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Bookish. Publisher at Louise Walters Books. Reader, writer, and editor.

Friday, 21 April 2017

From The Other Side: Book Blogger Anne Williams

Welcome to the fourth in my series From The Other Side, in which I turn the tables and interview book bloggers on my author's blog. I'm really enjoying hearing from the bloggers and finding out more about them. One thing that's struck me so far is the time and commitment it takes to be a serious book blogger. So much reading... and then the writing and organising of reviews and blog posts. It's quite mind-boggling! 

This week it's a great pleasure to be chatting to the one and only Anne Williams, whose blog Being Anne is pretty famous in the publishing world, and for good reason. I know I was thrilled when Being Anne recently featured my book! 

OK, no further introductions necessary...let's have our minds boggled by Anne...

All book bloggers are surely book lovers. How and when did your love of reading begin?
I can remember starting primary school and wondering why the other children found it all so difficult. My mum introduced me to books at a very young age, and from that point on I was always the one found in the corner at parties, nose in a book, oblivious of everything. My love did falter a bit - taking a degree in English Literature (had to be, really!) nearly killed it forever, and there were years when I was working that it was easier to collapse in front of the TV. Thank goodness, I got over that!


When did you start your blog?
Just over four years ago, but at first only in a small way, to capture my thoughts on the books I read - it’s only taken over my life since I retired…!

Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading and reviewing?
I’m never sure how to define what I enjoy. Probably “women’s literature” sums it up best. I’ve developed a bit of an instinct in choosing books that I know I’ll enjoy, and when I agree to review I’ve usually spotted something that makes me think the book has “me” written on it. Above all, I like a book that makes me feel something - engaging my heart is the best guarantee for an enthusiastic review.

Do you have a “day job” (work, children, and/or caring responsibilities) - and if so, how do you fit in all your reading, reviewing and blogging?
I don’t work any more - I took early retirement just over three years ago, and never regretted it for an instant. Family issues have been something of a feature over the last couple of years - more difficult because I was in Yorkshire, the family in North Wales - and I have had to take occasional breaks. Now my 91 year old mum is living near me, things are very much easier. I spend a few hours a day putting the blog together, writing interview questions and reviews, dealing with emails, catching up with social media - and the reading fits into my every spare moment.

If I don’t like a book, I usually don’t review it on Goodreads, Amazon, Netgalley or on my blog. For me, that’s the kindest thing to do. As a writer, I know how disheartening negative reviews can be. I also appreciate not every reader enjoys every book. How do you stand on this issue?
I never review a book I haven’t enjoyed - my reviews are my personal reaction, and I only want to share the positive. I sometimes think - in my self-critical moments - that  people must think I love everything I read. I choose well most of the time, but if my negative feelings outweigh the positive, the book will quietly disappear. While I haven’t enjoyed a book, others might love it - I’ll leave the reviewing to them.

Have you ever had a negative response from an author after reviewing their work, and if so, how did you handle it? (No names needed!)
I don’t think I ever have. If I’ve included criticism amid the positive - something about the book that maybe didn’t work as well for me - people have always reacted well, and we’ve sometimes discussed it further (in a friendly, supportive way!).

If you are a member of the Amazon Vine programme, can you tell us a bit about that? Is it a big commitment? Do you have certain obligations to fulfill as a Vine member? 
I am an Amazon Vine reviewer, but very rarely review books through the programme - I prefer to stick with other things, and the stringent timescales for book reviews don’t really work for me. If you exceed the deadline, it blocks your list - nothing else to review - until you do it. And I really dislike the culture of “book bashing” that seems to have evolved within the group. I’d rather stick with my stationery and household equipment…

How do you feel about indie authors? Do you consider self-published books?
I choose to read and feature indie and self-published authors above any others. I’ve discovered some absolute gems that way, and made some lovely friends. Let’s face it, those big blockbusters are going to sell whatever I choose to say about them - but if I can help a small indie publisher or a self-published little star sell a few more books by reviewing or running a feature, I think that’s far better use of my time. I just wish I could support everyone who asks, but I do need to sleep occasionally.

