Armchair BEA 2015 | Social Media & ARC 101

Book bloggers unable to attend the BEA Bloggers Conference or Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City, but would like to ‘meet’ other book bloggers and publishers to discuss books and book blogging can participate in this virtual event. Armchair BEA has been run by book bloggers on a volunteer basis since 2010, although giveaways are sponsored by authors and publishers.

I’m a bad blogger and haven’t pre-written posts. Therefore, I’m combining days 2 and 3 of ABEA in this post! I actually think the topics go together really nicely, though.

Social Media

“How do you use social media to expand your blogging/writing horizons?  Social Media is all about networking and connections, and utilizing today’s technology to the fullest.  Make sure you mention your own social media pages. Do you have another blog, maybe a Tumblr? Have a Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook? Or maybe there’s an underrated social media program that you like.”

Social media is almost as important as the content and the blog itself. Originally I avoided some of the big social media sites like Instagram. I’m still not on Facebook. But if you’re looking to promote your blog and gain followers, Twitter is your go-to. Not only can you publish links to your blog in tweets, but Twitter has allowed me to interact with authors, publishers, other bloggers, and my blog readers. Those relationships you form are musts and priceless!

As you could probably tell, Twitter is my social media of choice. The most important thing to do when using Twitter is to MAKE FRIENDS. Jump into other blogger’s conversations with your two cents, fangirl with them, compliment authors, and yes, fangirl with publishing companies! I originally was really intimidated to interact with publishers, but the lovely people at the publishing companies that run the social medias are really just lovers of books, too. Don’t be afraid to join any of the conversations!

To find me on all the social medias, head on over to the “Social Butterfly” section of my sidebar! 🙂 –>

ARC 101

I am in no way an expert on getting ARCs, or Advance Readers Copies. But, I’ve been blogging just over a year, so I still consider myself a newbie blogger. And, I’ve gotten ARCs that I’ve requested, and have even gotten put on a couple mailing lists. I’m not writing this to brag, but I’m writing this to inform you that even if you’re somewhat small, and still kind of new, you can request and get sent ARCs. Here are some tips from my experience:

  • Request digital copies first if you can. You’ve all probably heard of NetGalley and Edelweiss. While reading physical books may be your preference, accept eARCs at first. You’re more likely to get accepted for a digital copy than a limited number of physical ARCs. But like you’ve also probably heard often, don’t go crazy!!!
  • Don’t be afraid to contact a publisher. Every publishing company/publicist that I’ve emailed and talked to has been SUPER NICE. Don’t be intimidated! Just make sure your request email is formal at first, linking to all your social medias with follower counts, and a mailing address. Publishers get tons of emails a day, so be sure to set yourself apart, make it easy for them to be able to send you a book, and don’t expect an answer. You may just get a mailbox surprise!
  • Have a specific author whose upcoming title you really want to read and review? It’s worth a shot visiting their website. Often times authors have their individual publicist’s contact information on their site, which is more direct than sending a request to the publisher’s general publicity email. You may have a better chance getting a copy from them.
  • My last word of advice is to REQUEST EARLY. As soon as you see a title that you know you’ve got to have, send a request email. There are a limited number of ARCs for each book printed, so the earlier you ask, the more likely you’ll have one reserved to be sent to you when the time comes!

*These tips are just from personal experience as a blogger, and have not talked to publishers about this topic at all.*

How do you use social media to promote your blog? What tips do you have regarding ARCs?

xo

Reviewing with Heart

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A couple of days ago I read Lauren’s post in which she discusses reading, rating, and reviewing, and how following either her head or her heart can alter the “bookish process” as she calls it. After reading that post I began to think about how I’m a lot like Lauren, in that when I read, rate, and review, and form opinions, I tend to follow my brain for some jobs, and my heart for others. So I decided to write a post similar to her’s, discussing my thought process when it comes to reading and reviewing.

