Monday, March 23, 2015

Blogging Milestones I've Missed

Since I'm celebrating my blogoversary this month, I thought that it would be appropriate to talk about my experience blogging... and all the blogging "milestones" I've missed. Writing out this post has made me realize just how different all of our experiences are. Of course I knew that already, but I could probably come up with so many "milestones" I've missed -- and are the milestones I've chosen milestones you would choose yourself? What really are blogging "milestones?"

When I think of blogging milestones, I think of the things that are talked about the most. Publishing contacts, ARCs, statistics, relationships with authors. I can't seem to remember a single blogger mentioning how many posts they've made over the years, but I can still remember Mundie Moms announcing that they'd reached a million views (and now I keep eyeing my view count; almost to half a million o.O). So, I guess I'll just go through the typical milestones for now.

The first ARC I had wasn't one I'd gotten by email request. I'd volunteered at the Romantic Book Lovers Convention in Los Angeles, and the workers there allowed my friend and I to take a few bags with us as a gift for our hard work. One of them had Sarah Dessen's latest book, What Happened to Goodbye. I devoured it as I've devoured other Sarah Dessen novels and then I hosted one of my first ever giveaways. Because that was completely unexpected -- getting books -- I wonder if I've devalued ARCs over the years. Having them in my hands matters less to me than the privilege of getting to read a book before its release date anyway, which was why sites like Around the World tours were so awesome in my beginning years.

I've never sent in an email request for an ARC. I'm sure if I had, I wouldn't done that great of a job or followed Lili's guidelines on email requests. For me blogging -- I hope -- has always been a side thing. The last barrier I set myself was the email request. If I sent one in, I was in much too deep. There's always something to read... and nowadays if I do want to read and review something early, I go for the easy so-little-effort-required click-a-button e-requests on Netgalley and Edelweiss. I do wonder sometimes what it'd be like to send in those requests and actually have someone respond. The first time I was randomly included on a MacMillan email, it felt like I was more a part of the community -- even though I hadn't known such catalogs existed. It's a little ridiculous, right?

In fact I try to avoid making contacts -- or so it seems like. When I went to BEA this past year, I didn't really make an official "I'm-going-to-BEA" post and reach out to blogger friends. I didn't really try and network with publicists. I knew I could've done better on many counts, but it felt so much like my aversion to sending in email requests. I complain about how much time blogging takes up -- if I start making contacts and actually try to get on lists, I'll never dig myself out of the hole that I will make myself fall into! Because I would get sucked in. As for not letting people know I was there, that was more because I was with my friend and wanted it to be "our" time for the most part. Still I could improve a lot on my friend-making networking -- but again time o.O. But then comes the question: why do this at all???? I keep struggling with that question. Post more, read and review more, or try and be more socially active?

Going to author and industry events sometimes bores me and so I don't really feel like I've had a milestone with these events (note: I never went to these events). Maybe this isn't really a milestone, but it feels like as a blogger, you can get really excited about the author events that happen nearby. I mean the people who know about these events are the ones who are either really INTO that author's books or are active online enough to have seen the information somewhere. I've gone to maybe three. And half of it is that I don't actually care whether an author signs a book. The book is like the author and an author's signature, no? And so much information is available online that Q&As sometimes seem pointless. The main attraction is the presentation bit -- which sometimes gets repeated -- and potentially meeting up with people. But despite making blogosphere friends, I'm terrible at knowing people in the area I live in (generally). Now I'm better, but even now exerting the effort... hm.

Part of that "meh" feeling is because I'd been following author blogs long before I'd joined the blogging community. That was the first step for me. Read the books and then follow what it says on the author flap - find them online, see when their next book released. In fact, before I even joined the community, I sent one of my favorite authors a fan letter. I asked for her advice. I was in a bad place then -- sophomore year of college, I hadn't yet admitted to myself that pre-med was not my thing and getting worse grades than I was used to in a selective college didn't mean I was a failure -- and that author had consistently posted about self-love. I was not loving myself much then. She was so nice and posted her response for others to see, and so in some sense, my first interaction with an author came much before even becoming a blogger. And thinking about how she responded almost makes me think that though other authors would probably respond in similar ways, there's no beating that sort of response. No other interaction -- I know bloggers count being acknowledged by authors as milestones -- could beat out the time that she cheered me (a little - I mean, I needed a lot of work that year) during a less than happy day/month/year.

And when I first started blogging, I was really into looking at my follower counts. But the actual number means so little. I could host so many giveaways and build up that number and not have people actually care about this blog. Learning about that has been its own milestone. It also makes me want to be more involved in the community. I have SO MANY IDEAS. New posts and things that I want to do -- but then I remember the rules I've set for email ARC requests and it's like, well, you can't do those things unless you want to spend A LOT more time blogging. And do you? Maybe, but there are other things that need to get done first.

