Ever wonder about the story behind some of your favorite book bloggers’ websites? Well, wonder no more because the new year brings a new addition to Chicks on the Case. Once a month we’ll feature an interview with a well-known blogger. Kicking it off today is Mark Baker of the always entertaining review blog, Carstairs Considers.
Please tell us about your blog. Why did you decide to write it? What are some of the challenges and/or successes you’ve experienced along the way?
When I started my blog in 2013, I’d already been reviewing at Amazon since 2001 and a now defunct site called Epinions since 2005. I was looking for a place that was mine I could post my reviews, especially since I suspected that Epinions would shut down soon, which it did almost exactly a year later. The biggest challenge was my decision to post my backlog of reviews on my blog. It took me six months to get everything copied. However, gaining the readers of my blog over the last five years has been very rewarding.
Do you also post your reviews elsewhere (Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.)? Why or why not?
I do post my reviews elsewhere at the three sites you mentioned. I don’t post anywhere else, however. Amazon is a given since I’ve been reviewing there for so long, but I added the other sites over the years since I started reviewing originally to help other readers find authors I love. My reasoning was the authors would then sell more books, so they would write more books, so I’d have more of their awesome books to read. See, it was really selfish. 🙂 Anyway, I figure these three sites are the main sites readers would look at for reader reviews, so they are the best additional places to put mine.
What are some of the best or most surprising experiences you’ve had related to your blog?
Any time anyone recognizes me from my blog is a thrill. Any time someone tells me in a comment or email or in person that they read a certain book because of my review and loved it, that is an even bigger thrill. Having reviewed at Amazon for so long, I was used to getting review requests for things I wasn’t interested in, but not too long after I started my blog, I started getting review requests for books I already planned to buy. That was a huge thrill as well.
What advice would you give to new bloggers and/or to authors who would like to connect with book bloggers?
For Bloggers: first and foremost remember to keep it fun. This is a hobby, and one that will take up a lot of your time. Don’t accept more review copies than you can realistically read. Remember to save time in your reading schedule for books you’ve bought because you won’t cut down on those at all. You got into this because you love reading; make sure that doesn’t change.
For Authors: please remember that this is a hobby for us. Most of us have real jobs that pay the bills as well as other hobbies, and families and other commitments. If we don’t take a copy of your book for review, it might be because we know we won’t get to it in a timely manner. When looking for book bloggers, be sure to find ones that read the genre you write.
There’s a quirky side to your blog. Tell us what else you review. 😉
A quirky side to my blog? I have no idea what you mean. 🙂
Because I’d been reviewing at those other sites before I started my blog, I started reviewing anything that caught my fancy. In addition to books, the main things I review are movies, TV shows, music, and Hallmark Christmas ornaments. Those are still reviews for just about anything you can think of on my blog. Over the years I’ve reviewed candy, video games (including Atari 2600 games), and Disney rides. I find the variety helps keep me interested and uses different skills, which I enjoy. It’s also why I tend to refer to my blog as a review blog instead of a pure book blog.
How did you decide to use Carstairs as your internet name?
Back in the late 90’s when I first really started getting on the internet, my roommate at the time was telling me I needed to come up with a user name. At the time, I was devouring the Mrs. Pollifax books. For those who aren’t familiar with the series (and you should fix that ASAP if that is you), Mrs. Pollifax is a widow, grandmother, garden club member, and part time CIA agent. Carstairs is her boss at the CIA. I thought that would be a cool name to pick, and it has stuck. It also helps when I got to sign up for sites since most variations of Mark Baker are already taken.
Thanks so much for hosting me today!
Thank YOU for letting us host you!
Mark’s Bio: Even as a kid growing up in Northern California, I enjoyed sharing what I was reading or watching in great detail with my friends and family. My friends today have no idea how lucky they are I have my blog as an outlet. I moved to Southern California to go to college, and I never left. Since I still haven’t found someone willing to pay me to read and watch what I want, I spend my days working as an accountant. When not being a couch potato, (ie. reading or watching something or working on my blog), I play ultimate Frisbee and do mud runs. As a life long DisNerd, I also love to sneak away to Disneyland as often as the budget allows.
Visit Mark at http://carstairsconsiders.blogspot.com/