Armchair BookExpo: Introductions and Best Practices

Posted May 31, 2017 by Lory in events / 60 Comments

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was planning to go to Book Expo this year but then changed my mind. However, I’m happy to participate in the “Armchair” version, which I discovered in my first year of blogging and have enjoyed ever since!

I’m completing three of this year’s prompts for a quick “about me.” I’ve already done a few introductions, which you can view here or here if you’d like to know more.

  • I am … an unapologetic book addict who loves to interact with other bookaholics. I enjoy reading and talking about the classics but I’m not a snob about genre books. I’m fascinated by how our reading experience changes over time, and I wish I had more time for re-reading. I only started blogging four years ago and I wish I’d done it sooner!
  • My summer plans … include traveling to Switzerland for two weeks to visit my husband’s family. It’s such a beautiful country and I always treasure our time there. We’re also hoping to make a side trip to Colmar, France to see the Isenheim altar. And though I’ve made some efforts over the years, I really want to make some steps in learning German.
  • My current read … is The Path by Michael Puett, a professor who teaches a class on ancient Chinese philosophy that has become the third-most-popular class at Harvard. I received this for review when it came out more than a year ago (oops), but it’s never too late to learn about how to live the good life. I’m also re-reading Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager, which I bought for my son but couldn’t resist dipping into myself for some light-hearted magical fun. And I just downloaded Rebecca, since it’s everyone’s favorite du Maurier but somehow I haven’t gotten to it yet.
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The other topic for today is Best Practices in the Online Book Community:Let’s talk about our best practices within the book community.  This can range from time management to the use of social media to even ethical obligations.” I don’t feel qualified to tell other people what their best practices should be, but I can share a few things that have become important to me over the past four years.

Respond to comments

The conversation that can grow out of blogging is one of the things I enjoy most about it, so I try to show my appreciation for commenters by responding to them. I also use Comment Reply Notification so that hopefully they are aware of my response and can continue the conversation if they wish. I’m not a “comment back” person — I don’t do a one-for-one reciprocal comment on the other person’s blog each time — but I do try to visit commenters’ blogs when I have a chance.

I don’t expect that anyone else necessarily do what I do, but this is how I feel comfortable interacting with my followers. It’s important to me that they know their comments are read and appreciated.

Be positive

When I started my blog, I decided not to spend time and energy on negative reviews. I only choose to review books that I can recommend, although it may be with reservations or qualifications. I try to find positive aspects in whatever I read, even if the subject matter is depressing. I do not always succeed, but then I don’t write about it.

Mostly I have found other bloggers (and authors and publishers) to be extremely kind and polite, and I try to keep my interactions on that level as well. I’ve never gotten involved in any nastiness, though I know that’s out there.

Know your limits

I have a hard time with this one. I want to read all the books, review all the ARCs, do all the events, visit all the blogs! But I need to be reasonable about what I can manage without feeling undue pressure. This is a hobby, not a job, and it should be fun, not stressful.

Last year I tried to post 3 times a week, this year I’m doing only once or twice, and that has helped somewhat. I also hardly ever ask for ARCs any more, as there are enough older books I want to review already to keep me busy for months. But it’s an ongoing effort for me to find what works while still remaining connected to the bookish community I love.

Please share — what are your best practices?

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60 responses to “Armchair BookExpo: Introductions and Best Practices

  1. Switzerland! That sounds wonderful! Have a wonderful time.

    I appreciate that you always respond to comments. I think it is considerate and kind. I have occasionally left repeated comments on a blog and never gotten a response. That feels like you are talking to a blank wall and then I stop commenting.

    I think blogging is a continually evolving practice. Not just in the big world of the internet but in our own lives. What works for us and our blogs changes from week to week and year to year. As you said, this is a hobby, not a job.

    • I also hate when my comments are never responded to. I can completely understand missing some, or not responding to every single one, but never? I also find it weird when a blogger asks a question in the post, gets comments, but then does not respond to ANY of them. It seems as though they are not paying attention or don’t really care about their initial question. This may not be fair, but it’s the impression I get.

  2. A trip to Switzerland sounds great. Have you tried duolingo for learning German? It is a free app. I used it first for learning French before a trip.

