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Random Thoughts: The Highs and Lows of Blogging

As the summer comes to an end, and as I get closer to the official one-year mark of my blog, I’ve been thinking about just how quickly the time has passed. And I realize that escalation is due to the fact that much of my free time is taken up with blogging. The days just sort of blur between my full-time job and my evening “job” a.k.a. Fiktshun.com.

While I don’t think it fair of me to complain about blogging – after all I do this by choice and can stop at any time – there are definite highs and lows to being a blogger.

As I’ve always been taught to start with the positive, I’ll start with the high points.

The Highs

1. Meeting other great bloggers and authors in this relatively small community. (The book blogging community may be pretty huge, but the young adult book blogging community, specifically, definitely shrinks this universe.)

I have met so many amazing people since I started blogging. Authors and bloggers alike. And it’s hard to imagine a world where I hadn’t met any of these awesome people.

I love the sense of community. And I love meeting people through events like book signings, the RT Convention, Armchair BEA, read-a-thons, the YA Crush Tourney and author blog tours. And I’m sure there are a ton of events that I haven’t even heard about, but hope to learn more about in the coming year.

2. Discovering books I would have never heard about but for stalking Twitter, Facebook and some of my favorite blogs.

I used to rely on Amazon Recommends for all my reads. That list was running really low as I bought up practically everything they suggested. But without being in and around the blogosphere I never would have discovered at least seventy-five percent of the books I have acquired since I began blogging.

Whatever anyone says about bloggers being influential about sales, they are key influencers of other bloggers and have access to way more information about books than the average reader.

3. Finding out that there are people who actually visit my site, read my posts and give me feedback about what I’ve said.

People talk all the time about blog statistics and SEO. But for me just knowing that something I’ve written has actually been read by someone out there in the world and that they actually liked what I had to say is still absolutely amazing to me. I may not have a daily audience of thousands, but just knowing that a small group of people come back time and time again to check out my posts still puts a huge grin on my face.

I may never become the biggest blogger or the most popular, but that’s okay with me. Just getting the wonderful feedback that I have gotten means the world.

And finding out that authors have discovered reviews of their books on my site without me actually pointing them out, still absolutely blows my mind.

4. Having a place where I can share my thoughts about the books I read, the books I want to read, the books I want to re-read and whatever other bookish babble I feel like talking about on a given day.

I’ve mentioned this before, but until I started up my blog everyone got sick of hearing me talk about books. I only have one friend that actually likes to read. Everyone else is super excited that I have an outlet where I can go on and on about bookish things and not bore to tears.

I love my little blog. And I love it even more with its new facelift thanks to Rachel at Parajunkee.com. So each day, when I have something new to post or say, I can’t wait to log in and create those posts. (And no, I still don’t really have any posts scheduled for down the road.)

The wonderful thing about having a blog to use as a creative outlet is that if someone isn’t interested in what you’ve said, it’s still out there. You’ve said it. So that way, at least for me, I don’t have to keep on rambling about it to friends, family and co-workers until they want to tape my mouth shut.

5. Getting a chance to help promote the books and authors that I love. When I love a book and its author I want to share that love with everyone in every way I possibly can.

The promotional aspect of blogging is one of my favorite things. I realize that it’s free marketing for the publisher, author and book, but if I love a book so much, I want to do whatever I can to help that book succeed. I’m always a lot less inclined to promote something if I’m asked to do so, but when I decide to do it, I like to go all out.

I’m not naive. I know that when a publisher sends out an ARC they are hoping to spread the word about that book, expect to see a review and hope that it would be a positive one. And as I’m still an ARC recipient newbie of course I end up spreading the word. Whenever I do get a new book in the mail, I can’t help but be excited and share that excitement on the blog by posting the photo and talking about the book. Even before I’ve had a chance to read it and find out for myself if it’s a book worth gushing about.

And while my releasing this week posts actually take me hours and hours to put together, I still love doing them so that I can share all the books I’m adding to my collection and why I choose to do so.

