A Secret Blogging Alliance?

by Kim on August 26, 2009 · 81 comments

handshakeYesterday morning I tweeted about an article from Problogger about a secret blogging alliance he stumbled across while interviewing one of the members. Basically, it’s a group of seven bloggers, all about the same size in their particular niche, that teleconference weekly and work together on all sorts of blog projects. Of the seven, five blog full-time and the other two could be full-time if they wanted.

Both Jackie (Farm Lane Books) and Beth (BethFishReads) tweeted back after I posted and we had a little conversation about the idea of blogging alliances and how that might or might not work in book blogging.

Both agreed that book bloggers sort of form “alliances” naturally — nothing official, it’s just something that happens when we ask each other for advice on issues that come up with our blogs. Jackie pointed out that women sort of naturally make groups, she said it’s funny that men have to organize them. Beth said she feels zero competition, only community, among book bloggers.

One benefit for the alliance that’s mentioned in the article is that they work together on giveaways (promotion and funding so they can do bigger giveaways). With book bloggers, doing co-giveaways could make it easier to ship internationally. Nymeth (things mean a lot) also chimed in with the idea of an “Angel Network” to try and help fund international giveaways so that more of them could be international. Those both seem like great ideas to me.

I’m still curious about the idea of competition though. For the bloggers in the alliance mentioned in the article, the idea of collaboration seems more of an anomaly because, on some level, these bloggers should be competing with each other for ad revenue in their niche.

Book bloggers, on the whole, don’t have that sort of competition to make your blog a source of income. Most of us blog as a hobby, and I think most don’t do much with ads to make money. But there are other perks to book blogging — ARCs, reviews for bookshelves, author interviews, and recognition from the book publishing community. And as bloggers get even more recognition from publishers, is it possible that competition might make a blogging alliance desirable? I’m not sure, but I’m very curious what you all think after reading the Problogger article.

Do book bloggers compete with each other? Or, because most of us do this as a hobby, the competition fueled by money isn’t there? What do you think of the idea of a blogging alliance, and how might that work in book blogging?

Photo by Rob Gallop

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

ladylynn631 August 26, 2009 at 6:54 am

For me not to impress with blogging.
Can,t even get replies yet alone try to make money at it.at this point would be happy with just replies.
I must have written to over 50 post not one reply.

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Anastasia August 26, 2009 at 9:48 am

I think bloggers do compete with each other, just not for money. We compete for readers, for subscribers, for…other stuff I can’t think of at the moment. I think nearly all of us are working to improve out blogs in some way, and if we weren’t trying to compete with other blogs (or with ourselves?), then I don’t think we’d bother.

(Is that making any sense? I am barely awake here, lol.)

I’m not sure how a blogging alliance would work in book blogging, except maybe in the giveaway sense, but I do think that it’d start a shitstorm of in-crowd/out-crowd complaining. Remember when people were stressing about whether or not they were in the cool crowd of bloggers? Same kinda thing. And even if the out-crowd people wanted to form an alliance with themselves, ain’t nothing as good as being in an alliance with the in-crowd people.

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Natasha @ Maw Books August 26, 2009 at 10:30 am

When I read that article I couldn’t help but think of blogging buddies. I think a lot of us have them and we love them. And yes, we compete in the way that Anastasia mentioned above. But it’s for other things. Not money. And usually, it’s a healthy competition. We all help each other out. Help grow each others blogs.

And many of those in that “secret” blogging alliance were all using blogging as a source of income, so much so that blogging was their livelihood. They worked from home. That’s all they did. The day that a book blogger makes enough money from blogging that it’s their only source of income and they can actually pay all of their bills and go out to dinner every once in a while, well . . . then I’d be “officially” jealous.

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Jackie (Farm Lane Books) August 26, 2009 at 10:49 am

It is a very interesting thought. If I was doing this for money then I would love to form a secret alliance. I love the idea of a secret society!

I think most of us naturally form alliances with those blogs we enjoy. I often post comments on blogs, just because they are my friends. I would be interested in forming alliances with others though. It would be interesting to see what could be achieved if several people worked together to the same goal.

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Nymeth August 26, 2009 at 11:34 am

I agree with Beth Fish: I’ve never felt any competition. I guess it depends on the goals you set for yourself and your blog, and it’s of course perfectly fine that we all have different ones. I also agree with those who said that we already have formed alliances, in the sense that people come together to make cool things happen: helping Amy with BBAW, the Weekly Geeks team, the Nerds Heart YA tournament, etc.

The one thing about the article that makes me uncomfortable is it being secret, though: if I were to link to, promote, stumble or tweet posts by a group of bloggers because we were part of an alliance but didn’t tell my readers that, I’d feel a bit like I was deceiving them, you know?

