Friday, August 29, 2014

The Book Lover's Den #3: What kind of book blog do I really want to have?




Welcome to my new Friday feature!


In each bi-weekly post, I will be 
exploring my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.  



When I first began blogging about books, I debated with myself just what kind of books I wanted to blog about. My tastes are very eclectic, so I finally decided that I would simply blog about my favorite genres. So A Night's Dream of Books began as an eclectic blog, and has remained thus to this day. 

Unfortunately, from what I've seen on the blogosphere, there aren't that many eclectic blogs. I've noticed that most book blogs deal with young adult fiction, and, while I love this genre, I also love others. For instance, of the several fiction genres, I love classics, fantasy, science fiction, and Christian fiction, as well as paranormal romance and urban fantasy, along with contemporary and historical romance. As for nonfiction, I love psychology, art, literary criticism, philosophy, and even some theology, as well as other spiritual topics. I've recently become interested in conspiracy theories, too, for the purpose of critical analysis, not of blind adherence to them.

This brings me to another aspect of the book blogging world I've noticed: few blogs deal with nonfiction, with the notable exception of Babbling Books, a very interesting blog run by Brian Joseph, who covers literary fiction, as well as nonfiction. I know there are more such blogs, and I simply need to seek them out.

As for blog design, there are all kinds, from the very simple -- minimalist, I call them -- to the very elaborate, with lots of images and colors. Even from the beginning, I gravitated toward the latter group.

All of this brings me to the point of this post: what genres do I want to blog about, and what type of blog design do I prefer ?  Looking back over all of my posts, I see that a lot of them cover young adult fiction, paranormal romance, and urban  fantasy, with occasional posts dealing with other genres. I would definitely like to publish more posts on classics and literary fiction, as well as more nonfiction. However, this presents a dilemma for me: I tend to get more comments on posts covering young adult fiction, as well as paranormal romance/urban fantasy, than I do on posts covering other genres.

You might be wondering, at this point, why I'm concerned about these things.  After all, I do have more than 1,100 GFC followers, 408 Bloglovin' followers, and 111 Linky Followers. But having a lot of followers doesn't guarantee lots of comments. As everyone knows, a blog with little to no interaction between the blogger and the readers means that somehow the blog is not engaging readers.

The whole thing really has to do with demographics. Just what reader demographic is my blog intended to appeal to? Well, there's the crux of the problem. My blog design indicates it would appeal more to the YA crowd, and not to the type of reader who enjoys literary fiction and more serious topics. I could, of course, modify my design to appeal to this type of reader. However, I don't see myself doing that, and there are two reasons: first, I'm a very visual person, and second, I was an Art Major in college. I don't like simplicity and restraint in blog design. Instead, I love bold, vibrant, images and colors! For some reason, literary fiction and nonfiction seem to be  associated with more plain, even staid, blog design. Such blogs are apparently taken more seriously by 'the literati'.

I find this to be a  very curious prejudice  in the blogosphere. Why should very artistic, bold design mean that the blogger in question is not interested in important, more intellectual literature and nonfiction? Why should this even imply that their reviews  are not to be taken seriously? On the other hand, when someone who prefers young adult fiction comes to my blog and sees a review, or some other post, about literary fiction, or perhaps nonfiction, why should they then stop coming to my blog?

So I do have a dilemma..... I can either confine myself to the YA genre, and perhaps get lots of comments, thereby losing any opportunity of appealing to readers of 'serious' literature and nonfiction, or blog exclusively about these topics, thereby alienating my YA followers.

And what of my blog design? Should I change it to a simpler design, with more subdued colors,  in order to attract more readers of literary fiction and nonfiction? 

I have long pondered these issues in my mind, and I see that the basic question underlying my dilemma is whether I want to change the genres I review, as well as my blog design, in order to achieve popularity as a blogger. I do want my blog posts to have more comments, as this means more interaction with my readers. But am I willing to transform my blog dramatically in order to achieve this? In other words, am I willing to stick to one genre only, or to downplay my blog's exuberant design so that it becomes a shadow of what it is now? I have finally come to the realization that the answers to these questions are all the same: "No". This is who I am, these are the books I love to blog about. This is the type of blog design I love. I have to be myself, not only in real life, but in the blogosphere, as well.  Besides, readers can always select which posts really interest them, and comment on those.

On the other hand, maybe the problem is just a question of getting more exposure through social media. In order to help myself in that regard, I've just opened a Twitter account. Until very recently, I was relying on Facebook and Google + to get the word out about my blog. While I do plan to continue to post to Google +, I am not going to do so on Facebook any longer. The reason is that FB is now expecting those who have fan pages to pay in order for their posts to appear in FB's news feeds. Well, I can't afford to do that; boosting each post would cost a minimum of $5.00, and promoting the fan page itself is $10.00 a day. This means that I would have to pay $300.00 to promote my page for a month! 

