The Book Expo of America is taking place this week, May 23-27 in New York City. The Armchair BEA is an online convention for those of us who could not attend.
Today’s BEA topic is about blogging. I have to admit such a broad topic made me a little nervous. Armchair BEA even offered some suggestions to get the creative juices flowing (aside: it just now occurs to me that “creative juices” might be sort of an icky phrase the same way “moist” is just an icky word). Here’s the thing-though I’ve actively maintained a personal blog since the summer of 2006, I’m not what you’d call a consistent blogger. I also don’t have a stellar reputation for blog organization. You might call me a dilettante. I love to read others’ blogs and I talk a good game, but my personal blog could definitely use an overhaul. That’s why I was surprised when Jehara, founding member of Quirky Girls Read and the official “girl with the fantastic idea” offered me a spot here at QGR. You’d think I’d be a little intimidated, but like most dilettantes, I jumped all over that like lime wedges in a margarita. Like BBQ sauce on ribs. Like white on rice. Like a cheap suit. Like frat boys on a keg. I’m having fun here. Feel free to add your own version in the comments.
My over-whelming confidence didn’t last long. Our Quirky Girls are pretty darn smart and the moment I realized how much I could learn from them, my humility mode kicked in. We’re still a young blog group, but I’ve already learned tons. I thought I’d share a few of those lessons with you.
- CHALLENGE YOURSELF. When we were still in the planning stages of this blog, I chose to review genres I already frequently read. No muss, no fuss. Margot and Bumbles chose to review award winners and classics respectively. Both felt this would be challenging to them as these genres can be considered unapproachable and difficult. They embraced it anyway, and as a result, have found new books and new (to them) authors they genuinely enjoyed. They’ve each created posts that have generated some fantastic discussion.
- DIVERSITY RULES. Case in point: Faith has reviewed the following books: How Do I Shop for Free?, The Lying Game, Eat Your Feelings: Recipes for Self-Loathing, The Wednesday Wars, The Weird Sisters, and Fallen amongst others. There’s no rhyme or reason there. She reads for the love of it and she has an open mind. Getting to tell others about the books she reads is basically buttercream icing on the cake. (Mmm…now I want cake. With buttercream icing.)
- IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL. Blogging comments are awesome! Not for the vanity reason (yess!! people are readin’ mah stuff!!), but for the relationships built. At a minimum, I’ve gotten really good book recommendations. But I can truthfully speak for each of us at Quirky Girls Read, when I tell you that we have made genuine friends via the blogging world. In fact, QGR wouldn’t even exist without these blogging relationships. (Ingredients for a book blog: Start with a Jehara; add one The Bumbles; add a dash of the Bumble’s thoughts about group blogging via her personal blog; add one super duper idea; add Margot, a blogging friend of the Bumbles; add one izzybella and 1 Faith. Mix it all together-batter may be slightly lumpy-and bake until golden brown.)
- THE BEST BLOGGERS ARE READERS FIRST. Besides getting great book recommendations from our site visitors, we’ve also discovered great blogs written and maintained by witty, charming, and intelligent people, such as yourself. Putting yourself out there consists of much more than just writing a blog entry and hoping people find you. If someone has taken the time to not just read your blog, but to actually comment on it, that’s just a conversation or two away from building a relationship. We are readers, first and foremost. Making friends is buttercream icing. I’m not kidding, I can’t get cake out of my mind right now.
- BEND THE MISSION STATEMENT. Okay, yeah, we’re a book blog, but that doesn’t mean we have to lock ourselves into only reviewing books. One of my favorite of our categories is “Bookish Thoughts.” Go ahead-click on the category cloud to your right. I’ll wait. Pretty cool, right? Great photography, great book quotations. We’ve also had conversations about Paper or Plastic, finding time to read, how to break a reading slump, whether or not extra hype actually hurts a book, and even the efficacy of book trailers as a reading enticement. We’ve even invited you to snoop our bookshelves. If we find it interesting and think you might too, we’ll make it work.
So those are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned. I have a feeling that many of you could teach me a thing or two also. Feel free to share or even link us up to anything you think we’d be interested in. Thank you so much for visiting and helping me get serious n’ stuff! I’m going to go make some cake now (by which I mean I’m stopping by the nearest bakery).