Sometimes it feels like only yesterday that I hit the “publish” for the very first post on this blog. In fact it’s been nine years since the day BookerTalk was launched upon the unsuspecting world.
Since day one there have been 1292 posts, adding up to just over a million words. It’s astonishing to think that there is still life in a project plucked out of nowhere all those years ago and based on very flimsy ideas.
I broke all the “rules” that blogging experts tell us are fundamental to a successful book blog.
I never thought about who my ‘ideal’ reader and what value they might get from the blog. I gave no thought at all about how I would find these readers or how they would find me. And I never got further with a content plan beyond the basic concept that I’d write reviews about the books I was reading for the Booker Prize project.
As a strategy it was abysmal. And it didn’t take me very long to discover the gaping holes in my approach. For one thing I couldn’t read fast enough to write more than one post a week. Even with my basic knowledge I realised that wouldn’t be enough. Nor did readers materialise as if by magic. If I wanted to have more than a handful of readers, I soon saw that I’d have to work at it.
That’s the very first lesson I learned: book blogging takes far more effort and energy than most new bloggers anticipate. It’s not surprising that so many fall by the wayside after only a year. I reflected on this in my 8th anniversary post last year where I shared three lessons I‘d learned over the years. At the time I concluded that:.
You have to choose what works for you – only you know how much time you have available and how much you have to say. And – more crucially – how important blogging is to you. If it’s important, then you’ll put the effort into it, just like you would any other hobby or interest.
Reading that piece of advice afresh has given me pause for thought in recent days. My brain has been buzzing with questions.
I’ve thought about how important this blog is to me and how it stacks up against my other interests. Asked myself whether I want to post more frequently. Whether I have the time or inclination to write all the new content that would require. Do I even have enough ideas for a more active blog? Would it be better to spend the time on having good quality content rather than just upping the quantity? Can I/should I do more to connect with other bloggers, authors and publishers on social media?
Some of those questions are easier to answer than others.
Realistically it would be tough to carve out more time to write posts. At the moment I post a new topic every two days, sometimes it slips to three days. I’m in awe of book blogs where there is new content every day. I tried that when I took on the A-Z challenge which involved writing and posting 26 new pieces, almost one a day. It was exhausting; some days I was scrambling to get the post done before midnight. I’m not in a hurry to repeat that experience.
I’m also reluctant to give myself the stress of having to think up so many more topics. There’s a danger that I’d be posting just for the sake of posting rather than because I have something to say of interest to people who follow me. It would be all too easy to fall into the trap of writing multiple list posts and memes. Now and again they’re fun but the enjoyment does wear off quickly. Not just for me but also I suspect for readers.
Quality Trumps Quantity
I think I’ll keep my current mix of book reviews with the occasional meme like Six Degrees of Separation; virtual visits to author’s homes, literary news from Wales and quirky topics like the one about the bizarre ways in which some writers died. Readers seem to like the articles on the craft of book blogging and the technical side of using WordPress that I introduced last year, so I’ll keep doing those periodically too.
The one area I know needs more attention is interaction with other bloggers whether that’s on their book blog site or via Twitter. It’s something I’ve let slip this past few months and I miss it. Ultimately it’s the connection to other people who share my love of reading that makes all the hours of writing worthwhile. Without those connections, blogging can be a lonely activity.
Which is why I am immensely grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my posts and leave a comment. Whether you were with me on day 1 or have only recently found your way to BookerTalk, thanks for being part of my journey.
I hope you’ll still be around this time next year so we can celebrate together when I mature into double figures.