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.
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.
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.
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.