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Monday, January 2, 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues (Version 2.0)

Busting the Newbie Blues is an event hosted by Small Review that aims to help put new bloggers on the map and increase interaction between new and established bloggers. I took part in this event last year when I was a newbie blogger, and it was a complete success! A good chunk of the people who's blogs I follow, read regularly, and comment on, I met through the Busting the Newbie Blues Event last year. Without it, my blogging experience wouldn't have been nearly so enriched and probably a little more lonely. So I'm eager to find even more new blogs this year! As I am an "established" book blogger now, I will be completing the Established Blogger Questionnaire. Any blogger, new or established, can participate in this event by signing up here.

When did you start your blog?
A little over a year ago.

Do you ever still feel like a newbie?
Absolutely. I think I've gained plenty of experience in over a year of blogging, but I often still feel lost and shy about certain aspects of blogging. For example, even after over a year of blogging, I still feel as though I am unworthy of receiving ARCs. So I don't request them.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?
Blogging often and regularly is tough for me. When I was a new blogger, I used to try and fill in the gaps between my reviews with tons of memes. It took me awhile to realize that those memes weren't exactly quality posts, just filler. Don't get me wrong, memes don't have to be filler; I can think of many that are either entertaining or informative or both. But I would recommend keeping your focus on creating quality review posts, and then on memes if you have the extra time. Don't let your blog get completely bogged down by memes.

What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this?
I was completely overwhelmed, and still am, by the amount of books some people seem to be able to read in a year. How can I compete with that? I've always been an extremely slow reader; I've even been tested for any reading disabilities, but they found none. Just slow. I still struggle with the pressure I feel as a blogger to read many books in a year and read them fast. I just have to remind myself that it's not a race and I enjoy myself more when I read at my own pace anyway.

What do you find most encouraging?
Other bloggers! I used to be shy and intimidated around other bloggers, afraid to try to interact with them. I soon found out that I had nothing to worry about! Everyone I've "met" have been quite nice and perfectly friendly.

If you could go back in time and speak with your newbie self, what five bits of wisdom would you tell yourself?
1. Don't get too caught up with reading all those hot, new releases and forget about older releases that you've always wanted to read.
2. Don't let your blog get too bogged down by memes; focus on writing reviews (this is a book review blog, after all).
3. Schedule posts to save time (hmmm, still not too good about this one).
4. Take your time and savour the book you are reading, or else you won't enjoy the experience at all.
5. Don't stress and have fun! This is a hobby, not a chore.

What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
My favourite thing is always the reviews, in all shapes and sizes. I like 'em long and wordy and I like 'em short and concise. I like 'em thoughtful and informative and I like 'em personal and silly. And I especially like 'em honest, but never mean. This is important.
I constantly wish I was a better writer, but yes, I do strive to at least try to write honest, quality reviews to the best of my ability.

What do you dislike about blogs you’ve seen? Do you try to avoid this?
Again, I feel less is more when it comes to memes and other "fluff" posts. But if you have the time to spend drafting out numerous, thoughtful, and interesting meme posts for every day of the week, then go for it. I certainly don't have the time for it though.

How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?
I sought out blogs that I felt were similar to mine or else had a "voice" that I found interesting, followed them, and left meaningful comments on their posts, which people appreciated and usually followed me back. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Hosting a giveaway is also a good way to capture lots of people's attentions all at once, though it does not usually result in the type of follower who will actively read and comment on your blog.

When and how did you get your first ARC (or first few ARCs)?
This is still a mystery to me. I entered a contest to win a book on Simon & Schuster Canada's YA Book Blog one time when my blog was only a few months old, and they've been sending me ARCs ever since without me even having to request them. Talk about lucky.

58 comments :

  1. I agree with you on everything. I've been blogging for over a year now. I feel like I'm still a newbie, too. I don't want to get too bogged down either. It's a lot of work! Yes, I can't wait till some of them come out, but I have so many just waiting to be read. It's sad really. LOL I'd like to do more personal commenting. Posts other than reviews and memes. Like a way for people to get to know ME better.

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    1. It's a constant struggle for me: do I read a newly released book that everyone is talking about and sounds really good or one that I have been wanting to read for EVER and have been putting off and also sounds good? It's hard to make time for both.

      I would also like to do posts other than reviews and memes but doubt that I am interesting and creative enough!

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  2. *hugs*
    I feel the same way about other bloggers that read so much and that seem to always have posts and reviews everyday.