Reading

I read fully with my heart. I read for enjoyment. Becoming a book blogger and reviewing books hasn’t changed that for me at all. It’s actually pretty rare where I’ll read a book and not enjoy it at least a little bit. That’s because when I read I’m totally into it, and I’m having fun, because much like blogging, reading is a hobby. I don’t over-analyze or criticize the writing while I read, because for me, that would ruin the story. Even if it’s the worst story in the world, I could probably pinpoint a part that I enjoyed. Of course there are things that will stand out as negative sometimes, but I try not to focus on that and let it take away from the parts I’m enjoying. That’s just how I am. I love a story. And most of all, I love reading them.

If you’ve noticed, I don’t DNF many books, and the majority of the books I read are rated 3 or above. Now I like to think that’s because I’m getting good at choosing what I’ll like, and what will be a good read, but it’s also because as I said before, I can pretty much find something to like. Now you’re probably thinking, well, does this mean her reviews aren’t reliable?

Reviewing

Reviewing is where I get to be the composed and intelligent blogger and the crazy fangirl at the same time. I review with my head and my heart, but depending on the book one will most likely dominate the other. For some books, I don’t really decide on a rating until after I’ve written my review. While I write about a book, I can kind of gauge the quality of the book and the enjoyment I felt from reading it based upon how many fangirly paragraphs I write, and how many nit-picky ones I write. So if you’ve been reading this blog a while, you’ve probably noticed how my reviews don’t have a particular style to them. Sometimes I’ll be serious, sometimes I’ll go on crazy rants of rage or excitement. It just depends on me, and the book.

Rating

Ratings are where I solely use my brain. This is for a couple of reasons. The first being that someone may visit the blog, skim the review, and miss out on a point that I made. I want the rating to accurately convey how I feel that the majority of readers would think of the book (which I would assume to be more along the lines of a serious and more analytical view). Also, ratings are more universal. There’s Goodreads ratings, other bloggers ratings, etc. Each mean different things specifically, but the accepted star rating system is 1 to 5, 1 being bad, 5 being amazing based on the quality of the book. For example, I’ve written fangirly reviews for books that I’ve only given a 3 star rating because while the story was there, the writing wasn’t.

So how do you read, rate, and review? Who wins out: your head or your heart?

xo

The Future of Books & Cleverness

Don’t worry — this post isn’t as ominous as the title makes it sound!! I’m writing this in part as a follow-up to my last personal update, and also to make some exciting announcements regarding Books & Cleverness, and its future.

I’ll start with my personal updates. I’ve been doing much better, and my AP exams are this week and next, and then I’m pretty much home free for the end of the school year! So after these next couple of weeks, I’ll most likely be blogging more, but I can’t make any promises. I’m really looking forward to summer, but while I was originally planning on blogging a ton, that will no longer be the case. Why? Well I’ve been accepted to a six week pre-college program basically as soon as school gets out for me. I don’t know as of yet how much free time I’ll have while I’m there, so again, I don’t want to make commitments about the blog. I am SO EXCITED about the program, though!

One thing I do want to announce is that mid-August, when I’m back home, I’m planning to revamp the blog! I’m planning on going self-hosted, custom domain name, pretty blog design, the whole shebang. I am planning on using Ashley when it comes to hosting, themes, domains, etc., and Hazel for a beautiful custom blog design. I’ve already chatted with both and they are wonderful. I cannot wait to start revamping when August rolls around! (I know it’s kind of far in the future, but I really wanted to share the excitement. The blog will be about a year and a half old at that point, which I think is the perfect time to do this!)

I just wanted to post this little update so all of you know what will be happening around my corner of the internet in the coming months! 🙂 There are some fun posts that I have planned coming up in early May, as well!

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The Perils of ARC Envy

ARC

I have always found the book blogging community to be an extremely welcoming and loving place, allowing everyone to share their thoughts and ideas openly without criticism or fighting. Except for when the conversation shifts to two topics: plagiarism and ARCs. I’m not going to talk about plagiarism because that wave has passed for now. But, ARCs have recently become a topic of conversation once again. I don’t know all the details, but apparently there was a comment made on a photo of ARCs posted saying that it was inconsiderate and rude of bloggers to post pictures of ARCs and that they were boasting, etc. because the book was not yet out.

