Putting More Time into My Blog

grad2As you’ve heard (just a few times), I’ve struggled this spring to keep up with the blog and finish my degree.  The blog has been on the back-burner, so I’m way behind on reviews and I haven’t been keeping up with a lot of the bloggy things I love.

It’s the 6th anniversary of my blog this weekend, and I’ve been thinking about what to do with my new free time.  I really missed my blog, and here are some of the ways I’d like to improve it.  IMG_1714

Learning about blogging: I picked up a book a while back, Everything but the Posts by Becca Ludlum, that I haven’t read yet.  I really want to learn more about the mechanics of successful blogging, like creating graphics.  I took a workshop when I started which was really helpful.  Other suggestions?

Communicating with authors and publishers: this is one area where I’d really like to grow the blog.  I’ve made some great contacts with authors over the years, like Rebecca Burns, Katie O’Rourke and Donna Thorland.  But I’d like to get better at reaching out to publishers, sharing my reviews and requesting ARCs.  Anyone have some good advice on that front?

Networking: I’m horrible at networking.  I try to post my reviews on Goodreads but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.  I like Bloglovin and that might be a good place to invest some time.  I recently read about The Reading Room, a site that looks similar to Goodreads but also has review copies.  What are other good networking sites?  I tend to think fewer is better, for me, since I can barely commit to one of these.

Meeting other bloggers: If you’re in the DC area, want to meet up?  Also I really want to go to BEA and the Bloggers Conference, maybe next year.

Writing non-reviews: I still plan to write reviews, but I’d really like to spend some time writing about other topics, either those related to reading and publishing, or not.  The bookish world is full of fascinating topics, like support for women and non-white authors in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and how e-reading (or Amazon) changes how we read. I also enjoy writing more about blogging.

Obviously there are non-bloggy things to get back to.  What I’m looking forward to may sound dull – getting back to working out, cooking and eating healthier, for example. I also have a long-neglected project to scan my family’s old photos.

This summer’s looking pretty full already, so it’s not like I’ll be sitting around.  I’ve got at least two work trips, two family trips, and a week where family is visiting me.  But it will be great to not have a thesis hanging over my head any more.  In truth it’s been more stressful than time-consuming, if that makes any sense.

I’d love to hear suggestions about any of the above, and especially any great resources you can share about blogging!

For other posts about blogging, see the Discussion Challenge at Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

  33 comments for “Putting More Time into My Blog

  1. May 19, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Welcome back and congrats on your degree!

  2. May 19, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Happy anniversary to your blog! Thanks for all your support. I’ll speak to my publisher about your site and see if some connections can be made, to help with your plan of reaching out more to request more ARCs and sharing reviews. And well done on completing your thesis!

    • May 19, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      Thank you! I appreciate that. I need to learn more about the publishing world and that would help.

      • May 22, 2016 at 10:24 pm

        Hi there! I’m Bekki’s publisher. We have some of our newest books on NetGalley at the moment, but I’m not sure if we’ll continue using the service as it’s so hard to find good bloggers like yourself who actually bother to review. So many people are just using it to get free books. We don’t mind giving them away to legitimate reviewers, but NetGalley is an expensive service and it makes it hard to justify using with little to no return on the investment.

        TIP: To get access to the good books on NetGalley, it’s important to follow up with publishers so they don’t decline your future requests.

        We also have other ways of sending out review copies, so if you’d like to be the first to hear about our new books, let me know and I’ll add you to our VIP reviewer list.(That goes for any of your fellow bloggers who might enjoy our titles.)

        And I’m happy to answer any questions about the publishing world as I am able.

      • May 26, 2016 at 3:34 pm

        Thank you for the suggestions! I just finished one of Odyssey’s books, Hero (and really enjoyed it). I’d love to be a VIP reviewer. I’m trying to limit how many ARCs I read though, so I don’t know if you need a certain commitment?

  3. May 19, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Communicating with authors and publishers – tweet like a motherfucker. I tweet every single review I write (that’s positive) to both the publishing house’s Twitter account and the individual publicist for that book. Authors don’t always have Twitter accounts, so I do that less frequently, but I’ve made some nice connections with those that do. In terms of requesting ARCs, almost every house has its catalogue available online; I do a sweep of the catalogues every six months (they release new ones in January and in June/July) and make a note of the books I’m interested in. The publicists’ details should be in the catalogue, but are often also on the site; you can email them with a request for a review copy. I usually include a link to my blog in case they want to double-check I’m legit, but I know a fair few of them now so they know I am. It becomes easier!

    Also, a million congrats on finishing your thesis. That’s terrific news – well done you!

    • May 19, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you for the great advice! I didn’t realize about checking catalogues. I just rely on what comes to NetGalley or gets emailed to me, but I’d love to be more proactive. I know I need to include authors and publishers on my tweets more than I do!

      • May 19, 2016 at 5:26 pm

        Ah, NetGalley! I have not yet used it (this is partly because I don’t have a functioning e-reader), but I hear that lots of people are really into it. I have to say that catalogue-skimming works really well for me because it enables me to focus on the books that jump out at me, and that way when I get sent pitches for books I don’t really care about, I can minimize my guilt (which shouldn’t even exist anyway but it does) by telling the publicist “no thanks for this one, but I’m reviewing another of your books that I’m super excited about [insert details]!”

  4. May 19, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Happy anniversary! I think all your points and goals are good ones.

    I say go to the bloggers conference at BEA next year. I thought it was useful. BEA was a great tool for me. I attended this year and met with publishers and gave my business card out.

