Hey guys! I have a new blog feature every Friday called “Feature Friday” where I would be interviewing different people, such as book bloggers, vloggers, bookstagrammers, bookish shop owners, and authors every Friday. I decided to do this because I want more people to discover other people in the book community, and be friends with and help each other out.
So for our first guest, it will be
Rafael Ray Borja of The Royal Polar Bear Reads!
He is one of my favorite book bloggers and bookstagrammers, and a fellow Filipino! I have talked to him a few times, and he is one of the nicest people I have met! I just want to thank Rafael again to indulging me in this interview!
He will tell us more about his bookish life, the success of his blog and bookstagram, and some tips and tricks to improve your bookstagram photos.
1.How did you discover Bookstagram?
In 2013, I’m already doing Bookstagram on my Personal Instagram without knowing that it was called Bookstagram today. When I decided to have my blog on 2015, I also signed up for a new account to make my official brand and bookstagram account so that my personal and book blogging account will have separate target audience.
2.How long have you been on Bookstagram? And how do you feel about doing it?
I think, I’m already on my third year on the Bookstagram community. At first, I felt overwhelmed, then frustrated because I couldn’t get the theme for my feed back then. If you were one of my first followers you would see how moody I am with my account. I started with all black background because it is not new in the community for choosing a darker theme plus it elevated the covers of the book for promotion. But it didn’t go well. I deleted them and started a new batch of photos where I focused on white background and saturated the colors. As you can see, I’m still not satisfied and it is hard to achieve the same lightning and white-ness or at least the consistency of the exposure, brightness and highlight of the photos. I’m like that. So irritated with the small things even if people see the individual photos great.
Early in 2017, I tried the messy and random bookstagram shots which I find amusing, mesmerizing and definitely the theme that represents The Royal Polar Bear – someone messy, organized at some, and a little dark? Anyway, I experimented with a lot of shots and thanks to Adobe Lightroom, I discover to manipulate the vibrance.
Today, I’m shooting photos with the natural light and I edit their vibrace so they could match my feed’s theme. It is satisfying. Because I don’t need to bother myself on the exposure, brightness or the highlight of the photo. I’m focused more on the degrading saturation of the hues of the cover and the clarity of the shots. Anyway, I feel amazing doing all this and remembering how enthusiastic I am with the bookish community.
3. How do you decide on your theme? Do you prefer minimalist themes or colorful ones?
As I mentioned above, I like darker themes. I appreciate minimalist but limited to some post. I like my feed messy like me.
4. Do you have any tips and tricks about doing your Bookstagram posts?
OMG. I don’t have? Well, for starters like me, I highly recommend to use natural light for the lightning since it gives the most and satisfactory photos. Edit them on Adobe Lightroom if you can since that app is a god sent tool! Avoid using artificial light and remove the plastic covers on the book to avoid reflection of the light that could be seen on the photo. And always remember that you are doing Bookstgram because you love to, you love what you are doing and you love promoting reading. Don’t be disappointed when you gain few likes or less engagement. Instagram sucks like that but put on your mind that you are not pleasing anyone but yourself.
5. How often do you post on your account? And how do you decide on what to write on each post?
If I can, I post at least once or twice a day – mostly once. I mostly write what I think at the moment. Usually, I scheduled some photos and write the schedule on my ‘Keep’ App for the reminders when to post a certain book to promote. Since, I received ARCs, I tend to post the title of the books a week earlier then on their respective publication dates. It would help the author, publishers and their sales to promote the book. It is the least that I can do for them when they sending me free books.
As for caption, I usually write what I think at the moment, what I feel at the moment, my thoughts at the moment. Maybe some rants? And talk about what I like and about the book. Sometimes, I add the synopsis of the book in the caption, then sometimes, I announce whenever a blog post is going live.
6. Aside from books, what are your favorite items that you feature on your posts?
I love featuring Magnetic Bookmarks! I find shooting them enjoyable when I shoot a lot of photos to promote @pandam_PH. Aside from bookmarks, I like to feature wines but I rarely do them since I want my pictures to be at least different from each other.
7. Who are your favorite authors?
Why would you ask such thing? The author who ignited my continuous reading was Rick Riordan with his Percy Jackson series. Then it was followed by the authors on 39 Clues series – there were a lot of authors! Today, I am following Lisa Maxwell for her The Last Magician series, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, Romina Russell’s Zodiac Quartet, Sabaa Tahir, Mitch Albom’s inspirational and heartfelt novels, Paulo Coelho, Michele Amitrani’s Omnilogos, Brandon Sanderson, Colleen Hoover for romance novels, Cora Carmack’s Roar, and VE Scwab. I probably missed a lot of authors that I wanted to give a shout out for but I think this will do for now.
8. What is your preferred reading genre?
I’m comfortable with Fantasy, Contemporary, Science-Fiction, Poetry, Dystopian, High Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance and New Adult. Today, I’ve been putting some distance on Young Adult since I don’t find them enjoyable anymore than the past years and I’m trying some new genre like Psychological, Mystery and Thriller. I also read Manga and Webtoon!
9. What are you currently reading right now?
An ARC of A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir! So much action and pain.
10. Tell me about your most memorable experience/s since you started your Bookstagram account?
THERE ARE A LOT. I’ll try to give some of the things that I remember.
- Interacting with some of my favorite author like Romina Russell and talking to her through DM on Twitter and IG. We are like friends!
- Mitch Albom Reposting my Bookstagram Photo! IMAGINE. IT. IS. THE. MITCH. ALBOM. The person who wrote Tuesdays with Morrie acknowledges my bookstagram!
- Being followed by publishers, local bookstore and authors.
- Meeting a lot of Bookstagram friends!
- Receiving a lot of emails and inquiries on my blog – like a lot!
- And lastly, for now, my blurb is going to be printed on one of the poetry books out there. I’m going to share some details and news about this but for now – I’m going to zip my mouth.
11. Since you’ve been on Bookstagram for some time now, can you share some pros and cons about being in the Bookstagram community?
The advantage of bookstagram is you can meet a lot of diverse people in the community where you could interact with a huge amount of people online. It accumulates certain relationship between bookstagrammers to support each other. There are a lot of people who are kind in the community but not all people are kind, there are also some people who is the actual opposite. Doing bookstagram only for the sake of the fame. There are some drama in the bookish community that I am aware of since I started joining the community and my approach with this is to avoid any negative impact for your brand. It doesn’t matter whether you speak up or not. People will never understand you if they don’t have an open mind. Remember, self-care. You are building your brand and don’t let anyone crush it.
12. Who are your favorite Bookstagrammers?
13. What advice would you want to give to new members of the Bookstagram community?
No matter how low your likes are or your engagements, don’t give up on something you are passionate about. What’s important is you are happy on what you are doing.
You can can follow Rafael in his various social media accounts below