Rebecca Joines Schinsky: The Book Lady
Thursday, December 9th, 2010
The Book Lady’s Blog, written and edited by Rebecca Joines Schinsky, features reviews for a range of book genres as well as coverage of industry news. Rebecca is a self described “panty-throwing, book-loving, wild woman” as well as a member of the National Book Critic’s Circle. Some of her favorite things include parentheses and author John Irving. When she isn’t busy reading, composing blog posts, or recording the Bookrageous Podcast, she can be found updating her Twitter feed (followed by tweeps including writers like @susanorlean and publishers like @simonschuster and @powerHouseBooks) and Facebook account from her home in Richmond, VA.
Q: When did you start blogging, and what was the inspiration that got you started?
A: I started blogging in July of 2008. I had just recently discovered book blogs and LibraryThing, and I was so pleasantly surprised that people were using the internet to create a literary community. I was bored at work one day and thought, “Well, I could totally do that!” and I just did it the way I do pretty much everything else– I jumped in head first and learned as I went.
Q: Were there any unexpected joys or pains you experienced when you started blogging?
A: There are unexpected joys all the time in the form of new relationships and book discoveries and hearing that I’ve turned someone onto a great book or new genre. That’s incredibly rewarding. In terms of pain, well, blogging is like everything else in life: it’s only as painful as you make it. The Book Lady’s Blog is a drama-free zone, so the pains have been relatively few and far between.
Q: What keeps you motivated to continue blogging?
A: What? You mean besides the millions of dollars I… oh wait… Really, it’s the people! I love books, but what I really love are book people. They’re the reason I started my blog, and they’re the reason I continue. Blogging has allowed me to connect with people who share my passion for literature and whom I would never have met otherwise, and it’s opened up all kinds of exciting doors into the world of publishing and bookselling. Access to books before they come out isn’t too bad, either.
Q: How much time do you spend on blogging each day?
A: It varies. I write about a thousand words a day, but it takes me much longer to reach that total when I’m writing a book review than it does when I’m writing a piece about publishing, an event I attended, or my reading life. In general, I spend about two hours writing my blog each day and another several reading other blogs and engaging in social networking.
Q: When your blog transitioned from a hobby to a part-time job, did it lose its novelty (forgive the pun!)? Does it ever feel more like “work” rather than fun?
A: Sure, at some points it has felt more like work, as I’ve felt increased pressure to have new content every day and to utilize social networking with more focus in order to attract new readers, but the flip side is that it is also more rewarding. Now that I have income from something that began as a labor of love, I see a way in to making this part of a career, and I’m taken more seriously for being able to reach a wider audience.
Q: How does blogging fit in with your family life?
A: When I started blogging, it fit into my family life (which is just my husband, my dog, and me) the same way any other hobby did– I did it in my spare time and focused on it when my husband was engaged in his own hobbies. Now that it’s more of a part-time job, I dedicate time for it– and for reading, can’t forget the reading– each day, and I fit other things in around it, instead of the other way around.
Q: Do you ever worry about running out of things to blog about?
A: No– as long as there are good books, there will be things to blog about. What I worry about is running out of writing mojo.
Q: What do you think makes The Book Lady’s Blog unique compared to other book blogs?
A: Blogging is all about voice, and I think mine is a bit snarkier and more irreverent than many. Publishing has been so doom-and-gloom for the last few years, and I think it stands out that I’m working to make reading fun and sexy and not quite so serious.
Q: What is something your readers do not know about you?
A: I can sing every last word of REM’s “End of the World As We Know It.”
Q: What is your personal favorite blog post?
A: It changes every week or so… there are several that I’m really proud of, but I really don’t have a favorite.
Q: What is your current favorite? Do you have a couple of top posts that you are particularly proud of?
Right now, I’m loving my end-of-year series. In the past, I’ve done one big round-up post, so this year I decided to shake things up and create several “best of” lists. I’ve released the “genre busters” and literary fiction lists so far and look forward to sharing my selections in narrative nonfiction, memoir, and “the best of the rest” next week.
Q: You have some big-name followers on Twitter. What does Tweeting add to your blogging experience, and how do you decide who to follow back?
A: Tweeting makes the room bigger. With blogging, the conversation is limited to the blogger and the people who comment on a post. Tweeting opens up a much wider audience for making connections, growing the conversation, and driving new readers to my blog. And it’s fun! Some of my best ideas and projects (including #pantyworthy and the Bookrageous calendar and podcast) began on Twitter. If you can work the room at a cocktail party, you can get something out of tweeting.
Q: You mentioned that you also have a podcast. Is there a lot of overlap between the podcast and the content of your blog? Is it difficult to find enough content to keep both of your projects fresh?
A: There’s a little overlap in terms of the books I discuss, but the podcast (Bookrageous Podcast on Podbean and Bookrageous Podcast on Tumblr) is a project with two friends (Josh Christie of Brews and Books and Jenn Northington, event manager at Word Bookstore in Brooklyn), and our collaboration keeps the conversations new and fresh. We record every other week and choose themes to guide our discussions, many of which are initially born on Twitter, so in the way that three brains are better than one, it’s a whole lot of fun and the new content seems to come naturally.
Q: Who are your go-to bloggers, whether for inspiration or provocation?
I follow so many blogs– and they span books, feminism, music, photography, cooking, and general life-y stuff– that I feel like it’s both impossible and unfair to name favorites. I love what Jessica Valenti has done with Feministing; I always learn something and walk away feeling inspired, and they are nothing if not thought-provoking over there. The Pioneer Woman validates my opinion that it’s not a meal if it doesn’t involve real butter. The Millions, The Elegant Variation, Largehearted Boy, and Beatrice (among many others) remind me what blogging can become and what it can do for books and readers. And the hundreds of passionate, talented bloggers who introduce me to new books every single day are nothing short of amazing… but I’m not naming any names on that one. 🙂
Rebecca is offering a discount code for 50% off a one week ad. Fittingly enough, her code is bookrageous. Simply enter this word into coupon field when you buy an ad on The Book Lady Blog.