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What I talk about when I talk about blogging

It’s been close to 3 years since I started my blog and every year I grow as a reader and a blogger. Leading to my blog anniversary I’ll be posting a series of thoughts about blogging.

Even when I have my personal blog for rant and sort, my book review blog is still my main blog I feel compel to update. Besides blogging, people watch is my favourite past time and “blogger” watch naturally falls into the same past time. πŸ˜‰

I notice people (outside publishers or writers) are attracted to a book review blogs and become an avid follower for various reasons. The followings are my assumptions and I do not claim them to be true but they are purely my observations. Note that all my observations only applies to book review bloggers.

People are attracted to a book blog and become a loyal follower because of:

  1. The niche that book blogger carved for themselves – they are specialist of a certain genre, i.e. crime fiction, YA, non-fiction, short stories or they publish book news, book prizes or introduce the latest books in the publishing world etc.
  2. The similarity in reading taste and genre. Self explanatory.
  3. The meme blogs – where readers follow because of an interesting meme.
  4. The thought provoking bookish articles produced. This is rare because most of us talk about book reviews but occasionally you find meme who churns out thought provoking questions about our reading habits and has a strong army of followers.
  5. The wealth of information (and long blog posts) produced but rarely it compels the reader to comment or be engaged with the blogger.
  6. The short and concise blog posts that they produce – I notice the most successful of all book bloggers write short and concise book review, not more than 3 paragraphs and about half a page long. It’s appealing for a lot of people who can’t hold attention. There are rare occasions when readers follow a blogger who writes long reviews, it is when… (see the following)
  7. The blogger has a talent to engage reader with humour or has a beautiful writing style, and it makes reader want to read their posts no matter how long it is. The blog entertains in addition to inform and I think this is amazing.

On the other hand, I also think reader became a loyal follower due to serendipity or fate that helps seal theΒ sustainable relationship. How this happen is when a follower is:

  1. Touched by the kindness, outside blogging, exudes through exchange of gifts, kind words and genuine friendship. I strongly believe a lot of “love” displayed in the book review blogosphere are genuine because in my world at least, I hardly come across friends who read as voracious as I do and it is like when one meet up with a kindred spirit in that sense.
  2. Physically met up with the blogger(s), for tea and in book conference, bloggers of the same neighbourhood. Putting a face to a name makes it real. It is always better to talk to a real person rather than an unknown stranger. I think bloggers who feature a picture of themselves on their blogs create this impact too.
  3. The first few people that commented on your blog and remain a steadfast companion. When any new blogger first started out in the blogging world, a lot of TLC and validation is required for one to keep blogging. I’ll never forget the kindness of those who first visited my blog and are still here today. Although some have dropped off but that is to be expected.
  4. Thrill to receive reciprocal comments on their blogs and feels that the blog owner takes time to respond to their comments. Not all bloggers do but it’s not a sin because understandably bloggers live a real lives and may be busy and can’t possibly answer every comment.
Blog hop, readalong, circuit tour, readathon, giveaways, reading challenge may introduce bloggers to new blogs but it takes an extra ingredient to convert a blog hopper to a loyal follower.

I don’t have the stats but every year there are more and more new people who start a book review blogs and once my Google Reader is saturated with book reviews feeds it takes a lot more for newly discovered blogs to impress me to follow. This is where the law of diminishing returns kick-in.

As long as I am interested in books I don’t see myself reaching a point where I will not blog or read about book reviews. In terms of how many blogs I could read though, with the demands of life, it may be reduced.

I don’t have my own list of things that may turn people off from reading a blog (maybe you have?) but recentlyΒ I was slightly disturbed to hear that a display of incoming books pictures or wrap-ups were seen as a boast. I thought it was a shared joy partake by all book lovers to see beautiful book stack rather than anything sinister like showing off. I enjoy looking at them and share the happiness of the one who receive it but why would anyone think otherwise?

Another difficulty I have is to read a blog with dark / black background and white fonts. I find my vision goes blur and I strain my eyes trying to read the words. Is it me or do you feel the same? Maybe it is because of my astigmatism?

Anyway, we are all different. I do not follow a set rule to write or blog so that I could attract more followers.Β For me, what I most think about when I think about blogging in long term is that I will keep blogging even if no one else is reading my blog and I shouldn’t be affected by the fact that one day maybe no one reads what I have to write.

The blogger that earned my respect are bloggers who post everyday and sometimes (or most of the time) did not get a single comment, yet they keep on blogging. Hats off!

What do you talk about when you talk about blogging? What sort of a blogger are you and why do you follow a blog? Are there things that may stop you from following a blog?

