Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BBAW: Your Book Blogging Community Building

Today's topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is finding and building community.  If you're starting off as a book blogger these days, welcome aboard! You're joining a vibrant, busy, diverse group of readers and writers and we call can't wait to see what you have to offer.  Probably, you'll accrue followers and fans pretty quickly, and you'll get on board with the publicists and publishers who work with bloggers. Before long you'll have lots of books to read and lots of new friends with whom to share them. That's the good news.

The other news is that finding your place in all this is going to take some work on your part. But how to get started? The first thing I think any new blogger needs to do is define him or herself. Why are you blogging? What kinds of books are you interested in? From there, you can seek out community leaders in your niche via Twitter or LibraryThing or GoodReads. Connecting with the social-media-sphere will make a big difference, especially the specialty book sites. Prominent, popular bloggers will help you connect to others; check out their blog rolls, see who comments on their posts and check out the blogs they recommend.

Then, start talking to people. Get on Twitter and reach out; Twitter is like a giant chat room that gives you the opportunity to have more personal, more casual conversations. Join a meme or two, like Sunday Salon or Musing Mondays or find another one at the Daily Meme. Memes are a great way to put yourself on the map when you're just getting started. Sample lots of different blogs and comment like crazy- but try to avoid generic commenting ("Great post! Check out my blog at!). Participate in community events- like BBAW. Run a giveaway- everyone likes free stuff and doing so will draw attention to your blog.
Joining a challenge, like the Complete Booker Challenge, will put you in touch with like-minded readers right away. Challenges are amazing for bringing together readers who share interests. From the get-go you're in with people who want to explore the same kinds of books- instant book friends.

For advanced community building, you could start your own blog challenge. My friend Liberty and I started The Europa Challenge earlier this year, and this effort has introduced me to lots of great bloggers who love the books I love, and it helped me get to know one of my favorite publishers better, too. (Yes, I'm pimping out my own project- but that's how it works. Promote yourself! People won't come to you if they don't know you're there.)

Finally, try to connect with bloggers in your community. If you're headed to a reading, put something out on Twitter or Facebook asking if anyone else wants to do a meetup. The very first tweetup I attended was one I suggested as a half-joke and I ended up meeting one of my best friends in the local literary community. Nothing beats turning those online chat-room pals into real-life friends. Channel your inner extrovert and make an effort to make friends by showing an interest in others. It works!

Just be patient, and be consistent, and be open to trying new things all the time. Before long you'll be swimming in new books, new friends and more fun than you could have imagined.
After reading some comments and some other posts I wanted to add a few things.
  • Read-alongs are another great way to get to know other bloggers. Is someone you like setting one up? Join up even if the book isn't something you normally read. Stretch yourself and make new friends.
  • If you don't live in an area rich with other bloggers, try getting involved in a book club in your neighborhood or house of worship. People like me who live in major metropolitan areas forget that we live in a bubble, and that folks in other areas have to try harder for IRL friendships.
  • It's all about your personality (and thanks to Sandy of You've Gotta Read This for reminding me!). People will come to your blog out of curiosity or because of a common interest. They stick around (and link to you and recommend you) because they like you.
  • It's supposed to be fun. If it's not, scale back and readjust. It's ok!


mel u said...

try to avoid a generic comment here but these are some very good suggestions-they are similar to mine but not completely so

Hi, I am stopping by from the Philippines to visit your blog via the list of posts for Day Three

Please Stop by My Blog if you Like

Sandy Nawrot said...

Oh, Marie! You get the "belly laugh of the day" award. These generic comments. HAHAHA

But seriously, all very good advice. I could have used this words of wisdom three years ago!

bermudaonion said...

Great advice! I think Twitter has really made the book blogging world smaller. said...

I like how you kept it all on the positive tip here and also gave ideas to new bloggers. All good advice, of course -- not that I'd expect anything less from you. :)

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

And even in my third year of blogging I have learnt something here. Thanks Marie. I'll work on this.

Zibilee said...

Lots of wise little nuggets here today, and some that I hadn't ever thought of before! Like Sandy, I love your snippet on generic comments as well. I think starting a new blog these days, when there are so many out there can be pretty hard, so a lot of these tips seem tailored to making blogging easier and a lot more fulfilling. There is really something here for everyone!

Erin said...*giggle*...

I wish there were more bloggers in my area, or that I could find them! I envy those of you in big cities with lots of IRL bloggy friends. Still, you have plenty of other great advice here!

gautami tripathy said...

BBAW too is kinda closed. The same blogs are chosen over and over again with some exceptions.

Memory said...

Great pointers! I especially agree with you about challenges. I joined RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril) shortly after I started blogging, and it helped me connect with many other bloggers. I'm still friends with a lot of the people I met through that challenge.

Meredith said...

I really like your emphasis on challenges. I know some readers don't like them (for whatever reason), but I decided to participate in two during this year and I'm already reading different genres that I probably wouldn't have thought to seek out. As a result, I'm interacting with different kinds of book bloggers. Voila - community!

Kathleen said...

There are some great tips here and I especially like the last one about having fun. At the end of the day this is a hobby for most of us.

Amy said...

All fantastic advice, especially re the challenges.

Michelle said...

Great comments but your last one resonates the most with me. Blogging is all about having fun; if it isn't, it's time to regroup, reassess and enjoy!