Blog FAQs!

Why did you start blogging?

When did you start blogging?

Why did you name your blog The Story Siren?

Who designed your blog?

Is blogging your job?

How old are you?

What is your favorite YA book?

What Harry Potter House would you be sorted into?

How fast do you read?

Do you read more than one book at a time?

Do you read ebooks?

Why don’t you give star ratings?

What program do you use to edit your IMM videos?

Q: Why did you start blogging?

I didn’t exactly realize what I was doing when I started blogging. I have always been a big reader but didn’t do very much of it when I was in high school and college. After I graduated college I got into reading again. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out the year I graduated and then reading the next two books in the following years I felt like something was missing. I had a conversation with one of my patients at work and she suggested I read a book called Twilight. From then on I just had this need that only reading would fill. I basically read all the YA titles at my local library and most of the romance ones as well! I was looking up a book and stumbled upon a book blog. Called The Page Flipper… which is no longer a blog… it’s now Coffee & Cliffhangers! I realized there were people who not only loved to read, but were sharing that love on the internet! Chelsea that blogs now at Coffee & Cliffhangers really helped me figure this whole blogging thing out and has became one of my most dearest friends!

Q: When did you start blogging?

I started blogging in December of 2007!

Q:Why did you name your blog The Story Siren?

This is a really boring answer.

I knew I wanted a name for a book blog. I wanted something that was catchy and that if you saw it you’d know it was about reading, or stories, or books. I love mythology. All types. I went through quite a few names until I found the one I liked. I wish I could remember the rejects. And like I said I wanted something catchy, so I thought the repeating S’s in Story & Siren went together rather nicely. And a blog name was born.

Q: Who designed your blog?

That would be Tawni from Forever Design Studio.

Q: Is blogging your job?

Nope. I am an orthodontic technician. Though I may or may not have a freelance writing gig. It’s sort of up in the air at the moment. I would love for blogging to be my job. I would love even more to finish this darn manuscript I’ve been working on and be a “real” author someday.

Q: How old are you?

Didn’t your momma teach you it’s not polite to ask a lady that!

Q: What is your favorite YA book?

This one changes all the time. Depending on what I’ve just read… or what my mood is at the moment. If I had to pick just one favorite of all time, it would probably be Speak by Laure Halse Anderson. I wish I would have found that book when I was in high school. I just remember FEELING when I read that book, and it really hit home for me. Not that I experienced anything as horrific as the character in that novel, but I did have something that I had always blamed myself for, and finally had the strength to see that it wasn’t my fault.

Q: What Harry Potter House would you be sorted into?

Originally I would have said that I wasn’t sure, but I was sorted by the sorting hat at Pottermore and it sorted me into: Gryffindor!

Q: How fast do you read?

I can usually read around 70-100 pages in an hour.

Q: Do you read more than one book at a time?

I don’t. I suppose that I could if I really wanted to. I may have a few times, but I like to focus on just one book.

Q: Do you read ebooks?

Yes I do. More so recently as more publishers are offering e-galleys.

Q: Why don’t you give star ratings?

Star ratings were really hard for me. It was hard to assign a numerical rating to my feelings. I never really felt the same way about two books. I would find myself thinking well I didn’t feel the same way about these two books… yet they have the same rating? It one three star rating equal to another? I don’t think it is. And that’s what I really struggled with.

I’m thinking about bring back a rating system, but not a numerical system.

Q: What program do you use to edit your IMM videos?

That would be iMovie. Nothing fancy!

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The Real Deal on Cover Images

Last week I wrote a post featuring every book bloggers favorite thing, book covers. If you missed the post, I’ll briefly sum it up for you. I threw a question out into the blogosphere: “When can we post a book cover?” Ultimately I was hoping to find the answers to the following questions: Do we have to wait until to author reveals it on their website or blog, do we have to wait until we see it on online book seller, can we get images from a online publisher catalog?

There were a lot of interesting comments, but the main consensus was apparent. None of us had a clue. We all had our assumptions and had been acting on those, without knowing if we were in the wrong.

I thought it might be a good idea to know exactly what the correct course of action was, so I went straight to the source. The publishers.

I contacted multiple popular imprints among Young Adult literature. I appreciate those of you that took the time to reply to my email. Thank you! (You know who you are.)

The general opinion from all of the publishers that replied to my email was:

The more visible their covers are, the better.

It wasn’t surprising to find out that they want us (bloggers) to post about their covers. However, there were some issues mentioned.

