Armchair BEA Day 2 – What do Readers want?

I’ve been to several Author Events, in various different locations, in differing styles and different levels of “fame”. There has been only one author event that is definitely marked under the “downright awful” title.  I won’t mention the author, or where I met him, but all he did was read extracts from his book(s) in a low monotone voice and barely looking up from the page. Considering he was supposed to be a teacher, he was certainly lacking in the engagement department and he soon lost his audience, the majority of whom disappeared in search of alcohol, never to return.  I have no idea whether he twigged what had happened.

letters book readWhat do I think makes an event successful? That the author is engaging, articulate, willing to look the audience in the eye (we’re there to buy the book in the end, right?). I’ve had a warning that one relatively famous author was known to be a little “difficult”, but on the day was lovely, took questions, gave promotional info on her new book, and then signed everyone’s book (even chatting with the starry eyed fan who Wouldn’t Let It Go) etc. If that was “Difficult” then sign me up!

I’ve noticed that I can get tongue-tied with various authors, and it must be hard for them in return to make some kind of connection. Terry Pratchett signed for me a couple of times, and remembered me once (because of my unusual name) and was relatively easy to talk to. Neil Gaiman is harder to talk to because I’m such a fan-girl. Henry Wrinkler? The loveliest man I have ever met, I was the last in the queue in what I knew had been a hard day for him, so I just shook his hand and wibbled.

Diversity at author events

Now in terms of diversity…well? Define “Diverse”!  When choosing my comic books, I try to consciously choose stories written or drawn by women, have a strong female lead, have a gay lead character, or ISNT written by Orson Scott Card.  Local book stores here are doing more diverse events, such as poetry, open mic, historical, book clubs and YA. One store in particular is able to get fairly large names into a local events venue. Next week I have a comp ticket to go see Arundhati Roy, who has written her first prose book in 20 years. But “diverse” in terms of non-WASP authors or topics? If the events are happening, then I don’t see them, but is that because I’m not looking? Or are they not happening because people are asking for them, and is that because the books aren’t being published because people aren’t asking, or aren’t buying? I honestly don’t know.

Getting more diversity in mainstream books.

Something I hear time and again is that Mainstream Publishers don’t like taking risks. They have an idea of what their market is (I would hope they have an idea of who buys their books!) and tend not to rock the boat. So those that have built a backlist of white authors writing about White Western stories will not take the risk on a non-white author writing non-white western stories, on the grounds that it won’t sell. Well it might not sell *for them* because they’ve built up a set of readers who will only read one style of book.Rhode Island Red cover

I hope that with the continued use of e-readers, and people self publishing, or smaller publishers producing back lists, then the bigger companies will see that people DO read outside of their traditional market. Due to places like Netgalley and Edelweiss, I’ve read books from all over the place, including Rhode Island Red by Charlotte Carter, whose main character is a black female saxophone playing busker who gets pulled into the rougher side of life on the streets….I would never have read this if I relied purely on Traditional Publishers for my reading habits

Armchair BEA 2017 Day 1: Introductions

armchairbea2017

I usually attend Armchair BEA (Now called Armchair Book Expo), and I am usually a LOT more prepared than this!” It only really came up in my twitter feed the other day, and it turns out that I can’t get to the main site from here! Boo!  We shall see how we get on. Anyway, as usual, there’s the space for Introductions, so here’s my answers to some of the questions.

I am…Nordie, a crafter, reader, tweeter, comic book nerd etc.

Currently, I am not reading as much as I should, even with 3 books on the go.

My favorite genres are: Romance, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction,

My Least favourite Genre is: Christian Fiction. I end up feeling slapped around the head with a very unsubtle brick. I dont read non-Fiction or Poetry, not because I hate it, but because I simply don’t find it interesting.

My Social Media Links include: twitter (as @Brumnordie), Facebook (closed, Personal account), this blog, google+.

My summer plans . . . there’s a lot going on this summer In Real Life, so there is nothing planned for the summer. However, there is a bookish meet later in the year, that I am currently planning on atteding

My blog/channel/social media . . . chat with me on any of the following social media outlets

Blogging: guess what? It’s hard work

coffee book reading
stocksnap.io

I was at a blogging event recently and arrived a few minutes after it started to find a slightly unusual dynamic had emerged:

An older American lady sitting in a chair, surrounded by young English bloggers – some of whom are still very new to blogging. The American, who had never been to one of these events before, was dominating the conversation and had been from the beginning of the session, and it soon became clear that she had *no* experience of writing or publishing for anonymous readers, blogging in general, commenting, networking, social media accounts and in fact, had little experience of the internet as a whole.   She had decided that she was going to use this event as a “learn how to blog in an hour” session, and wanted to learn *everything* about blogging, whether or not that’s what the event was about.

