Busting the Newbie Blues is an annual event designed to help new YA book bloggers network with one another and share blogging experiences with other newbie and established bloggers. This event is running throughout the entire month of January. Want to join in? Click here to learn more!
1. When did you start your blog?
I started putting things together in October 2010, but it went "live" in November 2010.
2. Do you ever still feel like a newbie?
All the time, and not so much. I'm a shy person and I live under a really big rock, so I feel like I'm always struggling with blogger etiquette and keeping up with social trends.
I pretty much don't even try to "break news" like cover reveals or new book announcements because I'm just not hip enough to compete in that arena. And that's ok. I feel like I've found my own groove when it comes to blogging, and in that regard I don't feel like a newbie anymore.
I do feel like a complete newbie when I talk with authors, publishers, or big bloggers. I pretty much have a running commentary of "They're talking to ME? ME?? Yay! Oh my word, they're talking to me. WHAT DO I SAY??? Oh great, I sound like an idiot."
3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?
Probably time management. I'm a "more is more" kind of person, and I've let that mentality slip into my blogging life, for better and for worse. For most of my first year I was posting every day with two reviews per week. That worked for a while, but lately life has gotten busier and I don't think I'll be able to keep up with such a rigorous schedule.
The biggest mistake I made with this was thinking I couldn't deviate from my schedule. I super stressed trying to get everything done, and then I stressed even more over the idea of reducing my schedule. Part of me fears that everyone will abandon me and I'll be letting everyone down by posting less.
But the reality is, many of my favorite blogs do not post every day. And, honestly, if they have a schedule, I haven't kept track. I read them because I enjoy them, and it really doesn't factor in at all whether or not they stick to a schedule or post every day.
In fact, I'm almost relieved when people DON'T post every day because I find it hard to keep up with all of the feeds in my reader. I ended up skipping past posts I wanted to read because I just didn't have time to read them. I need to remember that sometimes less is more.
4. What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this?
Statistics. I am a statistics junky, so I pretty much obsessed over my stats for the first, well, for a lot longer than I should have. I compared myself to other bloggers and set monthly goals for all sorts of things.
I dealt with this in two ways. One, I started Busting the Newbie Blues. I was way too shy to start commenting on the big blogs, so I sought out other newbies like myself. I ended up meeting a lot of bloggers who have become good friends and it really helped to know that other people were feeling the same things I was feeling. Plus, I'm not going to lie, the followers boost felt pretty awesome and gave me encouragement at a time when I really needed it.
The second way I dealt with it was to CHILL OUT. This was very hard, and I still struggle with it, but I needed to ignore my stats and take a chill pill. Life goes on, even when my pageviews dip (like over the summer when kids stop Googling "What is the ending of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle??").
Plus, do you know how much time I spent worrying over and checking my stats? Do you know how many quality posts I could have written during that time? How many books I could have been reading? Spending my time on those pursuits would have been a lot more helpful toward my goal of increasing my stats than spending that time obsessing over my stats.
5. What do you find most encouraging?
SO many things. When you're feeling down about your blog, think of all the things YOU have done that have nothing to do with your stats. It can be pretty surprising.
I've done so many things I never thought I could or would do. I've hosted and co-hosted three events, contacted authors and publishers, received books for review, written a LOT of reviews, thought more critically about my reading, written almost daily, created and STUCK WITH a blog for over a year.
These are all things that I DID, even if I was nervous and even if I was busy and even if I was tired. I DID them, and I'm pretty proud of that. Even if you're a tiny newbie blogger, I guarantee you can point to at least a handful of blogging accomplishments you can be proud about. Try it!
The other biggest encouragement has been all of the amazing people I've met. The people who read and comment have been like my own personal cheerleader squad. You encourage me, direct me, give me insight and feedback. Your comments pick me up when I'm feeling down. Do you realize how much you mean to me? So, so much.
6. If you could go back in time and speak with your newbie self, what five bits of wisdom would you tell yourself?
- Do what you CAN do and don't stress about the rest.
- STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR STATS.
- You CAN take a break. No one will abandon you. (People will even tell you they miss you!)
- Deviate from your schedule if you want! No one cares as much about your schedule as you do.
- Don't let blogging take over your life!
7. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
I love blogs where I feel like I know the blogger--their personality shines through in everything they do. I gravitate toward nicer, happier people. The kind of people who reach out instead of shut out. I don't feel comfortable around mean or cliquish people.
It is very important to me that people feel comfortable on my blog. Whether we agree or disagree on a book, I don't mind at all. I hope everyone feels at ease and that they won't be judged. Everyone is welcome here (unless, well, if someone is making an effort to be mean. Or spam. Those I don't welcome so much).
I also really love it when the blogger replies to comments. I feel like their blog is ten times more welcoming and I'm a lot more likely to comment. I also like asking questions, so it's nice to know they'll be answered.
As for reviews, I love it when a reviewer lays it all out there for me. I don't want spoilers (oh please no spoilers!) or a summary of the whole plot (please no!) but I do want to know things like pacing, if a long book feels long, what the characters are like, what other books is this book like, if it has a slow start but then makes up for it later, does it have insta-love, is there a love triangle, and on and on. I also like knowing WHY they liked or disliked the book. All of this information helps me determine whether or not the book is for me.
I also like rating systems. No, scratch that, I ADORE rating systems. I'm totally lost without them. I don't like descriptive rating systems as much because my memory is horrible so it's hard for me to keep track of what they mean (is "covet" better or worse than "adore"??). But oh for the love of numbers! Show me frogs or diamonds or stars or owls--whatever. If I can count it, then I'm happy.
I try to do all of this and I hope I've succeeded (but please tell me if I haven't!).
8. What do you dislike about blogs you’ve seen? Do you try to avoid this?
Negativity. Reviews that tell me nothing about the book. Reviews that are summaries. Clutter. Difficult to read fonts. Slow loads. Broken scripts. Disorganization. No review index.
Basically, I want to be able to find your posts, physically read them without hurting my eyes, and come away happy and with more information about the book than I had before.
I hope I avoid these things, but if I don't, please tell me! Really!
9. How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?
Busting the Newbie Blues! Seriously. Outside of that, I commented a lot, registered my blog with search engines, worked on making my post titles SEO friendly, and threw myself into blogging.
10. When and how did you get your first ARC (or first few ARCs)?
ARCs for me have been a strange and inconsistent experience.
Before I started blogging, I posted reviews on Amazon and, based on that, I was able to get some e-ARCs through NetGalley. I was denied by HarperTeen (they STILL love denying my requests), but Houghton Mifflin Harcourt approved me!
Then I jumped into blogging, and after only about a month I got my first ARC from Goodreads First Reads program (and if you know much about my favorite authors, you know what a love affair THAT started for me!). I received one more ARC from them early on...and nothing since.
It's been hit or miss since then, but what I've taken away from my ARC experiences so far is this:
- I am still very confused as to what criteria publishers use for determining who gets ARCs, when, and why
- Getting ARCs is like feast of famine. I'll get a bunch of them, and then nothing for a while, and then another surge
- I get ARCs when I least expect them
- A denial does not necessarily mean there is something wrong with me
- The longer I blog consistently and well, the more likely I am to be approved
- Getting ARCs is like getting presents and work all rolled into one package
- It's nice getting ARCs, but it's not something to stress or obsess over
What about you?
How do your experiences compare?
Have you joined in Busting the Newbie Blues yet?
How about your Big Blogger Blues?
There's still time! These events run until the end of January!