    For me it's a lot of work to finish a book - more now that i got a job and all that - I can finish one a day if I don't have anything else to do and work is slow, but it's not always that way, plus I love reading in the bus, so the books I read there tend to take a while.

    And I also agree about the memes, I sometimes wish I could do more but I've learned to just stick to a couple I can do often and not feel bad if I skip a week.

    I thought your advice was thoughtful and lovey :) and YAY for S&S and getting the ARCs, :D

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    1. I really don't understand how you can say that, Alex! You are one of those people who reads a book a day and can post a review a day! I am often jealous of how much you can get done. You definitely don't need to stress about it.

      Anyways, thanks for your support! It's most appreciated.

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  3. I love your advice on bringing your blog to the attention of other people.
    :)

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    1. It's something I was able to gather fairly early on in blogging, which I am happy about.

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  4. Couldn't agree more Aylee! It's so easy to get caught up in the blog and trying to keep up with all the books that are coming out that the blog definitely becomes a second job instead of the fun hobby it started out as. I used to always feel guilty if I didn't post or comment as often as I felt I should, and it took me a long time to realize that if I just didn't post one day, the world would not stop spinning and everyone would not unfollow my blog as a result:)

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    1. You're another person who manages to post once a day, unique and creative things too. I don't think I'm cut out for that, really. I know it wouldn't be fun for me anymore, even if I did manage to gain tons of readers and views... I think the pressure would be too much.

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  5. I love your advice for new bloggers. I definitely don`t like taking part in too many memes. When I started that was advice I got from a friend was to pick and choose your memes, so I only do a couple which I really like them. I`m one of those fast readers, but I find it hard to get ahead enough to schedule posts. Thanks for taking part in this! My post for this event is going up a little later today.

    Andrea
    Cozy Up With A Good Read

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    1. Definitely great advice about memes. They are sure fun and easy to take part in in moderation though! Scheduling is something I constantly struggle with.

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  6. Definitely good advice not to do too many meme's. Also I think you shouldn't feel obligated to do the meme's everyone else does. I do IMM and FF because they're great publicity but also because I like them. I stopped doing Waiting on Wednesday because it was a chore to put together, even though everyone seems to participate in it. I love Top Ten Tuesdays but don't participate b/c I have enough meme's and it looks like a lot of work.

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    1. Yeah, I think I used to feel like I should be partaking in every meme out there, get readers and appear friendly. Now, I only do the ones that I feel I have something to add to. I also love Top Ten Tuesdays - reading it, that is. Maybe one day I will attempt to participate in it.

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  7. Advice #3 is something I have trouble with too. I'm a fast reader but it takes me a really long time to come up with a coherent review and then I find ways to procrastinate on typing it up. I have no idea how people schedule so many posts.

    Advice #1 and #5 are pretty helpful too. When I first started blogging, I bought so many books but the sad thing is most of them still haven't been read because I'd want to read another new book that everyone was gushing over.

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    1. Yeah, I procrastinate too. And then when I leave it too long, I forget what it was exactly that I wanted to say about a particular book.

      And yeah, I need to keep that in mind too. It helps to sign up for some sort of "read off your shelf challenge" (I'm participating in The Dusty Bookshelf Challenge) to help keep that under control.

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  8. This is such a great post. As a newbie, it's given me some very helpful points! I've had my blog for less than a month and I've had quite a few questions that you've managed to answer!

    I'm a new follower :)

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    1. Less than a month! Wow, good job, you seem to post often and regularly. I'm glad I could help!

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  9. Reviews are my favorite when it comes to reading blogs too. And I love your advice to your past newbie self - absolutely perfect advice.

    Great post, Aylee!

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    1. Ultimately, reviews are THE most important thing on a book review blog, definitely. It's always silly to me when people have blogs who only post giveaways but call them book review blogs.

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  10. I adore your blog name! Grrr! I wish I'd thought of it! In any case, I'm pretty confident from my browsing of your blog that we have similar tastes in books. Looking forward to following you and discovering great books alongside you!

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    1. haha, I was pretty proud when I thought of it! I thought, "Well, that's perfect!" Glad to have met you through this event!

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  11. I too am obsessed with your blog name and header - I sent it to my little sister too, who is also a Potter fanatic.

    You have wonderful advice for us beginning bloggers. I am glad to hear that it is alright to review older releases that have been hanging out on the bedside table - I always have so many of them, but didn't want to look "behind the times."

