Busting the Newbie Blues!

Busting the Newbie Blues is a month-long event created by Small Review in order for both new and experienced bloggers to get together and learn from one another.

For more information, click the banner.

Since So Says the Whale is still in its infancy, I’ve obviously opted to fill out the newbie questionnaire~

When did you start your blog?
It was first created last summer, but I didn’t really start posting until early fall.

Why did you start your blog?
I love, love, love posting reviews. And forcing my opinion on others. For years and years I maintained one of the biggest music communities on livejournal. I did it all on my own and by the time I finally closed it, there were well over 2,000 members. :) That was a huge accomplishment for me! All throughout high school I wrote for – and edited – my school’s paper and reviews are something I’ve always enjoyed writing. Although I didn’t continue my journalism path in college, I did wind up writing music and book reviews for an online website. Having a book review blog is something I’ve always been interested in, but until just a few months ago, it wasn’t something I ever thought I’d actually do.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Definitely finding followers or even people interested in what I have to say. I recently got back into YA, so before that, it was even harder to find a following. It’s no secret that YA is massive and the fact that I wasn’t a part of it only made it more difficult to attract readers to my blog.

What do you find most discouraging about being a new blogger?
I’d say this goes hand-in-hand with the previous question. Seeing a month-old blog with 3,000 followers can be extremely disheartening.

What do you find most encouraging?
Comments! I love it when someone comments – especially when someone comments regularly. Also, when an author comments/randomly talks to me on twitter/messages me on goodreads. Last year I reviewed a book that is so different than what I normally like and I ended up loving the book! I flailed and squealed over it and the author ended up reading my review (on goodreads) and was ecstatic that I enjoyed it so much. Totally made my day.

What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
I like it when bloggers do something fun and different, whether it’s a meme they created or posting a soundtrack they made for a book. So far I haven’t done anything like that, although I have so many plans in the works! :D!!

What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this?
One thing I find a little off-putting is when a blogger will completely stop posting reviews/interviews/anything book-related for weeks and only talk about their favorite tv series/how their workout is going/what their dog ate for dinner. A derail here and there is totally cool with me – I’ve definitely done it before and will probably do it again at some point – but to have a blog solely dedicated to books and post about something completely unrelated? :/ Ugh.

Also, this might just be me, but another thing I’ve discovered I’m not a fan of is when a blogger will post multiple reviews (yay!) but they’ll all be for the same series. Especially if it’s a series I have no intention of reading. Ever. Now, naturally, I understand that now everyone will have the same taste in books, but I feel that to post three or four reviews in a row for the same series can potentially lose followers. There are plenty of series I love, but I try to space them out, not just in my reviews, but also in my reading. I suppose I like a little variety in my life.

Oh gosh, I hate that the complaints part is my most detailed response!! The last thing I’ll mention is a blog layout filled with banners in the sidebar; blinking, glittery graphics; massive, in-your-face fonts. Basically anything to detract from the reason I’m reading your blog. I love clean, sleek layouts.

Any advice for other new bloggers?
Commenting is huge. Sure it can be a little (okay, maybe a lot) intimidating to comment on a blog that has thousands of other readers, but it’s the simplest way I’ve found to make your presence known. I’ve discovered tons of awesome blogs by reading comments on random posts. Not only that, but it’s a great way to get to know other bloggers and to make friends. YAY FRIENDS!

Any questions you’d like to ask newbie or established bloggers?
I’m still not sure where to draw the line when it comes to “advertising” a new entry/review/etc. When does it turn into mindless spam? When I write a review, I’ll automatically update goodreads, twitter, & book blog networks, but I’m always a bit worried people will see it as spam and ultimately ignore it.

Also: negative reviews. Thankfully this hasn’t happened yet! (& so far the only reviews authors have commented on were positive ones), but I know I would feel horrible and guilty if an author read a negative review. I know a review is my opinion and that I should feel confident and stand by what I wrote, but how do you stop yourself from feeling awful? On a similar note, if you become friends with an author, how do you make sure your reviews aren’t biased?


12 thoughts on “Busting the Newbie Blues!

  1. Great honest answers!

    I feel ya on young blogs with tons of followers. I’ve been around 2 1/2 years and don’t have as many as some newbies.

    I remind myself that quantity of followers doesn’t not equate quality of followers (i.e. people who actually read and comment).

    Regarding your question: I always update my Goodreads. Definitely not spam in my book.

    FUN blog name btw.

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

      haha! The name started out as a joke – a friend and I were trying to think of a ~hipster~ name, but without using deer or owls.

      As awesome as it would be to have thousands of followers, I would definitely prefer a small group of people who truly care about what I post and take the time to interact with me.

