Saturday, December 4, 2010

Busting the Newbie Blues

Small Review is hosting a great event to introduce new bloggers to the wonderful world of book blogging, and to connect bloggers both new and old! She has questionnaires for newbies and more experienced bloggers to share their experiences! It's a great event - you can check out the full details here.

I've been blogging for about 9 months now, so I chose the experienced questionnaire.

1. When did you start your blog? 

I started my blog on February 24, 2010 (back then I was on Wordpress).

2. Why did you start your blog? 

I actually went to a panel on publishing, where one of the editors from a major publishing house suggested book blogging as a great thing to do if you wanted to work in publishing. I started out doing it as a career move, but now I do it simply because it's so much fun. The community is great, and I've never felt more involved in the world of books.

3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?

I think the biggest challenge is trying to balance blogging with the rest of your life. (I know a lot of others have said this too, and it's really true.)  It's easy to be intimidated by the bloggers who post repeatedly every day, but not everyone has that kind of time! I felt really pressured at first to post all the time in order to keep my followers - but, I've learned that if you have good content at least somewhat regularly (not necessarily daily) then your followers will come back whenever you post. They're not going to abandon you! However, I do think participating in memes is a great way to keep fresh content up when you don't have time to review multiple books weekly. The most important thing, though, is to just have fun - don't worry too much about the rest of it. This is for you!

4. What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this? 

I think the most nerve-wracking thing is simply not knowing where to begin. Obviously, you know you're going to be writing reviews. But how do you get author interviews? How do you participate in tours? How do you run contests? How do you ask people to add you to their blogroll? There are so many questions! But I soon learned that book bloggers are sweet and friendly and they're glad to answer your questions if you're brave enough to ask! So, if you find yourself overwhelmed by the world you've entered, shoot an email to a blogger you like and ask them your questions - I'm betting they'll be glad to help you out (and be flattered! I always am when people ask me questions) :-)

5. What do you find most encouraging? 

Well, this kind of ties into my answer to number 4. The most encouraging thing is the community of book bloggers. They're all fun and nice and friendly and share your interests! I've made so many friends from doing this - it's truly amazing.

6. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog? 

I love blogs that post well-written reviews (extensive grammar mistakes drive me nuts). I also love blogs that are clean and pretty - it's hard to read something on a site that hurts your eyes. I also really love blogs that post features and memes and events. Their creativity is incredible! I've tried to start hosting more fun events so that people can have fun!

7. What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this? 

Well, I don't think there are any blogs that I just plain dislike. Everyone has their thing. The only major turn-off (besides the grammar errors mentioned above) is when a blogger writes a really mean review. Negative reviews are fine and unfortunately necessary, but it's important to be constructive. There's no reason to be cruel to the author. They're people too. And spiteful, mean, un-constructive reviews really make me wonder what the reviewer's problem is. I haven't seen many of these though - like I said before, it's a great community and there aren't many just plain mean people in it.

8. Do you have any advice for new bloggers? 

Don't be afraid to ask questions! Don't let this stress you out! It's all about having fun :-)

Also, I know many wonder about getting followers. Some of the best ways to raise awareness about your blog is on social media like Twitter. I talk with so many authors and bloggers on there - it's a great way to get involved in the community and make friends, who will in all likelihood come visit your blog! Also, participating in weekly memes is a great way to draw traffic to your site, a lot of whom will become followers if they like what they see. The best way, though, is to visit other people's blogs! They want commenters and followers just as much as you do! But please, please don't just leave a word and a link. That's just spam. Find a blog with content you like, read some posts, leave a meaningful comment, and most bloggers will return the favor! Voila! You've earned a follower and a friend!

9. How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people? 

A lot of the ways I mentioned above! Just getting involved in the community goes a long way. Social media is also a fabulous tool - use it! Events and giveaways also tend to draw in large numbers of new readers. I know Fall Into Fantasy earned me a couple hundred (which was incredible - thanks you guys!) It takes time to build your numbers, though. Don't get discouraged! Just have fun, work on building your blog, and they will come. And yes, I did just quote Field of Dreams (kind of).

10. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience? 

The only thing I can say is that starting this blog was the best idea I ever had. I honestly can't remember what life was like before this haha! I know I sound like a broken record, but the people really are amazing. I love all my blogging friends! I've also discovered some new books and authors that I absolutely love that I probably wouldn't have without being so involved in this world. Don't be afraid to try new things!

Thanks so much to Small Review for hosting this great event! I hope my answers were at least a little helpful! I kind of feel like the blind leading the blind here lol :-)


danya said...

LOL I thought of the "If you build it, they will come" quote while I was writing my answers to these questions, but I couldn't figure out how to work it in... :D

I agree with just about everything you've said here Casey! Balancing blogging with life is so critical (and something I'm still working on LOL). But yeah, it's really difficult to post every day and have it be fresh new content, so I agree - better to post less frequently and have the content be good quality.

Also just wanted to say thanks for helping out whenever I had blogger questions! :)

danya said...

Also, I am hoping to get into the field of editing/publishing, so it's encouraging that a publisher suggested blogging. What aspect of publishing are you interested in?

toni said...

I had no idea you have only been blogging since Feb o_O you have so many followers! That's quite an achievement lol.

I've been a little discouraged with my blog lately, because my followers seem to have stalled. So I really appreciate this post and your advice. Very timely!

CPatLarge said...

I follow several dozen blogs, read and comment regularly, and almost always learn a great deal. You are now on my regular list! But one question, please - what are 'weekly memes'?

I've been blogging regularly for two full years now (not book reviews, but mostly writing related personal commentary) and I have four followers...four. :-/

Aylee said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I loved reading your answers!
It's so nice to read your reassurances about not having to worry about posting everyday because this is something I stress about on my blog.

Small Review said...

I'm so glad you're participating. Your blog is one of the "established bloggers" I was hoping would join in. I had no idea you only started your blog this year. You have such a good thing going here. I was super impressed with your Fall into Fantasy event.

All of those questions you wrote for your answer to question four are the very same questions I've had swarming around my head! I just might take you up on your super sweet offer to answer questions. :)

Thank you again for your answers, they were so helpful!

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Thank you all for taking the time to read my ramblings =)

Danya - You're welcome! I'm glad to help =) That is a really good question - I'm not entirely sure! Sometimes I think I'd do well with copy editing, and sometimes I think I'd rather be a publicist, and sometimes I just don't know! What area are you most interested in?

Toni - Don't get discouraged! It takes time, but keep doing what you're doing and having fun, and I'm sure they'll pick up again in no time! =)

CPatLarge - Thank you for adding me to your list! Weekly memes are things like Teaser Tuesday and Waiting On Wednesday that are hosted by a blog and people across the blogosphere all participate each Tuesday/Wednesday/whatever day of the week, then link up back on the host's post so that people know to come check it out! Here's an example of Waiting on Wednesday:

Aylee - I think we all do from time to time (or all the time)! It really is important to have fun with it - don't let it stress you out! I hope my reassurances helped ease your mind at least a little!

Small Review - Aww thanks! Thank you for hosting this great event! And yes, absolutely - shoot me an email with whatever is pressing on your mind! =)

bibliophile brouhaha said...

This is seriously a wonderful post - so full of good advice! I love that there is so much support here! I know exactly how you feel - I love blogging about books - this is the best thing I've done in a long time!

I am a sucker for well-written reviews, too. I am also one of those who has tried to find a blog/real life balance - I think I've gotten used to it, but it's nice to know I'm not alone.

Thanks so much!

-Linds, bibliophile brouhaha

Book Butterfly (Kim) said...

This was a great post and I'm sure it will be helpful to so many people! Good job :)

Cade Crowley said...

I completely agree that it can be hard to blog and have a life/job/school or whatever. I blog whenever I have a chance and try to get my posts scheduled in advance so that I don't have to come up with a blog post every day on top of everything else that might be going on.

If I have a day off school, I write a few blog posts, which makes it possible for me to slack off on the blog if I have a lot of homework or a big test coming up.


rubylavender said...

