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  • Writer's pictureNikita Vyas

Resh Susan – The Book Satchel


interview_resh-susan

Hi, I am Resh. I spend an unhealthy amount of time reading and an equally unhealthy time writing or clicking pictures. I also have the bees knees for a good biryani.


What is “The book Satchel” about?

The Book Satchel started as a place for bookish talk. I was desperately looking for a hobby as a stress buster. I had thought of getting into many other hobbies but blogging about books seemed to be the perfect fit for me because I have always been a reader and I love writing. So I thought it would be nice to pen down my thoughts on the books I read. I also stumbled onto Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/thebooksatchel) during this time and felt documenting my reading life through pictures is a good idea. So ultimately The Book Satchel evolved into something that showcases my creative side and the books I love.


How was your milestone journey? Tell us a bit about how it all started.

I was hunting for a hobby to take my mind off things when I came upon the idea to write about books and everything bookish. It was also a time when my reader-friends with whom I used to talk about books moved from the city; so blogging seemed like a perfect outlet to write and talk into the void of the internet. I was so thrilled when I published my first post. Then I started receiving emails and messages about my posts and I felt happy and surprised because it means someone is reading what you wrote and writing back. That feeling has no equal. The journey has been very memorable, be it getting noticed on a bigger scale, finding fellow book lovers, receiving a review request email or collaborating with publishers. It is definitely a dream come true.

If anyone had told me I would be writing about books and loving every moment of it two years ago, I would have laughed.



Blogging is now more than just a hobby; how would you describe your journey as a blogger?

It was fun in every way. Sure, I had those frustrating moments when I couldn’t figure out a technical difficulties, those panic situations when I have nothing to post about and those late nights trying to make head or tail of a problem by staring at the computer screen. But I have grown to love it. Being a blogger means you learn something new every day. It is a never ending learning process and that is one thing I love about it.


Did you always want to blog about Books?

Actually, no. I find that funny now. When I thought of starting a blog, I wanted to try something with food blogging since I was teaching myself how to cook then. I thought it would be a good idea to document the process, something like a personal cooking journal. In fact looking at pictures of food was (still is) one of my favourite past times. But when I thought about it practically, I didn’t think I would have the time to devote to a full fledged cooking blog (and also to washing that many dishes. Haha). And then I thought about books which was easier since I was always a reader and I loved writing. Books have always been in my daily schedule and a blog about them seemed like the next best thing to do.


how to read 20 books in one month - http://www.thebooksatchel.com/read-20-books-one-month/


As a reviewer, what is your process like?

I make notes about what I love and what I disliked in a book. Nothing elaborate, just a word or a sentence. While doing this, I keep in mind my own personal taste, what might work (or not work) for another audience and the writing style of the author. I start with something that strikes me in the book and then weave my review around it.


Do you find it difficult to give a review about a book that doesn’t match your expectations?

Yes, it is always difficult to give a negative review. I do not mind writing about a book that I personally didn’t enjoy or something from which I expected more. It is alright to talk about the good and bad aspects of the book or point out why a book didn’t work specifically for me but will work for another audience. However, if a book is really bad, I am always in a dilemma on how to write the review. I don’t want to mislead a reader but also I don’t want to be too harsh to the author.



What kind of books do you love to review/read about?

I am a mixed bag, so I read a lot of different genres. I don’t have very specific likes, but I have a fondness for magical realism. I read and review literary fiction, dystopian fiction, young adult novels, short story collections and translated fiction.



What makes your blog different from similar blogs?

I always try to instill a bit of my personal experience in my reviews rather than an analysis of the book. I want my posts to speak to the other readers and help them decide if a book is for them or not. I try to include short story collections (http://www.thebooksatchel.com/tag/shorts/ ) as often as I can because I feel short stories don’t get the attention they deserve. I also take my own pictures for my blog which adds a more personal touch.



Can someone rely on blogging as a fulltime career? Could you shed some light on the process?

Definitely. But it takes the effort of doing three or more full time jobs at the same time. It is a misconception that blogging is an easy way to make money. It isn’t. If you are earning from your blog, then that blog is like a start up, a business. You must be willing to burn midnight oil, do the number crunching and work up a strategy. It is also fun because you are the boss, so you can work at your own pace. But the pressure would be just the same as a regular job.

The initial phase is always time consuming when you are building up your brand. That said, I am not sure if there are book bloggers who rely on their blog as a full time career since the book community is a small one compared to the other industries. Growing a book blog as a business brand might require some initial capital, investment and maybe staff writers. There are exceptions; like how Book Riot became a huge success. There are many other sub branches too of course; like digital magazines, publicity services for new releases and so on.

I see many fashion, lifestyle, travel and food bloggers who have paved an amazing path in their career just by blogging. Hats off to them because the effort that you need to put in is enormous. And they have chased and grabbed their dreams.



What were the good and not so good advices you received when you decided to commit to your blog?

When I started the blog, it was a space for myself. So I never looked or asked for any kind of advice. Later when I realised I really enjoy doing this, I have looked at articles that give tips on the blogging process. Most of the tips focus on posting consistently or maintaining your blogging presence. In fact when I am asked for advice I give these same tips though I have been known to break them myself. I think you cannot generalise tips from another person. Only you know your lifestyle and the time you have to spare and the time and effort it takes to put together one post; so I’d always say make your own rules and plan your schedule. Planning is a huge aspect of blogging. It might not be possible every single time to stick with a pre-made schedule but it surely saves a lot of time.


What/Who inspires you to blog?

Right now, good books! Sometimes when I finish reading a book, I want to speak to strangers I meet on the road and convince them to read the book. My best reads have longer reviews because there is so much to talk about them!


One thing you personally love and hate about blogging?

I love the whole process of writing my thoughts onto a black document. It is so thrilling to read the whole edited piece from start to the end. I love the community so much. Everyone is so encouraging and inspiring. At first, I used to be scared of making mistakes. But other bloggers are always out there to help you. That’s two things.

I don’t think there is anything I hate about blogging. But personally speaking, I wish I got more organised. Sometimes I am a last minute panic girl and that is definitely not fun.


How would you inspire or address to those who would like to attempt at blogging after reading your journey?

I have the only advice- just start one if you are curious. Everything else can wait. You will never know if you enjoy blogging until you start one. Also Google is a knowledge galore and the community is super friendly, so you have nothing to be anxious about. Take the first step and the rest will follow.


Do you believe in dreams?

Yes. That’s the only thing that makes life worthwhile. Dreams do come true.



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