So, now that I have a Twitter account, hopefully that will bring me readers who are interested enough in my posts that they will be more than happy to leave comments!




What kind of book blog 
do you have?
What's your opinion about 
this issue?
Let me know in the
comments section below!




 

4 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the mention Maria.

    This was a very thoughtful post.

    I can never imagine you making the look of your blog "duller". I think that the visual appeal of your blog is an enormous asset and it would be ashamed if that were diminished. Being turned off by the look of your blog seems a terribly superficial reaction.

    Personally I love the fact that you have posted about an eclectic mix of books. These days I have been reading a lot of literary fiction but there was a time when I read a lot of science fiction. I still do sometimes and will do in the future. Many of the YA books that you cover are really very similar or even fit into the science fiction genre. Plus your commentary is often so good that I enjoy your reviews of books that I normally would not read. You have even motivated me to try a few different books. I still have your recommendations and will get to one or more of them soon.

    With all that there is the issue of appealing to different groups and getting or not interaction, which I agree is really important. I run into a similar problem when I out up history post. It seems like many folks who like to discuss literature are not so interested in those types of books.

    You are running into another issue that I think about. I assume that if you change the types of books that you cover you would be changing what you are reading. I have occasionally done this for the purpose of my blog. But I ask myself, is this the tail wagging the dog? The premise of me blogging is to share what I read with others not to let my blog dictate what I read. I think that it is OK read a book partially based on the fact that it make a great post, but I do not want to overdo that too much.

    I think that we should read what we want to and blog away about whatever we read.


    First, I can never imagine you making the look of your blog "duller". I think that the visual appeal of your blog is an enormous asset and it would be ashamed if that were diminished.

    Personally I love the fact that you have posted about an eclectic mix of books. These days I have been reading alot of literary fiction but there was a time when I read a lot of science fiction. I still do sometimes and will do in the future. Many of the YA books that you cover are really very similar or even fit into the science fiction genre. Plus your commentary is often so good that I enjoy your reviews of books that I normally would not read. You have even motivated me to try a few different books. I still have your recommendations and will get to them soon.


    With all that there is the issue of appealing to different groups and getting or not interaction, which I agree is really important. I run into a similar problem when I out up history post. It seems like many folks who like to discuss literature are not so interested in those types of books

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Brian!

      You’re very welcome for the shout-out! You run a super interesting blog, so you really deserve the mention!

      I’m so glad you like the look of my blog! Thank you so much for complimenting it!! And yes, it sounds pretty shallow to be turned off by that, but not everyone likes this type of blog design. There are actually people who prefer the “dull” look. And I’ve noticed that this is very common on blogs dealing with literary fiction and other serious topics. I wish people who enjoy this type of reading would give my blog a chance, but I know they take one look at the design, assume it’s ALL related to YA fiction, and move on. This saddens me….I recently reviewed two literary fiction novels – “The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky”, and “The Angel of Losses”, and I know my reviews were good! Yet, I got very few comments on each one.

      Thanks as well for supporting my decision to have an eclectic blog! Thanks for complimenting my reviews, too!! And it’s great that you’re motivated to try some of the books I’ve reviewed! You’re right about some YA books fitting into the science fiction genre, as well. They really are worth reading!

      You make an excellent point about not allowing one’s blog to dictate what one reads. Sometimes it’s not that easy….. Besides, I’m still trying to figure out just what makes a given blog popular. I think part of it is that they stick to one, or at the most two, genres. I don’t want to do that, though, because I’m interested in several genres! But I think another part of it is creating, or finding, a network of followers who will comment on one’s posts. This has been hard for me to find…… You don’t know how many times I’ve commented on other blogs, and not received comments back from them on my own blog! Needless to say, I have stopped commenting on these blogs.

      I guess I’ll just have to continue along my merry way…..hopefully my new Twitter account will now help!

      Thanks so much for the great, thought-provoking comment!! : )

      Delete
  2. There is something to be said about a restrained, serious look to a blog design. If I may say however, it would not reflect you. I think that even when it comes to blogging. One needs to be oneself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, again, Brian!

      Yes, you're right about that, and you're also right when you say that such design would not reflect me at all. It's just too bad, I guess, that some people take a look at my blog in passing and shake their heads, thinking, "Another YA blog!" and then move on. They don't take the time to investigate further....

      Well, I must be true to myself, even in blogging, as you have so well put it!!

      Thanks for another great comment!! : )

      Delete

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