SCy-Fy: Ben, Best Fantasy Books is already a very comprehensive site, but you are not stopping there, are you?
BFB: That’s right. We’ll be expanding quite a few of our best lists and adding some pretty cool social network features to the site to help make it easier to keep track of what you are reading and what you want to read in the future – and this will help provide more recommendations tailored to each reader.
I’m also hard at work on our sister site, Best Science Fiction Books, which is aiming to do the same thing in the science fiction sphere as we are doing in the fantasy sphere – that is, provide easy-to-access recommendations for some of the best books in the genre, to make it easier for readers to find their next read.
SCy-Fy: On top of that, you must do a lot of day-to-day work on both sites.
BFB: I spend quite a bit of time reading new science fiction and fantasy books – or doing research to find some potential new reads to add to my list. Or I answer questions on our forum, or come up with some new posts ideas for our blog.
SCy-Fy: With regard to your own reading, what have been the best books you have read recently?
BFB: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, my pick for the best fantasy novel this year. I’m also enjoying the science fiction read The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi.
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming release are you most looking forward to?
BFB: Ernest Cline’s new book Armada. I loved his Ready Player One, and this new book looks to bring the geek to hero out in us all.
SCy-Fy: You take the integrity of reviews very seriously, don’t you, Ben?
BFB: Yes. I don’t trust Amazon or Goodreads when it comes to reviews – many of these are fake, or are written by the friends of authors or by sock puppets. My most controversial piece was an old blog post that outed Amazon fake reviews. They’ve cleaned up their act a bit by making it harder to post sock puppet reviews, but it’s still highly suspicious to see new books or self-published works with dozens of 4.5 out of 5 star reviews – higher rankings than some of the greats. Like really?
SCy-Fy: So what advice would you give potential readers looking for recommendations?
BFB: Find some blogging sources you really trust and look to them for recommendations. OR, find a great forum that’s active with like-minded people you trust and comb it for recommendations.
SCy-Fy: What about advice for bloggers?
BFB: If you want to be a blogger, come up with a new angle and focus on that exclusively. It’s hard to really make a go and stand out at it if you just create ‘another’ regular science fiction or fantasy blog. Be unique and do something different. Focus on a specific area. And always put out awesome content!
Also, it can be hard to regularly post content, especially if you have a day job, too! But you have to commit to it – your readers will expect it.
SCy-Fy: What do you think will be the major future challenge for SFF blogging?
BFB: Keeping up with the sheer amount of books coming out. The whole self-publish model that has been made possible – or at least, financially accessible to the average writer – has really thrown the publishing world off its feet. There are so many books to wade through now, in both science fiction and fantasy; even more so when you count all the self- published/indie fiction out there. It’s almost impossible to read everything, so you really have to choose your reading battles and focus on specific areas if you want to be able to cover something comprehensively.
SCy-Fy: Thanks for your time, Ben.
BFB: Thank you!
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