Book Blogger Vilma Gonzalez Shares The Secrets To Her Page Turning Popularity 0

11817173_402718019921755_4532589739771626350_nAustin based book blogger Vilma Gonzalez pours out her passion for books on her highly successful Vilma’s Book Blog. Mother, wife, and marketing extraordinaire, she enthralls readers with her passion for great stories.

Vilma’s blog is not only visually beautiful to look at, but her background in marketing has been instrumental in designing her whole online persona. Her content is insightful and is presented in an accessible way that has garnered her a loyal following. Vilma’s readers rely on her honest reviews and devotion to spreading the word about great literature.

How did she get such a devoted following?

Whether it’s online or at the Austin Book Fest, she is always at the helm of what’s current. Recently, Vilma generously shared with me some great insight on how she stays at the forefront of the book world and keeps readers coming back for more.

I read that you’ve been a big lover of books your whole life. When did you feel that this was something you should be blogging about?
I’ve always been a pretty opinionated person so I always had thoughts on “the best of this” or “the best of that.” I had a lifestyle blog that I ran that was an ongoing conversation on anything from the best hoodies for your kids to the best toys during Christmas time, recipes, and things like that. But because I had always been such a big book nerd, I also had an Excel sheet where I listed the books that I had been reading. I kept adding on to it and then it started getting passed around the office, then it moved outside the office. I just decided one day to switch the blog over to books and I discovered a whole online community. It was a big learning curve, but I did everything by just giving it a try. That was the beginning of March 2013.
You post such great content and it really reflects in your social media engagement. Why do you think your specific angle gets such an active response from your followers?
My blog is very diverse, I read everything from YA, suspense, fantasy, romance, women’s fiction…and so I chose early on that I wasn’t going to stick with one path, which was actually risky because typically when you look at your audience, your Facebook audience is completely different form your Twitter audience and your Instagram audience. So I try and create content that is diverse. I do have really good engagement. I’ve been very blessed and very lucky that I’ve had a lot of support. People typically find me and they’ve stuck with me.
If someone is looking to get into book blogging, in particular, what do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind when they’re first getting started?
I think it’s figuring out who you want to be. What kind of blog do you want to have? What kind of focus do you want to have? What kind of audience do you want to talk to? How are you choosing to differentiate yourself? You have to figure out your brand and what you want your brand to represent and deliver. And then get going!
What do you think the biggest mistake is that bloggers make?
It’s trying to be somebody else. Looking at what the other bloggers are doing and trying to emulate that. Being yourself and trying to differentiate yourself from what’s out there is really key.
I see that you also blog for USA Today. How did that opportunity come up for you?
It was a real surprise. I had been emailing with the editor of that blog and she approached me on starting a suspense column. I was blown away, she said she had looked into my blog and really loved my voice and asked if I would do a biweekly column. I had 2 primary reactions to it! One was to say, absolutely yes, of course. And another one was to be like, oh my God, I don’t know if I can do it! Because my life is really crazy…I work all day long. I have 2 kids and I’m involved in their school. I have my poor husband as well! So being able to provide valuable content twice a month for USA Today…I tried to convince them for only once a month! And she was like, no let’s do it twice a month, I think you can do it. Now she allows me to publish a variety of feature-driven content so I probably publish more like 4 times per month on USA Today.
If you were stuck on a deserted island and had only one book to read, what would it be?
I
t would probably be The Bronze Horseman, but then I’d be afraid I’d be crying the entire time because it’s such a heart-wrenching book!
What makes a book most engaging for you?
The characters particularly. You can have character-driven books, and you can have thought-driven books. But really interesting, complex characters, where you really see a journey and it’s not surface-deep. The deeper, complex, interesting, that’s going to make a novel worth reading for me.
Do you think there has been a book or series in the past 5 to 10 years that has been really over-blown and given too much credit?
You know, that’s hard for me to answer. The main reason why is because, when we were talking about defining who you are and what your brand is, I chose a long time ago to really focus on the positive things. I wanted to be able to celebrate the great books that we have out there, that fit with who I am and what I like to read. It doesn’t mean that the reviews I put out aren’t thoughtful or honest, or even tough to write, it just means I’m focusing on the books that I really like.
Do you have a favorite author?
I mentioned Paulina Simons who wrote The Bronze Horseman. I’m a very literary reader and I’m drawn primarily to those kinds of books. I think she’s very brilliant and lyrical. I also love Deborah Harkness who wrote The All Souls Trilogy. Very well researched, very smartly written. When I read those kinds of books, I’m just in awe.
The 2016 Austin Book Fest is coming up soon which you are hosting. Tell me about the event.
This will be the third year. The event is a representation of my blog. It’s invite only, so I do handpick the people that are attending. I pick authors that I’ve either read before or that I think are going to continue to grow. The event showcases authors from different genres and it’s been extremely successful. I didn’t want to create an event like the other events, where you kind of see the same authors a lot of the time going from event to event and it’s kind of the same group. I wanted it to be a different kind of experience. It’s been a lot of work, but so much fun!
What is your ultimate goal with Vilma’s Book Blog?
To have content that is valuable and continues to evolve. To have respect in the industry as a good reviewer and as a knowledgeable professional. And to continue to be at the forefront of things. I don’t want to be in the middle of the crowd, I want to be talking about trends and what’s coming up and putting books out there for people that a lot of people don’t know about.
Whether or not a blogger is making a large amount of money from their actual blog isn’t that important, I think. What is important is that your blog lets everybody know that you’re an authority in your field. That’s what gets you work and takes you places. You never know what doors it will open for you.
That’s a great way to put it. It’s about being an authority in your field and defining what you want that to be. I think that’s pretty awesome.