BBAW 2011: Community, Part II

by Kim on September 14, 2011 · 26 comments

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Today’s Topic: The world of book blogging has grown enormously and sometimes it can be hard to find a place. Share your tips for finding and keeping community in book blogging despite the hectic demands made on your time and the overwhelming number of blogs out there. If you’re struggling with finding a community, share your concerns and explain what you’re looking for–this is the week to connect!

Being part of a community takes work. That’s true in real life, and it’s true in blogging. You don’t get comments without leaving comments, you don’t get followers without following others, and you don’t feel part of a community until you do some work to participate that community.

That said, I do think there are some ways to feel connected more quickly than others, at least from my years of experience as a blogger.

Think Outside the Blog

First, leaving comments is still, I think, one of the best ways to help grow your blog in the long-term. However, it can be time consuming and the results aren’t always immediate, which I think can be discouraging. So, my first piece of advice is to reach out to others through other kinds of social media like Twitter for a more immediate impact and as a way to connect with a different group of bloggers.

I’ve been on Twitter for a long time, and while my addiction to Twitter goes in fits and spurts, I’ve found it to be a great way to connect with other book lovers — especially people with blogs that I don’t find much to regularly comment on.

When I’ve asked for advice on Twitter, I’ve almost always gotten a series of great responses. And when I answer questions or offer advice, I’ve felt more connected. One blogger I’ve had some great conversations with on Twitter is Jenn (Jenn’s Bookshelves or@jennsbookshelf), even though I’m not much of a commenter on Jenn’s blog. I also participate in a variety of Twitter hashtags like #fridayreads and #IndieThursday. Friday Reads is also on Facebook and has a blog, so you can find that community all over the place.

Twitter seems intimidating at first, sort of like jumping into a giant conversation and not knowing where it starts or ends. But most book bloggers are incredibly generous, and if you reach out to them (sent an @ reply or something), they’ll usually respond back and you can get into the conversation.

Make Your Own

As a blogger who — until recently anyway — mostly read and wrote about nonfiction, I always felt a bit on the outside of the larger book blogging community. Not in a serious or detrimental way, but just in the sense that I found myself skimming over a lot of reviews in my Google Reader in lieu of more discussion or personal posts from bloggers I like to read.

At BEA this year I was sitting on the steps of the US Post Office with Ash (English Major’s Junk Food), Amy (Amy Reads), Cass (Bonjour, Cass!), and Anastasia (BirdBrain(ed) Book Blog), and I made some comment about wishing there were more people who loved nonfiction and it was easier to find them. I think I must have been the one that suggested some sort of society for nonfiction lovers, and over a terrifying cab ride out to a party, the general idea for the Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees was born. I have so many ideas for what BAND can be, and I think with time (whenever it gets found) and effort, we’re going to make it great. I hope others will join in!

This isn’t a unique idea or anything — plenty of blogging groups and projects pop up as bloggers within our huge community want to find a way to connect with each other. I’d venture to guess things like Armchair BEA, the Classics Circuit, and A Year of Feminist Classics, all came about from that same impulse to connect over some shared reading passion.

So I guess my other piece of advice for finding a community within the community, if you’re struggling, is to think about making your own. It doesn’t have to be huge: ask another blogger if they want to do a read-a-long with you or decide to host a challenge about your favorite books and get it posted at A Novel Challenge. If you reach out a little bit, you’ll start to find community where you may not expect it.

Bottom line: it takes reaching out to build community. A community is not going to just come to you. While I still think leaving comments is huge in terms of finding other bloggers, sometimes it’s the other things — saying “Hey!” on Twitter or just sending a personal e-mail with a compliment to a blogger you like — that have a bigger impact in a shorter amount of time.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie September 14, 2011 at 8:26 am

Twitter is definitely a common theme for today. I am awful when it comes to keeping up with my twitter account. I need to work on that.

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Twitter takes some getting used to, but it’s fun once you get a sense of how to use it.

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Nise' September 14, 2011 at 8:55 am

I love A Novel Challenge, it is a great resource. All good advice!

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Erin September 14, 2011 at 9:36 am

Twitter scares me, honestly. I must get better at it! I’ve been getting some good advice today and hope to get some more. I’d definitely like to get more comfortable with it.

I totally agree that creating your own community is a great way to go. I also think reading with other people is excellent, since we all have books as a common foundation already!

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Duh, I should have linked to Reading Buddies. That seems like a great community building activity you do on your blog that lets you read what you want and connect with other readers.

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Care September 14, 2011 at 10:17 am

Whoops. Thanks for the reminder about the BAND! I need to go see what I’ve missed lately. I just read the Henrietta Lacks book and have to say that reading it was exactly what I love about nonfiction. Awesome.
oh, and Happy BBAW, my friend. Miss you but you really aren’t that far away, are you? How’s the new job? I’ll be back to read more of your posts soon – I’ve been a bit out of lately. (no excuses or apologies, right?!)

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Yay, I’m glad you enjoyed Henrietta Lacks! I think that’s a great “gateway” nonfiction book for people who are worried about trying nonfiction. Miss you too!

