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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

On the Topic of Blogging, Blog Tours and Other Miscellany

In Which Courtney Talks About BBAW and Her Blog

So, I haven’t really been active in BBAW at all. I’ve been observing, but that’s about it.

I’m on the outskirts of the book blogging community. I know my blog doesn’t have a huge readership, and that’s not something that bothers me. Yes, I wonder how others get their large following, but not enough to investigate and change my blog in order to get that readership as well. I’m happy with my blog not being one of the hugely popular ones because it means that I can avoid (most) of the drama that’s been appearing in the book blogging community lately.

I know part of it is because I don’t comment on others blogs and I don’t respond to comments as much as I should. I don’t participate in giveaways. I don’t (normally) participate in blog tours – I’ll go into more depth about that later. I have a select few blogs that I read regularly and just skim a number of others – that’s all I have a lot of time for. And that works for me.

I’ve been blogging in one way or another for about a decade. I started Once Upon a Bookshelf in August of 2005, and it’s served me well for what it was started for. At that point in time, I didn’t even know there was a book blogging community. I had a few blogs and a LiveJournal going at the same time that was updated fairly frequently. (Those others languished greatly and disappeared, except the LJ which is now only used to crosspost posts from here.) This blog was started solely for myself, to keep track of what I had read and to help me remember what books I loved or hated, what they were about, etc. That is still the main purpose of my blog – I blog to keep a record of books.

Over the past four years, my blog has evolved. I’ve branched out and started reading other genres. I’ve been challenged to read books that I normally shy away from. And my posts about books have also evolved over the years, more into a general review for a broader audience, but the main purpose is still there – I’m blogging for me.

In Which Courtney Talks About Community

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the community aspect, but that part is just a bonus. What I do love about the community is how I’ve met some really awesome people – not just through the book blogging community, but the blogging community in general – and how I’ve reconnected with other people I knew back in the day.

Take Rachel for example. We lived on the same floor in residence at university for a semester, before she up and changed schools. (Not that I stuck around for too much longer after that.) We had a lot of shared interests when we met – a love for White Christmas, RENT, and L.M. Montgomery (she, after all, introduced me to the wonder that is The Blue Castle) – but we lost contact with each other for a period of time until we started communicating through blogs.

Blogging is also how I met the lovely Sabrina and Megan (both of whom I completely adore), how I got back in touch with Erin (a friend from back in the UCC days), and part of how I stayed in touch with Shannon (who is quite possibly one of the awesome people I know). I’ve met (“met?”) a bunch of others, some of whom I can’t link to as they no longer have blogs. And then there are those strictly from the book blogging community itself.

And this community has a lot of awesome people. People I’ve obsessed about Harry Potter with. People who get the whole staying-up-until-4am-because-this-book-is-so-good thing. Other people my age who understand that YA books aren’t just for teens. So many awesome people, and they’ve made this all a lot of fun.

But at the same time, I’m not the best with replying to comments, or posts on my Facebook wall, or e-mails, so I don’t always build those relationships that other book bloggers seem to have. And I don’t have as many non-review posts that other book bloggers have, so this blog doesn’t have the same amount of personalization that others do.

Okay, that went on a tangent and I don’t know how to segue into the next thing I wanted to talk about, so I’ll just randomly change topics now!

In Which Courtney Talks About Her Fear of Commitment

There’s been a lot of debate about blog tours – whether they are beneficial, whether they are morally right and good, whether bloggers should actually participate in them or not. And you know what? If someone wants to participate in a blog tour, that’s great. Good for them. It’s their blog. Not all of the blogs I read participate in all of the same blog tours, and I can tell you right away that if I read too many blogs that are all blogging about the same book around the same time (whether through a blog tour or not), I get annoyed with the book and have no desire to read it (hence why I’m avoiding The Hunger Games and Catching Fire). But it does build up publicity for the book, and it seems to work for the publishers, which is awesome for the publishers. It gets people buying books – yay!

As stated, I’ve avoided blog tours partially because of that annoyance factor, but I’ve actually agreed to participate in one this month. Hypocrite, I know. But this book would’ve been something that I would’ve went out and purchased anyway. (Joy Preble’s Dreaming Anastasia.)

And the other reason I’ve been avoiding blog tours? The commitment factor. Oh gods, the commitment! I have a phobia of commitment. It’s the reason I am 28 and still very happily single after never being in a serious relationship ever. So, the fact that I have to be committed to posting about a book on a certain date has always terrified me – what if I wasn’t able to finish it by that date? Oh, the pressure!!

In Which Courtney Sums It Up In A Short List

Right. So, in a nutshell:

  • I still blog for me
  • Though, community is awesome, even if you’re on the outskirts
  • I don’t participate in blog tours normally because I’m terrified of commitment
  • This could quite possibly be the longest blog post I have ever written

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 9:30 pm September 18, 2009.
Category: Day to Day

  • Kailana

    I like your blog the way it is. :) I’m mostly on the outskirts of blogging, too, or, at least… I think I am! I mean, my blog is only a couple of months younger than yours and there are people that have been blogging for a month that get more readers and comments than me. I participate, but I don’t really say a lot about all the drama either. It’s funny you did this post, actually, because I was going to do one too! Instead I did a Friday Friends post. But, so much of what you say is what I was thinking too!

    I am very glad that I met you, though!

