Friday, May 27, 2011

What We Have in Common, No Matter What Our Niche Is

This guest post comes from Armchair BEA co-founder and team member Florinda from The 3 R’s Blog, who has been with us all week while also attending the "real" BEA and BBC.

Greetings from the Book Blogger Convention in New York City, where I’ll be moderating this afternoon’s "Blogging for a Niche Market" session!

At The 3 R’s Blog, I don’t focus on a particular literary category or reader niche; that was actually one reason I was invited to be part of this particular panel (yes, I asked). Because of that, my personal interest in working with the panelists to develop our presentation content was finding a way to tie it together - what common concerns and interests do book bloggers share, regardless of their niche? When I asked the panel members to suggest two or three issues that mattered in their particular niches, some of the responses turned out to be more universal than specific. We’ll be touching on those in our session today as well, and I wanted to share those thoughts with Armchair BEA participants too.

Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts noted that some of her issues are those any book blogger encounters: “(N)ot enough time...people pitching books that are not appropriate...people not reading my review policy...etc.” I think most of us have been there, haven’t we?

Another near-universal issue is crafting our reviews. Rebecca Reid of Rebecca Reads addressed one of the major challenges of book reviewing, period: “The books we write about tend to elicit distinct (intellectual and/or) emotional responses, and oftentimes we have so much to say we want to discuss one work at length. The blogosphere probably doesn’t want to hear all we have to say. How do we find a good balance?”

Perhaps it doesn’t happen with our very first post or two, but at some point early in our blogging lifetimes, we have to assess what we want to do with our space. Jill from Rhapsody in Books touched on this, advising: “(D)ecide very clearly on the goal of your blog. If you want to be strictly a 'niche' blogger, you won't get many visits from non-niche readers. On the other hand, if you want to be eclectic, niche people are not only apt to miss you, but also not like you because you are basically saying they should take the time to comb through your other posts for the occasional post of interest. So invariably, you will lose readers whichever way you choose. It is important therefore that you decide on your priorities for the blog." I’d add that we should understand that those goals and priorities don’t have to be permanent, though. As our blogging interests shift, we should be prepared to reevaluate them.

Awareness of our audience is also a factor in determining those blogging goals. I think most book bloggers realize this, but it may come into play even more strongly for those with a niche focus. Sarah at the group blog Forever Young Adult observed that she and her blogging partners have a mission “(to) help adults find YA books that resonate with adults, not just teens. Sometimes we read a YA book and think, ‘This would be great for a teenager but... not so much for an adult.’ (We also discuss) Gateway Books, i.e. books that lure non-YA readers into YA.” YA is a category that struggles with its image among people who don’t read it; romance’s challenges in that area might be even bigger. Katie (Katiebabs) of Babbling About Books and More urged those perception issues to be confronted: “The public opinion about the romance genre in general (is that the books are) 'smut' - 'bodice rippers' only read by lonely, fat women. (In addition), romance review blogs are considered to be the mean-girls of the blogging world. Again, this is something that needs to confronted to help change the views of a blogging audience who think it’s fact.”

Sarah and Katie's reflections point out to me that one of the roles we should be prepared to accept as book bloggers is that of defenders of, and advocates for, the books we love.

It can be comforting to know that your challenges aren’t yours alone. Although it sometimes feels easier to emphasize our differences, we book bloggers have more in common than we sometimes realize, which means we can learn from each other across all our niches.


  1. Great posts. I agree I have some of the same challenges. But as a blogger, I don't have time to incorporate all genres. Plus, I don't operate best like's scattered for me. I need focus and restrictions for myself, just so I can stay on task. Plus, I feel as a reader myself of other blogs, I don't like to search and search. I want to know upfront what to expect when I get to another blog. If it's YA, great, I know I'm going to read YA, but if it's nonfiction, fiction, memoirs, cookbooks, ,etc. I'm lost in a sea of too much information.

  2. As our blogging interests shift, we should be prepared to reevaluate them.

    i'm going through this very type of readjustment lately, moving from an eclectic to nonfiction focus. taking the time to recognize what was happening with my interests and letting my readers know was an important part of the process.

    i'm so jealous that we can't come and listen in to the talk. it sounds like there are so many good points that are being discussed.

  3. I usually have an eclectic focus on my blog--thanks for this post! I also checked out the blogs you featured and added some of them to my Google Reader :)

  4. Love this post! It took me a long to accept that I did not enjoy reading "adult" books as much as "young-adult". They usually aren't as fun for me but I felt embarrassed that I was a thirty-something wanting to read about the angst of teenagers and have a happy ending! I finally embraced it and I fell back in love with reading. I feel like I have to defend it all the time but I don't let it bother me. To each their own. Here’s my blogging and social networks post! ~ Jen @ A Book and a Latte

  5. Very informative post! I especially love the part about deciding on the goal of your blog; I need to do that!