books my top-performing blog posts have been on finding the time to read and finishing the BBC Top 100.

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

Before moving to Australia, Twitter was the social platform I frequented most. It was a brilliant place to interact with fellow readers and authors I loved, and while I still use it today, my favourite platform is Instagram. I’m not a natural photographer, but there’s something very satisfying about creating a beautiful bookish picture to share with my followers. Social media is an ever-changing beast so it can be quite hard to keep on top of the latest happenings, and there’s certainly a double-edged sword when it comes to Instagram and the rise of bots and accounts paying for followers. I definitely think we’re in an era where lots of people like bite-sized chunks of information, so a picture of a book with a perfectly worded caption may have a bigger reach and influence than a well-thought-out review that can take a number of hours to put together.

What are you reading now?

I’m based in LA for the next few weeks and while I’m here I’m focusing my reading efforts on American literature—both classic and contemporary. Thus far I’ve read some brilliant books: The Virgin Suicides, The Corrections and Barbarian Days were all brilliant, and I just finished Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, which I adored. I’ve recently started A Confederacy of Dunces, which has been on my ‘TBR’ pile since an ex-colleague from London recommended it to me a number of years ago.



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