27 May 2011

Armchair BEA: Blogging About Blogging

Today's post is to be about placing the focus on the "blog" part of a book blog. This, of course, can go in many different directions: how you got started and why, tips on technical issues (platform, theme, styling), social networking, events - I could probably write a little bit of each and then some, so let's see where this takes us!

At the Beginning of the Technology:

I started my first blog on MySpace, which is still floating around the interwebs out there. At the time, it seemed to be a logical place to put it, since my primary goal was just to share stuff with those I interacted with there. Finally, after Facebook took hold and MySpace seemed to be more and more filled with young'uns, I left there and created this one on Blogger. I have been here ever since. I do co-administer and hold a claim on Wordpress, and have seen a lot of people give that platform accolades, but I haven't found a true reason to jump ships yet. After the Blogger meltdown a couple weeks ago...well, the temptation is always there. I changed the look of it at the end of last year, and added the "Stalk Me" icons at the top last month. I wonder if it is time to look at getting a custom domain, since you can do that with either Blogger or Wordpress, or even build my own hosted blog. I am sure there are other things that could be better and/or added - if you have advice, please let me know.

Shifting:

It has always been a blog about my life and what I have been doing, personal more than anything else. What happened over the last six months is that I realized I missed books. Four years ago I switched from being a technical services librarian in a public library to the job I hold now. I have gone from selecting and ordering fiction titles and music to technology and web services. I own a lot of books, but wasn't getting the insight I used to from being a selector in a library. I have been lucky to have met a lot of colleagues that still do this, and many of them review, either for Library Journal or other media sources, or their own blogs. They love books too, and wanted to talk about them. So did I! Off I went into starting reviews.

Networking for the Blog:

I have done most of my own outreach through Twitter. I feed my blog posts through Networked Blogs - this also goes to my Facebook page, but only my friends can see it -  and create additional scheduled ones through Twuffer. I started looking at memes, but there are so many of them, and I while I talk a good schedule (a GREAT schedule, in fact) I admit to dropping the ball at times. That is okay. I want to enjoy what I do on this blog, not get burdened by it. However, I am driven by deadlines and goals, so make them I do! I do In My Mailbox, and might look at some other memes after this week. I wonder about having a Facebook page for the blog. Even after four years, I feel like this blog is in its infancy, but I know I can't always judge a blog by its followers. Any thoughts?

Networking for the Books:

I have been a member of LibraryThing Early Reviewers for a while, and have recently won my first giveaway on Goodreads. These are two great places to try to get titles. NetGalley was my next big outreach. I work with digital services in my network, so this was a simple choice. E-galleys? Yes, please! I try to not request too many (and *cough* may be a bit behind at the moment) and have admitted to declining some that just didn't sit well or I could not invest myself enough into them to finish. So, I do try to be selective, as I did when I began reaching out to publishers that I was following on Twitter. The couple I have "cold emailed" have been very gracious and I have received a couple titles.

I doubt I would ever approach an author for a book, unless they pose the question first. Julie Hyzy recently was looking for reviews for her latest mystery on her blog, and although she had too many requests to fill, she did offer me her previous title in that series for review. Autographed too!

Finding Balance:

I love my blog, I truly do. But I also work full-time, am raising two kids by myself, volunteer at my church, have a house and a garden and a huge pile of knitting (oh my sad, sad, WIPs) and the last umpteen seasons of Doctor Who on Netflix Instant to watch! Where is the time to do all this and read and write blog posts?

Sometimes, you don't. One day you may decide that you are just going to crack through that pile of finished titles to review and get them all scheduled. Sometimes you won't even turn the computer on and just sit on the couch with a bowl of Haagen-Daz Bananas Foster (forget bowl, just take the whole container) and do nothing.

As I said before, that is okay. That is where the balance is. Once you can put one thing down for a while, in most cases, you will pick it back up and finish it, whether it be that draft post from last week or the laundry.

Armchair BEA:

This is the first big event I have participated in, and I have had such a fabulous time! The new bloggers I have met, new blogs to read, lessons learned and tweets to follow. I am so excited to have been a participant. Next year, if I don't make it to NY (plans are in the works already!) then I will definitely be back.