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Amy September 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

Yes, great points here Kim. I think it’s all about being what you want to find and just jumping in!!

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Jenn's Bookshelves September 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

Thanks for the mention, Kim! I agree; I think there is a great community of bloggers on Twitter. While I don’t necessarily follow everyone’s blogs, I find the discussions we have on Twitter to be quite valuable.

Thanks again for participating in IndieThursday, and soon, Murder, Monsters & Mayhem!

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I love the conversations on Twitter, especially with bloggers that have different reading tastes than I do. I’ve connected with a number of great people, like you, that way.

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Lenasledgeblog.com September 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

Thanks for all the useful information. I followed all the suggestions you made for followers on Twitter. And I bookmarked some of the sites you mentioned. This was really great info I hadn’t seen covered on other posts so far. So thanks.

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Shannon @ Reading Has Purpose September 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

@ Erin, I just joined Twitter a couple of weeks ago after being encouraged to do so for over a year. I wish I had listened way back when. It doesn’t take long to find your footing.

This is great advice about ‘Making Your Own’ I see collaborations popping up all of the time and I think to myself, Hey! Why didn’t anyone ask me!?

One of the things I want to do for my blog over the next year is build some sort of collaboration with other bloggers. So I guess I’ll take your advice and throw the idea out there! After all, a community is not just going to come to me :-) I’m going to try to add a few conferences to my budget as well.

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I think you’ll be surprised at the response from bloggers if you just toss out an idea or project you want to work on. It may not be a ton of people at first, but at least a few will usually be interested.

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bermudaonion (Kathy) September 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Twitter is a great way to make bookish friends!

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Joy Weese Moll September 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Make your own community is terrific advice! I’m already really enjoying being a part of the BAND.

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Florinda September 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I blow hot and cold on Twitter myself, but when I’m in a “hot” phase I have some great conversations there. That was where Armchair BEA hatched, over a shared impulse among some of us not to have a pity party just because we weren’t going to BEA 2010. We had a much BETTER party :-)!

And I love the idea of BAND – when I get a chance (ha!), I hope to participate at least some of the time.

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I’m the same. When I’m less busy at work, I find more time for Twitter. But when it’s busy, that’s something I just don’t really spend time with. So with the new job, I’ve had a lot less time on Twitter.

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Trisha September 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I really wish Twitter and I were better friends, but I shy away from spending large amounts of time staring at Twitter. I went through that phase with Instant Messenger. :) I do love the idea of communities within the larger community. Readalongs are, I think, one of the best ways to feel engaged.

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Mel u September 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Twitter has, I think, a bit of a learning curve-I suggest those new to Twitter look at who follows a blogger they like and respect and start out by following those people-I liked all of your ideas

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 To See My Ideas on Community Building

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

That’s a great suggestion — find people you admire and model your Twitter behavior after them.

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Julie September 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm

These are great ideas. I especially like the idea of making your own community. As far as Twitter goes, I like it to a point. But I’ve asked questions on there occasionally and rarely get answers. I guess maybe I need to tag certain people to get responses from them rather than just asking the masses.

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Yeah, sometimes you can just Tweet into the background. It’s hard to get answers from general tweets until you’ve been at a it a bit and have a good base of followers. It’s sometimes better to interject into a conversation or ask a specific person when you’re just starting out.

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Laurie C September 15, 2011 at 6:00 am

I like Twitter, but end up spending too much time on it. If I worked from home, I’d probably really be addicted. I have a personal Twitter (@lacavanaugh) and a blog Twitter feed (@baystateRA). The idea was to keep the blog Twitter feed strictly books-related, but it’s been hard to build followers for the blog feed.
Thank you for the thoughtful BBAW posts and congratulations on winning!

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I’ve thought about a personal Twitter and a blog Twitter, but it seems like too much work. I guess if people don’t like the mix of tweets on different topics, they’ll stop following me :)

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Amy September 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I’m a total Twitter novice and I go on Twitter and I feel overwhelmed and…nosy! I see other people making comments specifically to others….they put a twitterers name with the @ sign so I figure that comment is just for that other person and then I see those hashtag things and don’t know what I’m s’posed to do with htem…and so on and so forth! lol Would it be all right if I asked you questions about Twitter if they come up? And might I comment to you if you are on twitter? I’d really like to get comfortable with it.

I’ve never heard of BAND before now but I’m intrigued. I also want to read more nonfiction butI wasn’t sure who was around to talk to about it! Do you have a blog for Band or where can I find out more about it?

This is a greta post, Kim! Thank you!

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Kim September 18, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Yes, please feel free. I’m not always on Twitter, but I’ll try to respond to any questions when I’m online. I read this on someone else’s post, but they said that if there are conversations you can see on Twitter, it’s public, and you should just treat them at such. It’s not unusual for people to “butt in” to conversations, so don’t feel intimidated by that!

You can find more about BAND at our Tumblr at nonfictiondevotees.tumblr.com. Glad you’re interested!

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