Preparing for the BBC: Practical Challenges of Blogging

Now that I’m not coughing myself into oblivion, friends, I think it’s high time I got back on the blogging wagon and began pondering the Big Projects I have going on this spring.

After a somewhat frantic 2010, I was looking forward to cooling my jets, relaxing and not overextending myself too much in 2011. Three months in and I can already tell you, for sure, that my jets are far from cooled. They’re on fire. And one of the biggest, most exciting projects I’m planning involves the upcoming Book Blogger Convention in New York City.

Were you there last year? Was your mind blown by the informative panels and  face-to-face time with folks we know only by Gravatar or Twitter handle? Did you tweet live from the event and then write a blog about blogging, all meta-style?

I did. It was awesome.

I’ll be going this year and bringing Spencer with me to the Big Apple, and I can’t wait to visit the city again and meet so many of you — whether for the first, second or third time.

And not only that. In addition to attending this year’s BBC, I’ll actually be speaking on one of several panels happening Friday, May 27.

Gulp.

Together with the lovely and talented Raych, Jenn, Lenore and Kristen, we’ll be leading the Practical Challenges of Blogging panel from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (lunch!). I’m very, very excited but also very, very nervous, so I’m trying to plan this methodically so I don’t stand up in front of everyone with the glassy, terrified expression of a slack-jawed nut. I mean, this is two hours, friends. Two hours of us talking to you. About things. About blogging.

Blogging.

We all have an opinion on it, obviously — we’re here doing it. Night and day. Day and night. Regardless of the weather, we’re talkin’ books and reading and authors and it’s fun.

But what happens when life keeps us from our keyboards? We all have families, spouses, children, full- or part-time jobs. We have other hobbies. We travel. We have to make dinner.

How do we accomplish it all?

As our panel puts together the topics we’ll cover at the BBC, I’d like you all to take the floor now:

Bloggers, what do you find most challenging about maintaining a book blog?


Is it managing review copies? Finding time to write thoughtful reviews? Fielding emails from other bloggers, authors, or publishers? Writing negative reviews? Or, you know, justifying to your family why you’re checking your blog stats again?

In New York, we’ll be talking about how we blog — but I’d like your input before we set foot in the Javits Center.

And just to sweeten the pot, leave a response before Tuesday, March 22 and I’ll enter you in a giveaway for Melissa Ford’s Life From Scratch, one of my favorite recent novels about — surprise! — a blogger. Just make sure I have a way to contact you!

Thank you — and see you in May?

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23 thoughts on “Preparing for the BBC: Practical Challenges of Blogging

  1. Right now I’m finding it challenge to manage review copies. I seem to have more of them than I have time to read. I need to find the right balance before reading begins to become like a job.

  2. Not that I am a book blogger, but I do talk about books on my blog. I’ve been reading so much about writers who publish less than glowing reviews of books and how it can negatively impact your career later. I read a book I didn’t enjoy and felt I posted a fair review. I love the author but didn’t enjoy the book. Well, now the author will be at our Writer’s Club Meeting next month. I also follow her on twitter, so I’d hate for her to somehow stumble across my review. Not only that but should I ever actually write that novel it would be awesome to have a well known author in my corner. So I pulled the review.

    Now I hate to think that I have to always be complimentary in my reviews. I’d think as long as I was fair in my dislike, that it would be okay but I felt better pulling the review than leaving it up.

  3. For me the problem is finding the time to read and then write thoughtful reviews, visit other blogs and manage my blog while still having time for my other hobbies (gardening, bird watching & photography), family, friends and full time work. I guess you could say finding balance is my biggest problem.

  4. I have a blog schedule (one post per day, particular posts on particular days) and it’s sometimes hard to motivate me to write yet another blog post. It’s not a problem of time, but a matter of motivating myself to start. Once I’ve started writing, it usually is OK.

    Another problem: keeping on top of my TBR. I know lots of people just let it grow, but I don’t want that. I want to read everything I get within a decent time frame. But it’s going out of hand.

    Re: the panel – how nice you’re on it!!! Don’t worry too much, you’ll be talking to the same people you’ve been blogging to. It’s just us!!! (Although I won’t be there, I’d love to, though!)

  5. I find it hard to balance blogging, a social life, boyfriend time and a full course load. During the semester it is a lot to deal with and sometimes one thing or another gets pushed aside (usually homework lol!).

    Review copies for book tours are especially tricky because I have to plan time out to make sure the review is ready for my assigned day. And the number of books I need to read (for whatever reason) never seems to go down which is a little scary. I enjoy the challenge but it is definitely tricky!

  6. I really wish I could be there. It sounds like there will be some fantastic information. The biggest problem that I have is time management. Having the time to read the books, write thoughtful reviews and participate in the blogging community.

    You’ll be a great panelist!

  7. No! I wasn’t there last year and I won’t be there this year. It is a matter of money and childcare…no support system and a husband that works too much to be able to manage my kids’ schedules. Someday perhaps.

    I have two big issues with blogging. One is just managing all of it. The commenting, answering e-mails, writing reviews, and pray tell, READING. And here is the real zinger…I stay at home! I don’t sit around and eat bon bons, but you would think I have more time than the average blogger. My other issue is just finding constant inspiration to write 140+ reviews a year. Sometimes I’m just not feeling the mojo!

