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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Audience and Writing for Readers, An Unconventional Tour

When I volunteered to cover “audience and writing for readers” for the Unconventional Blog Tour, I thought it would be easy. I even “wrote” a bit out during my commute to and from work. No, fellow drivers, not literally, but rather working through some ideas and concepts.

Then I sat down to write it; and not only didn’t the writing come easy, but the draft post was eaten by the Internet. I’ll take that as a sign that perhaps it wasn’t as brilliant as I thought it was.

The short, easy answer to “why do I write,” or, here, “why do I blog,” is “for myself.”

The longer, philosophical answer gets into a combination of wanting to be heard; but also wanting to connect with others, through writing and reading, commenting and posting. For this particular area of the universe, it’s connecting over books and reading and literacy and reading culture. But either of those answers are, in a way, so bland as to be meaningless.

To be honest, when I picture a reader — picture an audience — well, I picture me. Not me, precisely: not me in terms of gender, age, politics, religion, career, education, etc., etc.

I’m a reader, so I write for readers. I write about books, and why I like certain books. It can be a bit difficult, especially when it’s about a book where I want a reader to discover the book just like I did, but at the same time, I want to delve into what made the book so incredible and that could spoil the book for readers. How do I figure that out? Based entirely on what I enjoyed finding out for myself.

I write for people interested in reading culture. People who realize a “book” is more than paper or e-ink; who are intrigued by story or narrative; who want to be entertained; who are seeking information. Who see the value in people reading, and so are interested in all the things that go along with stories and books and reading: diversity, and cover art, and publishing; different types of readers; how a draft becomes a book; what the difference is between “young adult” and “tweens”; what reading levels really mean; etc. etc. This includes writing as if reading matters; and hoping that my readers, here, share that belief.

I’m a librarian whose job involves Readers Advisory, so I write about why people would want to read certain books. RA is about more than telling people what my favorite books are, it’s about identifying what the appeal factors are for certain books and writing about that. Readers of this blog will, hopefully, see that and remember books not for themselves, but for the readers they work with. Booksellers or teachers may call that book matchmaking something different, but the common intent is there.

I’ve seen various things in other places (articles, blog posts, twitter) about what blogs are or aren’t; what bloggers are or aren’t; what blogs should or should not be. And then they give advice to all and sundry based on that.

I won’t go into what does or does not work for other bloggers.

To be honest — and I’m trying to be honest — this is what works for me. This is what makes me tick.

It’s not true for everyone.

And it shouldn’t be true for everyone because then the blogosphere would be terribly boring. Even if somethings are the same — say, you blog for readers — you may come to it with a different approach than what works for me (which tends to be a combination of what I enjoyed about a book and what others may like about the book).

So why do you blog?

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. MotherReader says:

    I started blogging because I could never find colleagues at the library who were as excited about children’s books as I was. I wanted to share the perfect story time book, the perfect middle grade to hand to a smart reader, as well as the books that I found perfectly enjoyable reading for myself. At work, I rarely found more than a flicker of interest, oh but online! Here was a community also looking for and sharing the perfect books, and/or discussing what didn’t make other titles work. So I blog to be part of the conversation.

    If I imagine an audience, it’s you, Liz… and Mary and Terry and Sheila and Anne and Jen and Kelly and on and on to all the people I’ve met who are passionate about books.

  2. tanita says:

    Ditto what Pam says.
    It’s just that well-meaning people could only glaze over in the light of my enthusiasm – so, better to limit my endless chatter to people who actually, you know, CARE. Book culture. I like that phrase.

  3. Angie says:

    I blog because it fills the craving to meet like minds and go on about why these books make life worth living. I blog to make friends, to find new books, to expand my worldview, and to spread the word on books I think need to be read.

    Agree with Tanita. I like the term book culture. It sounds strong and beautiful.

  4. Doret says:

    Before I started blogging I was already lurking on kidlit blogs. I started my own because I it would be a great way to talk about books, so I would no longer have to bore my friends who don’t read kidlit. Also while I loved blog hopping (and still do) I noticed a lack of space devoted to diversity (it has gotten better) so I knew I one thing I would focus on would be diversity.

    Random question – Does anyone know of any good adult mystery blogs? I can’t live by kidlit alone.

  5. Tara Lazar says:

    I started blogging because I always enjoyed writing and it was a non-fiction outlet for me. Honestly I didn’t think anyone would read it and I didn’t care if anyone read it–at first–it was just for me. Now I realize that it’s a platform to share great books, to inspire other writers and to create a community of like-minded kidlit lovers. I also have few friends in real life who love books as much as I do (especially children’s books), so I found my bookish crew through blogging.

  6. Kelly says:

    I started blogging because I’d just finished library school and missed conversing with people who loved books and reading as much as me. I wanted to talk about books and find a community of readers. I saw other people talking about books on their blogs and it made me think that was what I wanted to do. I love this community of readers who are as passionate about words and stories as I am and not just that — I love that this community also helps one another out and supports one another so much.

