As I missed out on the blogger interview signups – and I’m so sad that I did, as I would have loved the chance to meet a new blogger – I couldn’t participate in the posts yesterday. Although, if I had my act together just a little bit more, I would have asked a blogger I do know if they’d like to answer a few questions. But, I didn’t. The demand on my time these past few weeks has been pretty intense… which leads to today’s topic about Community and finding and keeping it in book blogging.
I’ve been blogging for just over ten months and when I started I knew no one and next to nothing about any community that existed. And even after I started writing reviews, using my Goodreads account for more than just a wish list, and signing up for a Facebook page and a Twitter account, I still really didn’t understand that there was a community out there.
But I did eventually find out that there was one for young adult book blogs. I never intended for my blog to be focused on young adult books. I am an adult, not particularly young – unless you count young at heart – but I’ve been enjoying reading YA since 2008 and only rarely read books aimed at an adult audience anymore – Stephen King and Janet Fitch are the exceptions.
What I did learn is that the young adult book blog community is its own circle within the larger blogging community. They seem to be much more active on Twitter and other social media outlets, which is great for me, because I don’t participate in book clubs and only know a handful of readers, most of whom are my own family. I found out early on that I loved this community, that the bloggers in the community are really very close-knit and that they are probably the nicest people to engage with on a daily basis.
While I don’t always get to be as involved as I’d like to be, I don’t simply blog and call it a day. I try, at least a little bit every day, to participate in some way, even if in the scheme of things it’s insignificant. I’m a blogger with a full-time job which sometimes eats up every waking hour of the day, so it’s not always easy to join in when I barely can find time to post.
I’m not an expert and don’t really have “tips” on what to do to be a part of the community, so I’ll just quickly share what I do that makes me feel like I’m doing my part.
I visit other bloggers’ blogs
I think a great way to feel like you’re a part of the community is to visit other blogs. It doesn’t take very long to stop by, read or comment. And it allows you to see what other blogs, similar to your own, are talking about and gives you a chance to hear a different voice from yours.
I love to hear what other bloggers have to say and many times find information about a book or author that I might not otherwise have discovered. At the end of the day I can’t stand to hear my voice any longer so I like to hear someone else’s. While I don’t always have the time or energy to comment, as it takes me nearly as long to comment sometimes as it does to post, I do make sure to check out as few as five or as many as twenty blogs each and every day.
While visiting and commenting on other blogs isn’t required, it’s something that allows me to feel like I’m interacting and part of the conversation. During those times that I do catch up with others on Twitter, it gives me something else I can talk about.
I visit author blogs
In the young adult book blog community, authors seem to be much more “available” to bloggers and readers. Every single one of my favorite authors has a blog and almost all of them are on Twitter. They make themselves accessible to fans and bloggers alike.
Part of being in the community, it seems, is to interact with the authors, and a great way to do that is by seeing what they’re up to and leaving comments on their blogs.
As many of these authors also host giveaways or post excerpts or teasers of their upcoming releases, by visiting their blogs, finding out about these contests and spreading the word to others in the community – on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog – is yet another way to give back.
While I don’t get to visit as many of my favorite author blogs as I like, I do try to visit a few each week and if there’s an important announcement or giveaway I like to share that information with anyone and everyone.
I interact with other bloggers on Twitter and Facebook
Twitter is a great way to feel a part of the community. It seems that everyone in YA is on Twitter. It’s one area where you can find almost every author in YA talking about their latest releases, upcoming releases, word count on their WIP and more.
Many of the publishers are also quite active on Twitter – I can always catch HarlequinTeen or HarperTeen on my timeline sharing book reviews, book news, author tours, you name it. Twitter is the best source of information for YA book bloggers. And as many bloggers in YA are on Twitter, it’s a great place to meet them and join in.
I am a shy Tweeter. I follow many authors and bloggers but rarely interact with them. Only in my small circle of authors and bloggers I’ve gotten to know through my involvement in the community am I comfortable having a conversation. But I’m trying to get better.