    Other suggestions:1) take advantage of your social media and pick a few you like best to bolster up. 2) write to publishing houses and introduce yourself as a blogger and ask to how to get on their list of bloggers for review consideration. 3) join blog tours. 4)Litsy is getting a lot of buzz and since there are fewer members now, it is an easily way (over time) to communicate with publishing houses and share what you are reading.

    • May 19, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Oh and Twitter is your friend- use it all the time for every post

    • May 19, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks for the great suggestions and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the blogger’s conference. I don’t know about Litsy so I’ll check it out.

      • May 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm

        I’m Jen P at Litsy. If you sign up, let me know and I’ll try to find you. It’s only an iPhone app currently.

  5. May 19, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Congratulations on your graduation! I’ve tried to improve my networking, but I just don’t have the time to really do more than my blog and GR on a regular basis. But non-review posts are a good idea, I think. I’m looking forward to what you come up with for your blog.

    • May 19, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks TJ! I do find people are more interested in non-review posts, especially on the subject of how we read or blog. I know a lot of bloggers say they only review books they feel strongly about. I have a hard time letting a book go unreviewed though…

  6. Penni
    May 19, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Congrats on your degree! What a wonderful accomplishment.

    • May 19, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks Penni, and thanks for commenting!

  7. May 19, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Congratulations on your degree and on six years of blogging! I hope you feel proud of your accomplishments.

    When I finally dared to ask publishers for review copies, I was surprised by how happy many were to oblige. It usually just involves finding some kind of contact info online, sending a basic letter explaining what book I’m interested in and why, with links to a couple of posts I think are relevant, and including my mailing address. Some never reply, but I try not to get depressed about that. I’ve especially been happy to make some connections with independent and lesser-known publishers. I love to share what they have to offer, and get out of the usual rut of titles everyone already knows about.

    I’m going to try to take up some of Elle’s advice too. I’m not great about tweeting my reviews to the publicist and publisher, though I do always try to email a link. And I never thought of hunting through catalogues (on Edelweiss I assume?) for specific publicists.

    And I may be in DC this summer to visit my brother. If my travel dates don’t coincide with yours, it would be great to meet up! 🙂

    • May 19, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks Lory, I definitely need to be reaching out to publishers more, and it’s helpful to have a sense of how to approach them. I recently emailed Tor which I thought that was a good baby step. I would really like to meet if you have time and we’re both here!

      • May 19, 2016 at 10:24 pm

        Tor was one of the first ones that I contacted and they were great! I asked for a giveaway copy of Deep Secret for my first Witch Week, and was thrilled that they said yes. Good luck with your query!

  8. May 21, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Congrats on your degree! I’d like to improve my blog too, and I think summer will be a great time to do it. I mainly use Netgalley and Edelweiss to request an eARC, but if you live in the US I think it’s easy to get a physical copy. Also, use twitter! Many bloggers use twitter daily and I think you will find a lot of new friends there 😀

  9. May 21, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Congrats on your degree! I’d like to improve my blog too, and I think summer will be a great time to do it. I mainly use Netgalley and Edelweiss to request an eARC, but if you live in the US I think it’s easy to get a physical copy. Also, use twitter! Many bloggers use twitter daily and I think you will find a lot of new friends there 🙂

  10. May 22, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Sounds like you have some great ideas about ways to improve your blogging. I think that we can always keep learning more! Hope you find some great resources!

  11. May 27, 2016 at 12:17 am

    I can’t see a reply button on your latest reply to me, so I’ll add this at the end. I’ve added you to our VIP list. There’s no commitment — we’ll just send out emails when we have a new title out, and you can choose to download the ARC or not. No pressure. 🙂

  12. May 31, 2016 at 2:03 am

    Congrats on your degree and happy blogiversary!!
    I have also struggled with keeping up with my blog. Many of the things you have listed are things I know I need to work on (especially the reaching out to publishers/authors).
    In terms of social media, I have an Instagram, a Twitter, a Facebook page, a Goodreads account, a Stumbleupon account, a Bloglovin account, and a Litsy account. It’s exhausting but they help.
    Good luck with everything and welcome back!

  13. vendija723
    June 2, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    What a great discussion post and follow-up conversation! I’m not as interested in connecting with publishers and getting ARCs, but there is still a lot I’d like to do to improve my blog. I’m bookmarking this post!

    • June 2, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad you found this useful. I have a lot of ideas, we’ll see how much I can accomplish. I think a blogger get-together might be at the top of my list.

  14. June 6, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Congrats on your degree!

    I’m pretty bad on the whole networking front, and have mostly acquired publisher and author connections slowly over time. I’d recommend TLC Book Tours and Historical Fiction Book Tours if you’re looking to get involved with those. I don’t do a lot of asking for books, because I started getting overwhelmed a while back and have taken more of a “review consideration” approach.

    Aside from that, my biggest recommendation is to tweet your reviews to the authors/publishers. And lately I’ve been doing more networking with bloggers on Instagram, because it’s a lot easier for me to do on mobile than reading blogs, and I’ve been spending waaaaaay too much time on the bus since WMATA has been a disaster.

    I’m over in Arlington if you ever want to meet up!

  15. June 6, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Glad to hear from a local! I’m going to plan a meet-up soon.

  16. June 11, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I’m terrible at blogging regularly – life just always seems to get in the way! I’d love to do more networking, but the book blogging community is so huge, and everyone else seems to know what they’re doing, so it can feel a bit intimidating, but we’ll all muddle through somehow! 🙂

  17. October 19, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    I’m on the MD side of DC, but would love to meet local bloggers! And congrats on the degree…as someone who did not finish grad school (because, life), I know how much work it is!

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