Thursday, June 12, 2008

Reflections on Blogging

It's now been a little over a year since I wrote the post To Blog or Not To Blog in which I explained all the reasons I love blogging. I followed up that post with a mission statement of sorts called Becky's 5 W's. This was soon followed by posting my review policy in the sidebar of my blog. My review policy has gotten a little lengthier over the past year.

But my blog has gone through some transitions--amazing changes that I hadn't expected--and so I thought I'd update everything.

My purpose is still the same. I blog about books because I love books. I love reading. I love talking about books. Books are my passion, my obsession. Here is the "official" purpose:

To promote the love of reading by providing teens, tweens, parents, teachers, librarians, fellow bloggers, and booklovers of all ages, with reviews of current books published for children and/or young adults.

I love helping readers connect with books. I want to help promote reading. I want to introduce books and authors to readers. The site helps me do this. It is also immensely satisfying to do this. It helps me keep track of what I read. It helps me connect with a community of readers.

I am a reader, first and foremost. I am a reader who happens to have a background in English literature and library science. I have a BA and MA in English literature from Texas Woman’s University. I have a MLS degree from Texas Woman’s University. My specialization is children’s and young adult literature. This is my calling in life to promote the love of reading, the love of books, to connect books with readers, to encourage lifelong reading habits.
What has changed is that I've expanded my blog to include some adult titles (both contemporary and classic), and I've moved my reviews of picture books, chapter books, board books, activity books, etc. to Young Readers.

I've also discovered the world of reading challenges. So now almost every week--or every other week--you'll find mention of me either creating, updating, or completing reading challenges. While I know these posts won't be helpful to every reader, the challenge-addicted community is a valid percentage of my readership. So I don't feel too guilty since I'm still providing at the very least five reviews a week.
My reviews can be found on this website Becky's Book Reviews.
My reviews of books for the under ten crowd can be found at Young Readers.
I also contribute (about 2x a month) to Young Adult Books Central.
Reviews of my ‘clean reads’ can be found on Deliciously Clean Reads.
You'll also find me over at Favorite PASTimes.
I have participated (and plan to do so) in reviewing books for The Edge of The Forest.
So I've added a few (three) more places on where to find my work but it's no big deal.

I'm happy, super-thrilled, to feature author interviews whenever I get the chance. These most likely will always appear on Monday. I haven't had one for every Monday. But I've accumulated a good many since introducing the feature last fall.

Another feature that I was happy to introduce was TRAVEL THE WORLD Wednesdays where I focus on books (picture books to novels) with an international perspective.

The biggest change over the past year has to do with WHERE my books come from...what my SOURCES are. When I wrote the original post in April 2007, most of my books--half at least--were library books. The remaining sources were borrowing books from the TWU review center and my own small collection of books that I've bought new or used. So the first nine to ten months of my blog, the amount of review copies I was receiving was small. Last summer, however, publishers and authors began responding to my review policy, responding to my blog, and I began receiving review copies, ARCs, and catalogs. It started small. But it steadily grew (and grew and grew), steadily increased. Within six months, most of my books were review copies provided by publishers. Now fourteen months later, about 80% of the books I review on my blog came from publishers and authors. Library books are about 10% and borrowed TWU books are the remaining 10%.

While some of my reviews are better than others, I like to feel that they all have a certain degree of integrity. My goal in blogging is to be honest and direct. Just me being me...talking about books. Free book or not, I'm not going to pretend to like something. Here at my blog, you'll find positive, negative, and mixed reviews.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous,  7:20 PM  

Congratulations on all your success! I can safely say your blog and all your work has pulled me into the genre, and you've really inspired me to read more. A ton of my books this year have been because of you. :D I hope you keep blogging a long time; you're a great asset to the community.

- Renay

Kristi 8:18 PM  

What a great post, Becky ;>). I (one of the challenge-addicted ones) especially appreciate all your hard work in coming up with and managing so many challenges.

Recently I've been trying to decide if I want to get more into reading and reviewing ARCs, but I have a question -- what do you do with the ARCs when you've finished reading them? Most other books I read get swapped with other readers through PBS, but they don't accept ARCs. Others I donate to my library, but I'm pretty sure they don't want ARCs either. So what do you do with them?

Laura H,  10:30 PM  

Help!! You guys are speaking a different language. What is ARC and TWU. I have been trying to puzzle it out but I'm stumped.

Becky 10:40 PM  

Laura, I didn't mean to confuse you! Really I didn't. TWU is Texas Woman's University. I have three degrees from there. I'm still affiliated (somewhat loosely) with the school because of my involvement with their School of Library and Information Studies project LIBRARIANS CHOICES. (To read more see the "To Blog or Not To Blog" and the post "Becky's 5 W's") TWU has a *wonderful* library science program.

ARC stands for Advanced REading Copy. They're uncorrected proofs of a book. There may be changes (some significant, some minor) between an ARC and the finished product. But they're sent out to reviewers a few months before the scheduled release date to give them time to read the book and write a review.

Tricia 8:33 AM  

Hi Becky,
Thanks for this overview. I'm simply amazed at how prolific you are! I'm happy to know about the Young Readers site as well. I have added this one to my blogroll at TMRE. I will continue to keep this blog in my feed reader, as you always highlight books for me to add to my TBR pile.

____Maggie 10:48 AM  

Becky - I write for some small town newspapers and I really started my blog to write notes and quotes on books. Who knew it could be so fun!

Just stopped by to let you know the Sense of Place Contest is ready for entries! Good Luck if you choose to participate! :)

Laura H,  3:54 PM  

Thanks Becky for the translation.

Mrs S 4:15 AM  

Becky - I just wanted to say that you are doing a great job of introducing me to new books! And I completely agree - just because a book is free does not mean we have to like ti and we have a duty to our readers to be honest about what we review.
Keep up the great work - you certainly inspire me to read more!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
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