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May 19, 2017

Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge 2017

by Donna Huber



This was the second year that the writing team of Girl Who Reads participated in the A to Z Blog Challenge. We already post daily and with eight of us, daily posting isn't the challenge. Instead, we focus on trying new techniques and different writing styles.

I felt we had gotten in a rut with our titles lately and as we weren't writing too much different content this year, I challenged my team to think creatively. To think creatively about titles is a little easier during the challenge because there is an assigned letter that you have to fit your content to, but I do hope we can continue with the variety of titles.

I always let my other writers choose their preferred letters first and then I fill in the other days, which meant that I had some of the more difficult letters - X, Y, Z. But I had fun with X and Z. I will admit I did fall back on my safety net with Young Adult books. I feel that X and Y were my best titles:


I want to thank Susan for pitching in for the letter Q, It was a letter I was most dreading. I couldn't match any of my backlog of reviews though I guess I could have gone with Queued Reviews now that I think of it. Next year!

Our Top 10 Most Viewed Posts:

10Japanese Literature (Alison)
9Kids Favorite Top Five Books Lists (Elisabeth)
8Upcoming Beach Reads (Susan)
7Don't be Xenophobic! A Guide to International Authors (Donna)
6Photos: Post, Prompts, and Challenges (Donna)
5. Far from Fresh: The Value of Derivative Fiction (Chris)
4. Maria Murnane: How one particular friendship helped Bridges come to life
3Active Reading: A Key to Awesome Book Reviews (Donna)
2Tackling the TBR Pile (Donna)
1Learn About Literature (Donna)

I do love the Challenge for the increase in traffic and comments. This year there wasn't a central link up, instead, we left our links in comments. I like the idea of providing each day's link as often people sign up for the challenge with the best intentions only to get waylaid by one thing or another. I participate in another challenge at the end of May, beginning of June (Armchair Book Expo) that has a daily topic. There they use a daily linky so that we get the organization of a linky list, with the guarantee of landing on that day's topic post. I think the A to Z Challenge should look into that method next year as going through comments was messy. Some commenters linked directly to their post and also a link to their blog in general. Sometimes I would click the latter and then have to go looking for the post.

Another goal I had for the challenge for myself was to visit 10 blogs a day. Some days I made it and some days I didn't. I like the Challenge because I get to visit blogs that aren't necessarily book blogs and a variety of different blogs each day. Though with going through the comments for links led me to visit a similar set of blogs daily. I'm going to continue going through the comments over the next few weeks (or more!) to try to visit more blogs that participated.

I also challenged my writing team to make posts more open to conversation, encourage comments by asking questions or inviting thoughts.

Top 10 Most Commented on Posts:

10. Y is for Young Adult Books (Donna); Q is for Quindlen...Anna Quindlen (Susan); English and EspaƱol: Elefantitos by Susie Jaramillo (MK)
9. V for Vigilante (Ross); Maria Murnane: How one particular friendship helped Bridges come to life!; Group of Graphic Novel Collections (MK)
8, Biltmore Estates and Vanderbilt's Books (Donna); 4 Contemporary Chick Lit Novels (Susan); An Irish Author, 2 Irish-Set Stories and Ireland Travel Guide (Susan); Zilch! Ways to Read for Free (Donna)
7Upcoming Beach Reads (Susan)
6Nonfiction Review: Neurodiversity by Barb Rentenback and Lois Prislosky (MK)
5. Far from Fresh - The Value of Derivative Fiction (Chris)
4. Kids Favorite Top Five Books Lists (Elisabeth); Learn About Literature (Donna)
3. Don't be Xenophobic! A Guide to International Authors (Donna); Photos: Post, Prompts, and Challenges (Donna)
2Active Reading: A Key to Awesome Book Reviews (Donna)
1Tackling the TBR Pile (Donna)

Most of our posts received at least a couple of comments. I think comments were down this year, even though I think I visited more blogs this year.

Perhaps the best thing, for me at least, that came out of this challenge is that it got me back in the habit of scheduling posts early. Before April, and even somewhat during April, I was only getting a couple of days scheduled. Now I have about a week and a half scheduled in advance. This is giving me more writing and reading time. I think my reviews will be better. It also provides me time to visit and comment on other blogs during the week.

And finally, the challenge reminded me that I like to blog about other things than just book reviews. So I have scheduled a day each month that I can write on any topic having to do with books, writing, blogging, and the reading experience. Today is that day this month. I will be writing about stuff on the third Friday of every month.

We all deserve a prize for finishing the A to Z Challenge. I can't afford to give one to everyone, but one person could win this month's mystery box. Here's a look at what was in the March Mystery Box.



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Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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