Busting The Newbie Blues is an event organised by Small Review which I discovered over on one of my favourite blogs Daisy Chain Books. The aim is to provide support to new bloggers by sharing our own experiences and to encourage blogger interaction. Find out more and discover the blogs taking part here
When Did You Start Your Book Blog?
When Did You Start Your Book Blog?
I started this blog back in September 2009. I posted up a couple of reviews that same day then didn't come back for a while. At the time I didn't have a clue about other blogs, followers or any of the book blogging world. My main motive for starting the blog was after seeing a quote from a book review I'd written for a UK consumer website credited to them rather than me directly. I decided then to start my own book review site but it wasn't until January 2010 when I came back and really got going.
Do you ever still feel like a newbie?
All the time! Despite being at this for over two years, I feel like its a constantly evolving thing and sometimes it's difficult to keep up. The book blogging community was still fairly small when I joined, or at least here in the UK it was but particularly in the last year it seems to have exploded and sometimes I feel I've been left behind.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?
I think the biggest challenge I've faced was over the last couple of months of 2011 where I became disillusioned with blogging and almost gave up. The problem was, my blog had turned into something I never intended it to be. My original aim for blogging was to talk about the thing I loved, reading, and make friends/enjoy discussions with people who have similar interests. I feel towards the second half of last year this blog had turned into something pretty soulless. Yes there were lots of reviews, but it was pretty much post and run. Done out of obligation than anything else. My review pile was ridiculous and I wasn't reading what I wanted, when I wanted which was depressing me and it all felt so clinical. In short, I wasn't blogging for me anymore.
Anyway, I gave myself a good talking to and decided that yes I did want to continue blogging, but more in the way I did in 2010. Who cares if there isn't a post everyday? And judging by the declining comments my readers obviously preferred the blog with an eclectic mix of books I felt passionate about and personal posts when I wrote what I wanted and not what I thought publishers and other readers wanted. This year I'm taking a far more relaxed approach and it's paying off dividends. I feel excited about reading again. What I want for this year is to get back in touch with the blogging community and have more interaction. That's what I loved to begin with and that's what I've missed.
So in short my advice to newbies would be to stay true to yourself. Blog for you and not what you think other's may want you to blog about. Enjoy blogging and don't let the TBR pile, follower counts and stats get you down.
What did you find most discouraging as a new blogger? How did you deal with this?
I honestly don't think I did feel that discouraged about anything. In fact I'd say I felt very supported and encouraged. I still to this day hate the fact I live so far away from London where a lot of UK events take place and bloggers regularly meet up. I wish I could do more of that but there's not a lot I can do about it.
What did you find most encouraging?
This is easy...COMMENTS! The fact that people took the time to come and comment on my reviews/posts. Encouraging others through comments is my big thing to do this year.
If you could go back in time and speak with your newbie self, what five bits of wisdom would you tell yourself?
Follower counts don't matter.
Review books are not the be all and end all, they can be a curse.
Be true to your blogging self
Don't make blogging/reading a chore.This is a hobby NOT a job
Twitter will be both your best friend and worst enemy. Use it wisely
What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
The blogs I like best have well thought out reviews, discussion posts and features and speak with an individual voice. I also love blogs that don't just focus on the 'big books of the moment'- there's nothing more boring than seeing the same book reviewed on every blog at the same time. I've tried to replicate this in the past and it's definitely something I plan to work on this year.
What do you dislike about blogs you’ve seen? Do you try to avoid this?
Constant competitions where you have to follow to be involved. It's obvious when a blog has a huge follower count due to their giveaways rather than content. I may have fallen victim to this in the beginning but quickly saw it for what it was.
Black backgrounds with white text. Sorry if this is your design, but I find it so difficult to read! So, ermm, don't. I like clean, clear and crisp. I remember going a bit overboard decorating my blog with fancy designs and loads of widgets when I first started but at the end of the day, if it's an assault on the eyes, people aren't going to read it. Simple and easy to navigate works best for me.
How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?
In the first instant, probably by commenting and visiting lots of other blogs. By joining a couple of meme's - it definitely got my blog out there. I don't do In My Mailbox anymore, but it was a fantastic way to find other blogs, comment and let people find you. Finally I'd say Twitter. A lot of my traffic comes from there and I've also found some fantastic blogs through it. Which brings me back to a point I made above. I LOVE twitter and being able to have book related discussions, finding out what's going on in the publishing world and with favourite authors. however it does have a downside. It's a stealer of time. Many a day has past when I've not done anything I needed to, blog or otherwise, because I've wasted it on twitter.
When and how did you get your first ARC (or first few ARCs)?
I can't remember what my first ARC was. The first review request I ever had was actually from an author (and I thoroughly enjoyed her book). I'd probably been blogging two or three months before publishers started getting in touch. I've only contacted publishers directly to request books for review a handful of times. Most of my ARC's are pitched to me by publishers who contact me by email or sent out as surprises from regular contacts. Review books are a double edged sword. I love getting them, and some surprise books have turned out to be my favourites which I probably wouldn't have heard of before. But on the other hand, the TBR carries on growing and feelings of guilt and obligation can creep in. I accept far fewer review books than I did this time last year and feel much happier for it. This probably isn't the most informative post on how to get ARC's because my approach is to wait and see what comes along. If you have an e-reader, then netgalley's probably the place to be, but even then it's easy to go all kid in a candy shop and end up with an intimidating to read pile. And of course there's thousands of free books at the library.
So there you go. I think what I've learned by writing this (and reading a few other posts) is that blogging is constantly changing, we all love comments and interaction and blogging should most definitely be fun. What do you think?