How did you get this author interview gig?
Long ago, I read a book I loved, reached out to the author and asked questions. Then-lightbulb!-asked that author to appear on a Q&A on my ‘blog,’ which I was using primarily to chronicle my daughter’s speech journey. Since then, I’ve amassed plenty of contacts at publishing houses–publicists–who reach out with pitches for forthcoming books (sometimes I reach out to them!). If it seems like a good fit, they send me an early copy (ARC). It’s pretty sweet.
Where do you get all of your books?
I don’t mind paying for books. It’s not just paper, but hours of work by authors, agents, editors, marketing/publicity folks, printers & binders, etc. It’s entertainment and education and art in one small, portable package–how cool is that?! We pay for music, movies, cable, amusement parks, and the theatre, why should books be free?
What are ARCs?
ARCs stand for advanced reader copies. They are copies of a book that are printed and/or released as an e-book before the book goes on sale. They are sent to reviewers, librarians, bookstores, and similar outlets to help generate early buzz and reviews. They also help librarians and booksellers decide whether to purchase a particular book for their collection.
What is a TBR list?
TBR list stands for “to be read” and many people who discuss books refer to this list as the books they are hoping to read. I use Goodreads as a way to organize the books I have read and the books I am planning on reading next. You can find my Goodreads account HERE.
How much do you read?
At least a book a week, which is actually on the low side, if we’re comparing with really voracious readers. In a typical year, I read about 80-85 books. That averages about a book-and-a-half a week. In terms of pages, I average about 500 pages per week, 2,000 pages per month, and 24,000 pages a year!
How do you read so much?
I bring a book with me everywhere, hence, “always with a book.” I do a lot of waiting in 10-15 minutes increments and having my book with me allows me to read instead of just scrolling through my phone (which I sometimes still do!) I read at lunch, and every evening; I strictly limit television, and sometimes I even read while exercising, but that’s hard. Sunday afternoons are usually devoted to reading.
Do you really read all of the books you feature?
Yes! Every one of them. I will not feature a book I have not read. I will not interview an author until I have finished the book.
What about audiobooks?
My husband and kids keep suggesting audiobooks so I can listen while I do things around the house (I actually prefer music for those tasks). Annnd…I kind of feel like that’s cheating. You’re not really reading, you’re listening. As a writer, I need to see the words on the page, how they flow, and I like the feel of a book in hand. But hey–if it works for you, by all means!
How much time does it take for you to put together a Q&A?
This is a good question! Overall, I’d say, one featured author/book requires 12-15 hours of time, but I think of it in increments. Here’s the breakdown, generally in the order I do them and how long each step of the process turns out to be. Photographing the book: I do this in groups of books, so maybe 12-15 minutes of design and styling per book. I snap several versions of the same book and then pare down, another 10 minutes. I find this process hugely satisfying. Art + books + two of my loves. Reading time ~8-10 hours, depending on genre, number of pages, etc. Writing the review: 20-30 minutes. Posting interview on various social media outlets, like GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble: 10-12 minutes. Crafting personalized interview questions: 20-30 minutes. Formatting the finished Q&A: 45minutes-1 hour. Publicizing & sharing the finished interview on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram/stories: 1 hour. Administrative stuff: emailing the author/publicist, following-up, sending links: 20-30 minutes. Add more time if I initiate contact with the publicist and request a book directly.
That’s a lot of work. How can I support you?
Glad you asked! The best thing you can do is share the content you loved. It’s super-easy to copy and paste a link to whatever platform you use. Give me a tag, an @, or a like, follow me on social media. Tell your bookish friends.
Where do you post your reviews?
First, I always post on GoodReads. Then, I add to Amazon & Barnes & Noble. And right here, too, under “Featured Authors.” I’m active on Instagram and post highlights, stories, and mini-reviews. The #bookstagram community is large and diverse and welcoming. I use this hashtag, along with #alwayswithabook whenever I post about books. Much of the content on this website is linked to my Facebook|Always with a Book page and also Twitter is notified every time a GoodReads review is posted, or I’ve finished a book, or an author interview goes ‘live.’
Do you share negative reviews?
I strive to share balanced reviews, bottom line. Over the years, I have developed a readership who values and respects my opinion and I try to stay true to that.
Sometimes a book just isn’t for me. I aim to offer aspects of what worked for me and what didn’t. Book reviews are so subjective. My hope is always that it will work for someone else.
Do you ever stop reading a book?
Oh, you wanted me to expand?
Sometimes I have to set a book aside because I am not in the right frame of mind for the subject or genre. Often, I’ll pick it up again, and it’s all good.
Occasionally, I’ll skim because I just am not connecting with the character(s), setting, or pacing. There’s always the hope that ‘maybe it’s just me’ at that moment. Sometimes a narrative slows only to pick up again. Great!
I can count the few books I couldn’t get through–at all–on one hand. On those very rare occasions, I’ve diplomatically reached out to the publicist and declined featuring the book. Every time, this is met with appreciation & understanding. We can only connect when we connect.
