UKYABA 2019 Winner Badges

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Interview with Little Brown Publicist Sophia Walker

YAShot interns Katie and Irina interview Little Brown publicist Sophia Walker about bloggers and vloggers and their amazing contribution to the UKYA community, as well as how to get into publishing for those looking for career tips!

Huge thanks to Sophia for her time and Little Brown for sponsoring the Champion of Diversity Award 2019!

We’d like to start off by finding out a bit more about you and what your job entails. Can you tell us how you got into publishing and what your current job involves on a day-to-day basis?

I am a Publicist at Atom books, which is an imprint within Little, Brown Book Group. I studied English at university and completed work experience at Little Brown during my third year. When a job as Publicity Assistant became available, I jumped at the chance to interview and was lucky enough to be offered the job. I’ve been with Little, Brown for almost two years now, and am now a Press Officer. My day to day job involves talking to journalists about what exciting titles are coming up, saving news cuttings, writing press releases and talking to the wonderful bloggers out there, arranging reviews, giveaways or blog tours!

The YAShot interns are all aspiring to a job in the Arts. What particular qualities do you think publishers are looking for in potential employees?

Enthusiasm is the most important thing as everything else can be learnt. Passion and hard work are the most important things Publishers are looking for, especially in entry level roles. Also, a calm head and a methodical approach are always useful to balance the busyness!

Internships and work experience within publishing houses are clearly the most popular ways people gain some experience within this industry when first starting out. What would you suggest are some more unusual places to gain relevant experience for entry-level publishing roles?

If you know what aspect of publishing you’re looking to go into (Marketing, PR, Editorial, Production, Sales) then try to get some experience in other industries. If you wanted to get into PR for example, try to do some work experience in PR agency’s. It’s also worth thinking about what transferable skills you could gain (or already have) in part time jobs.

If you could go back in time, what would you advise your younger self to do more of in order to break into publishing? And what would you counsel yourself against?

I would advise myself to open my mind to what working in Publishing means. There are so many departments to work in, yet everyone tends to initially go for editorial. You may surprise yourself with what you’re actually more suited to.

How important was networking for you? And what networking tips can you give to aspiring publishers?

I didn’t know anyone who worked in publishing when I started – I merely applied for Work experience online and ticked every box on every department! I think Networking is useful for finding friends and gaining support, but there is a brilliant wave in blind recruiting in publishing now, so it’s purely on the strength of your application.

 

These next five questions focus on book blogging and your views and opinions on how bloggers and publishers work together. Book blogging is an influential area of literary social media, constantly growing and adapting along with the publishing landscape, but it is still a relatively new section of the industry.

In your opinion, what influence do book bloggers and vloggers have on the publishing industry?

I think they have a huge influence on readers and what book they should pick up next. Before I worked in publishing I got all my recommendations from Instagram. Seeing the way the bloggers had crafted such beautiful pictures of the books made me desperate to read them.

Have you ever collaborated with book bloggers and/or vloggers? If so, what did that involve and how did it add to your broader picture of promotions and publicity work?

I have organised several blog tours and constantly work with bloggers to review and spread the word about the new titles I’m working on. It involves me approaching bloggers I admire and seeing if they’d be interested in hearing more about my title. If they like the sound of it, we can then talk about them reviewing or partaking in a blog tour.

Would you say book bloggers are now considered part of a book’s marketing and publicity strategy? If not, do you feel book bloggers are an overlooked resource?

I absolutely factor bloggers into my strategy. For some books, blogger are the main column of the plan, if we know we have a title that will appeal to bloggers and their audiences.

Given the frictions between book bloggers and publishers in the past, how do current publishers approach collaborations? What are the expectations and boundaries?

I’ve only ever had wonderful experiences with bloggers that I hope to continue. It’s all about communication and managing expectations from both sides so everyone is happy. Bloggers and Publishers love books and want to shout about our favourites, so we’re coming from the same place.

What do you think traditional book critics can learn from bloggers? And vice versa?