    • I have used Duolingo! I should get back into it though. The most helpful tool I have found, though, is the Pimsleur audio lesson series. I did parts 1-3 and they really helped me get started with listening and speaking.

  3. Sounds like an amazing trip! I hope you will share pictures.
    I studied German in college and absolutely loved it. It’s very structured, so once you learn the rules, it’s pretty easy to follow, if that makes sense.
    And great ideas for best practices. Have an awesome ABE week.

    • How I wish I had learned German in high school and college. If I had had foreknowledge of my future life, I surely would have. However, now I have to catch up!

  4. Very nice getting to know a little more about you. Switzerland this summer sounds fabulous. I’ve been to Germany several times (with no real German), but for some reason never made it over to Switzerland.

    I really like what you had to say about knowing your limits. That can really be a struggle. Like you, I’m working on it.

    • If you have a chance, Switzerland is worth a visit. I have not spent much time in germany, on the other hand, so that would be nice to do some day.

  5. Wonderful best practices!! And enjoy Switzerland this summer! Will you be posting photos on this blog? I’d love to see them! 🙂

  6. Great introductions…thanks for letting us get to know you better.

    I have visited your blog on a few occasions.

    Good Best Practices – leaving comments and replying to blog comments is essential to building bridges to better blogger interaction and communication.

    I do limit my ARCs….I can’t possibly read all of the books offered. I would love to ask for all of them, but not humanly possible to read and review them.

    Thanks for sharing, and have a fun week.

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    Armchair BookExpo Introduction

  7. I haven’t asked for any ARCs yet this year, but have received a few anyway and have won a couple of giveaways. And I’m still struggling to keep up with everything I want to read/devour! But of course, this is a fun problem to have. 🙂
    Your trip sounds wonderful!!

    • I know, some publishers keep sending me ARCs even though I don’t ask for them…well, I don’t feel obligated to review those at least but I wish they could get to someone who does want to. Maybe I will offer some on the blog at some point.

  8. Yes yes to know your limits! I tried to do too much at first and now I know to scale it back because all those unread arc requests were depressing ha.
    Enjoy your fun summer travel!!

  9. I still struggle with wanting to read/review *all* the books. I’ve gotten a lot better about being okay with writing short reviews or review roundups of similar books.

    (I’ll also join the chorus of people who loved Rebecca. Hope you enjoy it!)

  10. Essentially, what pretty much everyone else said! I’ve travelled through Switzerland but never stopped, and sadly still haven’t got round to Germany, so really envy you now!

    Your best practice points I heartily concur with; they confirm what I believe to be your innate and quintessential self, namely charitableness: trying to find something good about what you encounter and to express that positively.

    • Well, at least you got to enjoy some of the lovely Swiss scenery, I hope. And I do try to be positive — it’s not always easy, but it makes life more enjoyable! Thanks for your nice comments.

  11. Now, if you’re going to Switzerland, you’re going to readd something from the Romantics, right? Shelley’s Frankenstein? Shelley’s Mont Blanc? 🙂

    • Good idea! I think I have Frankenstein on my e-reader, or if not, maybe I can check it out. However, we’re not actually going to the Alps this time. We can admire them from afar though.

  12. Enjoy your vacation. Sounds wonderful!

    I look forward to your review of Rebecca. I am very curious as to your thoughts.

    I second the importance of responding to comments and appreciating it.

    • Got to get Rebecca on my e-reader so I can start it…it’s one of the most highly recommended books I have seen around the blogosphere.

  13. Knowing my limits is something I struggle with too. I’ve had to cut way back on blogging this year because of other commitments, and I still find myself occasionally taking on something extra that I don’t really have time to do! Like you, I’ve also stopped requesting so many ARCs and that has helped a lot, but part of me misses being really up-to-date on newly published titles. But I have found that cutting back has made it easier to focus on the networking aspect of blogging, which I was definitely neglecting in previous years. Great post!

    • I know what you mean about missing being up-to-date. I did enjoy that about the ARCs. However, it’s interesting to me that I do not get as many comments on new books — probably because no one has had a chance to read them yet! The most interesting discussions develop around older books and classics that a lot of people have read, so I tend to gravitate there more now.

