Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Girls Don't Cry: Blogging Schedules

Inspired by Book Buzzers, Book Girls Don't Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don't miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:

Planning is half the battle!

When you start a blog most people go in with absolutely no clue what it entails, nor how much organization goes into running one--especially if you want good constant content AND respect what publishers ask as far as reviewing the books they send to you on time.

My first few months of blogging were craz-ay! I was not using anything to keep track and just going about it with the flow, and it got pretty unorganized. I would forget tours I had signed up for, and I lost track of what was due for review (mostly Netgalley books then which are easier to "forget" you have at all). But first thing's first, and I didn't learn this until a few months after I started blogging hence why I'm mentioning it, but when you receive an ARC from a publisher, they like you to review them close to the release date. Some ask within 2 weeks, some within 4, and a few I've worked with had strict deadlines and wanted it no more than 1 week before, so how the heck was I supposed to keep track when NG started approving more and more and print copies would arrive? I'm very impressed to those who do blog successfully without a schedule as I know some do, and it may just be in my OCD nature, but I need more structure. And since publishers are feeding my reading habit, I like to respect their wishes as far as timing the best I can.

So here is what my blog calendar looks like--for those on a Mac, iCal is the best invention since sliced bread or something. But for PC I know there are some desktop calendars that exists, too, or Google Calendar is a good online one. Or if you're more of an old fashioned gal/guy, a good paper calendar works--though online is nice because you can sync them to your phone (in most cases) and access them from anywhere.

(click for larger)

How to be a successful scheduler

It might look a little intimidating or time consuming to create a blogging schedule--I mean blogging is not a chore, right?--but it's barely something I even notice doing and I admit I kind of like it. All you gotta do is open your calendar--do it! Now add in your weekly regular posts like any memes or features (the iCal has an easy "repeat" feature to make that super easy). Then, whenever you get an ARC--print or digital--go in Goodreads, add it on your ARC shelf (I know y'all have one ;), and since the release date is right there, pop up your calendar, select a few days or a week prior to release, and put it in! That was so not hard, eh? Then did you sign up for any tours? Even before you get confirmation that you were selected, put it in your schedule (most tour organizers will give you the date you requested during sign ups). This avoids double booking, and worst case,  deleting an entry is extremely easy I promise ;). Then what happens if you get an ARC and nothing is free close to its release (yes this will happen!)? Pick a random day where another review is scheduled and add it in; when the time comes you pick the one you want to read the most--we're not machines! It's also a good habit to schedule reviews realistically--don't schedule 5 a week if you can only read 2.

On that note, will you get punished for skipping a review book? No! I'm not saying go request a book if you don't have every intention of reviewing it, but publishers are aware that not all ARCs will get reviewed. Sometimes this is due to readers losing interest after the early reviews (or Blythe) convinces us it will not be our cup of tea (believe me pubs prefer no review at all than going in knowing you will hate it), and other times we just simply don't have time. I have had to skip many ARCs that I have received and I have never been cut off from a publisher--although try to review at least "most" as these are not free of cost for them. With this said, if you can't fit a new ARC into an empty review slot, double book and decide later on. Note that pubs also appreciate post-release reviews so don't stress if you have to wait until after it's released! If you see my screenshot I have a habit of putting "extras" on Saturdays and I keep moving them forward as months go buy--those are my "I should review when I can" book list. Yeppers, I've got a system for everything! >.<

A guide, not a rule

This leads me to talk about how you follow your schedule once you have it going. Don't treat it as something set it stone. Don't stress yourself out if you still have not read a book that is scheduled next week. Use your schedule as a guide, not a rule book. Don't let it run your reading schedule either. If your next book on the list is a dystopian but you're really not in the mood for that, switch it with another one. You have no idea how much my schedule gets moved around every week, but at least I'm aware of which book is due for review soon so that when I am in the mood for a dystopian, I should probably read that one. I have used a schedule for well over a year and not once has it caused a reading slump, a feeling of reading being work, or a dislike towards reading or blogging at all. Knowing how to use it and giving yourself slack is just as important as creating it.

So this is how I manage my blog! Anything blog related, even mailing out giveaway prizes and special notes for tour stops, I add it my calendar. I need order in my life! I don't know how some do without *pulls hair out*.

How do you manage your blogging/reviewing schedule?
Seriously! I want to know your systems! :)

Also, don't forget to leave suggestions for future topics you'd like to see! :)

You know you love me!
Xoxo, Book Girl!