But my friend/mom/book group loved it…and…
I get it. Reading and writing, like so many art forms, is subjective. I may love a book you think is terrible and vice versa. It’s perfectly normal to have a difference of opinion, that’s what keeps things interesting.
Do you get paid to talk about books?
That is a great question. I have never been paid to review or talk about a book, or interview an author, but if that ever happens, I will let you know! When I speak at bookstores, that’s all on my own time, with the hope someone–or lots of someones–will purchase copies. When I pop in for a signing because a friend has a book launch, it’s friendly support. I do get books for free in exchange for reviewing them which is something I am so grateful for. I always note when this is the case at the bottom of my book reviews if you are curious.
If you don’t make any money reviewing books, why bother?
Simple: I love books. As a writer, I must read. It’s as vital to me as air and water. Reading, reviewing, interviewing authors about their inspirations, processes, struggles, more invigorates and fills my cup; it helps me be a better writer. There’s a phrase for this knowns ‘aspirational labor;’ it’s often invisible, but getting me to the next level. Aspiring. Emerging.
What are affliliate links?
I do use an affiliate link through Bookshop.org, which in a tiny way helps support my author interview series. While I don’t plan on this ever being my “job,” this website does cost money (and lots of time) to operate. I’d like to think eventually affiliate links could help offset some of these costs (like the site itself, for instance, or the logo), but maybe not.
Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission that helps support this website at no cost to you. Thank you!
It means that some links in that post may contain an affiliate link (from Bookshop, for example). If you are thinking I am making big bucks over here I am not. While I appreciate the extra income to supplement what I do, it really only covers the cost of one latte.
For instance, if someone purchases a book through one of my affiliate links, like a new hardcover, I make about .25-50 cents for that purchase depending on the cost of the book. I receive a percentage (similar to a commission) for sending someone to the website to make the purchase. This comes out of the cost of the item and does not cost the person using the link anything extra.
Supporting “Always with a Book” & Transparency:
So if you do ever want to buy a book through one of my links I would be so grateful, but that is totally up to you! I do realize you can make money through websites and influencer programs, but that isn’t really my goal. My goal is to connect readers with lots of books and let you into the fascinating minds of the authors who create them.
What do you do when you’re not reading?
I really do love reading and reviewing and interviewing authors and see it as an extension of myself. But! My life is varied. Could I read more if that’s all I did? Of course! I love to travel, and exercise…yoga, hiking, cardio…I’m passionate about home décor and making things beautiful. I’m also a mom to two fabulous daughters who are very busy with tennis and soccer and school. I’m a basset mom, too, and she requires things like daily snacks and ear rubs and walks. Plus, I’ve been married for 18 years!
Wait, and you’re a an author, too?
Yup! Which means I’m also publicizing and supporting my own previously published work, writing and editing new stuff, essays, and you know, wondering if I can do it again. Sigh. #writinglife. #rollercoaster
What are you currently working on?
Essays, mostly, to support the book that is currently on-submission. I am also in the early stages of a new project, which I am calling experimental fiction, straddling the lines of memoir, family history, fiction, prose poetry; linked stories featuring rootedness, (dis)placement, resilience, motherhood, grief, and more.
Wait–what is this ‘on-submission’ you speak of?
On-submission is agent-author-editor speak for having a polished, completed manuscript (ms) ‘making the rounds’ with potential editors at publishing houses. This is the work of a literary agent, who knows your material, knows the ‘right’ editors, and is advocating on your (and your ms’s behalf). This ‘on-submission’ phase can last anywhere from a week to several months, a year or more. When an editor–or editors! (a girl can dream)–falls in love with your ms, you get an offer. Then you’ve got a book deal! The amazing folks at the publishing house work their magic…and months and maybe a year or two later, you have a book on the shelf.
Where can I learn more about your writing?
Glad you asked! Right here, on this website. I am the author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, which is a rare but serious neuro-motor speech disorder. It was inspired by my oldest daughter who was diagnosed with CAS when she was a preschooler. My writing is varied. It also includes an memoir about my interior decorator mother’s devolve into psychosis when I was ten, our estrangement, her subsequent suicide. I am more of a literary writer, my work is infused with lyricism, description, and character development, rather than strong plot points. My essays and short fiction have been featured in various literary journals.
I was featured on Heather Gudenkauf’s Sidekicks and Side Trips author interview podcast series on Instagram Live. Check out our conversation HERE.
What was it like narrating your own audiobook?
Surreal. Amazing. And a lot of work. The delight of reading one’s work is at once a great honor and truly humbling. It also requires much focus, discipline, stamina, energy, and more. The days are long–6 or so hours of reading from a tablet (thank goodness for blue-light blocking glasses!), alone, in a sound-proof room much the size of a walk-in-closet. Also: you cannot make any sounds other than the words you’re reading. You must have perfect diction, match tone, and more. It was a terrific experience and one I hope to have again. Get SPEAKING OF APRAXIA in audio HERE.
Is that your actual typewriter?
Totally. I’ve had a love affair with typewriters since I was tiny. But I do all my work on a laptop. This antique typewriter was a gift from my hubby.
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