  8. My biggest challenge is time management. Between my “real” 40+ hour/week job, making time to be social and do things with family and friends, and then finding the time to read books and write posts, sometimes it’s a struggle to make sure I’m not just “phoning it in.” I’ve started making myself take regular “blog vacations” where I deliberately put my blog on hold for a week or two just to catch my breath and to give myself the chance to stockpile posts. That way, when I return, I’m ahead of schedule.

    My other challenge, to some degree, is trying to stay relevant. I don’t really seek out many ARCs, so most of the time, I don’t read a book until it’s published and I buy it from the store. In the book blogging world, though, this means my review, when it’s written, is “late” in the sense that many other people have already written about the same book days or weeks before. I don’t want to be a broken record, but with really popular books, sometimes I wonder if my post is just white noise.

  9. I can’t make BBC this year, but plan on attending next. I don’t write a book blog but, do blog daily. I have to agree with the others, it is scheduling life with throwing in guest postings and such it just all gets stressful. Any help on that would be divine.

  10. I think for me the biggest problem is balance — or maybe all the problems can be fit into that label. Balance between blogging and reading, between blogging/reading and life. Between books with expectations and books read on a whim.

  11. I sooo wish that I could go just to meet ya. However, that is a big trek for me and just isn’t in the cards.

    Like others have mentioned, balance is something that I am always struggling with. Speaking of, we really need to come up with a better word for that as it applies to blogging and more specifically, book blogging. It just doesn’t fit and is so over-used. Not to mention, when talking to non-bloggers, they just don’t get how much weight that word really carries.

    The great thing about book blogging is that we are constantly exposed to new authors, genres, books, etc. That is also the bad thing though, I want to read them all! There are times that I feel so overwhelmed when it comes to choosing my next book and even worse, I get emails everyday from authors and PR companies with pitches. Saying no is really tough for me and I am always afraid that the one I say no to might just be “the one”. You know what I mean, “the one” that will change my life forever. (books have that power, don’tcha know)

    Then there are those books that I really like, that may be from a first time author, and possibly may even have been self published. I really want to be the head cheerleader for them, but I am so pushed out, that it is hard to really support them as much as I would like too. For example, I have Q&A interview type things going on with 5 authors right now. I LOVED their books and want to help them get the word out, but it takes so much time when thrown in with my other writing commitments and everything else going on. (Like why did I decide that taking a screenwriting class would be easy and a great lark??)

    So, balance, saying no & not regretting it, and telling myself that it is okay not to be the head chearleader are the things that I struggle with in book blogging.

  12. I’m so looking forward to this presentation! For me, it’s how to make reviews different when they are books of the same genre, specifically chick lit. I’ll be honest – I love them but sometimes there are only so many different things I can say about them and I my goal is always to keep my content fresh.

  13. I find my biggest challenge specific to BOOK blogging is actually making time to read books! Reading other blogs – on various topics, not just books – is a big part of what “being a blogger” means to me, and I try to write something every day. But one reason I post about things other than books is that I just don’t read books fast enough to do nothing but reviews. Somewhat related to the general challenge of making time to read is fitting in books that I don’t have a specific obligation to read (review, tour, group, etc.).

    I’ll be moderating the “Blogging for a Niche Market” panel at BBC – looking forward to seeing you there!

  14. Finding topics to talk about is something I often have difficulty with, because not only should it be interesting but you want to write something that hasn’t been covered before – or at least not recently. I like to post a review, then regular post, then review, etc, but I keep having to post two reviews back to back instead for lack of other inspiration.

    Congrats on being a panelist. I’d love to go to the convention but from the UK it would cost too much at that moment.

  15. I think it’s a challenge to write thoughtful, meaningful reviews enough times per week that will draw in readers, but not so many that people will either skip over them or stop following you completely. And if I can’t think of anything new or interesting to say about a book (particularly one that’s been reviewed many times before), often I’ll just scrap the review entirely.

  16. For me it’s definitely managing writing up my book reviews. I wish I had more time to write really in-depth reviews, but I usually only write up my most pressing impressions!

  17. I’m glad to hear you’re better in time for the BBC – I envy you being there, and would love to go myself some day! Alas, I’m home coughing away myself this weekend – bronchitis is rampaging around the country it seems.

    The most challenging part of book blogging is actually writing about the books. I try to write more of my impression of the book than an actual review – how did it affect me, how does it relate to something in my own life or experience, what moved me about it. When I sit and talk about books with my friends, those are the kinds of things I enjoy hearing. It’s a challenge to get the balance just right – between providing enough information so that people can decide if it’s something they might want to read, and relaying my own ideas about it.

    I love your blog, Meg, and I think you get it right every time 🙂

  18. Time Management will probably the most salient issue covered on your panel; but for me, the biggest issue is “How much do I want blogging to define me?” After prioritizing blogging *after* my professional career and that of a mother and wife, the guilt that used to come after not blogging as frequently as I might have liked pretty much disappeared. Granted, because I review audiobooks, daily posts would have been an unrealistic goal to begin with; but putting blogging in perspective in my life, preventing me from cluttering up my blog with “drive-by reviews,” memes and, writing just for the sake of writing.

  19. Thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses — I really appreciate it! Working on our panel now and looking forward to sharing the results.

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