I had the best time interviewing today Marc Fleischhauer. If you are looking for honest and detailed reviews elaborated with personal care from someone who is genuinly passionate for books and those who write them, look no further…check out Marc’s reviews at Rainbow Gold Reviews!
1. Tell us about you and your gay romance blog. Where can we read it?
My name is Marc Fleischhauer, I’m a 24 year old student in Germany and a little over 6 months ago, I created my own LGBT Review Blog ‘Rainbow Gold Reviews’ and run it with two close friends and several awesome reviewers 😉 All of our reviewers are avid readers of the genre (our focus is M/M Romance, though we accept review requests for any LGBT Fiction). We rate books and audio books we read and listen to on a scale of 6 to ten, including half ratings like 8.5. The higher the rating, the more can we recommend a book to our readers. If a book would rate below a 6 we would not feel comfortable ‘recommending’ it and if the review was requested, we will tell the author or publisher that it did not fit the criteria to be posted on the blog.
We post well-balanced and honest reviews for the books we at least liked, but we will not put in a lot of time and effort into a review that uses our reach to ‘warn off’ or ‘discourage’ readers from buying a certain book, just because one of our reviewers did not like it. In addition to independent reviews (some from review requests and some from books our reviewers bought themselves), we work closely with authors and publishers to give you many opportunities to meet and chat with authors. We have hosted many successful online parties, Chats and events, have created Scavenger Hunts and awarded several hundred prizes provided by the extremely generous authors.All that is pretty awesome for 6+ months and would be impossible without the support of readers who have visited the blog more than 50,000 times since our debut and authors like Jamie Lake, who has graciously offered me this opportunity to talk about the blog. Thank you so much ❤ ❤ ❤
Rainbow Gold Reviews:
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2. What got you started as a m/m blogger or reviewer?
My M/M addiction really started when I found the M/M Romance group on Goodreads and participated in many reading challenges and games. One of my friends there really liked my reviews and asked me to help her re-launch her
personal blog into a blog for LGBT Fiction. We recruited several other friends willing and eager to review and with fresh enthusiasm, a shared love for the genre and my friend’s unwavering leadership, the blog soon soared to unhoped-
for heights. Maybe even too much so for me. With the size it had grown to and the amazing reach, some of my over-enthusiastic experiments and ideas made it harder to keep control over all aspects of the blog for her and she tried to streamline it to be more professional, with great success.
While reviewing is fun for me, it comes with a lot of unpaid work and pressure, though. I must admit for me the most rewarding part was the contact with authors and publishers, coming up with ways to bring readers and authors together. Being creative, trying things. Giving those things up to focus solely on reviewing, even for a blog I helped to build and still love dearly was too hard for me. So with the help of some friends, I created a new blog completely from scratch. I wanted it to be like a family. Every reviewer has full editing rights to every post. It’s highly unusual, but every one of our reviewers can help out, fix things, ask anyone to read their review and line edit it. We can help each other. We share our love for books and the genre and talk to each other daily. We are there for each other, even when things happen that are completely unrelated to books. We are friends, a family and the big thing that connects us is our addiction and love for M/M and LGBT Fiction. I hope that shines through with every review and every event 😉
3. Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?
The romance genre as such was never of interest to me. I sometimes had phases where I read a lot, but mostly Fantasy, Dystopia, YA, Paranormal, Thrillers, Mystery. Same thing with moves. Those are the ones I really obsess over. The Lord of the Rings, Donnie Darko, Serenity, … BUT I always had to be in the right mood to watch or read those stories. They can be dark, gloomy, ambitious, complex… I need to concentrate on them to really appreciate them. But my guilty pleasure was watching ‘chick flicks’. Funny, lighthearted and romantic movies that were always easy to watch and always made me giddy with happiness.