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Dorte H August 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I don´t feel I am competing with anyone but myself. I want to blog well and get some interested comments, but I don´t think I miss anything because other bloggers get many comments as well. It is not as if people can only follow ONE blog. On the contrary, many bloggers seem to follow so many it makes my head spin.

Obviously I like the idea of more international give-aways. It is one thing that can scare me off American blogs: one post after the other about give-aways – for other Americans. Personally I prefer having a few give-aways but sending books world-wide.

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Melanie August 26, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I agree with Anastasia. We do compete in ways. You’re right as well. These groups form naturally in the book blogging community. I think it could turn interesting if a few people made it official.

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Debbie August 26, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I don’t feel like I compete with other book bloggers, but very occasionally I do feel compared to them. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the idea of a _secret_ alliance (though the article made it sound like a very open secret). I do enjoy the naturally forming groups we get in the book blogging community.

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King Rat August 26, 2009 at 3:35 pm

There’s already a book blogging alliance. The circle of blogs that more or less make up “Book Blogger Appreciation Week” is already a loose alliance that promote each other, sometimes to the exclusion of excellent book bloggers who aren’t part of that circle. That’s not to say folks like Amy don’t write excellent blogs. They often do. I read a number of them every day (including this one).

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Nicole August 26, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I don’t really feel a sense of competition with other book bloggers, although I DO get a case of blogger envy every now and then. ;) But I’m not sure I approach my blog in the same way a lot of other people do. I’m not in it to get recognized by publishers or receive ARCs.

Mostly, when I started reading and researching book blogs, I saw a community with things happening and discussions going on. And I wanted to be a part of that. Badly. I started my own blog as a portal to that community. It’s my platform, the mouth through which I participate in discussions, and my home base for all my book blogging friendships and interactions.

That said, I was really fascinated by this article. Thanks for posting it, Kim. I think there’s a lot of great information there for people looking to get serious about blogging. And I think a lot of it could be adapted by the book blogging community.

A secret alliance though? That sounds like something that would be awfully divisive within a community that accomplishes so much already by standing together.

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Natasha @ Maw Books August 26, 2009 at 4:26 pm

But KingRat BBAW is open to EVERYBODY. No alliance about it. In what problogger is talking about, only a certain number of people get invited and they exclude everybody else.

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Valerie August 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Good discussion going here!

The article was interesting, especially the part about the bloggers leaving comments on each other’s blogs to encourage various readers to also leave comments. I think a lot of commenters feel kind of shy about being the first one to leave a comment, especially if the blogger is relatively new and doesn’t get very many comments yet.

I like the idea of trying to include more international book bloggers. It seems like so many of the ones I see are American, including myself, and I’d love to read more book blogs from other countries’ point of view….although one problem might be (for English speakers) whether they are in English or not.

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Amy @ My Friend Amy August 26, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Interesting!

I tried to start a link exchange group, where a group of bloggers would agree to exchange links on a weekly basis. I opened it to all. For awhile it worked fine, but then it became too much work to keep up with.

When trying to start this group, however, there was tons of resistance about exclusiveness, etc so on and so forth. So I think book bloggers are generally quite opposed to the idea of anything being secret.

And yes BBAW is open to all and I would love to see more blogs take an interest. TBH, I see it more as the so-called excellent blogs excluding me than the other way around.

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Eva August 27, 2009 at 3:31 am

Oh Kim! You’re such a good journalist, throwing out the controversial questions. ;)

I read the article, and I think it’s a great idea to create a support network for yourself as a blogger if you’re really into it…after all, people in your f2f life might not understand or care. Plus, as an example from my own blog, when I was travelling/got sick, it was a great thing I had Marg as a wonderful co-host for Library Loot-otherwise the feature could have just died (and then my TBR list would start to wither away, you know?). The whole secrecy/trying to drive up traffic to increase ad revenue thing isn’t super-relevent to book blogging, but I think the gist of it is good. I also think most people do this in an ‘informal’ way, as the author of the article points out.

Ironically enough, all of the perks you list for book blogging are things that I avoid. I occassionally accept an ARC, and I’ve had one author guest post (by one of my favourite authors ever! woohoo!), but I have no interest in developing ties to the publishing community. Or in getting to know authors personally. For me, it’s about the reader and the book.

As you might have guessed, I fall on the ‘non-competitive’ side as a book blogger. I can’t even imagine what I’d be competing over! When I consciously try to improve my blog (which isn’t that often), I only use myself as a comparison…I should review more of the books I read, I should include more pictures in posts, etc. When I think of book blogging, I think of it as much more about reading than about blogging. About pushing myself as a reader, about discovering new incredible books, about talking with other readers. Of course it makes me happy that people read and comment on my posts (who doesn’t love comments?!), but I don’t really want my blog to grow anymore. And if I had to choose between blogging, or just connecting with other readers (aka book bloggers), I wouldn’t even hesitate. Blogging is a means to an end, not the end itself.

