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Armchair BEA: Keeping it Real & Children’s/Young Adult Literature

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Another interesting but challenging topic for Armchair BEA today. Well, the “keeping it real” part. I have absolutely no problem talking up YA fiction. Though as young adult literature may not be to everyone’s taste and as I’m not one to push and I’m not feeling much like a cheerleader at the moment, it was a bit of a challenge not to simply say, “I read it. I love it. That is all.”

Keeping it Real

My audience developed slowly and I’m fairly sure it’s changed since I started blogging. Some of my earliest readers are no longer a part of the community. Some of them have found other blogs and bloggers that are more in line with their interests. Some may still be there but choose not to interact. But there are some amazing readers that I do still connect with. And they make every day worth it.

My blog’s growth was fairly slow. At least it seems that way to me. And it has taken a bit of a dip this past year and a half since I shifted my focus away from marketing my blog and growing it to just focusing on blogging itself. So, I’m not sure I’m the best person to talk about developing an audience.

While there are ways to get the traffic numbers up – host lots of giveaways, be part of popular tours and events, participate in memes and be one of the early links – in the long run, if you’re looking to make a name for your blog and for yourself, and to get readers, it takes a bit more.

Variety.

While reviews are the core of what we bloggers do, having a review-only blog will limit our audience. It will also, likely, put a limit on the number of posts we have each week. Unless we can read and review a book a day, if we want to have a blog that posts fresh content daily we will need some sort of filler.

Whether it’s a meme or a few, a feature, a giveaway, a tour post, a promotional blast, having something different will expand our blog’s audience.

While I’m not entirely sure my material is “fresh,” I do try to mix things up now and again. I have my weekly features – Book Watch, Releasing This Week, My Reading Pile – but I also participate on select tours, host giveaways, create Random Thoughts discussion posts. Every so often I host a challenge, participate on challenges, participate in events. And every once in awhile I participate in a cover reveal, post a Crush List post, Trailers post, Teasers post.

As I have other blogs that I blog on, some of the newer ideas get tested on them. Though if I was a bit more concerned about traffic, I’d have added those features and posts to this blog instead of diluting things.

Blogging isn’t always fun.

It’s a lot of work. And sometimes doing the same-old, same-old gets a bit stale. When that happens I try to put the focus back on books. It’s why I do this thing. Or I create a discussion post that reminds me that I’m not alone and that there are others who struggle with many of the same issues I do.

I blog for me.

Of course I want an audience, but if I’m not happy with what I post on my blog I can’t imagine why readers would stop by. If I like what I post, then perhaps someone else will.

So I don’t worry about followers. I don’t worry about traffic. I don’t worry whether people think my reviews are too positive. I don’t worry about whether people think my reviews are too long.

I don’t post content just so it will fill a gap. Though I do sometimes sneak in a giveaway earlier than planned to do just that. I don’t participate in promotions unless I strongly believe in what I’m promoting. I don’t write about topics because they are “hot.”

If it means I have fewer readers or fewer commentators, that’s okay. But I like to think that I do have some sort of an audience and that I haven’t been talking to myself these past two-and-a-half years.

What I do for fun.

Participate in events. There are some great events for bloggers, like Armchair BEA, Parajunkee and The Bookish Brunette’s BBTC, Bound by Books’ Top Ten of… or a new one I’ll be participating in this August called Romp vs. Stomp hosted by The Book Nympho and Rabid Reads.

Join challenges. This year I’m trying out Evie Seo’s 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge and Katie’s Book Blog’s 2013 YA Contemporary Challenge.

Host events. What better way to engage with other bloggers than to host an event. Last year Jaime of Two Chicks on Books and I co-hosted the Authors Are Rockstars event in August. This year we’ve invited Mindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads to join in as a host.

And with all sorts of tournaments like the YA Crush Tourney hosted by The YA Sisterhood’s blog, there are lots of ways to get involved. While much of book blogging is being isolated with one’s thoughts, there are plenty of ways to interact and engage. Like attending events, signings, conferences.

Children’s/Young Adult Literature

Wow, it’s been a long while since I was a child, and having no children myself I’m not sure I’m the best person to be recommending “must have” reads for kids. But here goes…

And I suppose it depends on age, but the top five books that were memorable to me are:

The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Watership Down by Richard Adams.

But I also loved The Phantom TollboothThe Hobbit, the Little House on the Prairie series, anything by Judy Blume, the Nancy Drew series, The Cricket in Times SquareOld YellerSweet Valley High, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.

And when I was younger, the Frances series by Russell Hoban, Beatrix Potter’s books, the Little Bear series, William Steig’s books.

Young adult fiction.

I am a proud reader of young adult fiction. And it’s more than a guilty pleasure for me. I’ve tried many genres and maybe one day I will tire of YA but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

There is such variety in this genre with many levels of depth with the books on offer. And there are books to suit many readers’ tastes and ages. So, while it may take a few tries to find the “right” niche within the genre, it’s hard to imagine there isn’t something for practically everyone.

I have always loved stories with adventure and fantasy. I love being taken out of my world and transported into another. And while paranormal/urban fantasy, fantasy and sci fi stories aimed at an adult audience offer this escape, many times the adventure is overshadowed by sex or the story is constrained by having characters who are adults.

In YA there is also an innocence to the characters and their relationships that is appealing to read about. There is also an optimism, a confidence and a recklessness that is more believable in characters of a younger age.

When the stories are well-developed and the characters intriguing, I find them as appealing, if not more so, than most of the fantasy, horror, sci fi, urban fantasy or paranormal books I’ve read.

And while I don’t frequently read contemporary stories that focus solely on “teen drama,” there are a few authors who manage to present the issues in a way that are not only fun but relatable and moving.

I’ve read the classics. I’ve read genre fiction – crime thrillers, mysteries, horror, romance, chick lit, some sci fi. I’ve read contemporary literature. But none of these has held me quite as captive as YA. So, unless Stephen King starts publishing one hundred books a year, YA will be my focus, my passion, for many years to come.

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3 Responses to “Armchair BEA: Keeping it Real & Children’s/Young Adult Literature”

  1. Great replies on both topics, I think you can’t blog if it doesn’t make you happy which means posting for yourself first and your followers second. Hopefully the two can figure out how to blend together to create a happy balance. On the book side don’t tempt Stephen King I bet he could do a 100 books a year with his eyes closed if he truly wanted to, lol.

    If interested here’s my Post for today.

  2. Joy Kenney says:

    Great post as always :)

  3. A fantastic post. Thanks for sharing. ^_^

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