  • kiirstin

    Just to freak you out, I’m going to de-lurk and comment, because I feel much the same as you on many counts. Um, which would explain why… I’m commenting? Moving on…

    I feel the same way about blog tours, and I also feel that way about challenges, actually. I don’t want my reading – or blogging – to feel like work. The minute it feels like something I *have* to do, instead of wanting to do it, is the minute I will stop. I know this. So, no challenges, few memes, absolutely no book tours, and I’ll be avoiding ARCs and review requests from authors in the future because the one I have said I’ll read is still in my basket and I feel *sick* about not reviewing it yet. Too much pressure.

    /de-lurking ended, I’m retreating to the shadows again…

  • Bella

    Hi, I actually found your blog by accident. A friend has a new one called Once Upon a Bookcase but I thought it was Once Upon a Bookshelf, and I found yours and decided to lurk a while.

    I love everything you’ve said, and have to say I agree with a lot of it. I first started blogging and accepting ARCs but the pressure of it all hasn’t gotten too much, just as Kirstin said. I like that BBAW gives us time to reflect and wonder what we are doing and re-evaluate.

    Anyway I mainly wanted to stop in and say hello, and like what you are doing.

  • Court

    Kelly – Thank you! :) And I’m very glad I met you too – we Canadian bookaholics need to stick together.

    Kiirstin – thanks for delurking. :) And yes – that’s exactly what challenges start to feel like! Work! I do enough of that during the day, I don’t want to do that at night. :)

    Bella – well, thanks for stopping by, even if it was by mistake. :)

  • Nymeth

    What Kailana said. I love what you do, and hope you keep doing it. Also, I know how you feel about review copies and ARCs and all that. I don’t deal with pressure very well either. And I don’t mind if others do blog tours, but seeing a book everywhere does seem to make it less likely that I’ll pick it up.

  • Court

    Nymeth – Aww, thanks. :)

  • shannon

    I’m going to have to take a contrarian stance here… Blogging is all about your readers, and you should always blog about what your readers want. You should do more book tours. All I want to read is book tours. And since blogging is all about your readers, I insist on a book tour. Daily. Preferrably the same book. Over and over.

    You rock lady, see you soon for w(h)ine and cheese(cake)!

    Also, WTF is a book tour? and BBAW?

  • Susan

    i also have no idea what a book tour is! And I have a bad habit of avoiding a book everyone is talking about, hence my catching up to good books years later :-D

    While I try not to lurk, I am sort of in the blogging community though I don’t participate in readathons – I love the idea but simply do not have that time free -I have two very young children; don’t participate in carnivals because I always forget, and I LOVE challenges, but I take them on for me alone, and fail at over half of them. I think blogging is fun but I know for me that I have to be careful to keep it enjoyable, at whatever level that is. It’s all about books, anyway, for me, and the people I meet who also love books, and I am slowly making friends. That is a bonus I didn’t expect when I started! So I think this community can sustain all kinds of level of commitment to it, from sidelines to right in the thick of it.

    So, I love the post, Courtney! You certainly helped me put into words what I too had been learning from watching BBAW from the sidelines and reading everyone’s posts.

  • Court

    Shannon – you would have to be contrary here wouldn’t you? :)

    Susan – Thanks! A book tour is when publishers/marketers/other-groups set up a schedule for a book to appear on different blogs every day for a week, a month, or another period of time. So it shows up everywhere and gets publicity and whatnot. And I forgot about readathons – I don’t have the time for those either, don’t know where people find the time. Anyway, I think the point of it all is to keep blogging fun. If it gets to be considered work, then it’s not something you want to do in your free time, so then why bother?

  • Chris@bookarama

    I’ve noticed with some of the “popular” blogs that the bigger you are the more drama seems to be attracted to the blog. That seems exhausting!

    I do a few blog tours but I do get panicky as the date comes closer and I haven’t even read the book yet.

  • Court

    Chris – Yes, you are completely right – the bigger the blogger is, the more drama surrounds that blog! And it probably would be exhausting. I can’t even imagine how they do it!

  • Kailana

    Man, your blog still isn’t working in my reader. Not that you updated, but still! I don’t want to miss new posts, so I am trying to remember to check on my own. That’s hard!

    Okay, I really just am commenting to whine. lol

  • Stephanie

    Great post! I have been following your blog for awhile and enjoy reading your reviews. I do participate in book tours and get ARC’s, but only for the books I really want to read. I also join challenges and have yet to actually finish one!

    My readership has grown over the last few years, but I try to keep any drama to a minimum and rarely write about any contriversial topic and have tried to keep the focus of book reviews recently. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Court

    Kelly – I’m trying to figure out why it’s not working. :( Makes me sad!!

    Stephanie – Thanks so much! :) I’ve been following you, and yes, you never really seem to have much drama going on, which is totally impressive. The lack of controversial stuff must be a bit portion of it. But sometimes even those who don’t post controversial stuff have the drama thrust upon them. Hmm.

  • Sylvia

    Love this post. :) I must be even more out of the mainstream than you because I didn’t know about the book blog drama and I just learned about blog tours last week. Well, that’s what I get for liking mouldy oldies.

    Shhh, don’t let out the secret about being happily single. Imagine the divorce rate if everyone stopped being terrified of being alone? It would be impossible to find an apartment any more! ;)