One thing I think would be cool is to have some kind of mentoring system. :D When I was a baby blogger, it was depressing to not have comments/feel to shy to talk to other bloggers/etc. And that was back in ’07, before the community got as huge as it did. I try to find newbie bloggers now and help them out where I can, but it’d be neat to have a formalised resource, like they do in college sometimes. :) And I really like the idea of collaborating on giveaways!

Wow-this was a really long comment! Sorry about that. ;)

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Meghan August 27, 2009 at 4:59 am

I’ve never felt that blogging was a competition. It would certainly be nice if I earned money for it, but I love reading and reviewing what I’ve read, it’s my hobby. The goal isn’t really blogging but getting involved in a community of readers who love what I love. There is so little of that in my day-to-day life that blogging about books gives me an outlet. If it gets me a few free books, great, but since I moved to the UK, this happens far less frequently, and I still love blogging.

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bermudaonion August 27, 2009 at 9:52 am

What a great post and great comments too! The funny thing is, with Twitter, I already feel like I belong to a not so secret blogging alliance. For me, Twitter has been a great source of information and support. I’ve looked at and commented on posts because someone on Twitter has asked me too. I’ve learned about and bought books because of Twitter. The only problem is it can really be a time suck.

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justicejenniferreads August 27, 2009 at 3:02 pm

This is interesting to me because although right now blogging is just a hobby that I’m meddling with, the idea of being able to get ARCs, and test products for free or even make money from blogging is incredibly enticing. I mean isn’t it everyone’s dream to make money doing something they love?

I don’t know … I just feel frustrated with blogging – wishing I started earlier, had more time for it, and could be better at it fight off the bat. The idea of an alliance – of constant assistance is incredibly glorious to me. I know that all the blogs I follow have an incredible amount of knowledge to share about books, blogging, and well, all sorts of stuff!

Great post and an interesting concept. Thanks for sharing!

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Eva August 27, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Let’s test the waters with the mentoring thing. :) It occured to me last night that it wouldn’t have to be one-on-one; I could mentor, say three new bloggers, and they could all support one another as well (perhaps commenting on each other’s blogs?) so it’d be like a little family or something.

I’ll blog about this soon!

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J.T. Oldfield August 27, 2009 at 3:30 pm

My husband is in internet marketing, as many of you know. But what you don’t know is that we’ve been kicking around the idea of making my blog profitable. He has all sorts of ideas, most of which are technical and I don’t really get. It’s part of his plan that includes a few other side projects.

BUT, if, like Natasha said, my blog should ever get to the point where I can pay my bills and go out to dinner every once in a while, I hereby state that I will do everything in my power to promote other blogs, whether they are for done as a hobby or done for money. And if you are crazy jealous, Natasha, you can be first.

It’s a lofty goal to get my blog to that place, but I thought I’d throw it out there for you guys to be able to hold me to what I said if I ever get to that point.

Also, some day when I write the Great American Novel, I’ll thank you guys in the acknowledgements.

Shut up, I am not delusional. ;)

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Rebecca August 27, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I get vibes (and clues) from certain bloggers that they are in competition with me and everyone else, but for the most part I think the book blogging community is very collaborative and friendly. I wonder if the blogging alliance is to help each of the 7 stay on top so that no underdog can take over. Like 7 of the most popular book bloggers banding together to create an alliance so that they always stay the most popular (in fact, I would not be surprised if this has already happened). But luckily with book blogging, it is a lot about individual personalities that come through as well, and not always about who has the biggest giveaways or the most friends or the most ARCs, etc. And that is one reason I continue to enjoy the book blogging community.

I would also like to agree with everyone who has mentioned Twitter as a great way to engage yourself in the community. Terrific discussions (like this one!) are started on Twitter. It is also a simple way to ask for help or feedback, to show off a new blog post or to find new book blogs you did not even know about. I have become friends with people on Twitter and found their book blogs through Twitter. You don’t have to be on it all the time, but it does seem to matter what time of day you are on it.

With Twitter and those who subscribe to my blog and comment a lot, I have found good friends. We are not an alliance, but we do have things in common and we do support one another. Twitter is great for new bloggers. Another great idea for newbies is to visit lots of book blogs and comment. On your posts you can ask for feedback. Sometimes I will ask what someone thinks of what I have written or whether they would read the book I have reviewed. It gives commenters something to write about.

I don’t know about mentoring programs but I would be willing to help out if someone was interested. I know I help out others when I can, sending them links or sharing a Blogger trick with them, or giving them specific positive reinforcement in their reviews and posts. Maybe if we all just do that for each other then we wouldn’t need to designate anyone to anyone else specific.

