I haven’t been blogging very long, so I’m always looking for new advice on how to do this. Especially from those who have been doing it for a while! I thought, “Instead of hogging all the great advice to myself, why not share it with the blogosphere!” So a few weeks ago, I decided to start a new feature, called Saturday Special, where I will be introducing some experienced book bloggers and asking them “get to know you” questions, as well as questions about blogging tips and advice. I hope you guys enjoy this feature, learn some things and also find some new blogs to follow! Every other Saturday, I’ll be featuring a different experienced blogger for us to learn from and get to know!
Today we’ll be featuring Austine from novelknight.com!
1) How long have you been blogging?
I began in January 2011 with a writing blog before it expanded into a full-blown book blog. So this January will mark 6 years of blogging! (Which is completely crazy, in my mind.)
2) What is the meaning behind your blog name, NovelKnight? How did you come up with it?
Blog names have always been something I’ve really struggled with, actually. Since I began blogging I’ve gone through…5 names? And none of them really fit me as a blogger and a reader so I sat down and thought about what reading is for me. My favorite aspects, genres, etc. I used this big white board and started pairing words, wanting something short but fitting.
So long story short, I came up with NovelKnight. I love reading fantasy more than any genre (and I managed to include my favorite mythical animal — dragons — in the tagline). There really isn’t much more to it, honestly. I also love King Arthur stories so that played a role but yeah, I just love fantasy! ^_^
3) What has been your biggest obstacle since blogging and how have you overcome it?
I knew this question was coming…
Over the years I’ve struggled with various aspects but the biggest has probably been sticking with it. Usually about once a year I start feeling the urge to quit. Life gets in the way. I start running out of ideas. I get burned out.
This “blogging slump” always hits and I end up sitting for a few weeks wondering if it would just be easier to read books. No reviewing, no social media commitments, just reading. And, honestly, the only thing that ever works for me (personally) to overcome this is to sit down and just think. Why did I start blogging? What do I love about it? Is there something I’m doing right now that is making me unhappy? (That last particular question led to my multiple blog name changes.)
Sometimes I actually go back and read my old reviews (please don’t do this yourself because they’re terrible XD), and then I see my more recent ones. I’ve changed so much over the years and grown as both a reader and writer/reviewer. And sometimes I need a reminder of what I’ve accomplished and all the work and love I’ve put in. This probably all seems like rambling thoughts but tl;dr remind yourself why you started blogging in the first place. Usually that’s where you can re-light the spark.
4) Do you have any tips on time management?
Oh goodness, this is one of my biggest struggles. It’s hard balancing between work and my personal life and the blog and so much going on… I like lists. I make lots of checklists when I have a big blogging project coming up (theme changes, new features, a back-log of reviews, etc). Calendars and planners are also excellent. I use both a physical planner so I can flip through it easily as well as the WordPress Editorial Calendar to track post drafts and map those out.
In terms of actual tips (other than useful tools), I’d say don’t let your blog rule your life. I’m notorious for this but I’ve learned that if you set aside a certain time each day (or every other day, whatever fits your schedule) to blog, it keeps it separate from the rest of your life. When that time of day comes, my mind is like “it’s blog time” and that’s actually helped in brainstorming new ideas for posts, motivation to write reviews, etc.
5) What would you say is the toughest pressure of being a blogger?
Keeping up with the latest “trends.” This covers anything from reviewing all the latest ARCs to bookstagram to the “best discussion posts ever.” You get the idea. When I started blogging, I didn’t know ARCs existed. After returning from my college semi-hiatus I didn’t realize how much they’ve come to impact the book community. I always feel the need to review the most anticipated ARCs or my blog just isn’t up to snuff. And if I don’t get an ARC then sometimes I feel like a failure because all the “popular” (lots of followers) bloggers have it. Then there’s the pressure to take super pretty and staged bookstagram pictures because if I don’t my account isn’t good enough. There’s always something new and it’s hard to keep up with all of it.
They’re trends I’ve learned to deal with in my own way as I started caring less about it and more about just doing what I love: reading. But it’s always in the back of my mind: is my blog good enough?