  14. I like your philosophy on commenting. I don’t always respond to every comment, nor do I always reciprocate the visit. I appreciate every comment I get, but I don’t always have anything to say that will add to the conversation. And when I do reciprocate the visit, that doesn’t mean there’s going to be a recent post that I have much to say about.

    I also like your piece about knowing your limits. It’s hard not to commit internally to reading every book that sounds great, but that’s also how my TBR got way out of control haha

    • I also feel it’s important to have something meaningful to say. If I visit a commenter’s blog and I really can’t find anything to comment on, I don’t. And sometimes my reply on my own blog is just “thank you,” but that’s meant sincerely.

  15. Wow, Switzerland. I hope you have a phenomenal time! I think knowing your limits is a really important part of being a successful blogger. Blogging isn’t fun if you’re always stressed about it. Enjoyed reading your introduction and blogging practices!

  16. I’m like you with wanting to read all the books and get all the ARCs. I’m working on that though. It is so hard! Commenting is something so important and when I get too busy to comment every day I get a little stressed about that too. Thanks so much for stopping by my Intro post earlier!

    • I’m kind of glad that in general I don’t get more comments on my blog than I can handle! If I couldn’t keep up I would be sad.

  17. OMG, enjoy Colmar, so pretty, plus now all the geraniums will be in bloom at windows.
    Rebecca is fantastic. After, if you like it, who doesn’t?, I highly recommend you read Daphné’s recent biography: Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay. Excellent!

    By the way, as I am here, I have a question about the Tweak Me Theme. At the bottom you have 3 columns that you use for 3 Goodreads shelves. Is it possible to tweak that as well, and use these 3 columns for other things, including a list of links for instance?? Thanks

    • I would like to read more about du Maurier’s life, so the bio is a great recommendation – thanks!

      As for the Tweak Me question, you can access those columns at the bottom in “Appearance – Widgets.” You can put whatever widget you want in Footers #1, 2, and 3 — I put the UBB Goodreads widget, but you could do a text list or HTML I’m sure. Good luck!

  18. This just confirms what I have surmised about you through your reviews and other communications: you are a very nice, deep and committed to your own growth and health person. Good luck with your Armchair BookExpo…and Auf Wiedersehen 🙂

  19. A trip to Switzerland sounds like wonderful summer plans! I hope you have a lovely time.

    Incidentally, I comment in the same fashion as you. I don’t comment back, but I try to reply to every comment on my blog. If someone new comments, I visit their blog to see if I might like to follow them. When I leave a comment on someone else’s blog, I appreciate at least a ‘like’ to know that they read my comment, otherwise I feel like “What’s the point in commenting?”. If I leave a substantial comment more than a few times with no acknowledgement, I’ll stop commenting.

    My opinion on negative reviews has also evolved a lot since I started blogging. I’ve noticed I’ll be a lot more careful about what I say if I know an author is active in the online book community, ex. on Twitter. But I don’t want to censor myself – I still want to keep a record of my thoughts on a book, even if they aren’t the most positive. Thankfully I have gotten better at picking up books I would at least give three stars to, so there aren’t a lot of solely negative reviews.

    (It turns out I do have a lot to say on best practices, haha…I’ve seen a lot of great posts on the topic to spur my thoughts.)

    • I thought you would have something to say about this topic! 🙂

      I have actually done a few negative reviews, when it was in the context of a challenge or other event and I ended up reading a book I did not like at all (The Witches of Eastwick springs to mind). That was an interesting and useful exercise, as I had to try hard to find reasons for my dislike, so it was not just personal ranting. But in general I just would rather write about books I like and want to recommend. Otherwise, I usually prefer forgetting about them as soon as possible.

  20. I, too, am an unapologetic book addict! And proud of it! 🙂

    I hope you have a fabulous time in Switzerland! That would be amazing. I’ve never been overseas.

    Great tips, too!

  21. Rebecca is on my TBR mountain, too. Your “know your limits” best practice really resonates with me. For me, it’s a struggle to find a good work/kids/blog/read balance. I probably spend more time on my blog than I should (time I could spend reading!) but it’s a labour of love. I try to find chunks of time when I can blog ahead and schedule my posts to help free me up and that does help keep.

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