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Rebecca August 27, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I apologize that I just wrote a book in your comments section.

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Amy @ My Friend Amy August 27, 2009 at 3:48 pm

lOL Rebecca! ;)

Interesting about the 7 bloggers making it so no one else could break out…if there is such an alliance in the book blogging community, I’m unaware of it.

I do have a few bloggers with whom I’ve asked permission to vent when something frustrates me or read something before i post, etc. They are the aforementioned blogging buddies. But I definitely link to others and talk shop with other bloggers and do feel honored when anyone asks my advice. :)

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Jenny August 27, 2009 at 4:04 pm

I hope I am not repeating anyone here. I mostly am addressing the mentoring thing. Has anyone here had a look at Soul Food Cafe? It is a blogging ‘community’ for writers and other ‘creatives’. To encompass so many and so many interests and personalities it is based on a sort of pretend country (stay with me here – I DID say writers and creative types) It is MASSIVE. and complex. Each member needs a blog account to be a part of it ( like a wordpress one). There are tutorials. There are all sorts of ways to be supported. The woman who started it runs blogging workshops everywhere, and particularly works in schools with young adults. She, Heather Blakey, is ALWAYS open to helping ppl. She may be able to make some comments and suggestions. As a template towards the mentoring thing – you might like to take a look.
(And it is free to join) (And I don’t have any vested interest ;-) just fascinated by it)

http://www.dailywriting.net/

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Florinda August 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Since I’m getting here late, my thoughts are a bit rambly – sorry about that!

Re: what Chris said:
“I would feel like I was pulling a fast one on my readers if I was promoting other bloggers only because of an alliance.”

Good point. Related to that, I think that a “secret blogging alliance” in that respect pretty much undercuts the “Blog With Integrity” concept – key relationships are NOT being disclosed.

I do a link roundup nearly every weekend. It’s totally my own, featuring posts that struck some kind of chord with me during the week and that I want to share. I’m promoting other bloggers just because I WANT to. There are some bloggers I may feature more often, but that choice is based on how their posts resonate with me, and I don’t always let them know that I’ll be linking to them. (But I’ll tell you: this post will be included in Saturday’s review. Excellent discussion here!)

I do feel some sense of competition with other bloggers, but in the sense that it spurs me to improve what I’m doing.

I love the mentorship idea, though, and am interested in seeing where Eva goes with it!

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Pam van Hylckama Vlieg August 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

I didn’t have time to search through all the comments here but I read the article and skimmed a bit and wanted to chime in..(as always).

I think a blogging alliance is something we already have in our community. We have problems, we ask questions and people answer, via Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms. I always retweet links and try to promote others blogs. I did give up on Google Reader, I keep a list of blogs there that I absolutely love. However when a link is posted that I see on social networking (such as this one) I always go and read and if I feel I have something relevant to say I comment.

As far as an in crowd, I didn’t know there was one, or at least haven’t felt that I was excluded from anything.

I have been saying for a while with the negative publicity book bloggers seem to be getting recently that we should educate instead of alienate new bloggers. Teach them the proper ways to blog, linking back and what it means to recieve ARC copies. How to better work inside of the community and with publishers. The only way to improve our society as a whole is to enrich it with education.

I have the good luck to be a marketing professional and be married to a Senior Web Architect. I have been lucky in asking him opinions and being educated in tech and proper ways to market. When I have a book blogging question I tweet and loads of people are there to help. It’s a lovely community.

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rebeccareid August 27, 2009 at 8:09 pm

I’m really late to the party, and I don’t have anything new to add. I like the idea of mentors and I don’t feel any competition — unless there is a giveaway I want to win!!

But I want to comment anyway, so I can get the rest of the discussion by email. :)

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Wendy August 27, 2009 at 11:44 pm

I have a couple of thoughts. First, I think to some degree competition is a natural thing that happens when people are vying for blog traffic, ARCs, recognition, etc… on the other hand, I find the book bloggers to be some of the most non-competitive people out there. By that I mean that they are quick to help other bloggers, combine efforts for community events, and in general are a friendly group.

Early on, I tried a bit of advertising on my blog and found it to be pretty much nil with regard to income…even though I get what seems like a lot of traffic. I quickly deleted the ads from my blog and decided that making money was not what motivated me in regards to blogging. I like the community connection and conversation about books.

I like the idea of alliances…and I think they happen naturally. Group blogs for challenges are a good example of alliances…readers who come together to create a blog based on common interests. I also see certain bloggers with similar interests naturally coming together to work on projects or events. I agree that women tend to do this more than men (yay, women!!)

Thanks for this interesting post!