Twitter is dangerous. I’ve said it before. It can be a huge time suck. So while this is a great way to engage with the community, if you have limited time each day to read and write reviews, approach Twitter with caution. You may find you’ve lost an entire evening and not even realize it.
I participate in blogger events
I’m sure there are quite a few annual and semi-annual blogger events, but until I learned about Armchair BEA I hadn’t been aware of their existence. Participating in these large-scale events is a great way to be a part of the community. It allows you to discover a few more blogs that may not have been on your radar if you aren’t as active on the different social media outlets.
Depending upon the event, they can take a small or large amount of time to be a participant, but I think each of these events is absolutely worth it. There’s nothing that screams community more than joining in on blogger events like Armchair BEA, which won an award this week, and Book Blogger Appreciation Week, which is going on right now, and is the reason I’m writing this post.
I met several new blogs and bloggers during Armchair BEA that I never would have stumbled upon as they were outside the immediate group of blogs and bloggers I either knew from Twitter or Facebook or from searching out blogs on my own.
Participating in blogger events allows you to take a step away from your blog, meet new bloggers and look at blogging in a different way by taking the focus off you and putting it on the community as a whole.
And as these larger events are annual, though they may take a fair amount of time to put your thoughts to the post topics, it’s the perfect way to join in.
I participate in #YALitChat
#YALitChat is a weekly chat on Twitter (Wednesday’s at 9 Eastern) where authors, publishers and oftentimes bloggers, participate in a topical Twitter chat. It’s a great way to join in a conversation about writing, publishing, or whatever the topic is that week.
While I am a blogger and not all weekly chats are something I can offer any input on, there are those that are. And although I haven’t been able to participate in the weekly chat for a couple months, I still feel like this is a great way to be a part of an interesting weekly discussion and join in the community.
I participate in author book tours
Being part of an author’s book tour is another way to join in. There are tours that you can sign up for, like Kismet Book Tours, but others you can participate in that are hosted by the author.
This is something fairly new for me. I certainly hadn’t been part of a tour for the first six months of my blog’s existence. But I am now participating in four tours and have found that I have discovered several new blogs and have gotten a chance to know a little bit more about the author behind the book.
I like to share books with others (a.k.a. The Giveaway)
There are many who would say that giving away books isn’t really a way to be part of the community. I disagree.
I know there’s a lot of talk about how bloggers host giveaways to get followers. That those blogs that have pages and pages of giveaways, memes and cover reveals are somehow seen as less worthy than blogs who have review after review. While I haven’t yet participated in a meme – which I actually think is a great way to be a part of the community – I do have more than my fair share of giveaways. But I believe that giving away books to other readers and bloggers is my way of giving back to this community.
While I’m here to share my love of reading with others in this community, I also enjoy sharing the actual books that I love. When I fall in love with a book, I want to see that book in the hands of every reader I know. I can’t help but want to give as many copies away as I can to those who might not have the opportunity – financial or otherwise – to get their hands on that book.
And when I discover a new author that I love, I also want to share that with bloggers and readers in the community. I want that author and their work to be discovered and loved by others just as much I have loved them. I can’t think of a better way to bring some attention to these books then by passing them along to other readers.
Sharing my love of books, to me, also means sharing those books.
I am certain that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs out there in this little niche of the book blog community focused on YA books and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of book blogs. I have probably only discovered a hundred or so of them in my wanderings.
But reading other bloggers’ blogs and seeing books through their eyes is what helps me feel like I’m a part of something more than just my little blog taking up this tiny space in the blogosphere.
My choice to visit other blogs, interact with other bloggers and authors on the various social media outlets and sharing not only my love of books, but the books themselves, with others, is what I do to be a part of this community. And I always try to be there to be of help to anyone who needs it.
If blogging wasn’t something I was forced to squeeze in during the late evening/early morning hours, then I’m sure I’d find a lot more ways to be involved. But as of now, I try to spend one to two hours each day interacting and three to four hours blogging during the week and longer on weekends.
I never expected blogging to take over my life in quite the way it has, but aside from spending time with my family and close non-bookish friends, there is nowhere I’d rather be than curled up with a book or online with the YA book blog community.