Interview: Creating a Book Blog in Lockdown

MeganThe other day I was delighted to hear from someone who had read my book How to Start a Book Blog: A Step by Step Guide and used it to create their own brand-new book blog, making the most of the lockdown, and the extra time they’ve had to spend at home over the last few weeks!

So here’s an interview with Megan, creator of the ‘Behind her Books’ blog…

Please introduce yourself… What made you decide to start a book blog? And how did it all begin?

I’m Megan, I’m 29 and live in Cardiff. Reading is a huge part of who I am and I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. Over the years I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a blog but always held back, mainly because I was too nervous. I just didn’t know where to start.

Earlier in the year I won a giveaway that Rachel was running on the Created to Read Twitter to win her book How to Start a Book Blog. During the lockdown, I read the book cover to cover and the idea for my blog started to formulate in my mind. I began to realise that really blogging just combined things I love – reading, writing and talking about books. Suddenly, instead of being a scary idea it was an exciting one.

I re-read ‘How to Start a Book Blog‘ and worked through each chapter methodically, with my notebook ready. I did all the research that was recommended, made lists, generated ideas for posts. Once I got going it all started flowing. It probably took me a good couple of weeks to do all my research, set up the blog and write some posts in advance, ready for go-live.How to Start a Book Blog

Did you find it difficult to come up with a name?

The blog is called ‘Behind Her Books’. I love it now, but I really struggled with choosing a name. I’m indecisive at the best of times and I wanted this to be right. I felt that I knew what I wanted the blog to be about; not just books but also about the stories behind why you chose it, what it meant or how it changed you.

I looked online to see what other people had. After a while, fed up and still stuck, I went to sulk on my balcony. It was out there that, after some thinking (and talking out loud to myself) I came up with the name ‘Behind Her Books’. I felt like it represented the ethos of the blog, as I wanted to make it personal as well as about the books. I also like the image it conjures up of being stuck in a book. I actually have a tattoo of a girl reading behind a book, so really it should have come to me a lot quicker!

Tell us a bit about the kind of books you enjoy reading… and what do you like most about blogging?

I really try to read a variety of books. I am mostly drawn to contemporary fiction, but I love memoirs, essay collections, historical fiction and non-fiction. Oh and I always make sure to include some classics too! So pretty much anything goes, as long as it sounds interesting.

I love having the blog as a creative outlet, somewhere where I can channel all those book and writing related thoughts that I have (and normally bore everyone around me with). Also, I have found the book blogging online community to be wonderfully welcoming, supportive and kind. I had absolutely no idea that it existed and it’s been great to be connected to so many likeminded people.

What book are you currently reading?

Right now, I’m reading Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenburg-Jephcott which was longlisted for the Women’s Fiction Prize in 2019. It’s about the fallout after Truman Capote exposed the secrets of his inner circle of female friends, his ‘Swans’, in a piece published in Esquire in 1975. I’m halfway through and so far it’s juicy, tantalising and bittersweet. It’s a fascinating story which explores the blurred lines between art and betrayal.Book - Swan Song

What are the top 3 characteristics that you look for in a good book?

First off, well-developed, complex and interesting characters. I don’t have to like them all, but I want to identify with them, care about them or hate them if needs be!

Secondly, is when the author does something that means you can’t put it down. Whether that be the sense of tension, the pace or just the beautiful language they use, if I’m still holding it whilst brushing my teeth or making lunch then it’s a winner.

Finally, the main thing I want from a book is for it to make me feel something. Whether that’s joy, anger, wonder, sadness or anywhere in between, I think a good book stays with you for a long time after you finish it. Sometimes forever!

What do you do when you’re not blogging?

Professionally I work full-time as a Programme Manager in a company that provides funding for Welsh businesses. Last year, I also started studying part-time for a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Squeezed around that, I train at a local CrossFit gym to keep me sane, spend time with my friends and family, and, of course, read!

Do you have any advice for other people who are thinking of setting up a new blog?

It’s really worth doing research beforehand to learn what is important to you and what you want to include in your blog. If you’re writing about something you are passionate about though, I think you’re already on the right track. Try not to worry about anyone else and write something that you would love to read. Chances are, there are people out there who want to read it too and that will work itself out.

Thanks Megan!

Why not take a look at Megan’s blog – Behind Her Books… or follow her on Twitter?

If you’re keen to set up your own blog, but aren’t sure where to start, why not buy a copy of my step by step guide? It’s also relevant for blogs on other subjects, and might be especially useful for writers or freelancers who want to create a website to promote their work.

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