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Wendy August 27, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Crap, I forgot to click on “notify me of comments” so I am posting again so I can click the box :)

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Jeanne August 31, 2009 at 12:55 pm

All these mentoring suggestions are good ones… I’ve found that if I ask questions, “older” bloggers have been extremely helpful in answering. There’s one in particular I go to for advice (but I don’t want her to be deluged with questions because of me). I’d bet most of us would be willing to pass some of that kind of good will along. (I use the contact info for the blog writer–another good reason to have contact info.)

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Cara Powers September 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I’m a 3 month old blogger who found 2 other newbies through the Blogger coffeeshop. I found a 3 day old blogger by announcing this year’s BBAW’s in the coffeeshop. I think what we really need is a way to find other bloggers reviewing the same books at about the same time so we can link to each others reviews. That would be helpful to readers and to bloggers wanting to get their numbers up.

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Anastasia August 26, 2009 at 10:18 am

Replying again since I’ve actually read the article now (and eaten breakfast):

Disregarding the possible hurt feelings aspect of a secret blogger alliance, I really like some of the things the secret alliance bloggers in the article do, and I’d love to do some of those things myself (with my own secret alliance? lol.). The commenting every day on one member’s blog, the linking to one another, the social bookmarking/Twittering each other, the guest post thing, the “check out these blogs if you like mine” thing, networking and in-person meetups are all fantastic ideas that could really boost a blog (and a blogger’s ego).

It doesn’t matter if we book bloggers aren’t in it for the money– is anyone really going to say they don’t care if they have no readers, no comments and publishers ignore them? Of course not. We all want discourse on our posts and part of getting that is getting people to your blog in the first place.

Also, I think especially those people who are in the publishing industry, or those who wish to be (like, er, me), would benefit immensely from increased exposure and traffic and building more relationships. And now that I think about it, wasn’t there a post somewhere a few months ago that talked about blogging buddies? Same kind of thing, but without the stigma of “secret alliance.” I’d love a blogging buddy or three, lol!

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Chris@bookarama August 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I agree with Nymeth on this one. I would feel like I was pulling a fast one on my readers if I was promoting other bloggers only because of an alliance. I promote posts of other bloggers if I find what they say interesting.

And we do have alliances in a way: BBAW is one of them and all those challenges. Since our focus in books and not money, it just not the same.

I do like the idea of a newsletter though. I’ve been intrigued with that idea for awhile but just don’t have that much to offer myself.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 5:55 am

Your last point is almost exactly one of my concerns about the whole thing. As a blogger, so much of what you do rests entirely on reputation — do your readers trust what you say and find what you say interesting and credible? It’s one thing to promote other bloggers because you find them fascinating. It’s another thing entirely to do that because you’ve agreed to do it. Even if you did find them fascinating, it might taint that relationship and damage your credibility in a major way to find out the promotions were part of some secret agreement. I’m sure that’s why the bloggers in the article were so concerned not to be found out.

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Jackie (Farm Lane Books) August 26, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Dorte – We discussed the give aways on twitter too. I agree – I find competitions open to the US only very annoying. I ensure all my give aways are open internationally. If that means I have to have fewer giveaways then I’d rather do that than alienate people who are unable to enter.

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Chris@bookarama August 26, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Yes, and it’s not Secret. I think it’s the secrecy aspect that would turn people off.

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Dorte H August 27, 2009 at 2:05 am

Jackie, thanks a lot :D
It is okay that some giveaways are only US, but when you take a blogging round and come across five blogs in a row with giveaways that are not for you it can be a bit tiresome.

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Nymeth August 27, 2009 at 4:36 am

I love the idea of the mentoring system! Actually, I love everything you said, period :P

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

It’s funny you mention that — I usually avoid posting on whatever the latest book blogging controversy is. I certainly don’t want to start one :)

I think support networks for bloggers are vital. I didn’t realize that until recently as I’ve been working on bigger projects and thinking about events or features I could try to do. And yes, it’s almost entirely informal, although some of the chats that happen on twitter are sort of blog support/forums that people join too.

I agree with you on that the things I mentioned aren’t why you blog — they really aren’t for me either. I just remember those being the “controversial” issues that came up over the last few months.

I understand about not wanting your blog to grow too much, I’m sort of at that point myself. If it gets a ton bigger, I won’t be able to respond to all comments or try to follow the blogs of people who comment regularly. Once I’m out of school, maybe, but for now it’s a good size for me. I am hoping all of the things I love will get better — better conversations, better reviews, better topics and posts on bookish issues.

