How To Keep On Top Of Book News

Day 11 of the A-Z challenge.

K is for Keeping Up To Date

Virtually ever blogger will tell you, the part of blogging they love most is the interaction with other like-minded people.

Following, reading and commenting on other bloggers’ posts and connecting with them on social media is one of the most rewarding aspects of blogging.

As I said in an earlier blog post, engaging and interacting with other bloggers is one of the most important things you can do to attract readers to your own site.

But with thousands of blog sites and thousands more Twitter and Instagram accounts to follow, keeping up with all the updates is a nigh on impossible task.

Krista at TheBookish HedgeMom spoke for many of us when she commented on Twitter that this is one of her biggest blogging challenges.

I have the same challenge and it seems from comments on earlier posts in this A2Zbookblogging series, that Krista and I are definitely not alone.

The good news is that there are some strategies that can help us keep connected while making best use of our time.

Learn From Others

The blogging world is full of people who are generous in sharing their knowledge and experience. So I asked some of the bloggers I follow for their advice about managing social media interactions.

One point kept coming up over and over again: don’t try to do too much.

I don’t use multiple social media platforms – it’s too much! I’ve been on Twitter from the beginning and follow authors and publishers there but that’s pretty much it. So, I guess the tip is ‘don’t spread yourself too thin!’

Kate :BooksAreMyFavouriteAndBest

That advice found a kindred spirit in Ali from HeavenAli and Marina Sofia who blogs at FindingTimeToWrite.

I agree about not spreading yourself too thin. I generally focus on my blog and Twitter, and though I do Instagram (IG) I don’t make it a priority and have a smaller IG following because of that. I worry that I miss things when I am at work. I probably do, but all you can do is keep up a daily presence.

Ali Hope: HeavenAli

I stick to Twitter and blogs and don’t feel guilty at all if I get to read posts only at the weekend or later. I tend to stick to the bloggers I know and like, although am happy to discover new ones (in moderation)

MarinaSofia: FindingTimeToWrite

Keeping Up With Blogs

Since I started blogging I’ve tried three different methods to keep abreast of new content from other bloggers.

Email

My initial method was to get notifications of new posts sent direct to my email in box. I liked the ease of use and the fact I could read and comment on new material on my laptop or, when I was travelling on my iPad or phone.

It worked well in the early days when I was following only a dozen or so people. But as that number grew to more than 50 and then into three figures, I found my in box completely overwhelmed.

Other bloggers however find the in box option invaluable. A case in point is Paula who blogs at BookJotter.

I’m signed up to umpteen newsletters, notifications, message boards and goodness knows what else in order to stay abreast of all that’s happening in the online literary world. It’s time consuming but necessary for my weekly wind ups!

Paula: BookJotter

WordPress Reader

Solution number two was to use the “Reader” feeder embedded with the WordPress platform.

This had one big advantage: it kept my in box clear. Plus it was also easy to use. But I found it frustrating that every post stayed in the feed even after I’d read it and there was nothing to indicate that I’d opened the post.

Even more frustrating is that I couldn’t find any way to sort or filter the updates. Each new post was simply shown in the order of publication. Since I follow multiple bloggers who are very active, some posts just get lost in the mass of material.

I know you can set up tags that enable you to track specific topics – I have one for the Booker Prize for example – but if you read a variety of genres and have multiple interests, your tag list can become unwieldy.

RSS Reader

In frustration, last year I opted to use an RSS Feed Reader. In case you haven’t heard this term previously, it stands for ‘Rich site summary’. It’s essentially a family of web feed formats that are used to simplify the process of transferring information from blogs, websites and other similar platforms in an easy and readable form.

There are several of these available. I opted for one of the most popular ones, Feedly.

All you do is add the names of blogs or websites you want to follow, and allocate them to a category list you define. The list of those sites then appears on the left of the screen, making it easy to scroll. The updates appear on the main screen in an attractive grid style (you can change this if you prefer to see only titles).

There are several other features of this tool I really like.

One is that you get several options for how you can view content. I can select today’s new content, or click on a blog name to see all the posts from that site or I can view by category.

You can have as many categories as needed. I could easily divide my “book bloggers” category to make it more manageable if I wanted to, and I could create new categories for example, to follow specific publishers.