  2. Thank you so much for joining in! Wow, you posed some really good questions. I’m not sure I can answer them very well, but I’ll try. :)

    I don’t think it’s spammy to update your Goodreads/Twitter/Book Blog Network accounts after you’ve posted a new review. I’d say that’s pretty standard and acceptable. Just so long as you’re not sending out Goodreads invitations notifying people about your new review. Those invitations can get pretty annoying! But simply adding your review to your GR update feed is fine by me.

    Negative reviews are SO hard! I’m always mortified by the thought that the author will read it. And, honestly, they probably will at least hear of it even if they don’t read it (a lot of authors have their names set up with Google Alerts so they’ll know when someone posts about them). Most authors don’t comment on negative reviews, which I think is best for both reviewers and authors. I imagine authors can’t help but be hurt a little when someone doesn’t like their book (or, *I* would be hurt at least), but most authors are also really cool, mature people who understand that their book just won’t be to everyone’s tastes. You absolutely MUST be honest with your reviews otherwise your integrity goes right out the window and you’ll feel slimy, but you also don’t have to post a review for every book you read. I know a lot of bloggers choose not to post reviews for books they didn’t like.

    As for being friends with an author, it’s hard! I try not to form any kind of relationship with an author until after I’ve already read and enjoyed their book. But of course that doesn’t work for second books the author writes, and sometimes it’s unavoidable.

    Wow, I’m so sorry for rambling on you! I hope someone else comes up with a better answer. I would like those answers myself!

    1. Please don’t apologize! Long comments are the best! :) Thank you.

      I suppose the reason it feels so spammy to me is that I’m updating multiple sites with the same thing within minutes of one another. However, once I make that post, I’m done. Another comment mentioned people who will go and repost updates multiple times. …yeah, not cool.

      (a lot of authors have their names set up with Google Alerts so they’ll know when someone posts about them)
      WHAT. oh gosh. I had no idea. lol I’m going to be a little paranoid now. I know that authors tend to be completely professional and understanding, but those aren’t the ones you hear about! It’s always the author who took up arms against the reviewer. The one who tried to organize a riot on twitter because one person didn’t enjoy their book.

  3. Your enthusiasm is catching! This whole post made me excited :)

    Whenever I post something, it gets posted to my Facebook page, which posts it to my Twitter account. It also gets posted to my RSS feed, which posts it on Twitter about an hour later. And if it’s a review, it will also get posted on Goodreads. I wouldn’t consider that spamming, as you’re just covering your bases. If you were to set it to re-post the same link every hour or something, then you’re probably heading into spam-territory.

    I’m a picky reader. Especially when I’m reviewing a book, which means I have my fair share of negative reviews. I keep myself positive by making sure I am criticizing the book and how it was written, versus attacking the author personally. I also try to include something that I liked about the book, so it’s not all negative.

    And when it comes to having an author as a friend, I think they would appreciate an honest review more; just because a review is negative doesn’t mean it has to be mean. Everyone has different tastes, and most authors recognize this!

    Good luck in your blogging endeavours!

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

    Radiant Shadows

    1. :D Yay! Thank you so much!

      If you were to set it to re-post the same link every hour or something, then you’re probably heading into spam-territory.
      & that pretty much answers my question. I guess what makes me feel like I’m spamming is that I’ll post my updates on a few different forums/sites at the same time. However, once I post, that’s it. I’m definitely not the type who will repost every hour.

      I’m pretty lucky when it comes to books – I’m able to judge well enough before reading a book to know whether or not I’ll like it. However, there have been some books that sounded fantastic, but turned out to be horrible. I’m quick to point out flaws. It’s following it with some positive comments that I need to work on.

  4. Whoa, you’ve seen a month old blog with over 3k followers? That person must have been very busy or very lucky! I understand about the followers thing, it seems simultaneously like an easy and difficult thing to achieve. I’m not too sure where to draw the line with advertising too so I think that is an excellent question. I often feel like I’m being really spammy and annoying.

    1. I know there are plenty of people who do the “follow for a follow” thing. & I know giveaways bring lots of new followers. But the sheer number some new blogs have is mind-boggling!

      What makes me feel spammy is that, even though they are completely unrelated forums/sites, I’m still updating them one right after the other.

  5. I think you’re right to point out how much of a difference commenting makes. It helps get the word out about your blog and even about you – and it definitely helps people discover your blog! In line with that, I definitely enjoy interacting with other bloggers over Twitter, as I’ve met so many amazing blogging friends through that.

    It is, point blank, disheartening to see someone who started later than you have way more followers. But I think it’s much more awesome to have readers, than followers, because that way you know they’ll always be coming back for more!

    1. In regards to readers vs. followers, I definitely feel that ‘quality, not quantity’ applies. I’d much rather have a small group of people who read my reviews, post comments, and actually interact with me than 10,000 people who only followed in the hopes of winning a giveaway.

      Commenting is huge! It never fails to surprise me how something so simple could make such a huge impact.

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