I love the personality that bloggers put forward in their reviews, and the passionate detailing of what they loved. I also love that they are honest in what didn’t work for them! With traditional space for reviews becoming smaller, it’s brilliant to have the freedom to be more critical and considered.

 

 

Interview with Champion Vlogger and Best Growing Blogger 2018 Winner Zoe Collins

Huge thanks to Zoe (www.nosaferplace.co.uk) for this brilliant interview with the YAShot Interns to help celebrate the UKYABA2019!

Do you have any stand-out moments or favourite memories from last year’s UKYA Blogger Awards?

I feel like winning two awards goes without saying; as those two moments were so overwhelming. Those aside, the stand out moment for me was being on my own panel with some of my best friends. I was incredibly nervous about doing them, and I felt like I had really conquered a goal when I did that.

The calibre of the bloggers and vloggers longlisted for each category was absolutely outstanding. How did it feel to win and has it changed anything for you?

Oh, the quality of bloggers and vloggers were phenomenal, and I was shocked at every stage that I was getting closer and closer to potentially winning. When my first award win was announced, I just completely broke down into tears. Bloggers and vloggers work so hard to make content, so a night that celebrates that is one I fully support. Winning hasn’t really changed much; but if I’m lacking motivation, or self-doubt creeps in, looking over at my bookcase and seeing those two awards makes me feel I’ve got this.

UKYABA is about celebrating the UKYA Book Blogging community as a whole. Did the Awards help you to discover new blogs and/or form any new friendships in the book-blogging community?

The awards introduced me to so many new blogs. I think it’s quite easy to stay in your little bubble of comfort when you’re a book blogger – but the awards really make you explore blogs that you maybe wouldn’t have without that push. As for friendships, I met a few people for the first time that I’d been speaking to for years, at the awards – and have seen them several times since!

How do the Awards relate to bigger discussions in the blogging community?

I think book bloggers in general get a lot of slack compared to other communities. We’re not recognised as much as other sectors, even though we do the same amount of work. So these awards really make members of the bookish community feel valued, and appreciated.

Finally, do you have any advice or tips for nominees attending the ceremony this year?

Just relax, and enjoy yourself! On the night, it’s not about winning or losing – it’s about being part of a community, and celebrating all the amazing achievements everyone has made in the past year.

 

Blog-specific questions

How long have you been blogging about books and what prompted you to start your blog? Is there a specific genre or type of book that you focus on?

I’ve been blogging for just over 3 years now. I started my blog because I read a book called The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, and I needed the world to know my thoughts on it. I typed up my review, and shared it with the world – and have been addicted since. I predominately write about YA, but I do love crime and thrillers too.

Do you have a favourite type of blog post to write? Could you share with us what goes into these posts and why they’re your favourite?

Reviews are always my favourite to write. Some people don’t like writing with a structure, but it really helps my reviews. I usually scribble notes down beforehand, and bookmark quotes as I’m reading; these really help when I’m typing up and struggling to read my handwriting!

What is one of the hardest things about running a book blog that most people who read them might not be aware of?

Time. Finding time is always tricky. I try to put a lot of thought into my reviews, so sometimes they can take hours! I run a YA book subscription box now, and it’s so much harder to stay on top of a blog, as well as a YouTube. It’s definitely a juggling act.

Could you share a favourite memory of something you got to do or participate in because of your blog?

Besides UKYABA? I’d have to say my nosaferplace Book Club. I had some of my favourite authors choose books, and get involved with bookish chats on social media – it was absolutely incredible.

Is there one important tip you would give someone who is thinking about starting their own book blog?

Make sure your blog reflects you. It’s easy to see what works well for other bloggers and do it on your blog; but what works for one person, might not work for you. So just do you – and make sure it reflects your love of reading!

Thank you so much for having me!

 

UKYABA Champion Teen Blogger 2018 (Amy Golden Books Girl) Interview

Huge thanks to Amy (www.goldenbooksgirl.wordpress.com) for this brilliant interview with the YAShot Interns to help celebrate the UKYABA2019!

Do you have any stand-out moments or favourite memories from last year’s UKYABA?

I think it would have to be checking my notifications after I got home from the birthday party I was at on the night and finding out I’d won; I immediately burst into tears sitting on the couch.