Finally, I LOVE the idea of a mentoring system. I’ve no idea how to set something like that up, but I could use a mentor a lot. And I feel like after a year of blogging, I could do a little mentoring of a newbie myself. Hmmm…

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Amy @ My Friend Amy August 27, 2009 at 10:12 am

I’m with you one hundred percent on the mentoring system! I tried to suggest it for a Christian blogging, er alliance I’m a part of, but the idea didn’t really fly.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 5:28 am

I looked at the blog you linked to from this post, and from that it doesn’t look like you’ve been posting on that blog for very long. Getting comments and building community takes time, so be patient. It would also help to have an “About Me” page so people can get to know you a little bit when they come to your site.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 5:34 am

I’d tend to agree with you — one of the best parts of blogging is comments and community, but with so many blogs out there you have to do at least a little competing for that (even if it’s not overt). I do remember the “in and out crowd” discussion, which didn’t seem all that useful at the time; a “secret alliance” might bring that out. Or, if people didn’t know about the alliance (hence it being totally secret), then maybe it wouldn’t be as big of a deal because people wouldn’t feel so obviously discluded, even though they aren’t discluded in the fist place. Does that sound mean? I don’t mean it to!

One of the reasons I posted the article is because I do think some of the things the alliance is doing are really useful. Just anecdotaly, this post got tweeted by Jackie at Farm Lake Books, Natasha at Maw Books, and you yesterday. The traffic on it has been huge — much more than any normal post I write. So, some of the social networking stuff they talk about would make a huge difference. But at the same time, does tweeting about an article just because you’ve agreed to promote each other threaten a blogger’s credibility if discovered?

I did a BIP post awhile ago about helping out another blogger, and I think finding a blogging buddy was a Bloggiesta task?

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 5:47 am

I think the full time versus hobby blogging is a huge part of the discussion. A blogging alliance is much more strategic for those bloggers, since they depend on what they make to survive. Book blogs just don’t have that kind of income stream yet, although I’m not sure that they couldn’t ever.

I didn’t realize until recently, I think, the value of having some bloggers you can go to with questions. But after a few recent exchanges, I’m seeing how important that can be. But it’s sort of intimidating to approach a blogger and ask for their help outside of the regular blogger/commenter relationship, no matter how well you feel like you know them :)

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J.T. Oldfield August 27, 2009 at 3:31 pm

See my comment below. :)

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 5:50 am

I love secret societies too — I think that’s one of the reasons the post sparked my imagination in the first place!

I agree with you. I know I make more of an effort to comment on blogs that I feel like I have friendly relationships with rather than bloggers that I don’t feel that with. That’s not to say that I couldn’t develop other friendships with bloggers, and I’ve been doing that more recently, but there are some I’ve established over a year of blogging that I really appreciate.

I think something like BBAW is a great example of what can be accomplished if bloggers work together on a project. But I can see lots of other half-started blogging ideas that didn’t get off the ground but might have if bloggers reached out to each other a little more on it.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 5:56 am

A newsletter is sort of a cool idea, what sort of things would you think about putting in one? Just your content, or content from other bloggers online?

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 6:00 am

Dorte and Jackie – I think the giveaway discussion is a really important one. I know that came up with BBAW last year, and continues to be a problem for people. Amy (My Friend Amy) mentioned that publishers can’t often send internationally, which is really too bad. I loved Nymeth’s suggestion for an “angel network” to try and help fund shipping costs for people.

One thing I’ve tried to do is offer a book for a US giveaway, and if the winner is international offer an Amazon gift certificate instead. That way they can order a book and have it shipped to them for cheaper than I can have it shipped. I guess I never asked if that seemed like an ok idea to international bloggers? Do you guys have any thoughts on that?

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 6:01 am

I’d be curious to see what the fall out would be. If it were secret and found out, what might the response be? Or, if people were open about partnering with other bloggers in some way, how might that be perceived?

I think that’s happened a couple of times already — responses to BBAW last year, responses to bloggers getting lots of ARC offers… stuff I can’t remember now. It’s probably an on-going issue that will keep coming up.

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Jackie (Farm Lane Books) August 27, 2009 at 6:18 am

Kim – I think a gift certificate is the perfect solution to this problem. I had noticed you doing it and I think it is a lovely idea. Thank you!

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Jackie (Farm Lane Books) August 27, 2009 at 6:22 am

I think it would be very hard to keep secret. Isn’t it obvious when people comment on each others blogs? Or when the same people all start having the same advertisers/give aways?

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 6:23 am

I love the groups too, I think that’s one of the best parts. It’s nice to see people partnering up for projects or bloggers forming book clubs to discuss a particular story. I think that’s cool.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 6:42 am

I get the impression that BBAW is open to anyone. There have been multiple open calls for nominations and volunteers to help out. It’s true, I think you have to be tuned in and participating with some section of the book blogging community to have noticed it, but I wouldn’t categorize BBAW as an alliance, at least not as alliance is thought about presented in the article. It takes commenting and engaging to be part of the book blogging community that embraces BBAW. But of course that’s up for debate.