The Lows

1. Not getting to read nearly as much as I’d like.

This is my biggest low. Creating posts for non-review items actually takes a really, really long time. I think the quickest posts I can create are for giveaways. But then there is all that work on the back end – choosing the winner, notifying them, getting their details, shipping the books.

But my featured posts and my Random Thoughts posts take almost as long as my review posts.

As a reader I am sad that I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like. If I didn’t have a full-time job I would spend a lot more time reading, but when I have four hours at the end of my day to come up with a post, respond to email, chat a bit on Twitter and Facebook, I usually don’t get to start reading until one o’clock in the morning.

2. Not being the blogger I’d like to be.

In an ideal world I’d be a much more organized blogger. I’d meet all deadlines for reading the books I’ve requested, writing the reviews I’ve promised and responding to the emails I’ve received. But I don’t live in this ideal world, so deadlines are missed, reviews are put on the back-burner and email are lost in the shuffle.

I would love to have more time to read other blogs, leave comments and interact more with other bloggers. But I just don’t have the amount of time necessary to be that blogger. Why I chose to add a couple other blogs to my name is absolutely beyond me.

3. The drama.

I’ve kept most of the drama on The Annex and over on Twitter. I never really wanted that taint here on the main blog. But blogger drama is a huge low. I haven’t really been a part of the author-blogger drama, but I know of at least two other bloggers who have and it doesn’t sound like fun.

Then there’s the theft. Shortly after a blogger I know had their content stolen, I found out something similar happened to me. I thought my blog was obscure enough to have avoided this type of situation, but this summer I discovered that content from three of my reviews was lifted. And not by some random blog in a country far, far away. But from bloggers I actually followed. Sadly the bad behavior wasn’t stopped, just modified so cut and paste became paraphrasing.

But what makes me most sad about this is that these two things have affected how I go about my blogging day. If I receive a request for review from an author that I don’t know, I’m not keen on responding until I’ve done a lot of research. A lack of response, I’ve recently learned, can sometimes be best. Because even politely responding “no” can stir up drama. And it does make me even more sad because I’m sure I’m missing out on discovering a new author that I might otherwise have loved.

And while I don’t search the web to see if any other of my content is stolen, I now check the blog who did steal from me whenever they post a review to see just how much of that review was paraphrased and to try and find out who from.

4. The time suck.

Wow, is blogging the biggest time suck ever. I think I’m going to sit down for fifteen minutes to write something quickly, then find out that I’ve been at the computer for three hours, it’s one o’clock in the morning and I haven’t read a thing.

It’s just so easy to frame out a post, look for fresh content for the sidebar, play around with graphics in Photoshop and before you know it, that small window to read is gone.

And of course now that I’m a blogger I spend quite a lot of time on Twitter and stalking other blogs. I even got sidetracked writing this post by checking out Twitter, reading a blog or three and commenting on Facebook. And then I realized I had to update one of my posts from yesterday. So yeah. Huge time suck.

5. Relying on the post office.

Okay, this may seem super silly, but before I started blogging I never checked the mailbox and I never sent mail. I would go days, weeks even, between mailbox visits. Granted, where I used to live the box was really inconvenient, but still. All my packages would come via UPS or FedEx. I never got anything in the post.

Now, I spend at least an hour a week at the post office. And make at least six trips to my mailbox each week hoping that my missing parcels will magically appear. If they’re over-sized then I have to hope that someone from the building is around to unlock the special package room, and because the postman doesn’t put a note in when they’ve left one, I often have to pester them unnecessarily.

Again, this may seem like such a super ridiculous thing to list as one of the lows of blogging, but having to find time each week to get to the post office to ship my packages – as I can’t mail out anything larger than an envelope from home – and then wait on lines that are usually thirty to forty-five minutes, is hugely annoying.

And having to keep track of packages that I’ve sent or that are headed my way, that are being delayed for no apparent reason by the post office is frustrating to no end.

***

While I’ve listed five highs and five lows, the reality is that the highs outweigh the lows. In fact, just item number one outweighs all five of the lows put together. I love this community and even with all the work it takes to blog, all the drama that comes with it, all the money I spend on books each week, it is well worth everything just to get the chance to be a part of it.

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