For each post you can save it as a favourite, book mark it for future reference or read it (you have to visit the actual blog site to do this). Once read, the item is greyed out so you can always track what you’ve opened.

I’m using the free version which is more than enough to meet my needs. It you want more, there’s also a paid subscription option which gives whistles and bells like ability to integrate the feeds on web platforms like Dropbox and Evernote.

Keeping Up With Twitter

I’m happy I’ve found an efficient way to keep up to date with blogger news. I wish I could say the same about Twitter.

It moves so fast that unless I am constantly checking my phone, I miss a lot of the tweets. I’ve deliberately kept the accounts I follow to a low number to make it more manageable but even so, I feel I am barely touching the surface.

Here are some tips from other bloggers and Tweeters.

Follow Hashtags

If you’re a regular user of Twitter you’ll already know how to use Hashtags when you post a new Tweet. But have you ever thought about using them to find relevant content?

Here’s how two bloggers make hashtags work for them.

I follow mainly people who are bookish or who I know in “Real Life”. Hashtags help. If I know something I am interested in, is using a particular tag then I will search for it on Twitter so I can catch up.

Ali Hope: HeavenAli

Jill who blogs at Jill’sBookCafe is also a regular user of hashtags.

I search for new book posts using the search box. I type in #newbooks to bring up posts with that hashtag. This principle can also be used to find giveaways etc. But, and it is a big but, it relies on the original poster using the relevant hashtags. This is maybe something we all need to think about – I know I often forget. But the hashtag serves as a valuable search tool to find, follow and contribute to a conversation.

Jill: Jill’sBookCafe

Both these ideas are very practical. Adopting is certainly going to cut down on the amount of time I spend scrolling through my feed.

Use Lists

You can organize your Twitter feed into targeted topics (lists) so you can keep up with people who focus on that particular topic. You could have a list of people tweeting primarily about crime fiction for example, or about a particular literary prize.

This is how Marina Sofia manages her Twitter feeds; using lists for Publishers, Crime Lovers and Writers.

I’ve begun to play around with lists in recent weeks and can really see how it makes life so much easier. I’ve set up lists for Authors, Bloggers, Publishers and Welsh publishers/authors.

If you don’t know how to set up lists, here is a useful tutorial from HootSuite.

Mute Topics

I only recently discovered that you can use the “mute” function to remove an account’s Tweets from your timeline without unfollowing or blocking that account. It’s certainly one way to reduce the number of items showing in your feed but I’m struggling to understand why you would do this. If you’re not interested in a person’s feed, why not just unfollow?

It makes much more sense to follow the practice used by Jackie Law who blogs at NeverImitate.

I use Twitter as a means to keep up with news. I follow mainly bookish people and mute topics that irritate. It’s easy to set up via settings / content preferences / mute. Any tweet containing those words will not appear on your timeline.

JackieLaw :NeverImitate

This is a great option for dealing with one of the worst aspects of Twitter – the tendency of some people to use it as a platform for rants, strong political views and hyper critical comments.

A Final Thought

The importance of interaction is something we can all understand. But we don’t always have the time it takes to visit and comment on blogs and to keep up with Twitter.

The tips above will help but we also need to remember that we are only human. We can’t do everything. Life sometimes gets in the way. Bloggers understand that and know that even their most loyal followers can’t comment on every post. Ditto tweeters.

If you miss a few posts or a few tweets, it doesn’t matter that much. There will always be another in a few days.

Join The Discussion

How do you manage your social interactions? Any tips that you can share? Leave me a comment below to share some of your experiences.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on April 13, 2020, in Blogging and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I’m very bad with this. I used to follow blogs with bloglovin. But then when I got to following a few hundreds blogs (crazy, I know….), I was missing a lot. So I signed up to follow lots of blogs through emails. well yes, I’m flooded. 2 weeks ago, I had over 900 messages unread, all to do with blogs. I’m down to 300. Maybe when I get over this, I’l go back to bloglovin, but it will require lots of time to unsubscribe from all these, lol

    • I know that feeling of being overwhelmed – I used to have hundreds of alerts coming to my email too. But I have moved to Feedly and it is so much easier. I prefer it to Bloglovin because it has more flexibility. I can allocate each blog feed into a category. I can mark some of them as favourites so I see those first. For feeds which are very prolific, like the Guardian book blog, I go into it periodically, read a few and then can block delete the rest.

