Simon Savidge, author of one of UK’s most influential literature blogs, Savidge Reads. Simon spoke to us about judging the Fiction Uncovered prize for fiction writers, why Twitter is his social media tool of choice, blogger compensation and PR best practices.
What’s new on Savidge Reads? In terms of books I have been talking about the new Kate Atkinson novel, A God in Ruins, which is getting a lot of buzz and then made me think, along with recently judging Fiction Uncovered which I have talked about quite a lot, whether Savidge Reads should be going in a different (possibly more niche) direction and be finding more hidden gems as well as talking about some of the bigger books. Much to think on…
What has been a fun/interesting campaign you have recently worked on? What was different about it? I have been judging Fiction Uncovered recently and that has given me a real insight into how many brilliant books there are that aren’t getting talked about as much as they could be whether it is in the broadsheets or on blogs like mine. I am just starting to record the You Wrote the Book podcast again and so have been working with the publishers of Ryan Gattis’ All Involved (a brilliant fictional account of the 1992 LA riots) and Kate Grenville’s One Life (a non-fiction story of her mother).
How do you use social media to promote/share content? What are the challenges? I love a tweet. I think Twitter is a great way of getting your content out there through links, hashtags and initiatives like #BookADayUK. It is also a great way of chatting to other bookish sorts. Facebook I have a page I don’t do much with it if I am honest. Instagram I love but I haven’t quite decided if it is for books or for selfies and pictures of my food. So Twitter is probably my social media choice of preference, it is also how I met my partner so maybe that is another reason I am so fond of it.
What advice would you give to a someone who wants to start a blog? Do it because you are passionate about something. Don’t do it for freebies or because you want to become some overnight famous sensation. Stick with it and just enjoy it, there is no point doing anything if you don’t really, really love it. And when you don’t love it have a rest.
How do you work with PRs? In varying ways. I get sent a lot of unsolicited books, which is lovely and can provide some reading material you might not have tried otherwise, apart from that the main source of contact is via email with the publishers or PR companies themselves. I find an impassioned personal email will get my attention more than one that is clearly a blanket email to every blogger in sundry.
Do you feel bloggers need to be compensated for the work they do? No. I have heard some vloggers get paid to advertise or discuss books and I was genuinely, and probably very naively, shocked. I would rather have respect from PR’s and be treated nicely than be paid. That said if anyone wants to send me on some bookish retreats or would like to have their logo unobtrusively somewhere on the blog for an annual fee and didn’t want to direct the way my blog was going I wouldn’t say no. Wouldn’t it be lovely for your blog to be your bread and butter. As it is I just do it because I enjoy it, and have for over seven years.
List three best practices PRs need to follow for better blogger outreach? A personal approach. An appreciation that bloggers do it for the love and around their day jobs. Contact them about things they are really passionate about and that are appropriate to the blogger building a frank and genuine relationship.
What will be big in your blogosphere in the coming months? Short stories, Patricia Highsmith and hopefully more recommendations of some books that might have gone under the radar but shouldn’t have, alongside some of the mainstream talked about books. Oh and lots of other bookish ramblings along the way.