Friday, 17 September 2010

Future Treasures - BBAW Wrap & Goals for the Coming Year

Friday already, and it's time for my BBAW 2010 wrap-up post.  In some ways, the five days have flown past; in others, it's been an exhausting experience!  In this final post, I'd just like toreview the week, consider what I've learned and lay out some future plans for my blogging, formed in the crucible of the BBAW furnace!

Although my blog has been around since the start of 2009, it's not one of the most popular sites out there, and I have tended to move languidly around in a fairly limited circle of bloggers, gradually extending that circle at each rotation.  This week, therefore, has seen a quantum leap in both the number of blogs I have visited and the number of visitors my own quiet little corner of the blogosphere has been lucky enough to receive.  I'm not sure that the mutual admiration will last in all cases much beyond the end of the week; however, I'm sure a little will have rubbed off on both sides, and there'll be some lasting relationships in both directions. 

This week has seen me post every day on (or close to) the BBAW topics: on Monday, I recommended a couple of my favourite bloggers; on Tuesday, I interviewed Jenners, a blogger who was new to me (and vice-versa!); on Wednesday, I talked about how a recommendation led to my reading a novel by blog; and yesterday, I got up into my pulpit and preached to the masses about translated literature!  I'd like to extend a special thanks to Jenners for her participation and help with Tuesday's interview posts; having a more popular and mainstream blogger as a partner probably helped more people find their way here than would otherwise have been the case - and she was very nice about it all too, despite my comments about vampires and e-books ;)

Over the course of the week, while evaluating other blogs and receiving comments about my site and the posts contained herein, I have also had time to reflect on Tony's Reading List and to think about what my blog actually means to me.  One thing the many kind comments have brought home to me is that I do what I do well; that is, I review a range of classical, translated and German-language literature, and I pretty much stop there apart from the (very) occasional comment piece.  It's what makes me stand out a little, even if it's what makes me hard to find in the first place, as oxymoronic as that may sound!  In short, there's no point in moving my tastes towards those of the wider market as there are thousands of bloggers out there who can, and do, achieve this much more successfully than I ever could.

The recognition has also made me realise that I enjoy writing the posts and that I want to keep up my blog, as difficult and time consuming as that can be at times.  If I need to improve my time management a little (and avoid chasing my tail with attempts to secure free books from publishers), then a little simplification is all that's needed - well, that and curtailing the urge to recheck my dashboard for comments seventy-three times a day...

So what, specifically, does this mean for the blog for the coming year?  Well, firstly, that I want to continue with it (something we should never take for granted - bloggers can lose their desire to post and review at any time!).  Secondly, that I will continue to concentrate on my strengths and avoid following trends just so that I can play with the cool kids.  There are plenty of sites where people can read reviews of Mockingjay - there aren't that many where people can read reviews of Billard um Halbzehn or Der Besuch der Alten Dame, so I should continue to fulfil my community service role ;)  Thirdly, I really need to work on my time management.  This means cutting down on time-wasting activities (such as checking on comments...), and planning how I'm going to spend my time before I actually get to the computer.  Sadly, as much as this pains me, it may also mean that I need to give up on the concept of reviewing every single book I read, in favour of reviews on my favourite books along with some more regular, alternative types of posts.

This last point is probably where my blog falls down a little.  In my desire to review books, I have neglected the peripheral activities which make the blog attractive to others and keep the visitors coming.  My reviews have tended to come down at irregular intervals without warning, like new literary versions of The Ten Commandments (Thou shalt read Quicksand forthwith!), which is fine for some readers, but probably puts others off.  Therefore, I plan to make a few small changes to make the site a little more user-friendly: monthly wrap-ups (if I can find the time), tabs at the top of the home page (if I can work out how to do it on Blogger!) and a stronger, permanent logo at the top of the page to strengthen my identity (if I can do it without disrupting the look of the blog).

Finally, in what has turned into a bit of a manifesto, I'll talk about the wider role I and my blog play in the literary blogosphere.  Last night's South Pacific Book Chat on Twitter (#spbkchat) focused on raising your blog's profile, and the main message to come out of it (apart from a need for closer links to publishers in our area of the world) was a desire for some more events for our region.  Perhaps we can all soon start a meme, or a book club, and move towards establishing an event such as BBAW for Asia-Pacific book bloggers.  Who knows, maybe one day we'll have an actual face-to-face catch up somewhere too!  But that might be looking a little too far into the future...

That then is what the next year holds for me and my blog.  I hope some of you have managed to stick it out to the end of the week (and the end of my lengthy diatribe!).  A big thanks to all of you book bloggers out there and especially to the organisers, overseers of an event which must be incredibly time-consuming to pull together: congratulations on a job well done :)  All that remains to be said is that I hope to 'see' you all around soon... oh, and let's do it all again next year :)