I have a sort of question rather than a comment. I'm participating in the Busting the Newbie Blues event, and I swung by your blog to say hi. But I noticed right away when you said you switched over from Wordpress. My blog is on Wordpress right now but I've noticed that many, many blogs are on Blogger. I'm wondering what made you decide to change and what it was like when you did?

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Hi Rubylavender!

Well, I think part of my motivation to switch over to Blogger was the fact that so many blogs are using it -- as a result, you can use the lovely Google Friend Connect widget to follow and be followed, and it just makes it a lot easier to connect with people. In the same vein, Blogger seems to be a much more open platform as far as widgets go. Most don't seem to work with Wordpress and it really limited what I could do with it (or at least, this was the case at the beginning of this year -- it may have changed since then). Switching over wasn't too difficult. I didn't have a whole lot of regular followers at the time, so there weren't that many people that had to switch their bookmarks and whatnot. I just put up a post and sent out an email alerting people that I was changing (and to my affiliates/blog catalogs) and I was pretty much done. I had a lot of fun playing with Blogger to give my site a new look -- it had a lot more options available than Wordpress. I've never really looked back since I made the switch!

I hope that helps!

AnimeGirl said...

Those were great answers. I confess I struggle a lot with grammar and punctuation because English is my second language. LOL. but yeah, I do try.

And you're so right, most bloggers out there are so friendly, you just got to ask.


danya said...

LOL I'm not sure yet either! I'm interested in substantive editing, but I'd also like to find out more about book design. I am pretty sure I don't want to do *just* copyediting though :D

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Your answers to these questions were spot on -- particularly the one about negative reviews. Negative reviews to explain why you didn't like a book is one thing -- ripping to shreds an author's work is just plain mean. Thankfully, I've only read a few like that -- for the most part, the book blogging is absolutely wonderful and full of nice people. And I also don't know what life was like before I started blogging, too!

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Danya - LOL after that assignment, I'd say not!! Oo if you're interested in book design, you should talk to @kaymfraser on Twitter! That's what she does -- sounds like a lot of fun!

Thank you all for stopping by! I'm glad you found my responses accurate/informative!!

Alison said...

How exactly do you use Twitter? That's one thing I don't understand very well. I post occasionally on Twitter, but I know I don't use it to its full potential as a networking tool.

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Hi Alison,

Well, Twitter is a great way to get connected with the community. I follow a lot of fellow book bloggers and authors, and find myself chatting with them all the time. I've also ended up working with a lot of the same people -- it's just a really great way to make friends and network.

It's also a great way to publicize your latest posts. If you tweet about them, chances are several of your followers will check it out, and several more will retweet about it to their followers, and so on. The great thing about book bloggers on Twitter is that they all help each other out with publicizing posts.

Melissa said...

I'm so glad that you started your blog too, Casey. It's great to have met you!

A Canadian Girl said...

You've stated some really good points and I definitely think that one of the hardest things about being a new blogger is figuring out where to start. It's also hard because people don't know you and since I'm someone who takes a while to feel comfortable around new people in real life, it's scary just thinking about asking a virtual someone I don't know for help. (Yes, I know bloggers are very friendly but still ...)

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Aww thank you so much Melissa! It was great to have met you too! J'adore your blog!

Canadian Girl -- Aww it can be intimidating to approach a stranger, even virtually! Perhaps the best way to go about that is to regularly comment on their site for a while, that way you'll be somewhat familiar when you approach them? It's not necessary before you ask most bloggers for help, but it might make you feel better! You're welcome to ask me for help girly =)

Brooke said...

A publisher said keeping a book blog helps in getting publishing jobs? I was hoping that was the case, but was just assuming. Now I know to mention it on applications!!!

I agree, mean commets don't constitute a review for me. If someone wants to cut something down, just call it a rant and then give the book a proper review. I've been known to add a bit of snark (occasionally) in things I really dislike, but always try to give a positive somewhere!!


T.B. said...

I completely agree with incorporating blogging in with your life. that can get quite hard at times, especially with everything else going on. The blogging community is so accepting and they really know how to welcome everyone! Events like Busting The Newbie Blues really help!

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