Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Book blogger spotlight: Book Bloggers Australia

Established in 2010 by blogger Margaret Bates, Book Bloggers Australia is an online directory and forum where Australian bloggers can discuss books and blogging, and connect with others in the community. ‘The origins of the directory came from a weekly bookchat that I used to run on Twitter called #spbkchat (South Pacific book chat),’ says Bates. ‘That started because at the time there were lots of great book chats that happened when we were sleeping, so we started our own.’ In 2014, a group of bloggers led by Suzie Eisfelder took over the running of the directory, and moved the site over to WordPress. Eisfelder spoke with Books+Publishing for our ‘Book blogger spotlight’ series.

Describe the database in under 50 words.

Book Bloggers Australia is a place to make connections. Not just connections between book bloggers, but also between book bloggers and publishers, publicists and authors. It’s a place to help strengthen the publishing industry within Australia.

Why did you create the database? When and how did you get started?

A small team of three of us took over managing the directory in June 2014. We’d been to the National Book Bloggers Forum (#NBBF14) in Sydney earlier that year and were wanting to expand networking opportunities for book bloggers and publishers, publicists and authors. We had discussions on the Aussie Book Bloggers Facebook group and ended up contacting Marg Bates to ask if there was any way we could take over her directory, as it hadn’t been updated in a couple of years. Marg was perfectly happy to pass the baton. My team and I then moved the site off Blogger and onto a self-hosted WordPress site to make it look more professional.

How do you find out about new blogs?

Mostly word of mouth. Sometimes they find the Aussie Book Bloggers Facebook group, other times we’re talking with them on the street, or at parties or even using social media.

How big is the directory?

We have 328 bloggers listed.

Are there similar global databases that you used as a model?

These are Marg’s words: ‘We originally just started with a Google Form on the blog site and then I was entering them into the blog with screen shots of logos etc and then tweeting the links. I was just making it up as I went along really.’

Essentially, she and her friends were not following anything they’d seen. I was thinking along more aesthetic and marketing lines in 2014.

What has been the most positive outcome of establishing the directory?

Book blogging is a solitary business. We always think we’re the only one around until we find a directory such as this. Firm friendships have been formed using this directory. Some book bloggers have responded to authors and created relationships with them through their writing.

What do you see as the future of this directory?

Three years ago I instituted a forum on the directory to enable publishers, book marketers and authors to have a place to contact book bloggers in a friendly setting. That fizzled as I couldn’t find enough publishers, book marketers and authors to come and join us there. I’d like to resurrect that and have a booming community.

I’d also like to give it a higher profile to ensure the directory is the first place people in the industry think to look when they’re looking for book bloggers. I’d also like to increase the profile outside the book industry—it would be nice for it to be the first place readers think of if they’re looking for book bloggers in a particular genre. This would be good for the publishing industry as a whole. Many readers find new books through word of mouth, and blogs are an extension of that.

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

While I love Twitter, I find myself caught up more and more in Facebook. So many of the people I’m connected with across book blogging—the Terry Pratchett fan clubs and many other clubs I’m connected with—organise themselves through Facebook. It seems challenging to get away from it. Goodreads is growing at a rapid pace since Amazon took it over; it’s become the one place every author is recommended to be. I’d like to speculate about Litsy being a good place to find books, but I’ve not found it works for me.

What are you reading now?

Currently I’m reading the 10th birthday issue of The Lifted Brow.

Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?

I suggest that when contacting book bloggers to ask for a book review you respect that they do this on their own time and any costs for their website or their books generally come out of their own pocket. If you’re asking them to run a competition or a giveaway, be prepared to foot all costs associated with these posts, including any postage costs when mailing out prizes. If you’re asking for a book review, be aware that they have commitments other than your book and need time to read the book. The last suggestion is to make sure you approach the right person; if you have a romance book you’d like reviewed, asking a blogger who hasn’t ticked ‘romance’ will not get you very far.



Category: Features