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


44 thoughts on “What I talk about when I talk about blogging

  1. Really nice post, I think all your points are spot on. I think I’m one of those people who write book reviews a bit longer than you recommend, but never mind, I think book reviews tend to get fewer comments than more open-ended posts in any event – unless you are part of an “online reading group” however loose, whose “members” read and review the same book. Then it is fun to compare notes. Like you, I don’t forget those who first commented on my blog – back in 2005 Jenny D of Light Reading left a comment on my blog and it bowled me over – I then “got” what blogging was all about! (And I’ve met her in person since, as you recommend;-)).

    Posted by Maxine | September 23, 2011, 4:50 pm
  2. Great post. This was a great post for me to read right now because I am currently redesigning my blog and am going to be implementing a bunch of changes starting sunday. My new focus is going to be on not just books, but anything that tells a good story.

    Posted by celawerd | September 23, 2011, 6:20 pm
  3. Nice post, Jo! It’s definitely true about the diminishing returns and I sometimes make a special effort when someone is a new blogger, to keep track of them, but often they get lost in the masses.

    I think the first impression when I load a blog is important. If it looks nice and feels right and also has the sort of books I enjoy, I may stick and subscribe. I unsubscribe when I realise there have been a lot of blog posts that I have skimmed over and I haven’t seen anything that interest me on that blog for a while.

    Posted by Leeswammes | September 23, 2011, 6:30 pm
    • Judith,
      I wonder when I’ll ever stop subscribing a book blog? hmm… I think like you it’s when a long successive of books reviewed that didn’t interests me, like as long as a year perhaps. I guess it is all about being like-minded and birds of the same feather when it comes to which blog you want to be connected and associated to! πŸ™‚

      Posted by JoV | September 24, 2011, 3:47 pm
  4. I don’t necessarily have to have the same reading tastes to follow a blog, but it helps. I do, however, have to like the blogger. The bloggers I follow are personable, seem genuinely friendly and it helps that they often comment back. I like to feel as if I am having conversations with folks about the books we read. And I have that with lots of bloggers…including you!

    I will stop following a blog if their reading tastes change dramatically, they continue to post that they are “taking a break” or if they resort to meme after meme. BUT, that doesn’t mean I won’t keep in touch with them. I often do via Twitter or Facebook.

    Posted by Ti | September 23, 2011, 9:34 pm
    • Ti,
      Awww….thanks Ti. Interesting to know that you will stop following if “they are taking a break”.. I also notice it really happens when someone do not blog for a long time and then came back and found out actually a lot of their usual commentators had disappeared! isn’t that sad? πŸ™‚ The thing I don’t do much is Twitter and Facebook. I agree that meme after meme sort of bore me, but occasional ones are great. I like to read your blog because you are humourous! πŸ™‚

      Posted by JoV | September 24, 2011, 3:52 pm
  5. Interesting thoughts and I generally agree with you. I write my blog for myself first which means I break some of the ‘rules’ that result in more followers but I’m comfortable with that. I do love having people come to visit and leave comments or get in touch via email but I’m not losing sleep over generating ever more followers. I know my reviews can be too long and I don’t participate in very many of the memes which seem to generate lots of followers but I write my reviews for myself first and I don’t enjoy doing the memes (to be honest I’m not that interested in reading them either)…so I do what makes me happy. I mainly do it as a break from my dull day job which, by and large, makes me the opposite of happy.

    As for blogs to follow I’ve reduced my number quite a bit over the past few months, not because they were bad but because I have less time and I wanted to concentrate on the ones I really like. Some of these are in my crime fiction niche but quite a few are not. I like to follow Australian book blogs of all sorts, even if some of the reviews don’t interest me I like to see what other booky discussions people here are having and I still have some blogs, like yours, that I just like…even though we hardly ever read the same books. But I like in depth reviews and the fact there aren’t a lot of memes around here…plus we started out almost together so it’s nice to keep up with you for that reason. I will read reviews of any kind of book at all if I like the reviewer’s style or passion for their reading…even if I’ve no intention of ever reading the book they’re talking about. I tend not to follow blogs which have lots of memes, I don’t mind a couple but some seem to do one a day and they’re really not my cup of tea. I do agree it’s much harder to keep an eye on new blogs now, I generally find mine by comments left either at my own blog or the blogs I visit…but it takes a lot more for me to add a new blog to my google reader than it once did simply because I have less time for blog reading at the moment.