The main concern from all of the publishers was that the correct cover is being used. That being said, there are times when the cover in the publishing catalog isn’t the final image. It’s probably a good idea to do some searching on online retailers, author websites, etc. before simply using the cover in the catalog. It was also expressed that some sort of information about the book should be presented with the cover, if it’s available.

The majority of the publishers also mentioned that if they are furnishing a copy for you to review, they are more than happy to provide a high-res cover image (nothing is worse than a fuzzy cover!) and any other assets you might want; book trailer, browse inside, author photo, countdown widget, etc.

So what did we learn…


  • feel free to take a cover image out of a catalog, but do the research to make sure it’s the correct cover
  • post information about the book along with the image
  • feel free to email a publicity contact for cover images and other goodies


  • take images in the catalog at face-value, do the research
  • post blurry images, email your publicity contact, or even check out the publishers website, sometimes they have high-res images available for download

Thanks again to everyone who provided me with information for this post!

Dear Story Siren (7)

Publisher Interaction/Advance Reader Copies

Dear Story Siren,

When you write in to request a book is it okay to write about mulitple books or should you do seperate e-mails for each book?


Dear Anon,

A great resource for this question would be “Advance Reader Copies: What You Need to Know

This question is answered in there, but yes it is okay to write about multiple books. I think it is preferred that way actually.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

I’ve gotten some books for review before but I’ve never contacted an author or publisher myself, I’ve just let them contact me. But I was curious about what you should mention when contacting a publisher about reviewing books for them, I read your post about ARC’s and blog stats were mentioned but which stats are the ones that matter and should be mentioned in the email to publishers?


Dear Anon,

I think the stats that should be mentioned are your visitor stats. It’s beneficial to the publishers to know the outreach of your blog. The one that has the most stout is the unique visitor stat. This counts how many people actually visit your blog, not how many times your blog is viewed, since the same person can view it multiple times a day. If you have a blogspot blog, you have access to Google Analytics, I suggest using it!

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

How did you start getting review copies? What did you do to get them? I’d really like to start doing this…but I am not sure how. Help!?


Dear Anon,

I used to get this question a lot, not so much anymore, which is actually a little surprising, but everyone’s story is a little difffernt.

Getting review copies doesn’t happen overnight. Well for me it didn’t. I’ve seen blogs start up and then get them that same week, or it seems that way… but like I said, it didn’t happen for me overnight. I started blogging in 2007. So I’ve been at this awhile. I didn’t get my first advance readers copy until I had been blogging for six months. Honestly when I started my blog, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an advance readers copy, I didn’t even know that you could get sent books to read. I only knew of one book blog when I started and I found it shortly after I started mine.

One day I got an email from an author inquiring if I would like to read their book. I don’t even think they asked for a review, just if I might be interested in reading their book. I did end up reading and reviewing the book and it is one of my favorites. (Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder) Then shortly after that I got more requests. So that’s how it started.

As far as what I did to get them. Well I think I gave the author or publisher a reason to want me to read their book. I posted regularly. I posted quality content, actual reviews and not just a bunch of memes. I had a semi-active following. I took my blog seriously and I had fun doing it. People are very perceptive, your blog is a reflection of yourself. It’s not hard to see the reasons a person started the blog and if they are having fun doing it.

My Advice on how to get it all started is to check out this post: Blog Advice.

Also check out Advance Readers Copies: What You Need to Know.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

Someone recently advised me to start sending my reviews to the publishers. Are publishers only interested in seeing reviews of yet-to-be-released ARCs or do they also want to read reviews on books that have been on shelves for more than a few months?


Dear Anon,

It is a good idea to send your review links to publishers. Especially if they send you the book for review. I usually send review links even if the book has already been released. I use the one year rule. If it’s been released for under a year I still send it. It it’s been over a year then I don’t. I also check to see when the paperback release is scheduled. If it’s been less than a year for the paperback release I send the review as well. On that note, paperbacks usually come out around a year after the original release date, so that is something to keep in mind.

I’m not sure how the publishers feel about that. That might be something I should find out!

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

How do you contact the publishing systems to ask for review to their books? I know they send you their new realeases and such but how can i get that for my own blog? Hoiw do I start?

-Book Geek

Dear Book Geek,

I feel like a broken record here, but be sure to check out Advance Reader Copies: What You Need Know

As far as contacting publishing houses, there is usually contact information on their websites.

Story Siren

Hey Story Siren,

I really want to start a book blog, but I don’t know where to begin! How do you get books to review from the publishers, and ARCs? And everything else. I know this is a huge question, but I really hope you’ll answer it ! :) I wanna spread the book love :D


Dear BookLover

For advice on starting your book blog and where to begin check out Blog Advice. That is a great place to get started and I’ve tried to cover everything. There is also a link for ARC questions as well.

