Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Blogger Poll

No one asked me to do this -- in fact, they possibly might have asked me not to, if they knew I existed -- but I saw that Larry at OF Blog did this list of questions, and I realized I hadn't done one of these for quite a while.

So it was time. Questions are in bold, my snotty answers not. Though this is all more than slightly pointless.

How many times do you post each week?

Lately, at least twice, though the goal always is to post at least daily.

What percentage of your blog posts are reviews?  (2-part question)

Over the past few years, anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3, depending on the week.

What percentage of your blog posts are promotional posts? (2-part question) promos = cover reveals, author interviews, memes, etc.

Memes are promotional? If this is simply a dichotomy between book reviews and everything else, than a monkey could work out what's left once to take out reviews.

I do no cover reveals, author interviews, or crap like that -- mostly because I'm not interested in them personally.

How many books did you review in 2012?

I covered 125 books in single or dual posts, and a number more in desultory end-of-the-month roundups.

How long does it take for you to read a book, on average?  Actual # of hours, not days.

That depends heavily on the length and kind of book, obviously. (I suppose many book bloggers always read the same kind of thing, and I am biting my lip to avoid negatively characterizing them here.)

I read about 50-60 pages an hour, as an average -- of most literary fiction, SFF with some meat to it, reasonably popular nonfiction. Really dense nonfiction goes more slowly, mysteries and more frivolous SFF goes more quickly. But a 700-page book will take longer than a 200-page book, no matter what the genre.

How long does it take you to compose a review, on average? Don't forget you have to format it for your blog, insert links, choose images, etc. as well.

Anywhere from half an hour (when I'm really speedy) to 4-5 hours over the course of months (when I'm procrastinating, can't figure out how to say what I want, or the stars just aren't right yet).

What percentage of your reviewed books were from books you purchased? (4-part question)

You want a real number? Let's say one-third, roughly.

What percentage of your reviewed books were from books you borrowed or were gifted? (4-part question) from library, friend, etc. (NOT a galley)

This is about another third, through it's all from the library.

What percentage of your reviewed books were from galleys? (4-part question) from publisher, Amazon Vine, etc. 

And this is the last third -- though many of them are real published books from publishers -- after so many years at the book clubs, the joy of "getting" to read something early is long gone, so I tend to read stuff after publication.

What percentage of your reviewed books were from trades with other bloggers? (4-part question)

That's easy -- zero. Why would I be trading with other bloggers?

How much time does it take you to promote a single blog post via Facebook, GoodReads, Twitter, visiting other blogs, etc.?

None -- the feed is automatically syndicated to Twitter and Facebook, and I'm too lazy (and internally conflicted about the whole idea) to do anything more.

Are there other places where you promote your reviews? This may be difficult to define since some of your social media is also for fun, so please use your best judgment in settling on a number.

Again, I don't "promote" my reviews. I already work in the monkey house, so I'm not doing this to bootstrap anything.

How much time do you spend on blog maintenance per month? Updating, editing, prettifying--anything that isn't writing an actual post.

Far too little, I'll tell you that for free. If it's an hour, that would be a lot. My blogroll has been crying out for attention for at least five years now.

How many giveaways did you host in 2012? How many of those giveaways were self-funded? Meaning, you paid for s&h. Did you also pay for the books themselves? How much money did you personally spend on giveaways this year? Please include book costs, shipping and handling costs, packaging, tape, etc.

Let me lump all this together, since it's easy: I don't do giveaways. Not funded by me, not funded by anyone else, not at all. (If a publisher I already knew and trusted wanted to do something, I wouldn't necessarily be against it, but I don't give away stuff for my own purposes.)

Actually, I do have a short stack of books that I've been vaguely thinking about giving away, but I had two problems. One, I couldn't think of a good way to do it -- what would determine the winner? Second, the idea of having to box them up and mail them filled me with a vast ennui.

How much money did you spend this year on finished copies?

If there's an implied "specifically for your blog" there, the answer is zero. I buy books, I read books, I write about books. It's all part of one big thing.

Do you also buy them if you already got a galley (for you, friends, etc.)?

Not on purpose for myself, no. I've bought books as presents that I also owned.

If you have other people contributing to your blog, do you pay them? If so, what amount did you spend?

I don't, so they get nothing.

How much did you spend on site maintenance? web design, domain name registration, etc.

Nothing. I keep thinking I should get my own domain, but I haven't done it.

Do you attend book conventions like BEA, ALA, etc? If so, please total/break down the costs for registration, hotel, travel for each one.

I do usually attend BEA, because I'm a publishing-company marketing manager by day. (I actually had to work a booth most of last year's BEA, for the first time.)

I've also gone to a few SF conventions -- fewer as the years since my time at the SFBC have gone on -- but that's not to promote my blog, it's just because I like to remember when I belonged there.  

Do you have business cards or other promotional items? What did you spend on creating them, and why are they important to have?

I have a bunch of free business cards (from five years ago) that include the blog's URL, but they're really not promo for the blog.