    As for someone being offended by seeing someone else’s picture of the books they’ve just acquired I can’t imagine that person is a real reader. I don’t know any genuine book lover who doesn’t get a kick out of seeing what someone else has managed to acquire…I love seeing your piles that you bring home from your travels through second hand shops for example…I just get jealous that we simply don’t have the same access to those kinds of shops around where I live. I think if you call someone boastful for sharing their joy then you have a real problem in your own psyche.

    Here’s to another three years eh?

    Posted by bernadetteinoz | September 23, 2011, 10:30 pm
    • Bernadette,
      Thanks for such thoughtful comments.
      I wholeheartedly agree with you that you do your reviews for yourself first and not losing sleep over lack of comments. One of the few things I like about your blog is that:
      1. I like your rant
      2. I like how analytical you are when you write your reviews
      3. I like your stats, no one does stats like you do!

      I find it hard to read blogs as well these days and I attribute to a demanding job. I hope my favourite bloggers don’t hold it against me but for those who do I shouldn’t even care anyway. Ti from Book Chatter said it well, you follow a blog because you like the blogger. I like you and your blog and reviews are authentic. There is no pretense to it. πŸ™‚

      Here’s to another 3 years!

      Posted by JoV | September 24, 2011, 4:04 pm
  6. Really love this post, you made some really fantastic points! Personally I love seeing pictures of books and posts with stats and wrap-ups, and also love the community. But I agree, SO HARD to maintain it at times, because it can get so overwhelming…

    Posted by amymckie | September 24, 2011, 6:57 pm
  7. Happy bloggy birthday!! Exciting lead-up to bloggy birthday! I am delighted that the book blogging community is expanding, but yeah, I’m definitely less inclined to seek out new blogs than I was when I started. :/

    Posted by Jenny | September 25, 2011, 12:09 am
  8. This is my first ever book review blog although I have been blogging for a few years. The reason of starting a book review blog is simple – to motivate myself to read more (it is rewarding to read own posts although I perfectly understand that there is always room for improvement in writing and I shall never be contented) and to put my thoughts into words after reading (which encourages myself to think as a reader). Overall, it is focused on improving myself (at the moment), so maybe that explains why I don’t follow or have yet started to follow much blogs. Having said that, I do enjoy stumbling across different blogs (I compare the blog content, design, features etc) very much although I might not be following them all.

    I have come to your blog because you are the first that commented on my blog. It brings warmth to a beginner like me. Of course, that wasn’t the main reason I am following yours. I follow yours because I enjoy reading your posts – the ways you introduce books you are reading to others. πŸ™‚

    Posted by Ting | September 25, 2011, 4:58 am
    • Ting,
      Aww… thanks Ting. I am glad to hear that I’m the first few who commented. I do as well think that writing about books I read has made me a better reader and also reading other point of perspectives enrich the experience as well. Thanks for following my blog though you haven’t commented until now! πŸ˜€

      Posted by JoV | September 25, 2011, 7:01 pm
  9. I’m looking forward to more of such posts leading up to your anniversary. Your observations are spot on. For me, especially the one about niche, similar tastes, type of blog post and first commenters. I subscribe to many blogs and really find no reason to pare them down, though I admit it can get overwhelming at times. I use the “Mark all at read” button a lot :). I wish there was a way to find new blogs to that I could support them. Thanks and all the best.

    Posted by Kinna | September 25, 2011, 5:11 am
  10. JoV – how do you write such insightful blog posts? We must meet someday sometime so that you can tell me in person your secret to blogging so well! I am always a shy blogger – my personal blog, I am sometimes too scared to update because I keep thinking that no one is really interested in reading about my self-obsessed rants, and Life Wordsmith – well, I have kept at it, so that one fine day when I have nothing left including memories, I can read this blog and think, ah, I did read these many books!

    Posted by Soul Muser | September 25, 2011, 8:45 am
    • Soul,
      Aww… thanks for gushing praise. You’ll be surprised, I like to hear a good rant, when it makes good sense! I don’t have a secret Soul, I just blog as I go.
      Looking back at our own blog is really the sweetest thing to do besides receiving so many wonderful comments. Keep going Soul! I’ll cheer on. πŸ™‚

      Posted by JoV | September 25, 2011, 7:15 pm
  11. Great posts-lots of points that hit home for me-

    1-I agree totally on the backgrounds-I have seen pink text on orange backgrounds, black on grey etc-please stick to the black on white back grounds and get as fancy as you want in your header and sidebars

    2. Of the 1st ten commentators on my blog 2 years ago-8 of them are still with me and I value them all highly -we have a long history now of mutual support

    3.-I have tried at times to do short posts but it is hard for me sometimes to do any kind of justice to a work