I got the impression that she had the belief that it was “build it and they will come” when it came to blogging and that she would have to do very little work in order to get lots of hits and comments – and that they would all be positive.  “What happens if someone says something horrible?” “Well you can either delete it, or accept it if it turns out to be correct. Or just not allow comments. If you delete it, you will still have to read it however, so If you’re not ready, don’t allow comments”.  I think she soon began to realise that there was more to blogging than she realised, that there was a lot of work to be done, and the experienced people in the room had been doing this for several years.

So I’ve decided to brush off some general tips to those thinking of starting out in blogging – no matter the platform and no matter the niche.

  • Write about what you know and enjoy. Readers will be turned off if they think you’re not sincere. It will also make it easier to keep going when it seems you’re posting into the void
  • Do NOT think that writing one post and telling no one about it will make you a star – your post will be lost mere seconds after you hit the “publish” button, and no one will find you, so you have to get the word out.

Time and effort

  • Blogging takes a lot of work. At the minimum I will spend a couple of hours a week promoting posts, doing admin etc. A post can take several hours and multiple edits before it makes the light of day, and even then I will spot a spelling mistake only AFTER I publish.
  • Be regular with your posts, even if it’s once a week, or once a month. People won’t come back if they don’t know when you will post next, but they just might if they know there will be a post on the third Friday of each month. I used to post every other day, but that’s because I had the opportunity of building up a decent backlog of posts and have them scheduled. I’m now publishing less regularly, but still get similar levels of traffic, but that’s in part due to my back list of posts still getting hits.
  • Keep some kind of tracking tool going. I have a basic spreadsheet that I got free off the internet, where I track which posts are scheduled when – which is really when scheduling posts well in advance (e.g. I’ve written a holiday related post). Other people track how diverse their reading is .  My books – and where I got them from – are tracked using Goodreads, for the simple reason they have optional tags.
  • You don’t live in a vacuum. Get out and socialise in the internet community. Take part in challenges like Bloggiesta; follow other people’s blogs; Comment, without spamming (no “nice post, please follow my blog” type of comments); Tweet; use Facebook including group pages; use Google+, including communities; Pinterest, Instagram.
  • Learn comment etiquette – don’t be rude, don’t flame someone else. The rule stands: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. However, there are always trolls and spammers around so you have to develop a thick skin, delete and move on. Too many authors and bloggers have made a name for themselves for have a meltdown over something innocuous and have ended up as a laughing stock. If you think you cant cope with negative comments – don’t allow comments!

Reality can suck

  • Don’t expect to quit the day job tomorrow. You will not generate enough money to be your sole income in the next 6 months. Or perhaps ever.
  • Benefits come in more shapes than money. Making new friends even if it’s “only” online; Free books; free random gifts (I’ve had knitting needles
    open book
    stocksnap.io

    and a ball of wool from a publisher before now); free beauty products for beauty bloggers. If you are talking about something you’ve received free in exchange for a review, you need to disclose the fact in your post. Mostly it’s good manners but in the US I think it’s a legal requirement that you do so.

Sharing is caring

  • Make it possible for others to share your posts. Include social media buttons on your posts so that others can tell their followers about what you’ve written.
  • Include a “sign up via email” option for those who don’t use the same blogging platform as you do.
  • Follow your favourite publishers, authors, brands etc  on what ever social media works for you.
  • Remember to include the related brand when sending a review out. If they thank you for the review – have the decency to thank them back, at least for the product. You never know where the conversation may take you!
  • Unless you have a massive following (and even if you do), your voice will be very quiet in a very big room. Use software like Hootsuitetweetdeck or Buffer to schedule your updates and promotion links at times when people are likely to see it (Follow the dawn and dusk?)
  • Subscribe to sites like Problogger and DailyBlogTips. Not all tips will be appropriate to you, but once in a while you’ll find some tweak that’ll help you out.

 

 

Spring 2017 Bloggiesta – Finish up!

