Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book Bloggers and Reviewers: Anne Cater - Random Things Through My letterbox

We are delighted present another in our popular series Book Bloggers and Reviewers by Ellie Holmes where we speak to book bloggers and get an insight into their world.. This month we welcome Anne Cater to the blog.

Welcome Anne, tell us a little bit about yourself and your wonderfully named blog – Random Things Through My Letterbox.

I was brought up in Nottinghamshire, not far from Sherwood Forest and moved over the border to Lincolnshire over twenty years ago.
I’m 50 and I live in a small market town with my husband and our two cats; Costa and Nero. I’ve worked full time for charities and the voluntary sector for many years and took a short break over the summer of 2016. In October I started work as a Support Administrator at our local Hospice.
I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember not being able to read, and can’t even begin to think about not being able to read.

What made you start to review/blog?
I started to write a few words down about the books that I was enjoying around 10 years ago. In the
days before Facebook and Twitter, I was part of an online forum whose members talked about books.   I found that I enjoyed these online discussions very much, and started to write longer reviews that I posted on Amazon.
I also began to write reviews for New Books Magazine and the Waterstone’s magazine that was available instore and to subscribers.  Publishers and authors began to contact me and asked if I would review their books.
I’ve always loved receiving things through the post, and as more and more books arrived, I thought it would be a great idea for a Blog.  I was also inspired by a guy called Ian Carpenter who wrote a book and blog called Guardianwork – I loved that online diary idea, so I thought I’d give it a go, and Random Things Through My Letterbox was born.

Has you blog ever been nominated for any awards?
Until last year, I didn’t even realise that such things as Blog Awards existed!
Last year I was nominated for an Award at the Annual Blogger’s Bash.
This year I’m really excited and thrilled to be a finalist in the UK Blog Awards, I’m in the Arts and Culture category alongside some amazing bloggers.
The awards ceremony is being held at the end of April in London and I’m really excited about it.

Do you have a review policy?
I do, it’s clearly visible on my blog, it has its own page and a little tab at the top of the home page.
However, I have realised that many many people do not read it before contacting me! Review policy
What’s the best and worst thing about running a blog?
The best thing has to be the books!  Without the books, there would be no blog, plain and simple!
Books arriving on an almost daily basis is still a thrill, even after six years. The sense of community within the blogging world is amazing, and I’ve met some great people and made some friends who make me laugh and who let me cry!
Funnily enough, one of the worst things is also the books!  Not the writing, but the choice …. Trying to prioritise according to publication date, or blog tour schedule when really I want to rip open the packets and just read the book now!
Another thing I don’t like is the ever increasing ‘blogger bashing’ that seems to be happening. Some people make huge assumptions about bloggers, and rather than try to find out the facts, they’ll state totally untrue and unfair comments on Social Media – not views, or opinions … things that they think are fact.  How many times do we have to shout this?  BLOGGERS DO NOT GET PAID FOR REVIEWS! 
I also get really frustrated by the lack of Twitter etiquette from some people, but that’s a whole new blog post!

Do you meet up with other bloggers and reviewers?
I do, often!   There are some fellow bloggers who were my friends ‘before the blog’, including Anne Williams, Leah Moyse  and Karen Cocking – we’ve known each for around ten years, we met in an online book forum and have kept in touch.  Anne and I try to meet up every few months or so as we live just an hour apart and I catch up with the others at book events throughout the year.
There are regular meet ups, around the country, arranged by bloggers such as Kim Nash, but I’ve not managed to get to one of those yet.
Bloggers tend to be a friendly bunch, you’ll usually find a few of us at most book events.
I’m also really fortunate to know a few of the Books Editors for the glossy magazines too and see them.  One of my very dearest friends, Nina Pottell, recently took over as Book Editor for Prima Magazine, I also love catching up with Fanny Blake from Woman and Home and Isabelle Broome from Heat, although both of them are very successful authors as well as wonderful reviewers.