Are there other blogging costs that we haven't listed that you would like to add? Please explain and quantify as much as possible.

Not monetary costs, no. I don't spend anything directly on this blog; it's a hobby rather than a business venture. 

Do you receive any kind payment for your personal blogging efforts? ad revenue, paid promo posts, promo tour organization, etc.

Nope. I did have a few paying book-review gigs for a while -- really just ones that fell into my lap, since I've spent no energy chasing them -- but they've all stopped now.

Come to think of it, if I actually spent some time and did it professionally, I probably could get another book-review gig, for at least nominal payment. Since I haven't, I guess that means I'd rather babble here without interference. (Examining one's own behavior isn't always pretty.)

If you do receive payment for your blogging, does it cover the cost of running your site? Please share the amount you earned in 2012 if possible, or put "decline to answer" or "N/A."

No payment connected to the blog at all. I do get a trickle of cash-equivalent through my Amazon links, but that's it.

Most book bloggers seem to agree that any ad revenue and finished copies don't come anywhere near offsetting the expense of maintaining a book blog. Which begs the question: why do you do it?

I got into the habit of listening to the sound of my fingers rambling, and I still enjoy it.

Again, this is a hobby -- I do it because I enjoy it, and because I realize it is a hobby.

What are some of your frustrations, hopes, and dreams for your blog?

Frustrations: mostly that I can't quite say what I want to say about a book, or that people (primarily the author) take it wrongly. But that just loops back to prove that I didn't say it right.

Hopes: that I will be so smart and erudite and awesome that one of my old SF buddies will offer me a great job and take me away from the cold but exceptionally remunerative world of business publishing. But it's a very silly, self-mocking hope.

Dreams: to get better at this instead of falling into the same things over and over, to write well about vastly different books, to find more interesting reading projects that will amuse other people as much as they do me.

How can your readers help you as a blogger? What do you wish were different about the reader interaction on your blog? Frustrations, successes to share?

I'm not sure if I want more comments, which would be the obvious thing -- on the one hand, I think the appearance of more reader involvement would be great, but I feel like comments are people sternly disagreeing with me (no matter what they actually say), so they're nerve-wracking.

If there were lots more readers who hung on my every word like gospel and spread the Hornswoggler name far and wide, that would be totally awesome, he said entirely facetiously.

Aside from all the above reader things, how can your fellow bloggers help you? What do you wish were different about your interaction with fellow bloggers or readers?

Other book-review bloggers? Nothing I can think of. I'm not a joiner by temperament.

How can authors and publishers help you as a blogger?

Send me lots of stuff for free!

More seriously, to spend more time and effort writing and publishing better books -- there's a lot of dreck out there, presented cynically or otherwise. Of course, vast numbers of people who aren't me love dreck, so this is not necessarily a good plan for general success.

What do you wish or publishers understood about the process of blogging?

I think we publishing folks understand blogging much better than a lot of bloggers think we do. Bloggers are the modern equivalent of the nice middle-aged lady who used to review romance novels for the Podunk Herald, and get about the same amount of courtesy and attention as she did.

How has your experience been in interacting with industry people?

I've spent my professional life in publishing, so I have no coherent answer to this on a purely blog level.

Which authors and publishers have you found to be particularly responsive/helpful/enjoyable to work with? Why?

Since I'm all-too-often lackadaisical about notifying publishers that I've posted a review, the ones who have continued to send me things anyway -- usually because I have personal contacts there-- have been the nicest.

I won't make any more of this, because I'm almost certainly not worth it, and I only get review copies because they're so ridiculously cheap.   

Do you find egalleys or physical ARCs easier to review from?

I like physical books, for two reasons:
  • the device I have to read on is an iPad, and that gets glare of varying degrees on my train (the main reading time) 8-9 months of the year 
  • I just plain forget about digital copies, since they're not sitting on a shelf and looking at me

What are your blog's monthly page views?

3,571 over the last 30 days -- that may be slightly below the average because the holidays were in there. But I'm in that neighborhood.

How many subscribers do you have for your RSS feed/email sign up?

396 through Feedburner, possibly more in other ways. (There's a LiveJournal feed, among other murky things.)

How many followers do you have through Google Friend Connect or Linky tools? Please list/quantify other sources if you use something similar. 

None as far as I know; I didn't set up anything like that specifically.

How many Twitter followers do you have?


How many Facebook fans do you have?


How many GoodReads friends/followers do you have?

None; I don't post on GoodReads.

What is your Amazon reviewer ranking?

I'm number 7857, but I've gotten dissatisfied with posting my reviews there -- it steals link-juice from the main blog, and there's no way I can link to Antick Musings from Amazon. So I don't see what good posting anything there actually does me.

Are there other facts & figures pertinent to your audience reach? Would you like to share your name and blog? Please leave your URL and/or contact details if so. Anything else you'd like to add? Last chance! 

I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht. If you're reading this, you already know where my blog is.

(Apparently this was originally a survey on Google Docs, which explains some of it, and particularly the last question.)

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