What blogging milestones have you missed? Have there been times when you've felt like you put in too much time blogging or you've cared less about ARCs/contacts/author interactions/etc.?


  1. I loved this! It was so interesting. I don't run a book blog, and I actually even keep my Goodreads profile private--not because I'm ashamed of what I read, or unwilling to make friends, but because I feel like, if I start having people follow my reviews or interacting with others more regularly on Goodreads (much less start a blog with any kind of real following), it could easily morph from a fun side-hobby to something very burdensome and unmanageable. So I understand (and admire) your approach. I've also loved the handful of author interactions I've had, whether it's a brief response to fan mail or answering a question I had. It really feels so special, as I know authors are usually quite busy.

  2. I'm probably a failure by all of these usual measures. I get my ARCs from NetGalley or Edelweiss. I've never contacted a publisher for one. I did actually have an author contact me and send me my first physical ARC recently (I listed her book on a Top Ten post, one that I was excited about). That was pretty exciting. I'm not on twitter so I don't follow any authors. I occasionally will check an author's blog if I can't find information about the next book on Goodreads. I have yet to go to BEA/ALA or anything like that. So fail, on so many of these things! :)

    I understand bloggers wanting to do all of this. It seems like it would make it feel like you're part of things, part of this community. The way that I feel like part of it (I guess) is that I've made a few blogging friends. We've e-mailed, texted when we're reading books together, trade books, etc. That's been my favorite part (and of course, free books are great).

    I agree with you about the followers. I would rather have fewer followers, but know that those followers are actually reading the blog and commenting. Sometimes I see blogs that have thousands of followers and posts will have almost no comments. So the number of followers seems pretty pointless, in a way. Obviously I wouldn't mind knowing a decent number of people are actually reading the blog because otherwise, I may as well be keeping a journal, right? I do go through periods of time when I wonder if blogging is worth the time. I mean, I enjoy it, but when you see that only 1 or 2 people have commented on a book review, it's sort of like, what's the point? Does that make sense?

    Great post! ~Pam

  3. The only blogging milestones I can think of is receiving my first ARC, my first e-ARC, becoming part of a blog tour, my name in the acknowledgments, my blog name in the new edition from Cress and achieving 1, 2 an 3 years of blogging. I guess hitting 1,000 followers on Twitter is a milestone too and getting in contact with authors is pretty cool as well :)

  4. I think I've probably missed a fair few, I've never considered things like my first ARC, although it was a book by an author with the same name as me, but you're the right, the biggest milestones are the ones you learn about as you go along. Having my name in the Cress paperback is one thing, but learning what people like about me, learning that I can take breaks, that books will always be around and I don't need to request, that I can post whatever comes to me rather than specific things, that's what matters, and this is important to consider! Such a great post Christina! :)

  5. Ha, it definitely can morph from a hobby into something more burdensome and unmanageable. I think even with the my approach, it's still that way at times. And authors are really busy (it surprises me every time I see an author screencap the number of twitter mentions or tumblr asks they have) - so anything is really nice.

  6. That is so cool about your TTT post and the ARC! Something like that has definitely never happened to me :). I'm nowhere near cool enough to be on someone's radar like that! Don't get on twitter unless you're ready to fall into a time suck, and there are plenty of international bloggers who are serious about blogging but who, because they're international, can't go to BEA/ALA/etc. so they're not definitely failures on that account either. And author websites are so tricky - I used to check them for news but authors don't always update them that consistently.

    That's a good way to feel like you're a part of the community! I've held some read-alongs via email and sent some books to other bloggers, but admittedly I've never gone so far as texts. Probably should've.

    Ah, but i wouldn't look at comments as a measure of engagement or whether someone is reading the blog. Some of my most popular bookish rounds posts have the most views but the least comments; people have explicitly said they don't comment but do read those posts for whatever reason. *shrug* but I do know what you're getting at. I think it's a common thing in the book blogosphere to wonder if your reviews is making any difference, esp with fewer views or comments. And I agree that this is a pretty good journal nonetheless about what books you're reading and have read, even if something filling out that journal takes so much more time than expected.

  7. Hahahahah I like how in two sentences, you've managed to remind me why I disliked this post but was like 'oh post anyway, you need a post for when you'll be in SF.'

    Yes: "I think we all look differently at those milestones. Sometimes people put a lot of emphasis on the amount of followers they get or views; I don't really care that much about numbers :)"

    Essentially just that ^.


  8. Hahahah, I'm going to say the same thing to you that I said to Mel below: " I like how in a sentence, you've managed to remind me why I disliked this post but was like 'oh post anyway, you need a post for when you'll be in SF.'"

    Yes: "learning what people like about me, learning that I can take breaks, that books will always be around and I don't need to request, that I can post whatever comes to me rather than specific things, that's what matters, and this is important to consider! "



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