Thanks for your comment — I actually didn’t know you were a regular reader of my blog and hadn’t seen yours before. I’m glad I did.

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Anastasia August 27, 2009 at 7:18 am

I don’t think an alliance is as dishonest as some people may think it is. I tweeted about this post because I thought it was good discussion and I wanted people to know about it– if we were in an alliance together I’d be doing the same thing because I’d think the same thing. It’s just if we were in an alliance together I’d be making a special effort to find something of yours to promote, where as right now I’m just promoting whatever I come across randomly. (If that makes sense?)

In the ProBlogger article it even says that the alliance members don’t do anything they’re uncomfortable with, don’t have time to do, or just don’t want to do. So it’s not a “promote my stuff even if you don’t like it” kind of thing, it’s a “keep looking at my stuff and if you like it, promote it.” At least, that’s what I got from it. :D

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Anastasia August 27, 2009 at 7:23 am

Not necessarily (not unless someone was specifically looking for potential alliances). And lots of people have the same publisher giveaways, so that’s a dud. Plus, I have several people that regularly comment on my blog and we’re not in an alliance– so, really, if the whole thing was kept secret probably people would just think the alliance members were good friends (which they should be).

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 7:40 am

I think we all get a little blogger envy once in awhile — I know I do! The difference, in my humble opinion, is that really great bloggers take any envy and channel it into making their blog better. Average or uninterested bloggers just take that energy and complain.

I love your stance on book blogging though; it mirrors mine in a lot of ways. I have other goals for my blog besides the community (mostly goals to help me with my journalism career), but the community is what makes working on those goals totally worth it.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 7:43 am

Yea, I agree. There are big differences between BBAW and the alliance in the article. The alliance in the article specifically limits who is a part, whereas everyone as the opportunity to participate in BBAW.

That said, I think it’s easier to participate in BBAW if you’re already somewhat connected to the community, if only because it’s more likely you might have been nominated for an award. However, bloggers that are new or not connected can use BBAW to find new blogs and join the community going into BBAW 2010.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 7:53 am

Yes, I’m so excited about it — really great comments (and people responding to other comments, I love that).

The comment point is interesting. Sometimes it’s intimidating to be the first commenter, but sometimes I get turned off when there are a ton of comments — what do I have to add to the conversation?

The group giveaways and stuff are a great idea for including more international book bloggers in the community. I hope that’s something a group can start up or help with once the BBAW madness is over.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 7:58 am

I remember that discussion and the concerns people brought up. It was a good one at the time.

There seems to be this undercurrent of wanting “fairness” and equality that runs under a lot of book blogging discussions — that just writing blog posts is enough to be part of what’s going on among book bloggers. That frustrates me because it’s not true. “Good” bloggers work hard.

But, that’s not really the point of your comment, just something I was reminded of when you said book bloggers are opposed to secrets and that sort of thing.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 8:15 am

I agree; I get very little reading book nerdery in my regular life. The blog lets me talk about a lot of that. I didn’t know about the free books thing, and am actually still a little uncomfortable with the whole idea, but it’s something about book blogging that’s interesting. And I’d love to earn some money with my blog :)

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 10:23 am

Very good point – I forgot the part in the article about how alliance members don’t “have” to do anything. That’s a vital part of what an alliance might do, and a huge part of how credibility might not be at issue.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 10:26 am

I wonder how complicated it would be to set something like that up, and if there would be enough bloggers willing to be (and have time to be) mentors for people interested in having one?

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 10:28 am

Yes, comments here have been awesome. Very exciting!

I’ve loved book blogging on Twitter. I find a lot of great posts I might otherwise skim or miss by linking from other people on Twitter (this post got a ton of traffic thanks to tweets). And it’s a great, not-as-scary way of talking with bloggers you might otherwise not interact with.

It is a time suck though. I try to give myself at least a couple hours at night when I’m off the computer and away from all of it, but that’s harder and harder to come by. Luckily, Twitter is a tool for journalists, so I can get away with being on during work :)

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Mindy Withrow August 27, 2009 at 3:54 pm

I agree with bermudaonion that Twitter is its own alliance, in a way. I started tweeting because I wanted the opportunity to connect with other writers and book bloggers, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve met so many more great people there than I could simply with my blog, and some of these are people I’m now in contact with outside of Twitter. (It’s also added a ton of books to my TBR list!) I have to discipline myself to avoid the time suck, but it’s worth it because of the information.

Side note on the mentoring issue: I’ve been book blogging since 2005, which I think makes me an old hat, but I often take some time to look around at many of you guys commenting here and feel inspired by your energy and ideas. So I’d like the “young” bloggers to note that they’re doing some really great stuff, and that mentoring–if and in whatever form someone decides to pursue–is certainly beneficial for both parties and not just the newbies.