The calibre of the bloggers and vloggers longlisted for each category was absolutely outstanding. How did it feel to win and has it changed anything for you?

It felt amazing to win and also utterly surreal. I was up for two categories and won one, and on the one I won I was up against some incredible people, including Lucy Powrie (www.queenofcontemporary.com) who is a huge inspiration of mine. I genuinely couldn’t stop refreshing my emails because I was SO sure there had been a miscount because it would be impossible for me to win over her. I wouldn’t say it changed anything but it was a REALLY lovely boost.

The UKYABA are about celebrating the UKYA Book Blogging & Vlogging community as a whole. Did the Awards help you to discover new blogs/vlogs and/or form any new friendships in the book-blogging community?

The only thing that comes to mind is that Jo (www.bookloverjo.wordpress.com) and I now call each other blogging mum/blogging daughter sometimes because she won Best Adult and I won Best Teen so it felt fitting! We knew each other beforehand though.

Blog-specific questions

How long have you been blogging about books and what prompted you to start your blog? Is there a specific genre or type of book that you focus on?

My blog turns two on June 1st, which is bizarre to think about. It somehow feels like I’ve done it no time at all and forever all at once. I started my blog because I’d always wanted to and just decided to take the plunge because otherwise I would do my usual- overthink it forever and never actually do it. I read quite a wide range of age categories overall and I read from several genres, but a lot of what I read ends up being upper MG.

Do you have a favourite type of blog post to write? Could you share with us what goes into these posts and why they’re your favourite?

I think my favourites to write are probably tags (my friend Sarah from www.sarahwithersblog.wordpress.com calls me tag queen, to give you an idea of how much!) becuase it lets me talk about lots of different books and also my reading habits. I love doing author interviews a great deal too, and I still can`t believe I get that opportunity through blogging!

What is one of the hardest things about running a book blog that most people who read them might not be aware of?

Before I started, it somehow never occurred to me that people probably had deadlines for review copies and so can’t always mood read like I used to pre-blogging. I absolutely love having the privilege of reading things early though, so I wouldn’t swap it even though I sometimes can’t get to my most anticipated releases that I bought myself or got from the library as quickly as I’d like.

Could you share a favourite memory of something you got to do or participate in because of your blog?

I absolutely love interviewing authors- I’ve got to do them with some of my absolute favourites and it’s the BEST.

Is there one important tip you would give someone who is thinking about starting their own book blog?

This probably wouldn’t apply to everyone because I am admittedly a control freak of the highest order, but plan a schedule and schedule posts. Even if you can only write it the night before, it still saves rushing to get it up the day of. I shudder at the thought of trying to do that, honestly. On a less pragmatic note as well, be yourself. Talk about the things you want to and don’t feel restricted by other people.

 

 

Interview with UKYABA Champion of Diversity 2018 Luna’s Little Library!

We’re kicking off a month-long celebration of the #UKYA and #UKMG blogging and vlogging and online book community ahead of the UKYA Blogger and Vlogger Awards at YALC on July 26th! Each day a different blogger/vlogger/bookstagrammer will be posting on a bookish theme so look out for all of those things – we’ll be boosting on Twitter via @UKYABA and @YAShotmediateam and on Instragram via @YA.Shot.

To launch the celebration, here is YAShot Deputy Director and 2018 Champion of Diversity Luna’s Little Library talking about blogging and books and the UKYA community! Thanks to our brilliant first-year interns for arranging this with second-year mentor Charlotte Wilson! And now over to Luna…

UKYABA 2018

Is this your photo? We’d love to credit you if so!

Do you have any stand-out moments or favourite memories from last year’s UKYA Blogger Awards?

Getting up on stage to make my speech. I was utterly terrified, but I felt that the words I had to say were more important than my anxiety about saying them. There is the idea of preparing something vs. the actual moment when you realise that you can say them is a big chasm to step over. I fumbled my way through but those words. I still have the speech saved on my phone and I wish I could have been calm and collected that night to say:

“Diverse stories make our reading so much richer. Diverse voices challenge us think about who we are. Who we want to be. It’s important for all of us to remember that we are unique. That we all bring our own experiences and background to the table. That my world may not necessarily be the same as your world. That we all deserve to be seen and heard and represented.