On the other hand, how do you feel about those over-hyped books from the Big 5 publishers?!
I do review and join blog tours for the Big 5 - and I’m lucky enough that they ask me to do so.  There are good and not-so-good books from big publishers and indies/self-published alike - I review the ones I enjoy. And I do rather prefer reviewing books that everyone else might not have read and enjoyed yet - hype and over-exposure does put me off a little.

There has recently been some negative stuff on social media about book bloggers. I know how this feels, as I am self-publishing my second novel, and lord knows how indie authors get looked down upon in some quarters! So - how do you respond to that negativity?
I haven’t really engaged with it, but it made me both sad and angry. It’s so insulting when it’s said that book bloggers aren’t “real readers” - I certainly am, and so are all my blogging friends. If I promote books without reading, I do so because I know I would enjoy them, and because I want to bring them to people’s attention. I do it for love, and have never made a penny from my blog - I work very hard for no financial return, as do all bloggers, and when misguided people imply we have some other agenda, it hurts.

Have you made “real life” friends as a result of your book blog?
So many! Nothing gives me more pleasure than getting together with blogging and author friends - and I’m really lucky to be invited to so many launches and get togethers to meet up with friends old and new. The only little problem is that most meet-ups are in London, and I live in Yorkshire - but I do get to as many as I can (and I’m very grateful for my Senior Rail Card!). 

Tell us about the art of writing a review. How do you avoid spoilers but manage to convey the sense or feel of a book? I find it difficult, so any tips will be gratefully received! I’ve seen some fantastic reviews, which I suspect were pretty tricky to write…
Goodness, I can’t give advice on reviewing - and when I read “how to” articles, I think I probably do it all wrong. But - other than the cardinal sin of spoilers - there really is no right or wrong. I rarely repeat much of the story, only a flavour - and always focus on the impression the book made on me. Did it move me, make me cry/laugh/angry/happy? Did the dialogue work well? How about the characters? The setting - did it come to life? Did I look forward to picking it up? What feelings did it leave me with? I don’t know about you, but I’d always prefer to read a review where a reader clearly loved every moment of their experience (those are the books I buy) than those where I’m told the story.

Big question: Have you ever been tempted to write, or have you written, a novel (or any kind of book) yourself?
When I retired, I had great plans. I’ve always been comfortable in the world of words, I signed up for an OU writing course, and a couple of writing groups, looked at the RNA New Writers’ scheme, and really wanted to make a serious attempt - until life and those family problems made me take my eye off the ball. At the moment, I’m happy to be blogging - but never say never…

Quick fire: E-reader or print?
Ebooks (almost) all the way. I still love the smell, feel and look of print books, but have started to struggle with reading them, mainly because of my age and deteriorating eyesight - the back-light of my Kindle Paperwhite and the ability to increase print size makes life so much easier. And my handbag and holiday suitcases are far lighter…

Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I’m just finishing (and thoroughly enjoying) The American Girl by Rachael English - then I’ll be starting The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull (and really looking forward to it!).

Anne blogs at Being Anne

Anne tweets @Williams13Anne

Many thanks to Anne. It's been lovely, and enlightening, to hear from her. My mind is truly "bloggled"!!


On Thursday 4th May I'll be talking to The Wild Air author herself, Rebecca Mascull! 


  1. Thank you so much for this, Louise! I loved your questions, and it's a real pleasure to be on your wonderful blog xx

    1. Thanks Anne, I'm really enjoying these book blogging posts. I need to find my next "victim"... ;-)

  2. I loved reading this about lovely Anne.

  3. Loved this Anne, thanks so much. Really enjoyable to read your posts.

  4. Lovely post and I count Anne as one of my blogging friends!