I have been super lucky to get the chance to ask Alex Bennett of Electrifying Reviews a LOT of questions about blogging, books and more. He was nice enough to answer all 42 – yep, I told you it was a lot – of my questions.
…on Blogging, Reading and Writing
Q. Your blog, Electrifying Reviews, has been up and running for a year-and-a-half now. By many you’d be considered a seasoned blogger – at the ripe old age of 14 going on 15. Do you have any advice for new bloggers? Any pitfalls they should avoid?
AB: I think new bloggers shouldn’t immediately focus on things like ARCs or BEA, and all that. They should just share their opinions, and try to get those opinions out to people without making it feel like they are desperate for people to go look at their blog. I get tons of comments and such with people saying “blah blah blah, here’s a link to my blog!”. Don’t spam people. Put out quality content. The rest will follow with time.
Q. What would you say is your favorite part of the book blogging experience? Your least favorite?
AB: My favorite part is definitely interacting with all of the awesome people in the YA book world! I’ve met so many amazing people thanks to blogging, and wouldn’t give my friendships up for the world. My least favorite part is the drama. I didn’t notice it a lot at first, but as time has passed there’s been plenty of it flowing through the blogosphere and the like. I try to avoid it as much as I can but sometimes it’s too hard or personal to look away.
Q. Since you started your blog in December 2009 is there anything you wished you had done differently? Is there anything you wished you hadn’t done at all?
AB: I wish I would have had a clearer goal. I started off with really no idea what a book blog was. At first, I posted tons of random crap, but once I started reading more blogs I got a better idea of what book blogging is, and that really helped. I actually started reviewing on YouTube, and have since dropped my account. I don’t wish I would have never done that, because it introduced me to book reviewing, but it added a lot of unnecessary drama, since so many people are on the site.
Q. You read quite a bit and post content on your site pretty much every day, plus you’re an avid Tweeter – how do you find time to do it all – writing, school and blogging?
AB: A lot of what I post is scheduled ahead of time, so it doesn’t actually take too much time away from my schedule. Haha, Tweeting is like breathing. It’s natural, and easy, and takes just a second. Writing… I barely do it anymore, and that sucks. It really sucks. I hope I can find more time to do it soon. School is pretty manageable, actually. I have a study period where I get all my work done. Plus, I’m pretty smart anyway so it’s easy to not get bogged down with work.
Q. As a frequent visitor to your site I’ve noticed that you’ve had a few redesigns – love this latest iteration by the way. Is this something you will continue to do or are you happy with the current layout and design? How important do you think it is to change your site’s design or do you think it’s fine to choose one design and stick with it?
AB: Yeah, I do change it a lot, don’t I? I’ll probably update it as time goes on, but probably not as regularly. The one I have currently is professionally done and I’d like to not have to pay lots of money to get a new design whenever my heart desires. The one I have now is sleek and professional, and I love it. I think if you are happy with your design, and it isn’t off-putting to readers or, you know, ugly, then it’s fine to stick with it.
Q. On Twitter and on your blog you are very friendly with several authors. Do you find it challenging to write your honest reviews about authors you know? How do you handle writing reviews for books that just weren’t for you by an author you’ve become friendly with?
AB: This is a hard part of blogging, but authors know that not everyone is going to like their books. I’m actually pretty close with authors whose books I didn’t like very much at all. I think as long as you are professional and give good reason and critique, then an author can’t really hate you for not liking their book. As long as you don’t make it personal, they won’t take it personally.
Q. As a younger writer do you feel that your blogging experience has helped you make connections in the industry? With all the brouhaha going on with bloggers/authors, do you feel that having a blog has affected your future as an author?
AB: If anything it’s probably helped. I have countless mentors now who can give me great advice and whatnot when I am ready to take it to the next level. I know agents, authors, editors, publicists, and just about everything else there is in the book industry. I’m definitely not going to be able to be like, “Hey friend, how about you publish this book I wrote!”. Because it doesn’t work that way. I hope my blogging shows people in the industry that I can be professional, and that I know what works and what doesn’t.
Q. You mention on your blog that your goal is to get the word out about reading and how important it is for teens to read. How successful do you feel you have been at spreading the message? What else do you seek to accomplish with your site?
AB: I think I’ve successfully spread that message because people often are shocked that I am a teen. And a boy! People automatically jump to conclusions thinking I must be some old housewife or something, and then they realize that I’m obviously not. So by breaking that stereotype, I hope it shows others that they can branch out too and be what they want to be, not what people think they should be. I also hope to just get the word out about YA. It’s an amazing thing, young adult books, and I hope I can be a factor in spreading their popularity.
Q. Which do you prefer best – writing, reading or blogging? Why?
AB: Reading, probably. Because so many books are just so… good! It’s hard to get that with anything else. My writing isn’t always going to be good. Blogging can often have more negatives than positives.
Q. The young adult writing and book blogging community seem to be made up largely of female authors and bloggers. What is unique to your experience as a male writer and blogger in this environment?
AB: What’s unique about it is that I don’t think I come off as the typical “guy”. A lot of the YA book world is associated with teen girls or Twilight Moms freaking out over their favorite literary guys. And I’m reading the same things as them. So it’s odd in a way.