They did not stay in my mind as much, (except for some genius ones, ever watched ‘Kate & Leopold’?) but I loved the emotions they called forth. Well, when I realized I was gay, (and even before that) seeing two guys together made me happy, crazy butterfly activity in my belly. Hope. Love. Romance. I felt like it was not only okay to think about such things, it seemed natural and romantic and hot and every story gave me strength. Let’s be honest, though, a lot of LGBT type movies suck. Bad acting, low budget, … . That’s when I discovered LGBT books. No one could see what I was reading, I didn’t need to go to a store and look for LGBT books, I could use a credit card and get files on my kindle. It was revolutionary for me and still is.
I craved the love and happiness in the books. The feeling like being honest to my true self and enabling myself to meet the right person through it. M/M Romance changed my life by making me want to change it, by showing me a different path I could take that was so seductive that I grew balls and did what was necessary to get there. Also, did I happen to mention that two guys together are insanely hot and romantic? K, being gay I might be a bit biased about that, but whatever. There is so much variety in the genre, it can include all my favorite sub-genres, be heartbreaking, funny, sexy, erotic, kinky, charming, … and it always reminds me that love is love is love and is a fucking great thing and we should treasure it instead of trying to fight it with hate and intolerance. I need to share that love and get people interested in the great books I read.
4. Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique
Compared to others?
Rainbow Gold Reviews doesn’t earn a single cent, none of our reviewers earn a single cent, we don’t take any money for advertising or anything else. We work more hours than for a full time job, because we love the books and authors so much that we have fun doing it and want to do our part. We also don’t pay for anything, so we don’t have to worry at all about costs for the upkeep of the blog, use of our web address or costs for hosting or anything like that. We receive review copies from more than 20 publishers, in fact we could request any book from them and get it for an honest review without charge. We don’t depend on any one publisher to receive review copies (we actually get more requests from just the authors themselves to keep up with) and even if we would receive no more review copies, our reviewers are so addicted to this genre that we would always own enough LGBT books to read and review.
That makes us independent and we can honestly and respectfully state our opinions (as long as we at least see potential in the books and like them a little). We use a 10 point rating system, because most books we read just fall into a small spectrum. If we like books, we want to be able to show our readers how much and compare them to each other. Not everyone was enthusiastic about the system, because it is not the common norm. However, our readers do like it as it just needs to be divided by two for the more usual 5 star rating, but will easily tell them how much we recommend certain books. 7/10 means a 70 percent recommendation (3.5/5) and 8.5/10 means an 85 percent recommendation (4.25/5), a clear difference, though both would be shown as 4 star reviews on amazon or goodreads after being rounded up or down.
Though we sometimes encourage our reviewers to explore books outside their comfort zone, they usually claim books they are interested in from a review list or review books they are reading on their own, ensuring that most actually like the books they read. From the very beginning we had one of the most visible social network presences. We have hosted numerous parties and chats on Facebook or outside chat rooms and the generous authors who participated have given away more than 400 prizes through our blog, with several prizes with a value of 100 Euros or more. Authors have spent many, many hours playing games and chatting with our readers and we just like to bring readers and authors together and have fun.
5. Define success as a m/m blogger and reviewer.
When the blog was founded, it was important to me to find new voices in the genre, so we potentially take on anyone as reviewer, teach them how to improve their reviews, how to use WordPress and see if they are a good fit. For me success as M/M Blogger is not writing the most analytical review, though our reviewers put a lot of time and thoughts into their reviews. If a reviewer is able to share their love for a book they read in a way that infects others and makes them interested, even while indicating in a respectful way what didn’t work for them, I think that is perfect.
Many of our first time reviewers have become confident and well-liked and read reviewers, who are now very involved in the blog and the community. We welcome new reviewers for M/M and/or F/F Romance and Fiction with open arms.
Other things that define successful reviewers for me is the willingness for authors and publishers to work with us and the willingness of readers to attend our events.
We might not be among the biggest reviewers in this genre yet, but since April our reviews and posts were read 50,000 times, we have a social network reach higher than 7,500 and most big publishers regularly work with us, even after testing how many readers actually click-through to their website to buy the books we review. When we have an event it takes me 24-48 hours to find more than 100 authors interested in participating and our events are always well-visited by readers and authors.