  7. Stacy Dillon says:

    I started blogging (booktopia) for my own love of books. I continued and narrowed with Tweendom to help folks find middle grade / tween books and to explore more of that age range. I love to talk about books I liked, and connect with readers, authors, librarians about shared reading experiences.

  8. Edi says:

    I started blogging because I have a passion for books and literacy. I was so tired of people always saying they could never find books for teens of color and they’re always right there! As a librarian, I come across so many sources of information that build literacy, I wanted to a platform to share all that so that hopefully, students won’t have to struggle quite so much. In the meantime, I discovered what blogging really meant and all the work involved in networking, I’ve made numerous friends and know that I’ve learned way more than I’ve shared.
    It’s an interesting experience for this little introvert!

  9. Thanks for the info. I love to read books, but do not review them. I write my new blog because, it’s high time that I express myself before I fade away into the darkness. I have something to say, I think I am creative and I want to entertain and impress others with my humor and the clever ways that I express myself… pure unadulterated self indulgence with no apologies.

  10. My reasons for blogging centered entirely around my children, my son specifically. We lived in a very small town when he was born and at 18 months he could already read. The small town had next to no funding for the library and only a small bookstore. I wanted and needed to connect with other book lovers, parents, librarians and others to not only find more books to share with him (and later my daughter), but to also share our experiences searching for the books he would treasure.

    It’s been an adventure and I’ve certainly found a tremendous well of knowledge to learn from. Even after three years I still feel like I have so much to learn, but I love this community and the opportunities it’s provided not only me with but my son as well. He’s loved interviewing and meeting authors, and to me that’s worth all the hard work. I love it!

  11. Jess says:

    Like Susan said, I started with “pure unadulterated self indulgence” in mind, and that of course included writing about what I was reading, in addition to lots of other things – much more like journaling. When I started library school and started trying to write about books in a way that’s closer to actual reviewing (although still pretty loosy goosey sometimes), I found books taking up a larger and larger amount of space on my blog. One day I realized that I rarely blog about personal stuff anymore, and that I think of blogging more as part of my professional development as a librarian.

    I will say that I started reading a lot of other book blogs to feed that need for ‘book culture’ – to find like minds who were as passionate as me about children’s books and book culture (love that term!)

  12. I’m somewhere between Susan and Jess– I have gotten a LITTLE more conscious of my audience being people-who-don’t-actually-know-me, and I’ve given my posts a little more thought than I used to at the beginning (before, my LiveJournal was clearly more of a LiveJOURNAL– now I’m leaning a bit on the bloggier side). But I haven’t gotten to the point of actually focusing on any one topic. I write about whatever I want to write about, just to share my opinions with the world… or at least whoever’s listening. But I love to read other people’s more focused book blogs just for that sense of community!

  13. Liz, I’m taking this opportunity to tell you that I read your blog often, but rarely comment. I have always enjoyed how you put together your posts. Thanks for all you do to get books into the hands of readers!

  14. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Pam, it’s funny, people think “oh you work in a library” but don’t realize someone may be the only person working in children’s or teens.

    tanita, people who care: YES

    Doret, while diversity has gotten better, its still got so far to go. I just realized how few my diverse reads have been. And I noticed that most of the reviews I found for the whole story of half a girl were from blogs with a specific diversity focus. sigh.

    Tara, it is hard to find a bookish crew like this in real-life. I imagine it may be different in NYC.

    Kelly, you come for the books, you stay for the community!

    Stacy, it’s so about the connection! We would never have met in real life if it weren’t for blogging.

    Edi, I think a good number of us may self identify as introverts. I know I do.

    Susan — self expression is so important and blogs are a great way to do that.

    Danielle, that’s terrific! And yes blogging makes the book world bigger for us, with authors becoming more than names on covers.

    Jess, thanks, and yes — love book culture!

    rockinlibrarian, it’s great to have a place to speak, and then to listen.

    Lisa, thank you so much! that means a lot! and i’m now inspired to do a follow up post in the next few weeks more about reading blogs.

  15. Shelver says:

    I blog because I figured I’d go crazy if I didn’t.

    I’m obsessed with books, and that means I can’t stop talking about them. I want to squeal over them with others, and it wasn’t enough to me to just lurk in the comments of other blogs. I wanted to say what I wanted to say without feeling like I was hijacking someone else’s conversation.

    Then, as I researched how to make a good blog, I read that having a hook to define one’s blog from another’s is a good thing, so I started talking about working in a bookstore. That naturally leads back into talking about books, so it’s this gorgeous cycle of gabbing about books ALL THE TIME. A lot of the time, I’m not sure anyone even actually reads my posts, but that’s okay. It’s all about the books.

  16. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Shelves — yes! Once one starts, it can become such a part of you that stopping just isn’t thinkable. (is that a word?) And it is ultimately all about the books.

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