Running a book blog can be challenging. It can be exhausting. And it can be stressful. But over the last six months or so, I’m developed a sort of system to keep myself on top of things and I’ve reduced the stress of it quite a lot and I’m going to share!
The most important things for me are organisation and the community – I couldn’t do this without either of them.
This is where you could all laugh at me, but I basically run So Many Books, So Little Time from spreadsheets. I get a lot of review copies, NetGalley proofs and I buy a fair amount of books as well, and when you have that many, how on earth do you keep track of them? A spreadsheet. The picture below is my ‘To Read’ spreadsheet as of 5th June. Here I put in every book that comes into my hand that I intend to read. I mark whether they’re a debut, a UKYA novel and their release date. I also put in books I buy so I can con myself into letting myself read them over review books on occasion! The ones in bold are my priorities – yeah, I know, it’s most of them…
Like most bloggers I have a designated TBR shelf. Well, half a bookcase actually. And that’s without the other bits and pieces scattered between my other four bookcases… But the shelf in the picture below is my TBR of 2015 releases. One of my main goals for this year is to read everything on my 2015 TBR. Though I’ve read a lot this year – on 88 books as I write this – it’s still going to be a challenge! I have a book buying problem and though I’ve been very selective about requesting review copies, I still get a lot of unsolicited ones and if I want to read it, on the shelf it goes! I keep this shelf roughly in order of month of release as I like to read a month at a time when possible, though of course I dip back and forwards as the mood takes me!
And that’s all when and good, but even knowing what you have to read doesn’t mean I can keep it all straight in my mind. So I also use a calendar. This is essential for me. I have a rough schedule for which posts post on which days, eg. Reviews Monday, Wednesday, Friday; discussion posts on Thursday; Letterbox Love on Sunday and a free for all on Tuesday! That seems simple enough to keep track of, but when you throw in blog tours and posts around events and challenges and date/culture/holiday specifics, I need it written down, especially as lots of these things have to be planned in advance! This is my calendar for June. As you can see, once I’ve written and scheduled the post, it gets a capslock, bolded DONE and man, is it satisfying! If I didn’t schedule posts ahead of time there is no way I would manage to keep up with everything. I love to schedule up a full week and then not touch the blog for a couple of days to recharge.
When I’m all scheduled up I have plenty of time to read and make notes for review. Over the years I’ve discovered that I write my best reviews when I just throw down every though or idea or theory about a book onto paper while I read. Then when it comes to writing the review I read back my notes and pick out things to write about and it’s always interesting to see how my thoughts evolved over the course of the novel. I keep the notes in a notebook by my bed - though I use my notes on my iPod most of the time and just copy them over before I go to sleep; it’s a very relaxing process for me. I have a huge stack of notebooks ready and waiting to be filled!
In these notebooks I make tons of lists, plan out discussion posts, scribble down ideas and workout my thoughts. They also enable me to build posts up steadily so I can get a full read on my ideas. Though it works slightly differently, I’m a big build of compiling big posts as you go. My Letterbox Love post for each week is started as soon as I get my first book. Every time a book enters my possession, I write it up in the document and add it to my spreadsheets so when it comes to Saturday all I have to do is copy, paste and a little image formatting and I’m done. If I didn’t do that and I got, say 8 books that week, I’d be there for a good hour writing that post. Instead it’s done in about 5/10 minutes a day and then ten minutes to schedule it. I also do this with my Year in Review, end of year favourite and Most Anticipated posts – spreading it out across days/weeks/months helps a daunting task feel like a walk in the park.
But the most essential part of running So Many Books, So Little Time? The UKYA community. There is no way I could have stuck this out for six and a half years without the friends I’ve made doing this. I have people who know exactly what I’m talking about when I rant about putting images in Blogger, people to get excited with when an exciting proof comes through the door, someone to commiserate with when a hyped up novel falls short and a group of smiling faces to see when I walk into an event. Whether it’s via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, text or in person, it’s the people behind the other blogs that make all this happen and I love them all lots.