    4. I look for commonality of interests but I follow some blogs just because they follow me or comment on my blog-I subscribe to all I follow in Google Reader so I can flip through a lot of blogs real fast-I like to know the state of the book blog world

    5. I have my “core blogs ” (like yours) that I read all they post on and I try to comment when I can-or when I cannot I will sometimes just say “nice post” to people who I think will take me as siloncere-

    6. I see no boasting in listing the new books you have gotten-go for it

    Any way great post and great comments

    Posted by Mel u | September 25, 2011, 10:45 am
    • Mel,
      Thanks Mel for putting mine as “core”. I don’t have a very organised way of sorting the blogs but I do pay attention to a few that I read. I don’t think you should do short posts. I don’t think I can write short one because I blog for myself first and if I wanted to look back what I have read and think about a past book I have read, how disappointing it would be to find nothing much written about it myself? πŸ™‚ Thanks for your support.

      Posted by JoV | September 25, 2011, 7:21 pm
  12. Great post, and I was not disappointed to see you include some of your graphing prowess to illustrate your well-made points! :–)

    Posted by rhapsodyinbooks | September 25, 2011, 1:19 pm
  13. a very interesting post Jov ,with some great points ,I just do what I want but not sure if is totally right but hey ho ,but have taken on board some of your points ,all the best stu

    Posted by winstonsdad | September 25, 2011, 4:36 pm
  14. Congratulations on three years of blogging! My 3 year anniversary is this week and I had no idea that we started up at exactly the same time.

    I agree with all the points you make and also find that I am much more fussy about which blogs I add to my google reader nowadays. Personal connections always help to cement a blogging relationship – you wont be getting rid of me now we’ve met πŸ™‚

    Posted by farmlanebooks | September 25, 2011, 6:27 pm
  15. Congrats on your blogoversary! You have a wonderful blog Jo, be proud of it! πŸ™‚
    I love that you bring your professional side to blogging, with charts and statistics and everything! And I have the longest list with book recs from you, esp. world lit. And then you’re my DuMaurier reading buddy and my challenge buddy, what would I do without you and your blog!?

    I think it’s really important how the points you mentioned just come together. Though I find it harder to keep track of all the nice peope and their great blogs! Sometimes I wonder if I should put more work into my blog but I mostly I want to keep my blogging pressure-free, and so many people are doing wonderful discussion posts etc, so I can just put up pictures of books and ramble on πŸ˜€

    Posted by Bina | September 25, 2011, 9:40 pm
    • Bina,
      Awww…. thanks you make me blushed. πŸ™‚ You do what you want to do, there isn’t any pressure. I like your book pictures and rambles and I’m so glad to find a blog buddy like you! :

      Posted by JoV | October 1, 2011, 8:17 am
  16. I can’t read bright text on black background too! I can stand it for a couple of minutes but after that I start to see bright spots and I will stop reading (now that you mentioned astigmatism, could it be because of that? Because I have it too). But I read blogs mostly on my g reader, so it’s not really a problem that way.

    I stopped adding new blogs into my feed too a while ago, because I really can’t keep up. Sigh. But I really treasure the bloggers who have been with me for a long time, I really do πŸ™‚

    Posted by mee | September 26, 2011, 12:59 pm
    • Mee,
      It’s wonderful to treasure those who have been with you for awhile isn’t it? and that is what matters. I can’t keep up either and we are not out to rule the world but do our small part to fill up this space. πŸ˜€

      p/s: I think it’s the astigmatism. πŸ™‚

      Posted by JoV | October 1, 2011, 8:21 am
  17. I think I’m the only person out there who actually culled their reader list during BBAW, rather than expanding it… I’ve come to realise that it’s better to spend quality time with a few bloggers than no time with 200.

    Don’t worry, you’re still on my list πŸ˜‰

    Posted by Tony | September 27, 2011, 10:25 am
  18. Thanks for sharing. I’m still pretty new at blogging so what I write about is evolving and changing all the time. I started just with reviews but am now finding little questions and thoughts I want to pose on my blog to find out what others out there think. I also can’t read blogs with black background and white text but I read most posts in my google reader which eliminates this problem but I sometimes struggle to comment on those blogs as I can’t read the other comments so often don’t contribute my own opinion.

    Posted by Rachel | September 28, 2011, 3:32 am
    • Rachel,
      Some people might think font colours and sort are trivial, but they actually make or break a reader from subscribing to the blog. You do what you want with your blog and hope you find your niche some day. Good luck!

      Posted by JoV | October 1, 2011, 8:23 am
  19. Wonderful post, Jo! Congratulations and Happy Blogiversary!

