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June 1, 2013

ArmchairBEA: Keeping it Real and Young Adult Literature

Another double header post for Day 4 of Armchair BEA.

Keeping it Real

I think this is the most difficult of the post topics of this year's Armchair BEA. After almost 2.5 years of blogging, I'm struggling with keeping content fresh and fun. At least for me there's days that blogging feels more like a job. However, my readership is at its highest level ever, so I must be doing something right.

Is it a Hobby or a Job?

While I started this blogging as more of a hobby, I'm not sure if it ever truly was. I started book blogging in 2011 after getting my first job in the publishing industry. I think even at that time I saw it as an extension of my professional persona. It was only a hobby in the terms of me being an amateur and not fully committed to the project.

What do I want my blogging to be?

Around the one year mark though I realized I really did want my blog to be more. I would love to see it to become more of a literary ezine. And that is when I got serious about blogging and concerned about my content. While I may never fully turn Girl Who Reads into an ezine, having that goal gives me something to strive for and benchmarks for evaluating my blog.

Changes made

In March/April, I did a Tips series on content writing. I was feeling major burnout and that my blogging had plateaued to some extent. I knew if I wanted to see my third blogging anniversary changes needed to be made. Some of the changes:

  • Increased weekly features
    • I already had a regularly posted guest posts and my tips post, but I formalized the guest posts: Meet the Author Mondays, Writer Wednesdays, and Friday Fun.
    • I added a Sunday Sale Page
  • After polling my readers, I've started to do "recommendation" lists at least a couple of times of months. They usually coincide with something going on that month. For May, I did one for Mental Health Awareness and another for short stories as May is the month for both of those. I also did a list during Children's Book Week. They are easy posts as I'm highlighting books I've already reviewed.
  • Reduced my review posts. I had started reviewing at least twice a week, but they don't get a lot of views or interactions. Now I'm okay with reviewing only a few times a month.
  • Offering giveaways. I really believe one of the reasons I have seen an increase traffic is the number of giveaways I have going on each week. The great thing about these posts - I'm not providing the prizes. Authors, publishers, tour companies and more are happy to provide a prize to my readers in exchange for coverage on my blog (they often provide the post, too!)
  • Changed up my presentation of posts
    • Worked on making better post titles
    • Using more bolding, italics, headings, and bullet points
    • This week I've been playing with using colored fonts
My advice for long-term successful blogging

To keep blogging real and fresh, I think it is important to periodically examine your goals, what your readers want, and how you are presenting your content.

Genre Talk: Young Adult Literature

Even though I'm 36 and a half, I still love reading young adult literature. There's just something about themes that draw me to it. I love coming of age stories. Sometimes it's the innocence of the characters or maybe a nostalgia factor. Other times it is the complex social questions/structure being presented in a simpler manner (not really the right word, but it's been a long week and my brain is a bit fried). I just noticed that Young Adult is my largest shelf at Goodreads. Some of that is because I group the middle grades lit I read for my niece and nephew on to the YA shelf.

As I mentioned in  my genre fiction post, I tend to only read fantasy and science fiction in young adult. Harry Potter, Across the Universe, Jack Templar, Twilight, and Time at the Top are a few examples. And of the 32 titles I've classified as Fantasy/SciFi//Paranormal at Goodreads, the majority are young adult. I think for me is because the universe that is created is maybe explained more, but I think it is more about there being a main character who is from my world and it's more fun to read this genre in YA.

I do have to say though that I think my age is starting to show. While I still enjoy a great YA novel, I'm preferring those classified more as New Adult. They still have the same themes I cherish in YA - coming of age, finding oneself, experiencing LIFE for the first time (the challenges and joys of growing up) - yet have situations I can better relate to. It's been a long time since I was in high school, but I still can identify with those early adult decisions of getting a job, deciding on careers, making decisions on my own that are more prevalent in New Adult.

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  1. Hi there! Great post! :)

    And I feel you about connecting more with the New Adult. I am one and book like this make me feel like maybe I am not alone experiencing difficult decisions and age challenges. :) But I still love YA :D

  2. You have some good suggestions about having goals for your blog. I'm going to steal them (ok, I'll just borrow and give them back). I'm a young adult girl at heart and the more fantasy thrown in the better. I love the look of your site and one of the humble masses that continue to come back and play

  3. Very glad I found this post! It was such a refreshing look at blogging and goals and intentions. Things I'm going to take back to my own blog and put to the litmus test there!

    There are some very wonderful YA pieces out there!! If it shows how far behind the curve I am, I hadn't heard the phrase New Adult yet! But it makes the most wonderful sense to me. I'm an HP fan as well as a huge John Green fan.


  4. I didn't read a lot of YA before I started book blogging!

  5. I like YA in general for the discovery aspect and new life experiences. I haven't connected with much NA yet but I'm still trying!

    1. I still read more YA than NA, but I think that's because the early entries to the category have been romances which i don't read much of anyways. I prefer darker themes and find the few NA I've read have been really good.