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Artyness: A hobby which has real impact

By Barbara Henderson

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Author Barbara Henderson.
Author Barbara Henderson.

Author Barbara Henderson finds out exactly what book bloggers do

My Twitter notifications were going crazy yesterday. Ping. Ping, ping, ping.

The reason? Advance review copies of my new book The Chessmen Thief were landing on book bloggers’ doormats all around the country.

These are anxious days for any writer. Will they like the book?

Big buyers like High Street bookshop chains may not even touch a title which is universally disliked by book bloggers – these guys wield real power!

This set me thinking. What does a book blogger actually do?

Determined to find out more, I asked Highland book blogger Gordon McGhie (pictured below) whose book blog grabthisbook.net has garnered both attention and awards. Here is what he has to say:

“Blogging was my wife’s idea. I love to talk about books and if I read a great book, I want everyone else to know about it too. I often recommended my favourite books to friends and work colleagues but that had a limited reach.

Blogger Gordon McGhie.
Blogger Gordon McGhie.

“My wife suggested starting a blog and sharing my reviews online. I had no idea what would come of it, but I nervously posted a few reviews.

“The blogging community are a very supportive group and I reached out to a few fellow bloggers to get some guidance on how I could improve. Soon my hobby grew beyond my expectations. I loved engaging with authors and other readers. When I was first invited to share a review for a publicity tour (referred to as Blog Tours) I thought this was as good as it could get.

“I had always been a reader but when we moved to the Highlands, I was 10. There wasn’t much to do in Muir of Ord in the 1980s. I was also a bit of a loner as I was the new kid in town, so books were both an escape and company.

“When I was in high school, I got a job at Melvin’s Bookshop on Union Street in Inverness (while I was there it became part of the James Thins group). I loved being surrounded by books and I saw everything due to be released (mainly because I was required to dust so many of them).

“I loved chatting with customers about the books they were buying – and sharing reading recommendations. When the book reps visited the shop from the various publishers, we would get sneaky glimpses of the new titles due to be released. That isn’t too dissimilar to the Netgalley service today – publishers share early copies of forthcoming titles so booksellers and reviewers can leave pre-release feedback and start generating some online interest.

“I run my blog my own way, not constantly chasing my tail. I don’t lose sleep if the number of visits to my blog drops one month, I don’t set myself the goal of posting a review every two or three days.

“It is a hobby and if the fun stops then why would I want to carry on?”

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