    Thanks for all of your great thoughts! I look forward to reading more of your reviews!

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    1. haha, thank you so much! Very flattering. Ideally, a mixture of new and past release reviews is perfect, but if you can't make time for either, then read what you want to read and enjoy yourself! I'm always curious about past reads, and I think a lot of people feel the same way.

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  12. I'm so happy you're participating again! Thank you! Your responses are super helpful, too.

    I think I'm a moderate reader. Not slow, but definitely not fast. Some bloggers are reading north of 200 books a year! I'm always amazed by that. You're right though. We have to find our own pace. It's so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing, but I always have to refocus myself and do what works for me instead of struggling to keep up.

    Your first bit of wisdom is one of my 2012 reading resolutions. I let so many older books get brushed aside, but I really want to read them.

    I'm always so happy for you when I hear about your S&S story!

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    1. I am very envious of those who read +200 a year. How?! Ultimately though, I just wouldn't enjoy myself reading at that pace. I like to truly savour and involve myself in a book and that takes time. It's great advice to just focus on yourself - don't worry about what other people are doing because that's their thing. Focus! Yup, it can be tough to do with all the envy I feel. Thanks, Small :)

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  13. You're header is adorable! I love it!

    I also agree with a lot of your advice. I know some people who have a weekly meme (or two) for every day of the week! I used to participate in 4 quite regularly, and I've cut down to 2-3, and I think my blog is better for it. It gives me time to come up with more meaningful content, instead of just filler so I can say I posted something today!

    I'm also participating in Small's event, and if you're interested in checking out my post, you can find it here!

    Kelly
    Radiant Shadows

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    1. Quality always trumps quantity, so glad you've gathered that already! I would agree that your blog is probably better for it, if you want to focus on quality posts. That said, if you can manage 4 memes that are really well put together and interesting, then all the power to you!

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  14. Great advice all around! And I especially like the idea about not forgetting about older books. Sometimes we're so ready to review the latest hot thing that may not be that good for something older that is awesome!

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    1. I've found some great older reads through blogging that I managed to squeeze in between new releases. So glad! I hope to find more!

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  15. First off, your blog name + header are super cute! I don't know how people can read that many books in a year too. I tend to get distracted easily. I think your post was really helpful! I especially liked your answer to how you brought your blog to the attention of people. I'm going to keep it in mind, thank you! I just became a new follower, by the way. :)

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    1. Ha, that's often my main problem: distraction! It's not that the book is bad and I get distracted. It's that I get so involved and start thinking about what will happen next or what I want to happen next. Constantly daydreaming. Makes for a slow process. So happy that I could help you out, at least a bit!

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  16. I am in love with your blog name and will now be following you simply because of it.

    *pauses*

    All seriousness aside, I feel the same way you do about requesting ARCs! I don't usually ask for physical ARCs because I don't feel "worthy". NetGalley, however, makes me happy.

    Your five tips are also pretty rad - and I think every blogger should take note of them ;)

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    1. haha! Hopefully, you'll find something else about it that you like too :)

      They say you should be blogging consistently for at least 6 months before you go requesting ARCs from publishers. If you do that, then I don't see how you couldn't be considered "worthy". I think I'm just insecure about my capabilities as a blogger.

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  17. Wise words. I agree with all you've said. What is your reading goal this year. Mine is to complete 60 books. I'm not sure if I can do it, but I think I can. I don't believe I can do much more reading than this because I'm a slow reader, too!

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    1. I'm going with the same as I did last year: 50 books. It worked out pretty perfectly so I think it's a good goal. Good luck on your goal! I think you can definitely do it!!

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  18. I know what you mean about the memes — I have on occasion used them as filler, when I simply haven't had the time or energy to review. But you're right, too many memes without any other substantial content does get boring after a while, for both the reader & the blogger, I think! It's always best to have a variety of posts when possible :)

    Also, you make a great point about not forgetting older releases...it's easy to get swept away with all the newest books, when there are some older hidden gems just waiting to be found.

    And hey, I'm a pretty slow reader myself...like you I don't know how some bloggers do it! I don't have the time or the reading speed to accomplish what they do O_O

    If you'd like to stop by, my "Busting the Newbie Blues" post is here!

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    1. Variety is best. I don't actually think there's a problem with using a meme post to fill in gaps if you can't post a review every few days like some people though!