6) What are your favorite blog posts to write?
It really depends on my mood. When I LOVE a book I always struggle to write the review because I just want to gush over it. Actually, I enjoy writing negative reviews which, bear with me, seems kind of weird but usually these are the books that I have so much to say and the words roll off my fingertips.
Also ranty discussion posts about something that I feel strongly about. These come and go with my mood.
7) Can you give us newbies some advice on book blogging?
Do it for yourself.
Blogging is work, it’s a commitment. If you don’t love to do it, you likely won’t stick with it long. Book blogging shouldn’t be about the ARC’s or about the status.
You can Google or ask for help with all the technical aspects of book blogging, and you’ll get better and develop your own style with time/practice. But looking back on the last 6 years, I wish someone had told me that it’s about you. It’s about what YOU like and what YOU want to do, about YOUR love for books. With blogging, you get out what you put in. So put in your passion for books and you’ll see everything else falls into place.
8) What would you say is the best thing about the blogging community?
There’s always a friendly face to talk to. I may not know everyone in the community but I always feel like I can reach out and ask a question, or comment on something they’ve written without backlash. The fact that there is a whole community of book lovers is, in itself, amazing to me. We’re all here because of a single common interest and that makes us a (dysfunctional) family that is always looking to welcome new members.
9) What started your love for reading and/or writing?
My mom always read to be since I was young but I didn’t really read until I was 2 years old and my “best friend” could already read street signs (she was a year older) and I couldn’t so I tried to get better so I could keep up. Somewhere along the lines I ended up liking it enough to stick with it. Probably due to the hobby being fostered by my mom. But I didn’t REALLY get into it to the obsessive levels that I’m at now until I read Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness and Immortals quartets in elementary school.
As for writing, I HATED it until 8th grade when I saw this contest for a short story and the prize was like $700. What 8th grader doesn’t want that kind of money? So I tried (and failed) to write a story but in the process learned that I really enjoyed it. A few years later was my first go at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and that sealed the deal!
10) What is your all time favorite book?
I honestly don’t have one. I think each book I read holds a part of me in it, a memory or moment tied to when I first read it and my reading habits change with my mood. But some of the books I always re-read include The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Tamora Pierce), The Realms of the Gods (also Tamora Pierce), Throne of Glass (Sarah J. Maas), and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll).
11) What is your top read of 2016?
You’re really a fan of impossible questions, aren’t you? Lol.
Going to have to go with one of the popular choices, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.
Runners up include Empire of Storms (Sarah J. Maas), Nevernight (Jay Kristoff), A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab), and Stalking Jack the Ripper (Kerri Maniscalco).
Though if you’re including books READ in 2016 (but not necessarily released yet) then add Caraval by Stephanie Garber to that list!
12) If you could have dinner with one author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’d love to pick the brain of Lewis Carroll, as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is, by far, one of my favorite tales. But also talking to Tamora Pierce who’s literally the reason I read so much fantasy would also be amazing!
13) What is the one post on your blog that you’re most proud of?
Ok I’m torn between two. There are a few reviews I’m proud of however I think these two even more so:
So this is a slightly older one where I finally just dumped all of my blogging regrets from the early years and just talked about things I’ve learned over the years (so just generally my thoughts on running a book blog which may or may not be relevant to your feature): Regrets From the Early Blogging Days
And this one is MUCH more recent and is my first reading challenge that people have responded to with excitement and that’s just really exciting for me too since I never thought anyone would show any interest in it (the goal is to read books from your TBR that AREN’T new releases or ARCs): 2017 Beat-the-Backlist Challenge
Thank you, Austine, for answering all my crazy questions and giving us some great blogging tips and advice! I enjoyed reading your answers and your blog is amazing! You guys have to check out Austine’s Blog. I know you will love it!
If you’d like to get in touch with Austine on social media, here are her links:
That’s it for our first Saturday Special post! Let me know in the comments if you like this feature, or if you have been blogging for 9+ months and would like to be featured in one of the Specials! See ya soon!