This week, I was so lucky to get the chance to interview Lacey, a 20-something year old romance blogger who never leaves home without her kindle. You can find her gushing about HEAs on YouTube and Instagram at @LaceyBooklovers and on her blog, Booklovers For Life!
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What do you do when you aren’t reading and reviewing books? When did you start reading romance, and, if you can remember, what was the first romance you read? What inspired you to start a bookstagram account?
Hello! I’m Lacey and I’m born and raised in Southern California. When I’m not stuck in a book, I can usually be found walking in a park with my dog. I love to travel and find new restaurants to eat good food!
I started reading romance back in 2011, so I was around 15. My intro to the genre was more through young adult romance authors like Meg Cabot who also wrote adult books. But my first true romance book would have to be either Dark Lover by J.R. Ward or Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning. I really couldn’t tell you though, it’s been so long and I literally INHALED hundreds of romances when I first started reading the genre. At least I can say PNR was my first love!
As for bookstagram, I started a blog back in 2013 and made every social media account but Instagram for it. Taking pictures never interested me until I saw that bookstagramming was actually A Thing and a couple blogger friends were successful at it. I finally made an account in 2016!
You take such gorgeous photos! Did it take you time to develop an aesthetic/theme, or did you know from the start the look you were going for? What is your photo taking and editing process like?
Thank you! I basically just used what I had on hand (my white duvet) and went from there! I was lucky to have a cousin (ClassifiedCloset) who’d been blogging for a few years before I did and knew all the tips and tricks to editing photos and creating an aesthetic. Mine hasn’t changed much over the years – I like clean and bright photos. Luckily, living in SoCal, I get bright, sunny days 90% of the year so I have good lighting. I like the light that comes in during the morning, so I’ll take photos mostly during the weekends. I use VSCO and Snapseed to edit.
Not too long ago, you started a booktube account. What inspired you to take on that new reviewing format? How does being running a book channel compare to a bookstagram account?
I was inspired when I joined my book friends Jessica (PeaceLoveBooks) and Sarah (WordsWithSarah) in creating a virtual book club where we host a live chat on YouTube together once a month (it’s called Ravished By Romance!). I loved talking with them and figured talking into a camera wouldn’t be too different. My main goal for booktube was to be able to talk about more backlist books and old favorites, which I don’t do that often on IG. The main difference for me between booktube and bookstagram is the time and effort. It’ll take me hours to film, edit, and create a thumbnail for a video, whereas bookstagram takes me an hour at most to shoot, edit, and caption a photo. But I love the different ideas I can come up with when it comes to booktube – it feels more versatile to me. Plus, you can actually get paid through YouTube.
What are some of your favorite parts about romancestagram? What, if any, pet peeves do you have?
The community! I have to admit that while I was blogging, I pretty much kept to myself. But with romancestagram, it’s so easy to chat or reach out to other romance lovers. We bond and gush over these love stories, or come together when anyone bashes the romance genre. I’ve made so many lifelong friends through romancestagram. As for pet peeves, I’m not a fan of people who police what others can post. It’s fine to post only good reviews, but it’s also fine to post any bad ones. It’s your account – do what you want with it.
Who are some of your one-click authors?
Penelope Douglas, Nalini Singh, Tessa Bailey, Lisa Kleypas, Mariana Zapata!
You seem to read such a wide-variety of romance sub-genres. Do you have a favorite? Which tropes are some of your catnip?
Oof, I don’t know if I could choose a favorite. PNR will always be special since it was my intro to romance. These days I’m gravitating towards historical. I do read contemporary most often, though. My favorite tropes: second chance romance (especially when there’s grovel), friends to lovers, age-gap, opposites attract.
What is the hardest part about running a successful account with a large following such as yours? Does it ever get stressful?
Sometimes I feel obligated to post. Post a book I was sent, post about something I haven’t even read, post every day, just post SOMETHING, even if I feel uninspired. That’s when I know I need to take a break for a day or two from the app. It’s also hard to always keep on top of reading all the new releases while also wanting to read backlist books. But I honestly try not to stress too much over it and find joy in anyone who comments and messages me.
If you had to pick one, which romance novel do you think is a must read for every fan of the genre and why? (evil question, I know).
One!? I’d have to say Kulti by Mariana Zapata. It’s a soccer romance with an incredible friends to lovers romance. Lots of banter, great chemistry, and the most torturous slow burn that’s so worth the wait.
From algorithms to engagement groups to insta-jail, there is so much that goes into cultivating engagement on posts. Do you have an bookstagram hacks or tips and tricks?
If you want engagement, you have to engage in the community yourself. Engagement groups are helpful in this way, but I’ve stopped using those and just try to comment whenever I see an author or book I love, or a book I’m interested in. Post a relevant question in your caption. Follow hashtags like #romancestagram to connect with others in the community. Join in on monthly challenges if you need photo inspiration!
Do you have any advice for new accounts looking to grow? How about for authors looking to build an audience on bookstagram?
Similar to the question I answered before, if you become an active member and engage with others, people will notice. And take the time explore! See what kind of aesthetic you like, if you even want to have one or not. Just try out what does and doesn’t work for you on bookstagram. The same can apply to authors – feel free to engage with bloggers and bookstagrammers! There are lots of ways to post about your books – mood boards, character inspirations, pretty quotes, paperbacks shots.
I think bookstagrammers sometimes have a thankless job. There’s a relatively high degree of work that goes into championing books you love, and helping publishers market new releases. What about bookstagram inspires you to keep reviewing, sharing, and engaging?
If I discover a new author to love or a book that blew me away, I’m more than happy to share about it, mainly because I know others will want to know and try the book or author themselves. Anytime someone tells me a “thank you for introducing me to this book/author” it makes me so happy. And being a romance reader who reads hundreds of books a year, being engaged helps me discover new books to try.
What does the romance genre mean to you?
It’s happiness. It’s freedom to explore love in all its messiness and glory. It’s staying up late with a book that makes the eye bags worth it. It’s ending a book with a smile on your face from a guaranteed happy ending.
Follow Lacey at @Laceybooklovers.