Meet Book Sage Book Blogger, Lloyd Russell!

Book Sage's Recommendation Table

Book Sage’s Recommendation Table

Some years ago, when I was signing books and meeting and greeting customers at a Barnes and Noble, I had the good fortune to meet Lloyd Russell. His bailiwick at the time was mystery and suspense, not children’s fantasy literature, but we struck up a conversation, at the end of which, he told me he was a book-review blogger, would read my novel, and tell me exactly what he thought of it. If I had been wearing boots that day, I would have been shaking in them. Fortunately, he liked my book very much, and since then, I’ve come to know Lloyd as an active force in the book community of my area. I’ve learned about many wonderful books and events through him, and especially appreciate his candor and the honesty he brings to his reviews. It occurred to me that readers would enjoy following his recommendations, and writers might want to hear the perspective of a book blogger. Without further ado, please welcome Lloyd Russell, the Book Sage.

 

What inspired you to start the Book Sage book-review blog?

 

Back in late 2010, I was talking to my buddy, Steve, about how I was anxious to get into the book world. Since it was not practical to quit my job, he suggested that I write a book blog. I had never thought to do that, but I liked the idea immediately. My 1st post was January 16, 2011. And I enjoy it more with each passing year.

 

What do you think makes for a great read?

 

This is, at the same time, very easy to answerand very hard. Its all about the emotional connection I have with the characters. The book has to be well-written and interesting, of course. But if I either dont care about the characters, or feel blasé about them, then the book can never be a great read for me. And keep in mind that I dont have to love or even like the character to feel emotionally connected. There have been situations where I absolutely loathed a character. But I was still emotionally connected!

 

What genres do you read?

 

Because I do my best to support local authors, I find myself reading all genres. I have read: literary fiction, mystery, historical fiction, romance, paranormal fantasy, young adult, young adult fantasy, erotic romance, religious fiction, memoirs, science fiction, fantasy. Have I left anything out?

 

Who are some of your favorite authors, and why do you like them?

 

This is too broad a question for any kind of comprehensive answer. And Ive got a whole bunch of local authors who I very much enjoy. I wont name them because I am sure to leave some out. But I will say that among the biggies, Im a fan of Jeffrey Archer, Ken Follett, Daniel Silva, Jodi Picoult, Harlan Coben, W.E.B. Griffin, and Greg Iles. These are authors that I have read many times. But I also really like a few that I may only have read 1 or 2 – like Christina Baker Kline (Orphan Train), Vanessa Diffenbaugh (The Language of Flowers), and Jonathan Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You). And why do I like all of these authors? Because they make me care.  

 

Some of the big publishing houses send you advanced copies of their books. How did that come about?

 

As I recall, it came about because I reached out to the publishers. I found out, shortly after I began writing the blog, that this was an option for bloggers. And once I established myself with the various publishersreps and a few publicists, then I got on their list and either automatically received ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) in the mail, or got emails where I could pick the ARCs I wanted to read and review. Its definitely fun to be hooked up.

 

What’s the process for an author or publisher to have a book considered for review?

 

There are a variety of ways in which this happens. It could be that I meet a local author at a bookstore and agree to read and review his/her book. It could be a request from a publisher, publicist, or literary agent. It could be an introduction to an author from one that I already know. It could be an author that I meet at another authors event. It could be a recommendation from another blogger or one of my Goodreads friends. And sometimes I am approached by an author, either in person or through social media. Im probably leaving some connections out.

 

You’re active with indie bookstores in your community. Tell us about some of the work you’ve done to support them, as well as local authors.

 

Primarily, I have worked with 2 local bookstores – Village House of Books in Los Gatos and Recycle Books in Campbell. I actually worked for Village for approximately a year – September of 2013-August of 2014. I was in charge of booking all author events. I also ran a book club (starting in January 2014) in which the featured author actually came to our meetings to answer questions and sign books. In September 2014, I took the book club to Recycle Books. In addition to the RBC (Recycle Book Club), for the last 1.5 years I have been standing at a table in front of Recycle Books on Sunday mornings (during the Farmers Market) recommending books. Im there for about 3 hours, and I average 2-3 Sundays a month. It gives me the opportunity to meet lots of readers and to exchange ideas and book recommendations. On top of that, about once a month I will arrange for an author (sometimes 2 or 3 at the same time) to join me out in front of the store to sell and sign their books.

 

Besides Village and Recycle, I attend as many author events/book launches/meet and greets/panel discussions that I can at other Bay Area bookstores (Book Passage, Corte Madera; Books, Inc., Mt. View; Keplers, Menlo Park; Towne Centre Books, Pleasanton). I have a special connection to Books, Inc. in Palo Alto because I belong to the 4th Tuesday Evening Book Club. Its overseen by Margie Scott Tucker, who is the co-owner of the entire Books, Inc. chain.

 

We’ve got a photo of your table above! What inspired you to offer editorial services, and how can people contact you for that?

 

This started innocently enough. When Im reading a book, I automatically see errors in grammar and spelling as well as content. I dont think its as much a skill as it is an obsession! Regardless, I mentioned to a few authors I know that I would be happy to be an early reader and, if they were interested, I would point out errors that I came across. I havent done any advertising. So its been mostly word of mouth. As for contacting me, they can just send me an email at lloydrrussell@gmail.com.

 

What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had as result of your blog?

 

This is particularly tough to answer. Ive had so many great connections that have resulted from my blog. One of the most rewarding was a post I wrote after spending an evening at my granddaughter Haleys authors night in 1st grade (shes ready to start the 5th grade next month). The kids had written and illustrated a story, and we moved from table to table while they told us about what they had written and answered questions as if they were seasoned authors. My blog reflected how inspirational I thought the evening was and how it made me feel so hopeful about the future of children and books.

 

What are the blog and social media links where people can follow you?

 

My blog is booksage.blogspot.com. Theres also a link on the home page called The Recycle Book Club Schedule that you can click on to see our upcoming schedule of authors. I am on Facebook under Book Sage. You can reach me on LinkedIn under my name. And my Twitter name is LloydRussell5. Finally, you can always reach me by the email address I gave above.

 

Thanks so much for joining us today! Happy Reading Everyone!

 

 

 

4 Comments

  • Posted August 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Super interview! Loved finding out how you started reviewing and blogging.

  • Posted August 10, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Lee!

  • Jeff Salter
    Posted August 31, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    enjoyed the interview Q&A.
    I’m also a fan of Ken Follett. Also early Jack Higgins, early Robert Ludlum, and several by Frederick Forsythe. Among many others.
    Love the idea of the student authors at the tables being interviewed.

  • Posted September 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Jeff!

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