As I mentioned in my sign up post, I kept it relatively light this year, and so my to-do list was relatively short as follows:

  • Review uploaded media…anything not attached to a post?
    • I deleted about 30 images that were not attached to a post, and that I could not see being used in the near future. There are still unattached images in there, but there’s actually chance of them being used.
  • Do Librarythng. and Goodreads match, including reviews?
    • Goodreads and Librarything now match, with reviews linked and the 2017 books now matching.
    • It wasn’t what I had planned to do, but I did a check that the “To-Read” shelf and my “tbr” tag matched on Goodreads – to find out that they were out! I corrected these, corrected/added some reviews, and got several review hits from goodreads for the said books in the following days!
    • My Librarything to-read and tbr numbers match, but they are lower than the number on Goodreads – I still have to work out where the missing books are.
    • On an unrelated note, I logged onto Netgalley to review my TBR pile – and found there were two books that I’d read but not reviewed!  One review had already been published, so was copied in, and – worst of all – one review had simply not been written! Argh! There’s a post that needs to be done!
  • Any posts that need to be completed/scheduled?
    • two reviews were finished and published
  • Tags and categories right on blog, Goodreads and Librarything?
    • These have been tidied up, and where the usage numbers were low (< 2), deleted
  • Any posts that can be scheduled into twitter?
    • On the assumption that if a page got a hit in the last week, it means someone is looking at it, then some of those pages got scheduled into twitter over the next week or so, with images. This included the post just published
  • Take part in twitter chats where possible
    • this didn’t happen this time….boo!

 

Spring 2017 Bloggiesta

Well Spring Blogiesta is upon us, running march 20th to March 26th, and the sign up post is up.

I’m going to keep it relatively light this year, and so my to-do list is relatively short.  It’s the standard stuff that should be done, but often gets forgotton or pushed onto the back burner. They are as follows:

 

  • Review uploaded media…anything not attached to a post?
  • Do Librarythng. and Goodreads match, including reviews?
  • Any posts that need to be completed/scheduled?
  • Tags and categories right on blog, Goodreads and Librarything?
  • Any posts that can be schduled into twitter?
  • Take part in twitter chats where possible

 

2017 Blogger Resolutions

It’s now becoming traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done by the end. Many of these are based on resolutions from previous years, which I have had mixed results in achieving.

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1100, excluding twitter followers
  • Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 12000)
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 1100)
  • Read and review 60 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks.
  • Post at least twice a week
  • Mamet use of sharing with Facebook groups as appropriate.
  • Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content.
  • Take part in twitter chats such as #Blogtacular #bookbloggers etc
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate.
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!
  • Continue doing more non-review posts, such as Sunday Salon posts, which I hope people find interesting – they certainly generate comments!
  • Look to do more non book related posts – get out into Birmingham more and write about stuff! This includes stuff at the museums etc.
  • do more posts about sewing, my cross stitch and quilting in particular. I’m not putting numbers on this.
  • Comment more on other people’s blogs – I’m not going to put a number on this as it’ll be a nightmare to track. Just “do more”.
  • Release more books via Bookcrossing. I still have half a crate left over from the closure of a couple of OBCZs and the bookcrossing UK meetup in Birmingham in September 2016
  • Reorganise my bookshelves (Haven’t been done in two years – about time they’re done!)

State of the Union 2016 address – Resolution updates.

It’s now becoming traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done at the end of the year. Following are the resolutions I set at the beginning of the year.  As you can tell, I didn’t do as well as I hoped! There was a lull in the second half of the year, which meant that I hardly read, never mind blogged, so that took a large dent in my stats.

  • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1100, excluding twitter followers [I still got new followers, taking me up to 773]
  • Double annual page hits to this blog (to 12000) [considering the drop off in the amount of content I was producing, page views remained steady, at a same as last year’s stats]
  • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 1100) [i went some way to this, in getting to 690]
  • Read and review 75 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks. [i did a much better ratio of paper to ebooks, but didn’t hit the 75 mark, coming in at under 60 books.]
  • Post every other day [as I mentioned above there was a period I didn’t blog for several weeks, so missed this goal]
  • Make better use of hashtags on twitter [the increase in followers on twitter is due in part putting out other content than my own, as well as making use of tags]
  • Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.  [Yes, this was done, especially by About and Review Policies]
  • Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate. [the death of my laptop late the year has meant that I haven’t used the spreadsheets that I used to use for tracking scheduling. However, what’s wrong with a simply diary?]
  • Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!
  • Continue doing more non-review posts, such as Sunday Salon posts, which I hope people find interesting – they certainly generate comments!  [I did run out of subjects that I inspired to produce a post for, but I’ve found some more and will be posting some new content in the new year!]
  • Pay better attention to sites like Problogger and Hubspot for social media and blogging tips to see how I can achieve some of my goals [I did follow some additional sites in looking at producing content etc, but I don’t think I made best use of them. I certainly tried to comment more on other people’s blogs – not all of them about books, and attended several blogging events. I even managed to go to this year’s Bookcrossing event where I got some of my mojo back in terms of reading and releasing books – look out for more on this in the new year – I hope! ]

So, did you have any goals, and how did you do? Feel free to comment or link to your update post!