The Book Smugglers are a prime example of one of many topical blogs on the Internet, and something I've only recently come across myself, through the miracle of Twitter. The girls, Thea and Ana, review books pretty much non-stop. In this interview, you'll learn more about them, and topical blogging in general.
STN: Welcome! So tell us firstly about your site, for those of us who don't know.
Thea and Ana: Our blog is called The Book Smugglers and we are complete dorks when it comes to books. We read and buy so many we had to resort to getting the books delivered to our offices and then smuggling them home to avoid detection - hence our name. We review speculative fiction, romance, YA, Horror and are total TV and movie Geeks as well.
STN: You're one of many topical blogs on the Net; what inspired the creation?
Thea: It's all really Ana's fault. We'd met online at LOST forums (we are the hugest geeks, truly) and had been exchanging PMs for a while when we discovered that besides a love for time travel theories and Sawyer, we also shared another common passion: reading. What's more is, we both had similar experiences with buying books, and then smuggling them home (as to avoid snarky attitudes from our respective significant others)! One day, Ana PM'd me with the question: "Hey I'm gonna start a blog. You want in?"
To which of course I replied: "Sure, why not?"
I don't think either of us knew exactly what starting a blog entailed, and how it would grow to become a major part of our lives! As to what inspired Ana's PM, well, you'll have to ask her...
Ana: I had just started reading romance and going online to look for reviews when I discovered that there was “blogsphere” and I just knew I had to be a part of it. The rest, as they say, is history.
STN: How do you decide what to write about?
Thea and Ana: Well, we both knew we were passionate about books (passionate enough to spend obscene amounts of money on books and then to sneak them into our homes!), so it really was a no-brainer. We also, obviously, are pop-culture geeks (Hello, LOST obsession) and movie addicts, so we just had to work those into our content as well.
STN: What do you think the perks of blogging are, in general?
Thea: The early copies, and free books! That has to be my favorite perk - I never in a zillion years woulda thought that one day I'd be getting review requests from some of my favorite authors, and getting copies of their books for free. Weeks before their release date, no less! The other major perk would have to be actually getting to talk with some of my favorite authors. For example, this year I got to interview the lovely Patricia Briggs in PERSON. After nearly dying of a heart attack at the prospect, it was simply the coolest thing that has happened to me in 2009. I've been reading Patty's work since I was in middle school, so it was incredible to actually meet and have a conversation with her.
Ana: What Thea said. But I would also consider a perk of blogging, the rapport we get from other readers and the other bloggers that we’ve met along the way. We made some pretty cool friends!
STN: What about topical blogging? Does that not limit your selection of what to write about?
Thea and Ana: Not really...we I like to keep an open mind, and we'll post about a wide variety of topics and genres even though we are admittedly a Speculative Fiction & Romance book review blog. We write up posts about our favorite movies, zombies, sports, whatever. But we do try to stick to the reviews for the most part, which we suppose could be seen as limiting.
STN: What do you suggest people do to get more readers of their own?
Thea and Ana: Be yourself! Write about what you are passionate about; write in your own voice, and people will recognize and be attracted to that genuine honesty. Also, write and post frequently - not at the cost of quality, of course, but we do think that more frequent posts attract readers. When we started The Book Smugglers, we made a deal that we would post one review per person, per week. HAH! Now, we publish at least one post per day. It's a little hard to find the time, sometimes, but daily posts really make a difference.
Also, on a more technical side, use a feed consolidator like Feed Burner, and make sure to have your RSS subscription link in a visible and easily accessible location. If we see a blog that looks interesting, we'll subscribe to its feed and continue to read it - provided we don't have to hunt around for the feed. Little things like that can really help get your site more accessible and garner more readers.
STN: How about newbies to blogging? What can they do to start? What would encourage them to blog?
Thea and Ana: To start, we'd say first come up with a central idea or vision of what you want your blog to be. Video game cheats, cooking tips, book reviews, personal life stories, whatever - come up with a central theme, and stick to it. Come up with a catchy title that embodies this theme, and check out some of the awesome free templates that you can find through blogger or wordpress. Basically, again, write what you are passionate about. This will come through in your blog, and to potential readers! Blogging is wonderful in that it can connect you with other people who share the same passions and interests (for example, we don't know anyone in "real life" who reads as much as we do, and certainly not in the same genres - but thanks to blogging, we can share our thoughts and feelings on such books with other people who share the same interests).
Also, blogging is a hobby but like anything, you get what you put into it. There are times when we haven't wanted to read a certain book or when the last thing we wanted to do was write a review...but at the end of the day, it's worth every second.
STN: Thank you for your valuable time. Is there anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
Thea and Ana: Thank you for having us over!!! It has been an honor!
Thanks again to the girls for participating! You can find the Book Smugglers at their official website and follow them on Twitter here!
Coming up next, an interview with Dan London from Lulu.com.