Great discussion as usual, Kim!

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J.T. Oldfield August 27, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Oh yeah Nymeth? I challenge you to be my mentor!!!!

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 3:35 pm

It is sort of enticing. The ARCs, not so much for me, but the possibility of making money blogging is cool. Unfortunately, there are very, very few blogs that get enough traffic to be profitable. And it takes a lot of time an effort to get there — more time and energy than I have.

Don’t be frustrated though — blogging takes time. I got like one comment on my first post (from my professor), and maybe two comments on my first book review. I didn’t get any e-mails from publishers until about two months ago — after I’d been blogging over a year. It just takes time, and you can’t be impatient about it. Enjoy your blogs growth process, be involved with other bloggers, and pretty soon those efforts will pay off.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help or specific advice (general e-mails like “what do you think of my blog?” might not get responses, but polite, specific e-mails probably will).

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Very good idea. I’ll brainstorm myself soon and send you some thoughts via e-mail. I’d love to get something like this started.

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Kim August 27, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Monetizing a blog is hard work — good luck! I’ve read just a little bit about it, enough to know I don’t quite have the energy or tech skills just yet. Someday, perhaps :) I’ll hold you to this one though!

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Natasha @ Maw Books August 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

I will hold you to that and I’ll be first in line!!

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Kim August 28, 2009 at 7:16 am

Twitter is a really interesting tool. I know this post got a lot of publicity from being tweeted by a few people, which was great. But yes, discipline is key! I haven’t met any Twitter people offline, but it has connected me to some local journalist that I’m hoping to meet up with eventually.

And I totally agree on the mentoring thing — a good mentoring relationship benefits both people. Just this summer I worked with a veteran reporter on a big project. She was mentoring me on reporting and I was sort of mentoring her on multimedia tools. I think it was a great relationship for both of us. Blogging mentoring would, ideally, have the same idea of benefiting everyone.

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Kim August 28, 2009 at 7:19 am

That’s an interesting question about the alliance. I don’t get the impression from the article that the seven bloggers are trying to stay on top at the expense of other bloggers, but more work together to benefit each other (at least, I hope that’s the case — an alliance to keep others down would be terrible!).

Great tips for newbies, those are my two biggest tips. Write good comments and ask questions. And be patient — people don’t just start commenting over night. It takes time and effort to make an impression and get your feet in the door.

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Kim August 28, 2009 at 7:27 am

Thanks for mentioning that community, it sounds very cool. I’m definitely going to check it out; I’m always interested in blog improvement tips and ideas.

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Kim August 28, 2009 at 7:28 am

I love your link round up Florinda, it’s great to get a taste of what’s going on the book blog community that I might have missed.

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Kim August 28, 2009 at 7:31 am

Great point about educating and not alienating. Starting a blog takes a lot of work, and it’s good to be encouraging. It’s hard though — you want to support a blog, but so many of them stop posting after a short time that it’s hard to know where to put your effort (at least for me).

I hope we can come up with some ideas for how to make education a big part of the book blogging community — it’s not something that a single blogger (or even a small alliance of bloggers) can do alone. It’s something that has to be important to almost everyone. The Book Bloggers Guild was a way I thought this could happen, but I’m not sure where that went. So much work, so little time!

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Kim August 28, 2009 at 7:32 am

Ha ha, good point — competition in giveaways :) I think this post has gotten the most discussion of any post on my blog, except one I did a long time ago of a critical analysis of Twilight… that one gets a ton of hits, which makes me a little sad!

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Kim August 28, 2009 at 7:38 am

I would agree with you, I think; book bloggers compete, but not really with any one blogger in particular, just as a general sense of wanting to improve for comments, etc. And I’ve never had a blogger not respond to a question or be annoyed about borrowing an idea or quoting from a review if done respectfully with proper links and stuff — it’s very friendly in that way.

There are a lot of group blogs and co-hosted challenges and memes, which I think is great. Weekly Geeks, which I’m a part of, is a good example of some bloggers doing something like that to help fill the major gap after Dewey died.

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Nymeth August 29, 2009 at 5:43 am

I would love to :D

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claire August 30, 2009 at 12:00 am

What an interesting topic! I agree with Jackie that we naturally form alliances. In my case, I notice the same bloggers commenting on my blog, while in turn they’re the blogs I most visit. And I find this isn’t because they’re the most friendly either, because we all have to start somewhere before being friends, but that the reason I found was that those commenting on my blog a lot and who I visit.. we have the same taste in books.

I would love to be friends with other book bloggers, too, but usually I have nothing to say on their posts because the books they read just aren’t the ones that interest me.

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