  2. Fab post! I too get bogged down with keeping up with all my bookish friends. One thing that works for me is that I take days off blog hopping when I don’t post myself. I felt guilty in the beginning, but now after after 6 months of doing it I don’t ,and it feels great to have some time to myself.😂

    • One tip someone gave me was that you create content one day, then devote effort the next day to commenting on other sites, The idea is to keep up the momentum of commenting but also balancing it with effort to create content

  3. Feedly sounds pretty useful, but I just don’t want to go to another place to find content, so I stick with the email approach. All my blog posts filter immediately into a special folder in my email client (as do some other subject/topic posts) and are never seen in the In Box. That keeps my inbox clean(er) and it enables me to sort blog posts to my heart’s content – by date, by from, by subject, by unread or read etc. It works for me and I can delete the email when I’ve read them OR when I decide time has past so long that I’m never going to read them. Eg I recently deleted all January 2020 blog emails.

    If a blogger doesn’t have a subscribe by email function I ask them nicely to add it. If they don’t I’m afraid I hardly ever visit because I just forget them, unless they visit me and I check them out again. It’s sad, because there are a couple of bloggers I’d love the read more often but without their post coming to my email system I just don’t know they’ve posted.

    (PS As you can see I am right now doing a blog catchup blitz!)

  4. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Not spreading yourself too thin is CRUCIAL! And I think it ties in to your earlier post (as you mention) about engaging with others – just go where they are, and don’t worry about trying to be everywhere at once. I have a small personal Twitter account, where I do share and follow bookish stuff but it’s mainly just for fun. And I’ve never quite made the transition to Reader or RSS feed, I’m still hooked on the convenience of having posts sent via email – yes, my inbox gets fairly flooded, but I set aside a specific time each week to clear it out, which keeps things manageable. My hot tip for other budding bloggers is not just to follow bloggers, but to follow trade news outlets and organisations in their area as well. I get a lot of really valuable info and insight from Publisher’s Weekly, and Books + Publishing (our Aussie equivalent).

    • Fabulous additional tips Sheree. I was listening to a podcast today where the blogger Jon Morrow suggested it takes a few years to really get familiar with a social media platform and to use it effectively. So it makes far more sense to focus on just one.

  5. This is such a helpful post – I’ve definitely been feeling a bit overwhelmed recently but am relieved to learn that I’m not alone in this! I especially appreciate the recommendation for an RSS reader and have made a note to myself to give that one a go. Thank you again for sharing your invaluable wisdom 🙂

  6. Another great post, Karen. I’m definitely in the ‘don’t spread yourself too thin’ corner and couldn’t manage my Twitter feed without lists.

    • I see some people highly active on Twitter and Instagram and they are blogging regularly. I really don’t know how they do it. I can’t even keep up with twitter

  7. Very useful tips! I do get overwhelmed sometimes, and I think perhaps it doesn’t hurt occasionally to review the sites you follow and decide if they’re still relevant to your interests. I have to keep doing the same thing with the channels I follow on YouTube as they tend to get out of hand as well….

    • Yep, I do some weeding out periodically too. Sites I was following when I first started may have changed directly and are no longer relevant. Every time I do this exercise I find sites that have ceased to be active… Quite sad when that happens.

  8. Wow! Lots to digest here! Thanks for all your tips and hacks! I’m eager to try a few! I need to start with the huge amount of mail in my inbox! Right now I scan the list for bloggers with whom I have regular interaction. Then I look back through the remaining for topics or titles that pop out to me. After those two pass through I usually delete the remaining. Feedly sounds good to me. So I would enter each blog that I follow and then it shows up in Feedly and not my email? Is Feedly an app? Does Feedly interface well with WordPress?

    Thanks for all your efforts to bring us these topics!

    • Something very odd here. I was sure I had replied to you but I can’t see it showing up. So if this is a duplicate comment, I’m sorry….
      Feedly can be used on desktop computers but is also available as an app for phone/iPad. I have my account synched on all 3 devices.
      Yes that’s exactly how it works – you enter each blog you want to follow. I would recommend you put them into a category. Then feedly does the rest – you don’t get any emails. you don’t get any notifications either, so you just have to go into Feedly to see the new posts.
      If you get stuck, let me know via DM on Twitter and I can talk you through it.

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