Kobo Writing Life Podcast
KWL EP 060 - Book Blogging with Vilma Gonzalez

In this week’s episode, we’re focusing on book blogging. Vilma Gonzalez, the all-star blogger who runs Vilma’s Book Blog, shared her journey with us, along with tips for how authors and bloggers can work together to help one another succeed. Tune in to learn:

  • How Vilma developed the aesthetic and brand of her blog. She is a marketing expert by day, so she knows the importance of a website that is easy to use, clean, and represents her
  • The growth of the blog over three years, growing her audience from 100 followers to over 33,000 today
  • How did she make that happen? Hard work, dedication, time. She applied the rules of business, being professional and staying focused on what readers want to see, and who she wants to be as a blogger
  • Vilma targets various social media outlets differently based on the typical users for each – for example, Snapchat and Instagram skew younger than Facebook – so she tailors posts appropriately
  • Her typical day: she essentially works two full-time jobs. She’s worked in marketing and technology for 20 years, and still does that full-time. Then she comes home, takes care of her kids, and works late nights on the blog, reading books, scheduling social media posts for the next day, often until 1am
  • How to monetize a blog. Affiliate links and ads are the primary ways to build steady income, but the affiliate side especially recently has been unstable
  • On average, Vilma reads 3 books a week plus an audio book. She keeps things on a very organized schedule – one book Monday-Wednesday, one book Wednesday-Friday, and one on the weekend.
  • What is the value to authors for building relationships with bloggers? You’re getting access through a trusted source to a dedicated audience. Bloggers have built a level of trust with their followers, so that recommendation is a powerful tool. Authors can also use the opportunity to learn about how readers are reading and connecting with bloggers
  • #1 advice for authors approaching bloggers: pay attention to what they’re looking for. Understand who they are and what they like. #2: don’t approach too aggressively and come in with big expectations. For example, Vilma’s review schedule is booked 4-6 months in advance, so there’s not much she can do for an author hoping for support for a launch with short notice
  • How she balances her friendships with authors, and what she’s trying to accomplish on the blog, for example if she reads a book by a friend that isn’t a good fit for her
  • Why she has a policy to only post positive reviews (3-3.5 stars or more) on the blog. She wants to remain focused on sharing books that she loves
  • The parallels between bloggers and authors, including struggling with breaking through the clutter of volume and staying focused on a strong brand and solid marketing
  • The benefits to bloggers of attending conferences and connecting with authors and industry professionals in person
  • Advice for bloggers wanting to start today: figure out who you want to be, and keep everything centered on that primary value or identity

Vilma Gonzalez is a marketing professional by day and book reviewer by night. She's been devouring books since she was very young and in early 2013, created Vilma's Book Blog, a website dedicated to reviewing books of all genres. In addition, she also writes for USA Today's HEA blog, penning a column entitled Love In Suspense, which focuses on thrillers and mystery novels. Vilma also blogs about fashion and style trends and is determined to own every Alex and Ani bracelet every made. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and their two young sons. 

Direct download: Vilma_Gonzalez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:28am PDT

KWL EP 059 - Tom Vanderbilt

Nathan Maharaj, Kobo’s Director of Merchandising, interviews Tom Vanderbilt, the best-selling author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, about his latest book You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice which is an interesting exploration of our personal tastes and what it says about us.

During the interview, Nathan and Tom discuss:

  • The role that red pants came to play in Tom’s book when he was living in Madrid and how that relates to the “mere exposure” effect
  • The role of context in how we experience things
  • The language element involved in a dining experience (and a callout to Dan Jurafsy’s book The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu
  • The effect by which the guided “headphone” tour through an art museum can alter the user’s experience within a gallery, including the cognitive tunneling that can occur
  • A unique book that was created with a built in camera and facial recognition software entitled The Cover That Judges You that was designed to only open if the person looking at the cover displayed a completely neutral face.
  • The effect on social liking and music, musical tastes, how the long tail got longer and how popularity has gotten more hierarchical rather than less so
  • The phenomenon of “guilty pleasures” and the difference between guilt and shame
  • How taste can be a more taboo subject than sex or money
  • The idea of not trusting the “easy like”
  • The interesting juxtaposition between “freedom of choice” and “freedom from choice”

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre then speaks about the concept of reviews and refers to something Tom mentioned in the interview regarding how both five star and one star reviews are sometimes interpreted by consumers and the importance of having a wide spread of reviews to make the product reviews seem more “natural”



Tom Vanderbilt's website

Tom Vanderbilt on Twitter



Direct download: KWL_Podcast_059_TomVanderbilt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:20pm PDT