This May marks our fifth year blogging at Pages Unbound! Our first review was The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published May 18, 2011. To celebrate, we asked our followers to submit questions they wanted us to answer! You can read our great wisdom below. 😉
How long did it take you to build your following?
Briana: Pretty much five years actually. Our views/followers were very low in 2011 because we were new to book blogging and really not engaging with the community in the ways that attract attention. Our follower numbers grew 2013-2015, but our average page views were essentially the same those three years. We’ve seen an increase this year, and I think that’s probably due to a combination of 1) making a concerted effort to comment more and find other bloggers we haven’t interacted with before and 2) writing more discussion posts, which seem to really be resonating with people.
How do you stay focused on enjoying the community and not worrying about views/money/popularity?
Krysta: I find this a bit of a strange question as book bloggers aren’t exactly known for making money or becoming popular. I began blogging because I love talking about books and engaging with people, and that has not changed. Large numbers of views don’t mean anything to me if we’re not getting comments and holding conversations with all the cool people out there.
Can you name a few thing you’ve seen other bloggers do that you would strongly advise against?
Briana: There aren’t really wrong ways to blog, in my opinion, just ways that speak to some readers and not to others. The only things I’d think you’d really want to avoid are 1) technical mistakes like making your blog a difficult font to read or 2) actions/statements that are really offensive. That means avoiding plagiarism, avoiding telling other bloggers you hate the way they blog, avoiding tagging authors in negative reviews, etc. Be a respectful person online and it’s hard to go wrong. 🙂
Krysta: Like Briana said, I don’t think there’s a right and a wrong way to blog; people should do what they love and what makes them unique. If you want to find a way to combine punk music and books, go for it, if that’s your thing. Don’t worry about trying to grab the market or do what everyone else says book bloggers do. I would recommend, however, making your blog easy to read (I leave blogs when I can’t see the words or decipher the font) and trying to focus on good content rather than on trying to churn out posts as fast as possible. It’s easy to burn out that way. But if you have to take a break, that’s fine, too!
What is one of the lessons you’ve learned in the five years that Pages Unbound has been up and running?
Briana: I want to think of something wise and profound to say, but even after five years I don’t feel like I have the answers to the mysteries of the blogosphere. And maybe that’s the lesson. From observations and the blogger stats we’re currently collecting, it seems to me that it’s easy to believe everyone else is somehow “more successful” than you–when actually we’re all in this together, and connecting with great people is really all we need.
What blog features do you like to see on blogs you follow?
Briana: I primarily value content. There are a lot of cool changes in the blogosphere recently, with a greater interest in videos and photography and original features. However, I’m still mostly interested in good writing and thoughtful opinions. I love book reviews and discussion posts that really dig into the issue at hand.
Krysta: I like to see thoughtful reviews that really engage with the text and discussion posts that have a clear argument with a lot of supporting evidence.
How did the two of you come to share a blog?
Krysta: Briana asked me to. I know that we work well together, so I said yes.
How has Pages Unbound and/or blogging in general changed your life for the better?
Briana: I think it’s very useful to write consistently, and blogging forces me to do that. I’ve also loved becoming more connected to a community of readers!
Krysta: I’ve met so many lovely and interesting people through blogging!
Has blogging diminished your joy in reading?
Briana: No, I don’t think so. I try to avoid reading schedules, requesting too many ARCs, and basically anything that sounds like the exact opposite of the mood reading I really enjoy. I know there can be pressure to review certain books or certain types of books, or to read at a certain pace to be able to review a lot. Believe me when I say I’m aware that reviewing the latest YA book is probably going to make my blog more “popular” than reviewing some of the really obscure classics I sometimes read. I just try not to let that affect my reading habits because, for me, blogging still has to be about reading and writing what I want.
Krysta: I don’t worry about reading for the blog. I just read what I want and enjoy it, the same way I always have. Some stuff I read doesn’t make it to the blog–I imagine the market for reviews of Renaissance drama is a little niche–but if I don’t get to post a review one week, that’s not the end of the world. And I think our eclectic style has really worked for us and allowed us to differentiate ourselves.
Favorite book you’ve (each) reviewed?
Briana: My favorite book is The Lord of the Rings, but I think one of the favorite reviews I’ve written is for The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.
Krysta: My favorite book is The Lord of the Rings. I can’t remember if I reviewed it or just did the read-along, though.
Are either of you a journalist or professional writer? Your discussion posts are brilliant and by far my favorite blog posts to read.
Briana: No, but I’m interested if someone is hiring. 😉
Krysta: Also, no. But, sure, I’ll write for money if someone wants me to.
If you could go back in time and claim authorship of any book (I say nothing of the morality of this action…) which book, and why?
Briana: I think anyone could predict I would say The Lord of the Rings. On a technical level, it’s so complex and well-written; I would love to have that kind of fiction writing talent. But it’s also a book that has moved and spoken to so many people, which I think is also incredibly important. But if I can’t have LotR, I’ll settle for having written Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery has such beautiful perspectives on life.
Krysta’s bio says that she believes all books should be read with hot chocolate. How about you, Briana? 😉
Briana: I basically believe that hot chocolate should be had at all times. However, I also really enjoy smoothies.
Apart from Middle-Earth, what fictional world would you love to visit? What would you do (or avoid) there?
Briana: I’m thinking of a bunch of fantasy worlds I’d like to visit, but almost half of them are predicated on the assumption I would develop magical talents once I got there–and I’m not sure that’s a safe assumption! But I would love to visit Narnia as a mere mortal. It seems as there are a lot of interesting sites to visit,and I’d love to meet some talking animals.
Krysta: Obviously I would want to visit Harry’s world and buy stuff from Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. The candy and book stores will be first on my list.
For breakfast: sweet or savory?
Briana: Sweet! That is the answer to any food question.
Krysta: This is tough. I usually eat oatmeal with fruit, though, so I guess that counts as sweet.