Sarah HardyMy name and website link: Hi, I’m Sarah, I’m based in Leeds and I blog at https://bytheletterbookreviews.com/. I read a variety of genres but my firm favourites are crime/psychological thrillers. I mainly post reviews but also do the occasional Q&A as well as guest posts. You can also follow me on Twitter @sarahhardy681 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Bytheletterbookreviews/

I started blogging in April 2015. I love reading and after joining some online Facebook book groups discovered bloggers – and how important reviews are to authors. I also realised there were many writers whose books you, sadly, don’t see in the shops and I wanted to help shout about them. There are so many great authorswho are relatively unknown so I set up my book blog to share my thoughts about the books and authors I enjoy. Blogging is now a huge part of my life.

My blogging day starts not long after I drop my son off at high school. I schedule the majority of my posts to go live at 8am so as soon as I’m back home, I share them to a number of online book groups. My blog is linked to my Twitter account as well as my blog’s Facebook page so it automatically uploads there too.

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I find tagging the author as well as the publisher helps get the book noticed on Twitter.

Sharing in Facebook groups also draws people to my blog as well as getting more publicity for the author and book.

I also always post my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads – reviews really are important and if you’ve enjoyed a book, please remember to leave a review on Amazon especially.

What happens next? I’m very lucky that through my blogging I was approached by Bloodhound Books, a small publisher who wanted me to work for them. The lease was due to run out on the small carpet shop I ran with my husband and, since we had no plans to renew it, I started doing a few hours for them as a submissions advisor.  Now I’m not far off full time doing their publicity work.

This is the first in what we hope will become a regular feature celebrating the marvellous book bloggers who do so much to help and support authors and readers. If you’d like you to share a day in the life of you and your blog please contact us here.

A typical day involves organising blog tours as well as shouting out about any special offers, promoting books that have just come out and numerous other little jobs too I break off for lunch at noon when I usually catch up with a bit of reading.

Afterwards I do a couple more hours – before breaking off again to do a bit of housework and make a start on tea.

Usually I do one-to-two hours more work on an evening, depending on how many blog tours we have going on. It’s also a chance to reply to emails.

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Working from home means there’s a bit more freedom – which I love – to try and keep on top of things at home. Well, try to anyway. LOL!

When do you read and what do you read? I try and read whenever I can. As mentioned earlier I usually read at lunchtime and try to get at least two-to-three hours reading time each evening.

I’m a huge fan of kindles. I love having so many books with me at all times.

Because I read a lot of advanced copies for blog tours that kind of determines which books I read next. Otherwise, I try to alternate between the newest and books that I’ve had the longest. I try not to count how many books I have on my TBR pile – it never goes down. If anything it just grows!

When and where do you write your reviews? I write all my reviews on my laptop as soon as I can after finishing a book. Usually, I write them when I’m watching a bit of television. I’ve never been one for making notes so this is why I like to do it while it’s still all fresh in my mind.

What makes a good book? For me it has to have character/s that I like or in some way can relate to and empathise with – it spoils my enjoyment if I struggle to like any of the characters, unless it’s someone you’re supposed to love to hate.

banner 2I want a story to grab hold of me and make me forget about what is going on in the outside world. For me, that’s a sign of a good book.

White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl and The Abattoir of Dreams, by Mark Tilbury, which are both stunning psychological thrillers, are two books that have stayed with me because of their dark storylines. Also, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – sometimes, the story or the characters just dig into your heart and head and stay there for many, many years.

What happens if you read a book and really can’t think of anything nice to say about it? I hate giving up on a book and, luckily, I usually choose quite wisely although there has been the odd occasion where I’ve read something and, for whatever reason, either didn’t enjoy it or, at best, thought it was okay.

I never slate an author’s work because, at the end of the day, I know how much blood, sweat and tears goes into writing a book. Instead, I always try and find something positive or else say what I felt didn’t work.

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Sometimes it’s just that a particular book isn’t for me. I’ve found a few times now that books that a lot of my blogger friends have raved about, just don’t do it for me. There was nothing specifically wrong, they just didn’t grab or appeal to me they way they did them.

I read a variety of different star ratings before buying books – sometimes it’s the one or two stars that can make me buy a book. while a four or five star rating can put me off.. We are all different and what appeals to one reader may not appeal to another – this is where reviews can be important to a potential reader.

Reading and reviewing for an author or publisher as part of a blog tour, I always inform them if I am struggling. Blog tours are meant for promotional purposes so I suggest they provide an extract or guest post for my stop instead.

It can be quite scary to tell someone their book isn’t for you but I have never come across an author or publisher yet who was angry or got nasty. They have always been very nice and understanding.