    I used to write book reviews and send it to friends by email. Later I thought I will create a blog and post these book reviews there and that is how I got into book blogging. It also helped me discover amazing book readers and book bloggers and they have considerably widened my reading horizon. I love your blog for the diverse kinds of books that you read and write about – it has resulted in a lot of additions to my ‘TBR’ list. I used to read all kinds of blogs and posts earlier, but these days I am finding meme posts a bit tiring to read – the only memes I like are ‘Library Loot’ and ‘Mailbox Mondays’ because they have a lot of book suggestions. They also make me happy because they make me realize that I am not the only one buying tons of books πŸ™‚ I follow a book blog more because I like the blogger rather than because I like the kinds of books being reviewed. But because I sometimes follow book bloggers who have a different reading taste compared to me, it broadens my reading horizon and makes me try new authors and genres. I have discovered many treasures this way.

    I am not a big fan of doing things to increase the hits to my blog – though I keep a hit counter at the bottom of my blog. So I consciously avoid doing things like participating in memes, hosting giveaways, tailoring my reading tastes to what other bloggers are reading etc. I remember seeing in a book blog that a giveaway post had more than 170 comments, while regular posts of the blogger got 5-10 comments. Personally, I would love to be part of the 5-10 commenters who comment regularly. Sometimes I read and blog about books that I know no one might be interested in – for example, books on cricket and science – but I am unrepentant about it, because I don’t want to change my reading taste, just because I will get a few more hits. But I also love hearing about book suggestions from fellow book bloggers and I have discovered a lot of wonderful new literature through book bloggers’ recommendations.

    I love adding new book bloggers to my Google reader, but I avoid new bloggers who read mostly ARCs, especially teenage vampire fiction or YA books with a paranormal angle. I think that though teenage vampire fiction and YA paranormal fiction are good, there is more to life than teenage vampires and paranormal events. There seems to be a mad rush these days to read ARCs and vampire fiction that it surprises me quite a bit. But I guess readers read what they like and who am I to judge.

    I used to love writing long reviews and giving a lot of excerpts and giving spoilers in my book review posts but these days I have consciously cut down on the length of my reviews. I think now, that if someone reads my book review post, they should discover the pleasures of the book for themselves rather than me revealing it to them.

    I wasn’t a big fan of Google Reader for a long time – I resisted it and went to individual blogs and read posts there. My reason for resisting Google Reader was that it didn’t give the authentic experience that going to an actual blog does. But these days I have become a Google Reader convert because it helps me in tracking read and unread posts. I like reading all the unread posts and committing the time that it requires to do that, even if it means spending the whole day reading blogs. But these days, if one doesn’t check for a few days, the number of unread posts is overwhelming. I have around a hundred unread posts in my Google Reader right now and I am wondering what to do about it.

    One of my favourite bloggers had a black background with white font, and that didn’t deter me from following her blog. When I went to an art workshop a few years back, our teacher taught us how sketching on a black paper with a white crayon / oil pastel, makes us think differently – because when we try to sketch on white paper, we are basically trying to draw shadow in a background of light, but in a black paper we are trying to draw light in a background of shadow which is counterintuitive and very different from the way we normally think. I think a blog with a dark background and white letters is a wonderful example of this. I am thankful to the book blogging world for introducing me to wonderful book bloggers like you. Some of my favourite bloggers, who I met during my initial blogging days, have unfortunately closed down their blogs now or post sparingly. But there are other favourite bloggers who post frequently and give me a lot of joy everyday.

    Thanks for this wonderful post! Happy Blogiversary, again πŸ™‚

    Posted by Vishy | September 28, 2011, 7:37 am
    • Vishy,
      I vote you the longest comments ever posted by one single person!!! WOW I haven’t read or received such a long comment! πŸ˜€
      Thanks for the wishes Vishy. I used to write long reviews and include spoilers too because when I started out I wanted to record my thoughts and cue that will aid my recall memory when I read my own reviews again. I’m not apologetic about including spoilers (as long as it is not earth shattering!) and if that turns off a certain readers, so be it. I like to be able to discuss about what I thought about the book and it may well contains a little spoiler. I don’t like vampires too. Not in a big way. I read the Twilight saga just for the curiosity of it but I’ll never pick up another one.

      As for the black background.. I think it may deters someone like me who has eyesight problem from reading it. More of practical reasons than aesthetic really.

      Thanks for your long comments again Vishy!

      Posted by JoV | October 1, 2011, 8:34 am


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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books Β»
Share book reviews and ratings with JoV, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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