December 4, 2010

Busting the Newbie Blues

Busting the Newbie Blues is a amazing and awesome event run by Small Review. The Event is designed mostly to promote interaction between bloggers (new and old) and put new YA bloggers in the map. Since I remember I used to get so lonesome when I first started, I adored this idea.

So, here we go!

1. When did you start your blog?
According to Blogger, I started the blog in April 2008. Though I wasn't taking it very seriously back then. I was mostly random and sporadic.

2. Why did you start your blog?
Because I was driving my friends crazy talking about some books I loved - and which, in all fairness weren't really what they usually read. So I decided to start the blog and just talk about the books, see if someone out there was listening.

3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?
Biggest Challenge was probably the technical aspects of it all (gravatars, layouts, comment systems, favicons, etc). Some features that are commonplace now (like new blogger letting you have three columns) were rare when I started, and required loads of manual labor. There were many things that I didn't know how to do. But I've learned that help is often just a google-search away. Most bloggers are incredibly generous and are usually happy to answer your questions and help you out if they can, so don't be afraid to reach out.

Another huge challenge was the fact that I'm a blogger outside the US. I don't have as much ready access to some books as some bloggers based on the US (where you have libraries that actually work and just the access to buy a book without having to pay loads in shipping) have. But I've learned to live with it. Often, I wait until books come out on paperback before I buy them, I joined a library that does carry books in English (mostly because it's at a language institute! but hey, I take what I get!) and explored options like Book Depository (which finally started shipping to my country!) and Amazon, and I take advantage of my family and friends who often bring me books when they visit.

So far as mistakes - I'm sure I've made many, but if one thing I would like to share with others is: don't be afraid to change your blog! I've changed the name of my blog (which originally was called AnimeGirl's Bookshelf), I have changed the way I sign my posts (used to be AnimeGirl, now it's Alex, which is my actual name); and also expanded to include movies and TV and just random stuff I love. It wasn't easy to make the choice but I feel happier now that I expanded the topics my blog covers, because it includes more of my passions.

4. What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this?
For me was the outside the US thing (see question 3). Because often I wanted to jump in and read books I heard about and share, but I couldn't because I simply couldn't buy the book. Which is very frustrating. It also got very lonely sometimes.

5. What do you find most encouraging?
How truly kind most bloggers and authors are. Sure, the book blogger community is just as any community: there are some cliques and groups that sometimes can make you feel left out, but for the most part everyone is happy to just sit around and talk books.

6. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
Originality and cute-factor. Humor too. I don't try to emulate styles because well, I think it's up to everyone to find it's own (like the style of the review, I mean). But I've stolen a widget once or twice (like the accordion recent posts widget on the right-hand side. I saw it first at The Book Scoop). I like to try new widgets and mess about with them.

7. What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this?
I'm not sure. LOL. Mostly when people treat book blogging as if it were a popularity contest or a quest to get books for free. And I do try to avoid behaving that way.

8. Do you have any advice for new bloggers?
Be honest, but tactful. And never be mean.
Be consistent - People don't have to agree with you to rely on your reviews (sometimes you find a reviewer who hates all you love and love all you hate, you can also rely on that).
Don't take yourself too seriously - just in life in general, having some humor will always help!
Be prepared to be a bit lonesome for a while - I spent about 2 years with about 10 followers (all of whom I ADORE! Thank you guys!), and I didn't get many comments at first, and sometimes I felt like I was just talking to a wall, but early on I decided to simply follow my bliss and read and talk about the stuff I love.
Participate - It's the only way to meet new people and make friends, don't be afraid to leave a comment!

9. How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?
Participate and Interact. I know I don't have the super high volume of traffic some other more established bloggers have, but when I decided to really immerse myself in the community (participating in the Book Blogger Hop, for example, or reading challenges that I really liked, and stopped being lazy about leaving comments), people started to showing up, slowly but surely.

10. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
It has been really awesome, and it has made me a bit more confident in an odd way, even in 'real life'. Blogging is a great way to share your thoughts and reach other people, to learn new things, I highly recommend it. But I also recommend a thick skin and not taking anything personal.


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