Q. What advice would you give to others your age who might want to start their own blog and become a part of this community?
A. Don’t expect it to be easy, and don’t think that things will fall into your grasp without working hard. It’s fun as hell, and it can be so rewarding, but it can be tough and it can suck at times. Deal with it and write another review.
Q. Book blogging is a fairly recent phenomenon, there aren’t too many book blogs that have been up for five or more years. Do you see yourself continuing your blog after you graduate or is this something for the short-term until your writing career takes off?
AB: I hope I don’t drop it! I mean, who knows if my writing career will ever really take off. I mean, hopefully it does. But if not, then I still have my blog and all of my fabulous YA books. I don’t see myself dropping blogging at all in the future… near or far.
Q. What was your reasoning for discontinuing the ratings on the reviews on your site? Do you find it easier to write your reviews without coming up with a rating or is it more of a challenge?
AB: I basically write the same reviews as I did before, but I often notice that when I am reading blogs that I just glance at the star rating a blogger gave the book. I want people to actually read what I write, and if I kept doing star ratings fewer people would actually do so.
Q. You have a number of awesome features on your blog such as “Future Favorites” – have you ever thought of turning any of those into a meme?
AB: No, I don’t. A lot of my blog features are just my spins on other things that exist. If people want to do something like Future Favorites, or Waiting on Wednesday as the common meme is called, they can name it something that suits them.
Q. Is there anything else about you that you feel that fans of your blog and reviews should know?
AB: That I really do work hard and try to be as professional as possible, yet still fun. There’s a lot of drama that seems to find its way to me, but I’m not going to give up and stop for anyone.
Q. Favorite book?
AB: For real, Rachel? Gosh… probably The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith. Technically it’s a series, but HA, you can’t stop me!
Q. Favorite book with a female main character?
AB: See above answer.
Q. Favorite book with a male main character?
AB: Harry Potter.
Q. Favorite female main character?
AB: Lena from Beautiful Creatures. NOT from Beautiful Darkness.
Q. Favorite male main character?
AB: Probably Will from Angelfire. I totally don’t know actually, but that was the first book to come to mind.
Q. Favorite evil dude?
AB: Snape, Snape, Severus Snape.
Q. Favorite anti-hero/protagonist?
AB: One of the two love interests from the Sweep series. I won’t tell you which one is actually evil.
Q. Favorite love triangle (if you have one)?
AB: Probably the one from Dark Visions by L.J. Smith.
Q. Favorite character “couple”?
AB: I recently read Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz and the two main characters were so real and their relationship was just as real.
Q. Favorite genre?
AB: Probably Urban Fantasy. I do love contemporary, but for some reason barely read them.
Q. Favorite sub-genre? (Fairies, Vampires, Shifters, Angels, Demons, etc.)
Q. Favorite supernatural ability?
Q. Cliffhangers – love them or hate them?
AB: Depends. Usually I love them.
Q. Love triangles – yes or no?
AB: Again, depends. But if they aren’t there just for the sake of there being a love triangle, then I think they are fun.
Q. Favorite author?
AB: L.J. SMITH!
Q. Favorite book into movie?
AB: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Q. Book buy or book ban – the I Am Number Four series of books? the L.J. Smith-less Vampire Diaries series of books?
AB: Book buy. I’ve already bought some of the non-L.J. Smith Vampire Diaries books. People have ghostwriters all the time, and just because there is one doesn’t mean the story will be any less good.
Q. What was the weirdest comment someone left for you on your site?
AB: God, anything from Teisha Little.
Q. What was the oddest Tweet you ever received?
AB: God, anything by Teisha Little.
Q. What was the most unusual request for review you received?
AB: I think it was an erotic cookbook.
Q. What was your favorite book signing event that you attended?
AB: BEA. Does that count? If not, the Angelfire launch party. Those are the only two I’ve been to.
Q. Aside from BEA, what were the most books you received for review in the mail at one time?
AB: At one time meaning one package? Probably 30.
Q. How is your relationship with your mailman – does he/she love you or hate you?
AB: The Post is evil. They leave these little pink slips because nothing ever fits in my mailbox. The slips tell me to come over and pick up my packages at the Post. I’m not sure about the actual man/woman.
Q. If you could choose two writers to collaborate on a book who would they be and what would the genre be?
AB: Sophie Jordan and Tera Lynn Childs. It would be a paranormal romance.
Q. If you could write a book with another author, who would it be?
AB: L.J. Smith. Probably just to learn where she comes up with all of the ideas she does.
Q. What author has influenced your writing the most?
AB: Wow. Every book has influenced my writing. I definitely can’t pick one author.
Q. Do your friends support your writing and blogging endeavors or do they roll your eyes when you talk books?
AB: Actually, I tell very few people about my online life. But those who know about it are supportive through and through.
Thank you so much, Alex, for answering every single one of my questions! Your answers were a great mix of extremely helpful, outrageously funny, and boldly honest.
Is there anything more you want to know about Alex? Is there something I forgot to ask that you’ve been dying to know?
Either leave a comment, or just ask Alex directly on Formspring. And if you want to check out Electrifying Reviews, just click the blog button.