Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Are You a Book Junkie?

Today, we have a Q&A with writer, author and now website entrepreneur Thomas Bosch, who has just launched www.bookjunkies.net In our Q&A, he talks about the website and the writing life:

Tell us a bit about yourself: 32 years old on February 23rd, originally from Scotland but now living permanently in Germany. My paying jobs are English tutoring and freelance writing. In the past, I have worked in numerous industries including the Scottish civil service, journalism, marketing and banking. I have also worked in numerous countries.
Tell us about bookjunkies.com: BookJunkies is a website dedicated to books and everything about books. I have been an avid reader for over 25 years and I now average about 8-10 books a month (a lot less if I am swamped with work but over the year, it generally evens out). I wanted some way to show my love & appreciation for books (to quote Austin Powers' Goldmember "I love the smell of it, the feel of it!") and in the back of my mind, I have future plans to start a book shop business online. So I decided to start a website, starting with book reviews, a blog, a newsletter and advice / tips with the option later to expand it greatly into other areas such as the book business, a merchandising shop and so on, maybe even a small POD printing press. Book websites come and go with frequent regularity so I am aiming for the long haul - when everyone else has packed up and moved on, I want to be the one left standing!
How will it be unique from other sites like it? As well as book reviews, a blog and all the other usual features, BookJunkies will also focus on beginning book authors, the first-time published authors who are perhaps struggling to promote their work and break into the big leagues. BookJunkies will offer free profile pages for new published book authors as well as provide links to their work, reviews of their work and their contact information. So if anyone is looking for a new author to read, they can browse the profiles and be taken directly to the published books with reviews. The profiles will also help the author to build a bigger online presence in the search engines. If BookJunkies reads and reviews their work, I will post the review on the site as well as post the review on Amazon (if the author wishes that). So hopefully it will help them to get a few good reviews and some word-of-mouth referrals. BookJunkies will also promote freedom of the press, freedom of speech and we will campaign against banned books to the point where I will directly point people to where they can get the banned book if they want to read it. If the book's copyright is expired, I will point people towards Project Gutenberg to download a copy.
Why did you decide to launch it? Many reasons. First, I have been doing book reviews for Amazon for the past 3 years or so but Amazon heavily censors reviews or doesn't publish them at all. They're obviously only thinking about their profit margin so they don't want to post too many negative reviews that will impact sales. I think this is grossly unfair to paying customers who are only hearing what Amazon wants them to hear. Other places such as Barnes & Noble are no better. So BookJunkies will be uncensored, all reviews will be fully published (good or bad), all comments on the blog will be uncensored and I aim to start a open and honest discussion about books and publishing. Second, I think there are not many good websites out there that offer practical helpful advice about things such as book repair, how to spot a fake signature and so on. Perhaps the exception to the rule is Craig Stark's "BookThink" or the email forum newsletter at BookFinder.com but on the whole, I think the market is still ripe for a new good practical easy-to-use website for books and the care / sale / love of books. Of course there are lots of book blogs but they tend to only do reviews in order to drive people to Amazon to buy the book through the affiliate scheme. BookJunkies will also do that (to finance itself) but I am aiming to offer more than just reviews. I want BookJunkies to be one of the top websites for anything concerning books.
How do you think it's going to help writers? As I explained, the beginning author will get a free profile page with their contact details (if they wish), links to their work, details of their next book project, scheduled appearances / book signings, reviews of their work, etc, so they are getting free advertising and promotion. My advantage is that I will sell the author's work by linking to their Amazon listing through the Amazon affiliate program. So we both get something out of it. The blog will cover current issues and news about the publishing industry so hopefully authors will find it informative and useful. I am considering setting up a forum where authors can talk, meet and network but that is a future "maybe". A forum will take up a lot of time and effort and there are other things I want to do first.
What is the best piece of advice you can give writers? As a published writer of newspaper articles, magazine articles, website articles and ghostwriter of e-books and technical manuals, the best advice I can offer is 1) when you think you have re-written the text enough, then you probably need to do another 2 or 3 re-writes before it is really finished, 2) try to read as much as possible. When I have writer's block, I stop trying to write and I read instead. Reading gives me ideas for writing. I am currently writing a science-fiction story after reading an Isaac Asimov book. Good ol' Isaac got my inspiration going. Oh and 3) never give up even if you think time is getting on and you'll never make it. Sidney Sheldon didn't get his first book published until he was 51 so since I am only 32, I figure I still have plenty of time to be successful. Age is only an issue if you make it an issue.
Anything else about your site or writing? Just bookmark the site and check back often. I have two day jobs so BookJunkies is still only a hobby right now but time permitting, I have some great features I want to implement So bookmark the site, visit often and see what's new. If anyone has any constructive criticism and / or comments / suggestions, I would love to hear them. The site will only improve upon the feedback of the visitors.


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