Story Siren

Hey Kristi,

I was wondering if, after you post a review, you send a link back to the author/publicist who offered you the review copy? I want to be courteous, but also don’t want to bog up their e-mail boxes when they may receive hundreds of these letters each day. What do you recommend?

Thanks so much,

Dear Anonymous,

I usually wait until the end of the month and then send all of my review links for the month. That way you aren’t clogging the inbox!

Story Siren

If you have a question…. blog related, personal, book related… submit it below to be featured on a future post of “Dear Story Siren”

If you’ve already submitted a question and it hasn’t been answered, don’t fret! I will try to answer every question!

PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE COMMENTS IN THE BOX BELOW. The form below is to submit a question for the “Dear Story Siren” posts, not to leave a comment. Feel free to leave a comment in the “comments section” Thank you!

Dear Story Siren (6)

(Author Interview Edition II)

When you do interviews do you do them via the phone or email them questions? Is there anything you would advise not asking about?


Dear Anon,

I usually email questions. It’s not as “personal” that way, you can’t feed off of the questions and ask ones that might correspond well, but I think it’s easier for authors to have the questions and answer them at their leisure. I could be wrong though….

I would advise not asking anything too personal. I think common courtesy would come into play.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

When you have to do an interview with an author, where does the information for your questions come from? Do you mostly like to choose from the books context, the author’s background or more random living experiences?


Dear CR,

I check out the author’s website… if they have one. Usually to see if they have a “bio” page and possibly a “faq” page. I try not to ask questions that they have listed on their “faq” pages. That gets to be a little repetitive.

I do try to stay away from book context, just because I don’t want a reader who hasn’t read the book to feel alienated, or unintentionally reveal any spoilers. Plus, there are often times when I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet.

For me, I’m always more interested in learning more about the person behind the book. I have a few “signature” questions that I always like to ask….

  • Describe your writing in three words.
  • If you could travel back in time for one year, where would you go and what three things would you take with you?

Those two questions reveal so much about a person. The describe your writing in three words question has made me move an authors book up in my tbr pile because of how they answered. And the time travel question always gets really awesome and personal answers, I’ve never failed at being impressed with an authors answer to that question.

Story Siren

How should I contact authors for interviews? I’m not sure what I should put in an email when I ask. I’d love advice on getting authors for interviews!


I’ve been wanting to start asking authors for interviews but I’m not quite sure how. If I send an email I don’t know what I should include–should it be a few sentences requesting an interview plus blog info? Any help regarding what to include in an interview request is much appreciated!


Dear Anonymous & Anon,

I’m going to answer these two questions together, since they are basically asking the same thing.

My recommendation is to email the author. However, do note that authors often have 1000′s of emails sitting in their inboxes, and no I’m not kidding. So, if they don’t get back to your right away, don’t take it personally. It’s probably a good idea to put something about an interview in the subject line of the email.

Tell them why you want to do an interview with them. Do you like their books? Do you have a blog? What your blogs name and url? Do you have a date you’d like the interview by? Those are all important things to include.

And some authors will say no. I’ve been told no. Sometimes authors just don’t have the time, but it never hurts to ask.

Story Siren

My question is simple: How do you go about author interviews? Do you get in touch with the author or do they contact you?

I’ve always found author interviews to be a very interesting and enjoyable aspect to blogging and would love to have authors more involved in mine. Thanks!

- N.

Dear N.

I used to contact authors for interviews directly but that has shifted recently to third parties/publishers contacting me to be a part of blog tours. I still do occasionally email authors though. Of the sixteen some interviews I’ve had this year so far, I’ve contacted four of those authors personally.

But don’t be afraid to contact an author yourself, if you enjoy their books!

Story Siren

If you have a question…. blog related, personal, book related… submit it below to be featured on a future post of “Dear Story Siren”

If you’ve already submitted a question and it hasn’t been answered, don’t fret! I will try to answer every question!

PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE COMMENTS IN THE BOX BELOW. The form below is to submit a question for the “Dear Story Siren” posts, not to leave a comment. Feel free to leave a comment in the “comments section” Thank you!

You Get Sent Proposals to Review Books?

As with most of my discussion posts, todays topic is brought to you by my muse, Twitter.

I mentioned on Twitter earlier in the week that I received an interesting book proposal or book pitch. And this was met with some surprise, not the part about the “interesting” pitch, but that I receive requests for reviews at all.

