Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBAW: The Mechanics of STACKED

Welcome to the second post in our series for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Today, we'll talk a bit about the mechanics behind STACKED, including how we got started and how we keep going.

STACKED was all Kelly's idea.  Before she broached the idea of a collective blog, I had almost no interest in the blogging world.  I read a few friends' blogs, and they often discussed books, but mostly my knowledge of blogs was limited to lolcats and the few librarian-centric blogs I learned about in library school.  Not the most thrilling collection.

But I was coming up on my last semester of graduate school, where I wrote constantly, and I knew that summer would probably mark the end of my school career.  As someone who had been in school for nineteen years straight without a break, that was a pretty big deal.  Those nineteen years of schooling consisted mostly of writing - bad fiction, slightly better mediocre fiction, research papers that tried really really hard, and research papers where I probably should have tried a bit harder. 

Without school, I would have no real motivation to write.  I know that's an excuse, but I'll be honest and say I'm a pretty lazy person when I can be.  I'd still scribble some bad pieces of self-indulgent fiction every now and then, but I wouldn't feel any sort of outside pressure to write consistently or write well.  Since I know that at least one person (hi Mom!) will read what I write here, and that people expect me to write here, I hold myself to a standard I might otherwise not have done.

I'm so glad I got involved with writing for STACKED.  Not only does it allow me to discuss books with other literary people, it allows me to write about them and keep those writing juices flowing.  Instead of mourning the end of my wonderful English classes where I talked and wrote about books on a daily basis, I look forward to blogging, where I can read about books I love (and books I will love) and then write about that love myself. 

It's also pretty amazing to be able to get my hands on review copies of books before they are even published.  I don't know if that novelty will ever wear off.  As a librarian, I experienced it when I first attended TLA, but as a blogger, the number of books I receive is compounded.  Sometimes, I don't even have to ask - people just offer me books!  To anyone who has a book blog, this phenomenon may not be new or all that astonishing, but it's pretty special to be offered free books - and good ones! - on a fairly regular basis.  It's a darn good incentive to keep blogging.

STACKED began in April 2009 after I decided I needed a place to write down my thoughts about books. I wanted it to encompass more than just book reviews, and I wanted to have more than just myself to blog. That's when I asked Jen and Kim to jump in.

We began by brainstorming what we wanted to blog about, including different topics that would be interesting to explore. I still have this document and go back to it once in a while to get some fresh ideas for content.

We all go through spurts and non-spurts, and it works out just fine. We communicate via email if there's something important to know (like a blog tour date that requires a post can't be moved around), but otherwise, we all operate completely independently. We talk ideas still, and we take on whatever's on our minds. We have a VERY laid back approach to blogging, as anyone who's probably been waiting on edge to find out about the results of a giveaway have noticed. If we didn't, we wouldn't want to keep doing this. Our blog is, first and foremost, for us.

As far as keeping motivated, I get jazzed from other bloggers. We hadn't been big meme participants, but getting involved with In My Mailbox has really been a blast -- I've discovered a ton of new bloggers that way. Being involved in the Cybils YA judging panel last year has been one of the highlights of being in the blog world for me: I got to read a lot of great stuff and talk about it with other great bloggers who care about good books.

Reading and reviewing forthcoming titles keeps me motivated not only as a blogger, but as a librarian, as well. It helps me determine where to spend my budget money and where I need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to purchasing. It's also been a tremendous tool in reader's advisory, as many of our devoted readers have commented to us.

But what keeps me most motivated is precisely what I mentioned above: our readers. There is nothing more exciting than a comment from a blogger mentioning that your book review has made them want to buy the book or a comment from an author who says that your review captured exactly what they were going for in the book. And of course, there are bad comments, but even those are motivating. They're challenging and sometimes downright funny, and it reminds you to keep your head up and remember your blog is your perspective.

I plan on keeping blogging until I can't anymore. There's nothing more fun than meeting people over something you love so much: reading.

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