We love interaction, do our best to work with authors to find the best way to promote their work and give tips to authors who are brand-new and never had to do promotion. In turn, we get a lot of blog tour, interview, spotlight, guest post and review requests from authors on our email (email@example.com) or on Facebook 🙂
6. What are some of the best m/m books you’ve read this year?
I have read some amazing books this year. Whether they were audiobooks (a lot of them are) or eBooks/Paperbacks or whether they were review requests or books I bought on my own, these are the books that stayed in my mind and I can highly recommend all of them.
Some of my favorites are:
‘Into This River I Drown’ and ‘The Art of Breathing’ by T.J. Klune,
‘Aaron’ and ‘Spencer’ by J.P. Barnaby,
‘Necropolis’ and ‘Bloodline’ by Jordan L. Hawk,
‘The Fallen Angels of Karnataka’ by Hans M. Hirschi,
‘Social Skills’ by Sara Alva,
‘Crescendo’ by Rachel Haimowitz,
‘Strain’ by Amelia C. Gormley,
‘Whistling in the Dark’ by Tamara Allen,
‘Greenwode’ and ‘Shirewode’ by J. Tullos Henning,
‘Fox Tail’ by Haley Walsh,
‘Hero’ by Perry Moore,
‘City Mouse’ and ‘Country Mouse’ by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov,
‘Aristotele and Dante discover the secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alire Sáenz,
‘Try’ and Take’ by Ella Frank,
‘Strawberries for Dessert’ and ‘Fear, Hope & Bread Pudding’ by Marie Sexton,
‘I Spy’ series by Josh Lanyon,
‘Brokenhearted’ by Cate Ashwood,
‘Wake Me Up Inside’ and ‘Until Forever Comes’ by Cardeno C.,
‘All Kinds of Tied Down’ and ‘Acrobat’ by Mary Calmes,
‘Casket of Souls’ and ‘Shards of Time’ by Lynn Flewelling,
‘Dark Space’ by Lisa Henry,
‘Bad Plan’ by S.J.D. Peterson,
‘Bad Idea’ by Damon Suede,
‘Second Skin’ by Genna Donaghy,
‘Best Friends Perfect’ by Liam Livings,
‘Love Me Like A Romance Novel’ by Megan Derr,
‘Catch My Breath’ by M.J. O’Shea,
‘The Back-up Boyfriend’ by River Jaymes,
‘Behind The Curtain’ by Amy Lane,
‘Camp Hell’ and GhosTV’ by Jordan Castillo Price,
‘Sunburns & Sunsets’ by Brigham Vaughn &
‘Glory Lands’ by Vastine Bondurant.
7. What would you like to see more in m/m literature you don’t see now?
I would like to see more variety in body types, greater inclusion of main characters with handicaps or a different cultural backgrounds. More variety in the relationships portrayed (like a loving and committed OPEN relationship or a relationship between two bottoms).
8. What advice can you give to aspiring m/m reviewers and bloggers?
First, there are tons of Social Media Platforms, but with all of its faults, Facebook is still the best place to stay in touch with genre authors and get attention for your blog. Twitter is very helpful as well for the promotion of your posts. Friend authors you like and want to promote on your blog and join groups that allow for promotion. Get an account for your blog on Goodreads, Amazon, a Facebook Page, Google Plus, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, … or any platforms you want to have a presence on and assign reviewers or people who want to work with you on the blog to monitor and moderate them.
Decide the name and structure of your blog before it has grown so big that changing it is nearly impossible and get a banner and icons for the blog (that you hold the right to use). Create a structure or guideline reviewers can follow for their reviews, a rating system that works for you, set up a page that shows your review guidelines to authors and be completely honest about your process. Set up an email address and someone to answer correspondence daily. Listen, when I tell you that it is a FULL-TIME job and get people you trust to help you. Then have FUN ❤ (If I can help you in any way, I would be happy to if you contact me per email or on Facebook:
Marc Fleischhauer: Reader and LGBT Reviewer: https://www.facebook.com/marc.fleischhauer.14 )