I’m so ecstatic to have the amazing Rel Mollet on Writerly Wednesday. If you aren’t familiar with Rel, you need to be. Be sure to check out her fabulous book review site Relz Reviewz. Rel is a wonderful lady, friend, and incredible supporter of Christian Fiction and she’s been kind enough to answer some questions about the blogger/author relationship and lots more. Thanks so much, Rel, for sharing your time and expertise.
I’m thrilled to be interviewing you for Writerly Wednesday. Thank you so much for taking time out of your super busy schedule to spend a little time with us today. For those of us who don’t know you, could take a minute and introduce yourself?
Hey Dani! It’s such a treat for me to share with you and your readers ? Mmm…I love talking about books and authors, myself, not so much! But for you, I’ll try! On the home front, I’m married to Steve and we have three gorgeous teen daughters and one handsome black lab, Sherlock. Our home is in the world’s most live-able city, Melbourne, Australia.
My love of literature began before I could read and has only exploded from there. I’ve been reviewing/blogging at RelzReviewz.com for over ten years and after a 21 year career as a lawyer, I now have my dream job and business, Relz Author Support Services, providing virtual assistance to Christian novelists.
I’d love to take a few minutes to chat about the author/blogger relationship. How do you view the relationship between reviewer/blogger and authors?
Fun question! As a reviewer, my relationship with authors is at arm’s length in a way. When it comes to book reviews, my first obligation is to readers of my blog. Long term readers (I still can’t believe there are people who actually read my blog every week!) rely on me for recommendations, so it is important that I provide quality reviews that are honest and reflect my thoughts on the book as independently as possible. I have one dear reader who calls me her ‘book compass’ (waving to you, Amy!), and I take that honour very seriously.
As a book blogger, however, there’s nothing I love more than supporting authors and connecting them to readers. That is why you will find author interviews, character spotlights, author alerts, cover art posts, and more on the blog as I want to be able to showcase books – even ones that aren’t necessarily to my taste – so all kinds of readers and all kinds of authors can make connections.
My blog is dedicated to faith-driven fiction, and a mutual love of books and a shared faith, has meant I have connected on a deeper level with some authors. What began as simply promoting an author on my blog has, in some instances, resulted in very dear friendships that I value more than I can say. If I do review a book by an author I have a deeper connection with, I always disclose that to my readers so they are fully informed.
I can’t image the number of authors you’ve interacted with over the years. You are definitely a champion for CBA authors and we greatly appreciate all you do. How can we as authors be helpful to you?
You are very kind, Dani – thank you. Authors can be helpful to me and other bloggers in lots of ways. Here’s a few thoughts…
- Read our Review policies! Most bloggers will outline what books they are willing to feature and ones they are not. If it is clear an author hasn’t paid attention to the blogger’s policy, it is unlikely to garner a positive response.
- Engage with the blogger’s audience. If you are featured on a blog, be sure to stop by and respond to any comments directed to you. Not only does that endear you to the readers who have taken the time to comment, it also lifts the blogger’s profile, too. A win-win!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for exposure! Bloggers blog in their spare time. We don’t always have the time to approach all the authors we would like to feature. Email your favourite bloggers and ask if they can feature you and your book. Don’t be shy or assume we won’t be interested (if your book complies with the review policy, that is!)
- Be open to a feature, rather than a review. Yes, reviews are great but top bloggers are often swamped with books to read and review. By all means request a review, but be open (or offer) a feature to a blogger. They will more often than not be happy to oblige.
- Show appreciation. If you have been featured on a blog – especially if you have requested it – be sure to send an email of thanks or comment on the blog. We do this for love – yes, we often receive a free book (but not always) – but bloggers spend countless hours reading, preparing a post, adding links and graphics for that free book. A thank you takes little time, but means so much.
- Provide pictures! If you are being interviewed on a blog, it’s always lovely to be provided a picture relating to the interview. Readers love it, too.
- Be understanding. As mentioned above, book blogging is a labour of love, taking a lot of time and effort, working around family life, paid work, and other obligations. Sometimes we miss deadlines or forget to post a planned feature. Never hesitate to gently remind us if we have missed something, but please understand that it is unlikely to be intentional and we feel very badly when it happens!
Given the above answers, it’s clear you’re a veteran blogger. How have you seen the CBA industry change over the years since you started blogging?
There have been significant changes over the past decade. Many positive changes and some more challenging. Overall, however, I believe the changes have been for the better. The quality and breadth of CBA novels has improved greatly. The available genres have increased. Indie publishing has provided a wonderful opportunity for books to be published that traditional publishers haven’t been in a position to take on for a variety of reasons. This has led to an extension of the reading audience for authentic, faith infused fiction and made it more accessible to those who really need the redemptive themes without the ‘perfect’ characters.
If you could sit down with an author over a cup of coffee, what one piece of advice or encouragement would you give them?
Write what the Lord has placed on your heart to write. Nothing else.
You are also an author virtual assistant. Can you talk a little bit about how you entered into that role?
For years, I dreamt about working with authors, wondering how I could translate my passion into a career that would serve others in an industry I feel so strongly about. I thought it was a pipe dream. Then circumstances intervened. My legal career ended suddenly and I was at a loss. The next day, yes, the very next day, I received an email from a publisher, asking me if I’d be interested in doing a little contract work for them. That gave me the inspiration to talk with some dear friends in the industry who provided wisdom and encouragement and Relz Author Support Services was born.
What you do love about working with authors so much?
I love who they are and why they do what they do! I love their passion and heart for the power of story and their commitment to their faith. Every one of my clients write to honour God. They devote time, angst, heartache, rejection, and criticism to provide stories that bring joy, challenge, encouragement, entertainment, hope, and inspiration to their readers. Yes, some receive decent money for the effort they put in, most don’t. Yet they write. I have benefitted enormously, over decades of reading, from stories which have moved me, comforted me, and challenged me to be a better person. If I can free my authors up, even a little, so they can do what God has called them to do, then I’m honoured.
Thank you, Rel, for being such an advocate for authors! You’re amazing.
You can find Rel at Relz Reviewz offers author interviews, character spotlights, book reviews, contests and giveaways, publishing news, and cover art sneak peeks for the best in Christian fiction. You can connect with Rel over at her Facebook Page.
This week I’m giving away a $10 egift card to Starbucks. Leave a comment answering the question below to be entered to win.
Rel shares that one of her big pipe dreams was to work with authors and her dream became a reality. What is one of your pipe dream?