BBAW: How Do You Do Community?

Today is day three of BBAW and we have been asked to talk about community:

The world of book blogging has grown enormously and sometimes it can be hard to find a place. Share your tips for finding and keeping community in book blogging despite the hectic demands made on your time and the overwhelming number of blogs out there. If you’re struggling with finding a community, share your concerns and explain what you’re looking for–this is the week to connect!

This is a really good discussion point. I will readily admit that with the growth in the book blogging community, maintaining connections has gotten harder and harder. I thought I would talk about a few different avenues to reach out to the community.

Twitter

I joined Twitter, but it is a little like conversation on speed. I can’t keep up. So, although my account remains open, I don’t use it all that much. The exception has been that I have joined in for a couple of scheduled Twitter parties, and I do try to use it to “shout out” to other bloggers. My account is linked to my blog, so my reviews get tweeted. But, honestly, I don’t think Twitter is the best connection tool for me.

Read-A-Longs

I have really been enjoying read-a-longs in the last year (specifically BOOK CLUB with is hosted by Jen and Nicole). I like sharing thoughts on a book with other readers, and read-a-longs are a great way of connecting with other like minded bloggers. I keep a loose leaf binder organized by month and I actually schedule these reads so I allow myself time to read the book and join in the conversation. Also in that binder are book tours I have committed to, as well as the books on my shelf which are being released that month.

Community Events

There are certain events I try never to miss: The 24 Hour Readathon (held twice a year), select tours for the Classics Circuit, BBAW (of course!),  Mailbox Monday (hosted each month by a different blogger) and Sunday Salon (which is now available on Faceback). Joining events like this are the perfect way to engage with other bloggers. I actually pre-write my Mailbox Monday as books arrive at my home which makes it less of a time-suck at the end of the week. I use Google Calendar to schedule events and set it up for email reminders so I can plan my time better.

Visiting Other Bloggers/Commenting

My Google Reader is so packed with subscriptions that it does become overwhelming. I have been trying to update it more frequently (which includes deleting subscriptions and adding new ones as appropriate). I’ve created categories which makes reading the blogs a little less overwhelming. But, there are times, when the numbers are out of control, that I just mark “all as read” and start over. I don’t really have a solution for making this easier. That said, I could be a lot better about leaving comments and joining in the discussions. I leave a comment if I am moved to do so – and if the blogger has a way to sign up for emails for follow up comments, I do that.

Related to comments on other blogs, I try very hard to respond to all comments left on my blog. Again, I often fall behind on this – but I do try. I think responding to comments left on one’s blog is not only polite, but it definitely creates more of connection with one’s readers.

My final Thoughts

I believe that every blogger needs to find their own comfort zone with community outreach. Not everyone is comfortable joining into discussions. Many people have such hectic lives away from the computer, that finding time just to post to their blog is a challenge. My advice? Prioritize the best you can, use organizational tools which are available, and admit when you are overwhelmed…and then make the tough choices to reduce your stress. I started and ran A Novel Challenge blog for years…and just recently recognized that I not only did not have the time for this blog, but I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Luckily, Brianna stepped up and has recruited some great bloggers to keep the site running without me. I am so grateful for that level of community – it allowed me to let something go which was no longer enjoyable for me, while still being able to provide a service to the book blogging community.

Maintaining connections is not always easy. It is certainly time-consuming…but it has made my life richer. I have met so many wonderful individuals who share my love of literature. I have been lucky enough to meet several “off line” and face-to-face (attending the 2010 BEA and Book Blogger Convention was amazing – and I hope to be at the 2012 event too). When I have gone through tough times and shared those on my blog, the outpouring of support has been phenomenal. This is a great community of people. We have our growing pains. We are not without drama. But, at the end of the day, we are all here together for the love of reading.

Check out what other bloggers are saying about community by visiting this post on the BBAW blog and following the links.

 

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10 comments

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  1. I’ve had a lot of fun with Readalongs and even hosted one myself. It’s a great way to connect with people.

    • Serena on September 14, 2011 at 14:55

    I really like the read-a-longs as well. Those have been my favorites in the last couple years. I agree that it all can get overwhelming, but I try not to feel too bad when I hit mark all is read. I do respond to all comments on my blog eventually.

    • Erin on September 14, 2011 at 15:24

    I struggle with Twitter, too, though I think I’d like it if I could just figure the darn thing out. I’m loving readalongs and have really enjoyed reading with other people through my Reading Buddies project. I love connecting with other people over a book that we are both reading. I also love your binder idea as a way to organize! I’ll have to look into something like that. I really enjoyed reading your advice — thank you for taking the time to share it!

  2. Keeping up can be really hard. I do my best to keep in touch with the bloggers I know in really life. Once I’ve done that, I rarely find the time to respond to comments. I think we all just have to do the best we can.

    • Amused on September 14, 2011 at 18:32

    Great post! I agree twitter can sometimes be overwhelming and I am not sure I am even using it correctly but when I am on it I get sucked it! I think that there are so many different ways to get involved you have to pick what speaks to you.

    • Wendy on September 15, 2011 at 07:01
      Author

    Chris: I totally agree.

    Serena: I think trying to keep things in perspective is important.

    Erin: You’re welcome! I laughed when I read what you wrote about Twitter – and here I thought it was just me who couldn’t figure the whole thing out!!

    Kathy: I agree – do the best we can.

    Leah: I know what you mean about Twitter. The couple of times I’ve used it, I end up spending a lot of time there…but overall, it just feels like I am in a room where everyone is talking at once! I agree, we all have to find our own niche.

  3. Readalongs are like mini ad-hoc book clubs. I’ve liked the ones I’ve done and hope to make time to participate in more, but I have to admit they didn’t readily come to mind as “community” activities, so I’m glad you pointed that out!

    Using “mark all as read” without guilt can be a sanity-saver sometimes!

    • Amy on September 15, 2011 at 18:55

    You’re right, so much effort, but so worth it. Great tips.

    • Wendy on September 16, 2011 at 15:17
      Author

    Florinda: I agree – readalongs are like being a book club. If I didn’t start marking all as read, I think I would have gone crazy eventually!! LOL

    Amy (Amy Reads): Thanks!

  4. This is a nice round-up of community opportunities, Wendy. It does seem that some are more comfortable/appealing to each of us, and (although stretching outside the comfort zone can be good), starting where we’re most comfortable means we’re likely to stick with it.

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