      I'm so happy I've found all the "hidden gem" books that I've found. But I definitely could find a ton more, so that's my goal for the year! Slow reading be damned! :)

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  19. GREAT post, I agree with you on so many levels. I'm very much a late-adopter on memes, so I'm kind of having fun with my shiny new toy, but you're right - there definitely is such a thing as overdoing it!

    I think of myself as a pretty fast reader. But, whew, I look around at how much other people are reading, and I'm astonished! Hope springs eternal.... even though my TBR has 500+ books on it, I always dream that this will be the year I really wittle it down. LOL.

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    1. There's nothing wrong with having fun with memes - in fact, that's kind of the point of them! I think I might get a bit bored if all I ever posted was reviews.

      Hope springs eternal indeed. Something that I love about book blogging, is that it has really introduced a ton of new books to my tbr... but now I'm more stressed about getting through ll of them than ever before!!

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  20. Awesome info about you and your blog, Aylee. And WOW, over 1,000 followers in just a year--that's insanely awesome. And I like your reviews, so forget that idea about not being a good writer! ;)


    Smiles!
    Lori

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    1. Aw, thank you so much. It really does mean the world to hear someone say that to me... I think I've improved on the writing on my reviews since I started blogging, that's for sure.

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  21. I love the idea of this group and this survey! So neat. I wish this had been around when I was a new blogger! It sounds like you've learned a lot in the year you've been blogging. You have to figure out what works for YOU. Sounds like you've done just that!

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    1. It was amazing to have around when I was a new blogger. I made about 20 new followers (and loyal ones at that) in the course of a month, without having to resort to using giveaways.

      And yeah, the best advice is of course, to focus on yourself and what works for you. No point worrying about what other people are doing!

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  22. Thanks so much for posting about this. I wouldn't have found it otherwise. I'm a new-ish blogger and this is a great idea.

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    1. Oh, good! It's always exciting to introduce new bloggers to Small's blog, which is a very helpful blog with tips for new bloggers.

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  23. Loved this post! It makes me feel better! I have found that as my job has become more intense, I can only commit to one blog post a week. Sad, I know, but I need to remember that this isn't a JOB or CHORE but something I started doing for fun! Thanks for reminding me again :)

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    1. Nothing wrong with only a post a week! I agree, I wish I could do more than that, but it's better than nothing and I'm sure people understand. I can always stand to be reminded that blogging isn't a chore or job!

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  24. Hii. This seems like such a fun blog! I'm a recovering Potter addict myself. Have been rereading the series for a while (so much stuff I've missed!).
    Got to know (and joined) "Busting the Newbie Blues" through you and it's been a lot of fun, thank you for the tip :)
    Cheers

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    1. It's always amazing what little things you pick up from a reread that you didn't quite catch on a previous read. I'm so happy that you have found out about this event through my blog, as I think it's a great opportunity to meet new bloggers!

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  25. YES to the new hot releases point! I have gotten ridiculous about needing to read what everyone else is reading or about to read. This year I'm determined to read some of LAST year's hot releases and make better decisions about what I really want to read this year. Great post Aylee!

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    1. But it's just so tempting when there are a bazillion review posts the week before a book's release, raving about it! haha. But yeah, there are quite a few reads from last year (and years and years before that) that I have't got to yet, so I want to make that a priority this year.

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  26. Ugh...I'm still working on not focusing on the hot new releases. I still get really excited about getting them, and receiving books for review means that your review list is decided for you. When I read for pleasure, I feel guilty posting reviews of them because I feel the review books should take priority.

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    1. That is one of the main reasons why I take it easy of requesting ARCs for review. I feel like the pressure increases tenfold and I'm not having fun and ultimately I want to read books that bring me pleasure. Perhaps that's not technically the point of a review blog, but it's what is going to have to work for me.

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  27. I love your header! The second I opened your blog I knew I would like it. I am a newbie and your post was very helpful. New follower here :)

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    1. I'm glad you found it helpful and thanks for the compliment!

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  28. I loved your header :) though I'm more a Bookaholic than anything LOL. An Impressive GFC :) Im jealous lol. Im a new follower, www.thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.com

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    1. Oh no, me too :) I love books, in general.

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  29. Wow I love your picture on top of your blog. it's HilariousI I am also sad about how Harry Potter is over.

    New Follower from www.unforgetablebooks.blogspot.com

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