*Please note that these are my personal thoughts and feelings on the topic and don’t mean to offend anyone!*

Now, I can empathize with the person that posted that comment, but I don’t at all think that what they said was “right.” I was once the person that saw pictures of ARCs and drooled because I never thought it possible that I would ever get sent physical ARCs for review. Up until fairly recently, that was the case. And to this day I still get ARC envy; I think every blogger probably does at one point or another. But, it’s the way we handle it that matters.

Book bloggers that get sent books for review are sent them not only to read them and post their thoughts, but to bring about publicity and hype for the book. Lily talks in more depth about how bloggers posting images of ARCs is a good thing in her lovely post. I completely agree with everything she says, and wanted to strongly add one point:

Bloggers that get sent a coveted ARC clearly worked hard to establish a site and following large enough that the publisher deemed them worthy. I would know, because I am not one of those said bloggers (yet?). 

Also: Being sent books for free, whether they are ARCs or not, requires some kind of payment back to the publisher and author. ARCs are expensive to make, and being sent one is a privilege. Sharing the book and creating interest is the least us bloggers can do to repay them.

So, those are my thoughts on all of the envious and jealous folks out there that feel the need to call out bloggers for fulfilling their obligations to publishers. And a word of advice if that’s you: start a book blog! You could be the person getting sent ARCs someday! 😉

xo

On a Personal Note

Recently a lot has been going on in my life, which has resulted in a lack of blog posts and particularly reviews from me. I feel like a lot of other bloggers have shared some more personal posts with their blog readers, and while I have given little tidbits of my life happenings, I haven’t really opened up to you all. I’m also hoping that writing this post will help me through this time in my life, because right now I feel like I’m just snowballing.

As you may remember last year around October I mentioned that I was sick for quite a while. I got whooping cough, which lasts for FOREVER and causes extreme body-shaking coughing. Well, it exhausted me and I missed about a month and a half of school if you add it all up. Being a high school student, that was the worst scenario possible. I’m a fanatic about my grades, and with taking three AP classes this year the whole experience set me back and crushed me. I still maintained a good average, but it was so frustrating because I knew had I been in school I could have been doing so much better. Add to it teachers who were the farthest from understanding, and I became a complete stress-case. Fast forward to just about a month ago — I JUST got caught up with all of my schoolwork from when I was out sick.

The week before my spring break I caught a little something again, but it was nowhere near as serious as before. More work to make up. And the days of school that I’ve missed just keeps adding up. It’s making me not only super stressed about keeping up my grades and getting caught up, but also college applications. I’m stressed over the possibility of schools seeing the number of days that I missed this year.

This cycle just keeps happening and it is exhausting me physically as well as taking a mental toll on me. I was in denial about it for the longest time, but I’m seriously suffering from anxiety and stress. I’ve missed more school days this week because I’ve been so nervous about going back to school and confronting teachers after more days missed. I’ve always suffered from migraines, but this week I’ve had one all day everyday — now the stress is taking a toll on my health. My doctor is working on prescribing me a medication that will help both the headaches and the anxiety, but until then I have to push through on my own.

I think part of my problem is that I’m so focused on my grades, school, etc. I know what I want, and not achieving that because of the stress that keeps consuming me just ADDS to it all. Reading and blogging always helps me cope, but seeing as I’ve missed so much work I don’t have time to do the things that make me feel better. See how it’s turning into a cycle?

I hope this post doesn’t seem whiney, but really I wanted to write this for me. I think putting it all into words helps, and I’m blogging so it’s also calming me down. I’m not in denial about the problem anymore, and I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to face it head on. There is only one quarter left in school for me that I have to make it through and then I’ll be on summer vacation! I’m looking forward to it for many reasons, but I’m really excited that I’ll be doing a six week pre-college program at my dream college. I know that it will be a lot of work and most likely stressful, but it’ll be good stress and lots of excitement!

If you made it this far in this post, thanks for listening to me vent. You’re all amazing and I hope to have a bookish post for you all very soon!

xo