Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Taking Stock

I've had this blog for 7+ years and it's really changed a lot.  When I started it was an extension of the SF/Fantasy newsletter I printed up and handed out at the store.  It contained a listing of all the books coming out the following month and book/film reviews by staff members of the World's Biggest Bookstore.  I then started posting my endcap display lists as reading lists.

About a year later I started posting my book reviews on this, my professional blog, rather than my personal blog.  And while my personal blog has since fallen to the wayside, this blog is still here.  I've kept it professional and focused.  And I'm wondering if that's what you, my readers, like.

In response to all the posts about blogs being eligible for Hugo nominations, Fantasy Book Cafe did an interesting post where she mentions that a lot of great blogs by women aren't being mentioned by these posts.

Which made me wonder how many book blogs by women I actually read.  I use google reader to keep track of my rather large blog list.  I also follow mostly industry blogs (publishers, book news sites, SF news sites, editors, authors, agents).  In fact, I only follow a few fellow bloggers, and they're mostly people I know from SF Signal.  It turns out I'm only following one female blogger (Fantasy and Sci-Fi Lovin' News and Reviews) - by which I mean, women who review books. (I do follow a few aggregate sites, like The Susquehenna Writers and Fantasy Book Critic but on the whole I don't follow many book bloggers).  So I can't properly judge the validity of the following comment made by Fantasy Book Cafe with regards to women's review blogs:

However, I find it a worrying trend that just like female authors, female book bloggers are also being overlooked [with regards to Hugo nominations]. 
I’m wondering if it may partially be because female book bloggers seem to be more eclectic than a lot of male book bloggers. Most of the blogs run by men I read almost exclusively read and review science fiction and fantasy while most of the blogs by women I read review some fantasy and/or science fiction but tend to read and review books in other genres as well. Even if they don’t necessarily review SFF 100% of the time, there are a lot of great blogs run women raising awareness about great science fiction and fantasy authors.

I'm afraid of the classification that all blogs by women are eclectic, mainly because mine isn't.  And once people have decided on a stereotype it's hard to change their minds about it, even when they know a stereotype isn't true for individual situations.  I've made sure that the only posts going up here deal with science fiction, fantasy and their subgenres in some fashion or other.  And I don't want readers to avoid my site because I'm a female blogger and must therefore blog about a wide variety of non sf/fantasy related things.

Then again, maybe that's a problem with my blog.  That it's too focused.

So here's my question.  Do you like my blog?  Is it too focused?  Are there posts you don't like or posts you'd like to see more of (author interviews, book reviews, movie reviews, author spotlights, artist spotlights, books received, upcoming books, etc.)?

I spoke with a friend who mentioned that her blog gets more hits when she mentions personal issues.  And looking at the author blogs I follow (Jim Hines, Lynn Veihl and Malinda Lo), they all mention personal things, or at least non-book related things, fairly often.

I don't really want to do that.  I like keeping this blog professional and focused on SF/Fantasy works.  Having said that though, I would like reader input so I can improve this blog and perhaps attract new readers.

Please leave a comment telling me something constructive (eg: 'I want to see fewer new author spotlight posts.' Please don't give general comments like 'your site's great' or 'this site sucks').  Let me know why you come here, what you'd like to see more of or less of.  Help me make this an even better site.  Conversely, if you like everything I'm doing already, let me know of new things you'd like to see here.  Because there's always room for improvement.


Anonymous said...

If it's pageviews you want, generally you get more traffic by being more opinionated. Some people achieve that with overly personal sharing. Some achieve that by having a very distinctive "voice" to their content, see for example Ben Croshaw's game reviews:

That may not be your style exactly. However, if you wanted to create a widely-read book review site, I would advise you to have and develop and promote some sort of distinctive style/feel to it. Not everyone will like a distinctive style. But some people will, and they'll tell their friends.

Paul Weimer said...

Hi Jessica,

Getting noticed as a book blogger is tough and I suspect that female bloggers, not overly common on the ground is more so.

I do like the "genre" focus of the blog. Sometimes I do want a genre hit and not more personal stuff.

In the end, though, Jessica, the blog is for the writer, first. (Just like people write books they want to read).

What do YOU want to blog and write about?

Jessica Strider said...

@ Anonymous - I think I'm looking more for long time viewers rather than simple page hits. I guess that's why I'm afraid of messing with my site - I might lose some of my current audience.

But you have a point that individual voice on a blog is part of the fun of reading them. I purposely kept my voice out of it when I started as at the time it was more connected with the store and I didn't want any controversy attached to the blog (and by extension looking bad on the store). When I turned it into my personal professional blog I didn't really consider adding more of a voice to the entries.

@ Paul - I know I want to write SF and fantasy reviews and bring awareness to authors via interviews, etc. but that doesn't mean I shouldn't add voice or mix up my content more. That's where I'm wondering what my readers actually come here for - and how I can better serve your interests. Doesn't mean I'll use all the suggestions I get though. ;)

Anonymous said...


I subscribe to few blogs. I've been following you for quite some time. I found yours from the WBB. You do throw some personal stuff out there, usually where it's related to books but it's certainly nothing that has made me skip over it.

I do rather enjoy the monthly breakdown of upcoming books. You should consider using an Indigo and/or Amazon referal link on each book to drive a little revenue.

Jessica Strider said...

@ Anonymous 2: Thanks for the comment. I've considered adding links to the upcoming books post. I'm afraid of the time that would take. I know Amazon has a program that lets you add links and covers to posts easily, maybe Indigo does too. I'll look into that.