As a community we should encourage and support inclusiveness too. We should be receptive to constructive feedback. Instead of ranking ourselves, let’s boost each other and lift up each other’s voices. Let’s recognise each other and our individual journeys. Let’s champion each other to ensure that our stories, all our stories, get told.”

I am proud I got up on stage to speak but everything that day was just so much that honestly, I didn’t really appreciate what had happened until a lot later.

 

The calibre of the bloggers and vloggers longlisted for each category was absolutely outstanding. How did it feel to win and has it changed anything for you?

It was thrilling to win. And I do believe winning UKYABA has the possibility to support and create new opportunities for bloggers. Unfortunately, my health declined rapidly a little while after the awards and my blog suffered because of this.

 

UKYABA is about celebrating the UKYA Book Blogging community as a whole. Did the Awards help you to discover new blogs and/or form any new friendships in the book-blogging community?

When the nominees where announced I spend an evening following everyone on twitter. From there I had a whole new catalogue of book blogs to explore.

 

How do the Awards relate to bigger discussions in the blogging community?

The awards are about celebrating UKYA book bloggers. It’s about thanking us for all the work we put in to support book community (incl. authors, publishers, etc.) They have evolved from the UKYA Blogger Awards started by author Andy Robb in 2015, which were combined with the UKYA Book Blogger Awards, designed by Faye Rogers (Daydreamer’s Thoughts) in 2015, then hosted by me (Luna’s Little Library) in 2016. Each year these awards have listened to feedback from the book blogging community and grown. I believe that the awards are a good reminder of how much work we do. The industry appreciation is certainly a positive thing and it’s also good that we as bloggers can celebrate each other.

 

Finally, do you have any advice or tips for nominees attending the ceremony this year?

Do prepare something to say. If you end up winning, then getting up to speak in front of people is scary but it is also an opportunity to say something. (It’s not mandatory so you don’t have to do this.) If you don’t win those words can still be said, on your blog or social media. You will have thought about those words, what they mean to you and to those you want to communicate to. There is something empowering about that.

The awards are about celebrating the blogging community and what we as bloggers do. Regardless of being nominated or winning – you as a blogger matter.

 

 

How long have you been blogging about books and what prompted you to start your blog? Is there a specific genre or type of book that you focus on?

I am now in my seventh year. Which I just worked out to answer this question and oh wow – how did that happen?! No seriously how did that happen? Luna’s Little Library is a blog that has picture books, comics, MG, YA and adult. I do focus on promoting diversity in books and my Goodreads WNDB/OwnVoices Bookshelf has 500+ books and counting. If you want to have a look just click on this link HERE.

 

Do you have a favourite type of blog post to write? Could you share with us what goes into these posts and why they’re your favourite?

Due to health reasons this has changed over the last year. With support and a lot of clever apps the blog has evolved to auto- & cross-post across multiple social media platforms to enable Luna’s Little Library to continue to promote books and authors. As such I think “favourite” is still something to be decided on.

 

What is one of the hardest things about running a book blog that most people who read them might not be aware of?

The emotional attachment as well as the work (time!) they take. Having to overhaul and rethink how Luna’s Little Library could exist given my current circumstances was super hard. It meant letting go of a lot of things and stepping back.

 

Could you share a favourite memory of something you got to do or participate in because of your blog?

I am the Deputy Director of YAShot because of my blog. That is rewarding in ways I can’t express in words, from the mentoring and working with Interns to helping with YAShot Day 2018.

 

Is there one important tip you would give someone who is thinking about starting their own book blog?

Don’t assume you need to have it all sorted from the start. Your blog will evolve and change and that’s ok. Search out advice but remember that there is no right or wrong way – there is only your way. But it is polite to not tag authors on bad reviews – ‘cause that’s just mean.

 

Thank you so much for participating and helping us celebrate bloggers and vloggers as we work towards the UKYABA2019!