Tell us a little bit about Book Connectors on Facebook
Book Connectors is a closed group on Facebook and membership is open to bloggers and/or authors only, and currently has just over 1500 members.
I created Book Connectors in July 2015, primarily as a means of connecting authors and bloggers.  I’d been a member of various Facebook groups and became so frustrated with the long lists of rules that each group seemed to have, especially around self-promotion,
I wondered just how an author was supposed to find bloggers and reviewers, or how a blogger could shout about the books or let an author know that they were open for reviews or features without getting ticked off by Admin members or completely banned.
There’s only one real rule in Book Connectors and that is to ‘be nice to each other’. We do encourage new members to introduce themselves, but we don’t ban self-promotion at all, and there have been some amazing connections made. Authors have arranged blog tours, bloggers have created new features and friendships have been made.  We talk about everything in Book Connectors; new book fads, cover designs, self-publishing, plot ideas  …. there’s very little that we haven’t discussed at some point.
There are another three Admin members, but to be honest, administrating and moderating the group is not a big job at all. Members are polite and considerate, and I can only remember a couple of occasions when there has been differences of opinion that have led to unpleasantness.  On the whole, we are a respectful bunch, and although we may have differing views, we discuss them in a positive way.
The main job is deleting the requests to join from people who are not authors, or bloggers, or anything to do with the book world! Book Connectors

Freelance PR and Admin
For the past twenty years or so I have worked for various charities, I’m a Community Development Worker, trained Volunteer Manager and Funding Advisor and left the NHS to work on projects ranging from teaching Young Offenders basic literacy and numeracy skills to re-developing ex RAF camps into sustainable communities.
I’ve also been a part-time Parish Clerk for fourteen years.
Times have changed for the voluntary sector, funding cuts have been deep and damaging and it has become harder and harder to secure any monies to deliver the extra services that charities and community organisations do so well.
For many reasons, last May I gave up work and took a break over the summer. It was scary, and the first time that I hadn’t been in full-time employment since I left school in the 1980s.  I started a part time job at our local Hospice as an Administrator, in October, and I love it.
Whilst I was off work, I started to talk to a couple of smaller publishers; Orenda Books and No Exit Press. I’ve supported these two publishers for a long time, and they’ve always been great contributors to Random Things too.
Orenda Books took a chance on me, and I’ve been working for them on a freelance basis for a few months now.  I do lots of fiddly admin stuff with spreadsheets and databases, all to do with IPR rights. It’s complicated, but I’ve learned so much.  Orenda founder and book magician Karen Sullivan then asked me to help to organise some blog tours for her.  My first tour was Sealskin by Su Bristow and has been an outstanding success. I’ve enjoyed it so much.
On the back of that, I approached No Exit Press and met with them earlier in the year. I’m now working with them on Blog Tours too and the Desperation Road tour has just finished, and was another great success.
I’m so grateful that both Orenda and No Exit took a chance on me.  I enjoy this so much, and love working with bloggers, publishers and authors.

When I’m not reading or blogging, I like to spend time with my husband and best mate Martin.  We
enjoy music, cinema and theatre and seem to spend a lot of time eating out, be it afternoon tea or fine dining, or a good burger! I’m a very very good shopper too!  Boots, dresses, bags, candles, make up and stationery are my weaknesses.

J Clearly a woman after our own heart, Anne. Thank you so much for being such an interesting guest. We are in awe at all the various plates you are spinning and the best of luck with the UK Blog Awards next month.


Twitter @annecater


Unknown said...

Just wanted to thank Anne Cater for being such a fab guest. It is so interesting to hear the stories behind the blogs and learn about the people who help to get our books noticed. I wish Anne the very best of luck with the blogger awards. Ellie x

Anne said...

Thank you so much for featuring me on your great blog.
Anne x

Unknown said...

What an interesting post! It's always useful to hear how a person's role evolved and it is so true what Anne says about there being a need for a forum where blogger and authors can connect. I have been slow to discover it, but am already finding Book Connectors a fund of useful information and contacts. Good luck with the blogger awards. Linda

Anita Chapman said...

Great interview both, and good luck in the UK Blog Awards, Anne! :)

So many books, so little time said...

Love it Anne & good luck. Funny to think how long we have all known each other from the RISI days and yours was my first big book meet!


Steven Woods said...

That’s a very creative approach and also great article, thanks.