Interview with Rosalba Mancuso

September 6, 2016

rosalba mancusoOn the occasion of the fourth birthday of this literary blog, Advicesbooks decided to conduct an interview with its founder, namely Rosalba Mancuso. Just four years ago, on September, 2, 2012, this literary blog started its publications. Since then, articles, reviews, interviews, press releases have been written by Rosalba Mancuso. But who is she? Rosalba Mancuso is an Italian freelance journalist who after working at Italian newspapers, magazines and blogs, has started this blog to promote literature in a double language: Italian and English. But why a literary blog and not another kind of blog? As you can see, the questions to better know Rosalba Mancuso are many and hence, I believe it is the right moment to start this interview.As I have just said, why did you found a literary blog?

The reason is very simple: in my life I have worked as a journalist and I have always loved reading books. Hence, for me, the literary blog was the best solution to keep writing as a journalist in English and improve this language. Usually, indeed, I read books in English and Italian.

When you started reading books in English?

I started in 2010! And since then I have never stopped.

Is it better reading English books or the ones in Italian?

When you write for job, it is fundamental reading many books. Reading improves your skills and your language. The more you read and the more you learn. For me, it is better reading books in English, because they help me improve this language.

Excuse me, are you saying you learnt English by reading?

It is not a secret that reading is the main rule to write. If you ask this question to teachers, scholars, and lecturers, they will reply with what I just said!

And so, college, degree, post graduate is needless?

I didn’t say this. I also have an English certificate I got in 2000 issued by an English School based in Italy. But to write in English and translate into Italian and from Italian to English, my readings worked better than translation and writing lessons. I followed similar lessons by e-learning and by the help of British colleagues who taught at the University in Cambridge.

Is it hard to manage a literary blog in English?

Hard? It is very hard, tiring, exhausting. English is not my mother tongue and if I take a few minutes to write a post in Italian, I take some hours to write, edit and proofread my pieces in English!

Hours? I thought you took days! Compliments, you keep a good pace!

Thanks, anyway it is hard to manage any kind of blog in English if this is not your language. In the world, there are very few writers who write in a different language.

But, if it is so hard. What prompted you to start a blog in English?
First of all, my passion for writing and then the strong desire to keep doing my job as a freelance journalist. I am Italian and live in Italy, but for me and my colleagues, this is an awful time. The economic crisis destroyed our field and by now there are not publishers who hire journalists for their magazines. Hence, English was an escape way from the Italian crisis. I escaped with no need to expatriate! But, I am an Italian mother tongue and foreign publishers demand perfect English, grammar and spelling for articles. They are absolutely right. While I wait for foreign publishers who hire me, I write for my blog! But sometimes, I think there are many things to tell about the Italian Economic crisis. Here, people remain jobless overnight, entrepreneurs commit suicide, the rate of depression is very high because of the economic crisis, but it seems none takes care about this problem.

And so, you started this blog, to forget the economic crisis?

In the beginning, it was so, but step by step, I noted readers were very interested in my book reviews and literary news and at last, Advicesbooks became the website everybody knows. Journalism aside, indeed, book publishing is still lively in Italy because this Country is the Home of literature and when the first authors contacted me to get their books reviewed and promoted, I thought this website can be very helpful for them, especially to create connections between foreign authors and Italian publishers.

This literary blog is for authors or for readers?

Advicesbooks is absolutely for readers and book lovers. For this reason, authors can expose their books here, because literary news, press releases, interviews and book reviews are interesting only for readers and book lovers.

Can you provide me with stats about the blog?

A literary blog written in English by an Italian blogger is a very different niche in comparison to other blogs, especially literary blogs. When you talk about stats you must also add other numbers, namely followers on the social media profiles, fan pages, mailing list and so on! Hence, if you are ready to know my stats, here are my numbers: last year the home page was visited by 11.000 readers. This year, the page it has already reached 9.300 visitors, this means that the blog is growing. Besides the home page, you must also add internal pages and articles which reach similar numbers over a year. Over 4000 followers for the Facebook fan page, 2000 on Linkedin, 4000 on my personal profile on Facebook and a mailing list composed by over 1000 Italian readers! For Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr, I have had connection issues, but I saw my literary articles are also shared there. Furthermore, with a literary blog, it is not important to gain exposure on the same website, but through external links. My latest press release, for example, was republished on other literary magazines all over the world, practically from Dublino to Dubai. And moreover, I have also been followed by famous writers such as Ken Follett, who wrote me an email message last Christmas. I also share my posts on Twitter with literary journals such as The New York Times Books and authors such as Stephen King and Susie Moloney.

Why authors should promote their books on this blog?

Because when they promote their books on this blog, I work to give them exposure outside the blog, also.  Furthermore, nowadays,  promotion is a necessary step of book writing.  And nowadays,  especially  indie authors should remember that none will regard them as successful novelists without getting mentioned on a literary blog or a literary magazine. There are many literary blogs around the web,  but if authors get also mentioned  on a literary blog based in Italy, namely the Home of literature,  this will be an important step to propel their career.

Do you offer other writing services?

Yes. Indeed, this is not only a book promotion site, but a website where authors, publishers and people can find translation, editing and writing services. My translations are from English to Italian and vice versa. My editing services are only for books in Italian, while my writing services in English and Italian are for those who need content for their journals, websites and blogs.

Have you ever written a book?

Yes, I wrote my first novel when I was twenty years old. The book was titled “Love and Secrets” and it was a romance set in an American farm. It was a handwritten work. I wrote it in Italian. When I submitted my novel to an Italian publisher, right when I was twenty years, he said to me: you have a good writing, rather, you write really well! But a romance must have a lot of sex descriptions inside and your book does not have them! Add much sex and I’ll publish the book! I never added what he wanted and my book is still at home, in a drawer of my personal library. A day, maybe, I’ll edit my book in order to publish it, but currently I was struggling with my writing job.

Writing is a job or a hobby?

For me, writing is a job, that’s why I can’t bear to write for free or offer writing services for free, not even for my blog! I also think free blogging has killed writing jobs. Many people say that blogging is an investment, you write for free, for many years and when you become very popular, you earn money from advertising! And the thousands of articles that bloggers have written for years? Who pays for them? This is the reason why I only offer paid services on this blog. This is my suggestion for authors and writers: never give your writing away for free! If you must make an investment, don’t start a blog, but buy financial products or a house.

What is your dream today?

My dream is always the same: earn a living by writing, maybe for The BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times and so on… But dreams are so because they never come true. If they come true, I’ll be very happy to write book reviews for my authors on these big newspapers. In the meanwhile, they can contact me to spread the word out in Italy and Europe through Advicesbooks.

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