Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues

Busting the Newbie Blues is an annual event hosted by Small Review.

I saw this survey on The Sweet Bookshelf while browsing my Google Reader. I love answering surveys!! So here goes:

1. When did you start your blog?

June 2007

2. Do you ever still feel like a newbie?

Not really. I feel like I have a very good handle on my blog and how to run it.

3. What has been the biggest challenge you've faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?

I think the biggest challenge for me was getting a readership and networking. While I did start out on Myspace, just friending people isn't enough. I had to send out bulletins and make my content worthwhile for people to check out, and also be responding to comments and messages. It's a daunting task to take on when you start a blog.

As for mistakes, I don't really remember any. Not necessarily because I didn't make any (but I can't remember any, lol), but really more because there wasn't much of a book blogging community when I started up so there were no real rules or anyone to call you out/start fights with.

4. What did you find most discouraging as a new blogger? How did you deal with this?

Nothing really. There weren't many book blogs around when I started, so I didn't have jealousy or having to deal with the whole numbers/stats battle. I mean, seriously, when I made my blog, I didn't even know there were other book blogs out there. For some odd reason, I actually thought I was the first person to have this idea. I also had no idea that review copies existed, so there was no jealousy or impatience about that (not that I needed to be impatient anyway- see #10); I feel like once the book blogging community started to grow, more and more bloggers starting out knew about review copies so there's that pressure there, you know?

5. What do you find most encouraging?

Comments are always awesome but what really encourages me, even to this day, is how great the children's literature community is. I made some wonderful friends in the beginning and continue to make friends all the time. I love pretty much everyone I've met through blogging, whether it's a fellow blogger, an author, or someone in the publishing industry. It's great to have those sorts of friends who share such a passion for books.

6. If you could go back to your newbie self, what five bits of information would you tell yourself?

I don't know if I'd really change anything, but I might say that I need to stay more on top of my TBR pile from the beginning so it doesn't grow out of hand, which it has, lol.

7. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?

Aside from memes, I don't really replicate anything from other blogs. What I do enjoy about blogs I read are reviews that really show off a blogger's voice and style. I love reviews from The Story Siren, Dreaming in Books, Presenting Lenore, among many others. I also love seeing a sense of whimsy in the posts and the blog; while I do think we should do our best to be as professional as possible, we need to have fun implemented into our blogs too.

8. What do you dislike about blogs you've seen? Do you try to avoid this?

I'm not a big fan of a cluttered blog. I do my best to keep my blog as simple as possible, keeping widgets and buttons to a minimum. I also don't like auto-playing music on a book blog- why is music even there in the first place?!

9. How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?

Since I started out on Myspace, I just friended a bunch of people, sent out bulletins, messaged people and basically shoved my blog down peoples' throats, lol. So by the time I moved to Blogspot in 2009, two years after starting, I had a built-in fanbase, so that helped.

10. When and how did you get your first ARC's?

Everyone will hate me for this, but I got my first ARCs within my first month of starting my blog. It was all by accident (well, not the second one)! I wanted to interview Meg Cabot because I love her so a week after starting my blog, which was a month before Jinx's release, I sent her an email about doing an interview. I did this because I knew she's a busy woman so I wanted to give her enough time to reply back with a yes/no and if yes, answer my questions by my deadline. She replied back A DAY LATER, no joke. I may have squealed and jumped around my room.

Then I read the email. Not only did she say yes, but she offered an ARC of Jinx for review. I politely declined because I mean really, I'm not a professional. I'm nobody. But she insisted, saying that ARCs are meant for reviewers, like me. So am I really gonna say no again? I accepted and gave her my address, and sent off the questions. She emailed me a week later saying the package had been sent out with some extra goodies. Those extra goodies, aside from Jinx? Finished copies of Queen of Babble #2, the first Avalon High manga (both of which were her other two releases that summer), bookmarks, copies of her newsletter, pins/keychains, postcards, a cover flat or two. It was a HUGE package and I was immensely grateful for it. Meg is such a sweetheart.

My other first ARC was Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer, which I got because Robin sent me an email in July 2007 about a review. Cindy Ella didn't come out until February 2008. How amazing is that? I was a really lucky blogger and still am. I am extremely grateful for every ARC and review copy I receive.


  1. Happy Monday! I really love reading surveys so I'm glad you decided to participate. :) It's all so incredible to see how you built up your blog. It happened so much differently for you than us newbies. Using MySpace to network and grow was pretty brilliant. Social media can be a bit overwhelming, but what you did seems to have worked wonderfully. :)

    1. Yeah, I definitely had a much different experience than everyone else. Myspace was still the big thing when I started, so that's why I used that. It was pretty fun!

  2. I never really thought to use my MySpace as an actual blog. I mean, I did a few reviews and posted my yearly reading list up on it, but to actually use it as a blog never entered my mind. Now that I have a blog, I'm doing what you did only via Facebook and Twitter. Except I don't think I'm as tenacious as you were when you got started.

    Kudos points on getting ARCs right at the start. I got my first ones through San Diego Comic Con (which if you've ever gone, you know how crazy that place can get). I doubt I'd ever be brave enough to directly contact some of my favorite authors like you. You are a braver soul than I. =^-^=

    1. I created a new account on it and used it because I had no idea there were other avenues to do blogging. I had a livejournal (and still do) but that seemed such a small space and making a separate blog like on Blogger or Wordpress seemed harder to network around, you know? Myspace seemed like the perfect fit at the time.

      Authors are very sweet- definitely feel free to email or tweet them. It can be a bit hard, but nothing bad will come of it. They love getting emails from fans!!

  3. I started reviewing books on Myspace too, but I can't get back into it for some reason. I haven't tried in a year or so. I never got a big following though. I only just started reviewing when I moved to blogger. I'm okay with that though. My blog is more for me to keep track of what books I liked/didn't like and trying to keep record of my thoughts. Lucky you for getting an ARC of an author you love early on. Great job! :)


    1. Good for you- do whatever feels right for your blog. Goodreads can be a good place to keep track of your reads too if you wanted something less intensive than a blog.

  4. Aw! I'm glad you did this, James!! :D
    Love your answers.

  5. I actually haven't seen many reading surveys on blogs. Really great reading your answers though. Loved your answers.

  6. Thanks for filling out the survey. I find it particularly interesting. Given that I have started my own blog. I'm not near as prolific as you are though mainly because I'm in school. But I've been making an effort to try to update regularly and trying to spice things up with some interesting features.