Sunday, January 8, 2012

Busting the Blogger Blues

Small Review is hosting an awesome event, a follow-up to the Busting the Newbie Blues event she hosted last year. This time, it comes in two editions: Newbies and Oldies.

When did you start your blog?
I started this blog in 2009. It feels like so much longer though (I mean that in a good way.) I had an idea to do a blog featuring different libraries around the world. I love to travel, and always pop by a library whenever I can... I have tons of photos I'd taken of libraries all over the U.S. and Europe, meaning to post them on a blog, but never got around to. I had a livejournal since 2003, which I used mainly to communicate with RL friends who'd scattered around the country. When I realized more and more of my posts were bookish, and that I was less and less happy with LJ's layouts, I finally made the leap and started fresh over here. I quickly determined that posting about library buildings would be hard to keep up with, and decided to try posting book reviews and thoughts about libraries instead.

Do you ever still feel like a newbie?
Yes, absolutely. I compare myself to some of the old-school bloggers on, and I feel like I'll never "catch up" to how awesome they are.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?
Yeah, my biggest challenge was getting started! I was intimidated to start fresh with a new blog, especially such a public one, and I put it off for way too long!

What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this?
Probably the most discouraging thing was posting for weeks on end with no comments or feedback whatsoever. When I first started, I'd be over the moon if I got one comment per week. I just kept at it. Soon enough, the comments started increasing.

What do you find most encouraging?
The community is so awesome and supportive.

If you could go back in time and speak with your newbie self, what five bits of wisdom would you tell yourself?
  • If I could go back in time, I think I would try to take advantage of being a newbie more! I wanted so much to NOT be a newbie, I didn't realize how much potential help I was squandering. Seriously!
  • I wish I'd gotten involved in memes sooner. It's a great way to check out new folks and make yourself known. Right now, I'd say the best ones are: Top Ten Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday, In My Mailbox, Follow Friday. But don't overdo it!
  • When I first started, I tried to think of clever titles for all my posts. It turns out that makes for poor SEO (Search Engine Optimization.) Now I just use simple, descriptive titles. For example, one of my favorite early reviews was for Henry Cole's delightful picture book Trudy, about a spirited girl and her pet goat. I named it, "That's Some Goat" in a subtle homage to Charlotte's Web (which I'm not sure anyone, except for me, even got). Nowadays, I'd just call it, "Trudy Review." It takes less effort AND it's easier for blog traffic to find me. Win-win.
  • I would definitely not worry about "numbers" as much. Just enjoy blogging for the sake of blogging!
What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
I love snarky reviews written by smart, witty, internet savvy people. I don't try to replicate this in my blog, because I just don't feel like I have the knack for truly high-level snark! Forever Young Adult, The Book Lantern and Supernatural Snark are masters at this. I'm not worthy!
The other thing is consistency. I had some blogs I really loved a few years ago, (now defunct) which would have new posts everyday for a week and then disappear for a month or so. I hated that! Conversely, the people that I thought were really "going somewhere" with their blogs created new posts religiously, usually 3-7 times a week. I knew when I started that I wanted to be seen as posting like clockwork. I started by posting 1-3 times a week, and built my way up to blogging every day, or nearly every day.

What do you dislike about blogs you’ve seen? Do you try to avoid this?
Funny, I just posted about this. My biggest, maybe irrational pet peeve is white font on black background. I definitely avoid this.

How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?
I don't feel like I have the attention of that many, really! I still feel like one of the smaller bloggers. It's so hard to know how one stacks up against others, especially since there are so many different measures of "success." Numbers of followers? Numbers of comments? Unique daily visitors? I can tell you that some of my most "popular" blog posts, bar none, are those where I've inadvertently mentioned celebrities. And not author celebrities either -  actual Hollywood types. I suppose, if I just wanted to stretch for more numbers, I could make a point of working that into the conversation somehow, but that feels too much like black-hat SEO to me. Not really an honest reflection of what's going on in my blog.

When and how did you get your first ARC (or first few ARCs)?
I must confess to being positively spoiled rotten for ARCs. Before I was a blogger, and before I was a librarian, I got my start at an independent book store in the mid-1990's. My first day, my new boss led me to the staff room where there were two loooong shelves that went around the perimeter of the room. They were stuffed to bursting with ARCs! She told me I could take as many as I liked, and that she recommended I try to read a smattering of everything, at least two books a week. I was free to read during lunch breaks, but should expect to take some reading home, since reading on the desk or while shelving was frowned upon. My eyes nearly popped out of my head! My heart raced with joy! This was, indeed, the best job ever! I felt like such an important insider! I was going get to read SO MANY BOOKS, and NONE of them had even been published yet! It was like peeking into the FUTURE! I worked there for 6 years and amassed an embarrassing number of ARCs. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by my To Be Read list, or the piles of ARC's currently teetering by my nightstand, I remind myself to try to stay as humble and grateful I was when I got my first stack of advanced reader's copies.


  1. I'm a new blogger. Thanks for the advice. I really liked the pet peeve post. Check out my Busting The Newbie Blues Post!

    Kindred Dreamheart

  2. I can't believe we've never met before. How do you do? I feel ya on never feeling like you can catch up. I've been around since 09 too and I feel the same way.

  3. That has to be the best job (and the best boss ever ever EVER). I worked in a chain bookstore for a while and nothing like that ever happened because each individual store didn't have control over what stock they were sent.

    What I wouldn't give for a job where I HAD to read ARCS....

  4. Oh, I've heard so many depressing things about working for chains... like only getting an employee discount if you spend over a certain amount, or being allowed to "check out" ARCs, but having to return them in perfect condition... or else!

    As for reading ARCs from work at home, the wrong sort of person would say, "What? I'm being given unpaid homework on the job? So unfair!"
    The right sort of person would have the reaction that I did, "Wow, I'm so lucky!"

    If you are a big reader anyway, a bookstore, or a library is a perfect place to work.

  5. Thank you for participating!

    Every time I hear about that job you had I feel like I've just gotten a peek at what heaven on earth must look like :P

    Great point about post titles. There's this one blog I read that always has the absolute BEST post titles ever. They're hilarious. I don't think I could ever come up with inventive post titles like that, so I've always kept to the basics. It's nice to know that is best for SEO, but I'm afraid I'd be doing it boring style even if SEO didn't matter.

    Jenny's snarky cover reviews are hilarious! I wish I were half as witty. I'm with you though, I can't pull off snark well. And when I go for a little snark, I automatically feel guilty. :P

    You've been around for so long! I'm super impressed. I love the idea of posting about libraries from your travels, but I'm glad you decided to run your blog the way you do. Yours is among my favorites.



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