Actually most of the books I review at The Story Siren are the result of a book pitch. Basically that means that the author/publisher/publicists/third party publicity/etc. contact me about a novel that they would like to offer for review.

I’d say the majority of the pitches I receive are from third party publicity companies. Which is an absolute 360 from when I started blogging. (That could be a whole post in it’s own!)

However, a good number of the pitches I receive are from publicists that I’ve built a professional relationship with. They know the type of books I like and are sure to highlight books that might not be on my radar but that I may enjoy. Other times I’ll have an author that may be familiar with my blog, or an author that knows I am familiar with their novel and they’ll contact me for review. These are greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, not all pitches are made equal.

There has been some discussion on this topic before. You can read a post that Lenore of Presenting Lenore did.

I’m going to briefly highlight some points in her post and then address some additional issues.

A Good Pitch:

  • Addresses the receiver by name. 
  • Shows that the sender knows something about the blog. 
  • Isn’t a copy and pasted email. 
  • Doesn’t bog the reader down with information. (Is this a review request or an advertisement campaign?)
  • Doesn’t ignore the reviewers policies, such as no e-books, no self published books. (Often a waste of time for the sender and receiver.)
  • At least includes the title(s) of the novel(s). (A summary of the books or an author website are good too, but not always needed.) 
Bottom line…. a good pitch can be the determining factor of whether a book will be accepted for review or not. 
As a blogger, I couldn’t agree more with the points that Lenore makes. A formal pitch doesn’t do much for me. I like something a little more personal, as most book bloggers do. 
    On the reviewers/book bloggers side of a book pitch:
    • How do you decline a request nicely?
    I sort of answered this in a “Dear Story Siren” post I did recently, but I’m going to go ahead and address this again here. I always thank the person. Because number one, the email took that person’s time to compose (most of the time..). You don’t have to give a reason that you are declining the request, but if you have one, why not be honest. Usually my reasons have to do with just not being interested, to having a substantial review pile already. Be sure to keep the “line open” perhaps this person may be representing a title in the future that you might be interested in, let them know that. A simple, “please feel free to contact me in the future with any other titles you might wish to discuss.” You don’t have to use that word for word…. but you get the gist. (really don’t use that word for word.) 
    • Should you reply to every request?
    This is something you need to decide for yourself. No one can answer this for you. Do I reply to every request, no I don’t. Like Lenore mentions in her post, if the sender doesn’t take the time to find my name, and know that it’s not Story Siren, they don’t receive a reply. If the sender takes the time to send me a personalized pitch, I’ll take my time to send them a reply, even if it is to decline. At the same time, some of those don’t even get a reply. Honestly it just depends. 
    • I accepted now what?
    If you accept make sure you keep within the set specifications of the pitch. Sometimes a review by date is discussed, if this happens it is your responsibility to have the review posted by the date promised. 
    What if it’s the reviewer sending a pitch… or in this case we’ll call is a request. 
    A Good Request:
    • Doesn’t ask for everything. Try to limit your requests to “new/upcoming” releases. (Requesting backlisted titles, can come across as being greedy and slightly clueless. Although if a backlisted title is coming out “new” in paperback, exceptions can be made.)
    • Realizes that authors DO NOT have a stack of advance readers copies at their disposal. You’re better off asking the publisher. (You can read (almost) everything you need to know about arcs at this post: Advance Readers Copies: What You Need to Know.)
    On another note: 
    • Don’t post list after list of books you are getting for review and then don’t post any reviews! This goes for In My Mailbox too. It just makes you look bad and and it looks like you are just in it for free books (this type of behavior doesn’t go unnoticed.)…. unless of course you list books you buy, get from the library, win from a contest, etc and clearly state that! 
    Bloggers love it when:
    • Authors link reviews on their websites! (or if they’d rather do it privately, send a “thank you” email)
    • Authors comment on our blogs! 
    Bloggers don’t love it when:
    • When authors argue with our opinions or berate us in our comments section.
    Yeah… so I think that’s it. I wanted to touch a little bit on both ends of the spectrum. Address the issue and get it out there. Done.
    This post IS NOT meant to discourage anyone from contacting me for a review. (Most of the time I view a pitch as a compliment…. as a privilege!) I’m hoping is has the opposite effect….. I’m hoping that this might open the lines of communication. There are so many times, I feel like half the people are on one page, and the other half are on another, and if we could just discuss it we might end up helping each other. 
    I’d love to hear your opinion, this is a discussion post. Perhaps you feel differently, have something you want to add. Please feel free. bloggers… authors…

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