Saturday, June 1, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 - Day 5 Part 1 - Keeping It Real

Day 5 of Armchair BEA is about "Keeping it Real" and Children's/Young Adult Literature.

What exactly does "keeping it real" mean? The meaning lays in keeping. How do you not only grow an audience, but how do you keep them coming back for more? If you have been around for years, how do you keep your material fresh? How do you continue to keep blogging fun?

What immediately comes to mind for me when I hear "keeping it real" in relation to blogging is that I need to maintain who I am and my honesty throughout my reviews, my blog. In other words..."I've just got to do me." I can only be me. I've seen multiple bloggers (and have kind of myself) fall into the trap of going with the "popular" crowd. They read the books that everyone else is reading because that's what everyone else is reading. But these books or topics or whatever aren't what they are passionate about. Reading then becomes not necessarily a chore...but it's no longer effortless either. And thus blogging suffers as a result.

I have found that whenever I'm reading something that I'm not passionate about, I can only read a few pages at a time, and then I stop reading altogether for a while. I feel guilty if I try to read a different book because that is not "the one I need to be reading." So what do I do when something is no longer fun or become overwhelming? I drop it altogether. I've discussed, here, how hard it is for me to DNF a book for WHATEVER the reason. And I also agree with the philosophy that there needs to be ratings and reviews out there for the books that aren't so good so that our readers aren't only getting the happy, peppy, gushy reviews that come with books we love. We need balance.

However, I find it hard to criticize someone else's hard work. I know how difficult it must be to actually get a story from your head onto paper and then to get it published (although that last part is a lot easier these days than it used to be with self publishing). Whether the story completely sucks or not, someone put a lot of work into it. But I still find that the only way that I can "keep it real" is by giving it an honest review.

As for keeping my followers and keeping people coming back for more...well...I did work so hard to get them in the first place that I don't want to run them off. But at the same time, I've grown past the stage in my life where I want everyone to love me. Sure that's nice and all, but I don't "need" it. I'm happy with who I am. I love myself for who I am. And that includes my opinions and all. I was reading Julie @ Angler's Rest's post about blogger development and one piece of her advice was to have the confidence to say what you would say to the person standing next to you. If a reader doesn't like it, they don't have to read your (my) blog. I, of course, love and treasure anyone who actually reads what I write, but I don't write for them. I didn't start the blog for them. I started it for me...I read for me...I write for me. It's the only way any of this is worth it.

I have spent some time trying to come up with some "original" content. I've recently started a feature where I re-read books that I read before blogging and finally do a review on them. It's called "From the Ashes" (here's my first post). I have a similar feature that I haven't implemented yet, but will be called "Upon Further Review" where I re-read a book I've already reviewed and tell you if my original "call" stands or if the "call" has been overturned. (This is totally inspired by football where the coaches challenge a call on the field, if you didn't pick up on that already, and even though I'm actually the opposite of a football fan, I think it's a cool application to book reviews--you heard it here first.)

So I'm constantly trying to come up with some original features and content, but so far I haven't gotten into a blogging "rut" enough to where I felt like I need to re-fresh my content or my passion. Blogging is still fun because it's fun, and I think a large part of that is because I'm trying to "keep it real."

What do you guys think? How do you "keep it real?"


  1. Your new feature ideas are great, can't wait to read them on your blog!!

  2. I consider my time valuable, so if a book isn't worth my time it isn't going to be finished. I've got more books on my stack and in my kindle that need my attention - and more being published ;) that will need a review.
    I like that you want to publish an 'honest' review - I think negative reviews, which I've finally got the guts to post, can serve as a positive check to authors. What works|what doesn't. And maybe they need to see their writing thru a different pair of eyes. Yours count!
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. A lot of the things you touch on, especially this part: I started it for me...I read for me...I write for me. It's the only way any of this is worth it. are the reasons I created a blogging manifesto; a document that works to remind me of the reasons I started blogging so I don't get caught up in the hype or trying to be a part of the "popular" crowd.

    I've decided to stop requesting review copies (for now) so I can work through the group of books that I proactively went out and purchased, in the hopes that I find a few more 4-5 star reads. I've been reading a lot of mediocre books lately :(

  4. Oh! And I love the sounds of both of your features! I've thought about doing something where I review books I read before blogging, but I've got too many new books to spend time re-reading right now! Haha

  5. I agree. Time is valuable. Opportunity cost, right? And you're completely right, I think authors and publishers need constructive criticism just as much as they need praise. Thanks for your comment and encouragement!

  6. That's a great idea. If I ever do a post like that, I'll have to be sure to link back to you so I remember where the idea came from. :)

    I haven't been approving many of the requests I've been getting from authors directly, and I've only been requesting from NetGalley ones that I'm thoroughly excited about reading. I went through a spell last year where I read a bunch of mediocre books in a row and it can really bring you down. Focus on what you love for a while and hopefully that'll bring some of your passion back.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  7. I know EXACTLY what you mean! I've always been a re-reader, but since blogging, I have done very little re-reading. I thought these features might be a great way that I can incorporate re-reading with actually posting about them on the blog--that way I don't feel guilty for the re-reads. Thanks again!

  8. I think I'm just beginning to get past the stage where I want everyone to love me. It's easier online, but I think it's absolutely necessary when it comes to blogging. Not everyone will like what you have to say, and that's OK.

  9. Wonderful post and yes I am so at the stage in my life too, I am confident in who I am and am not out to win any awards, and ya know what I think people sense how genuine we are through our reviews, interaction and actions that the followers come and the friendships build. I am not a drama mama and my life is good!

  10. I think you're right. People can usually tell when you're faking and when you're genuine. And amen to keeping the drama out. Life has enough drama of it's own. Thanks for reading!

  11. I loved what you said about writing for you, because you love it. Such the perfect attitude to have. <3

    Thanks for stopping by my post!

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  12. Thanks Sara. That's the only way it makes sense to me! Thanks for returning the favor!

  13. It can be really hard to move past that...but I think like you said, it's easier to do online! Everyone is different and everyone has different yeah, it's okay for not everyone to love me. Thanks so much for stopping by!