Last week was an action-packed week of Armchair BEA. Since this was my first time participating, I wasn't sure what to expect. There was a tremendous amount of information and blogs thrown into a small time frame - it got a bit overwhelming at times - but I learned a lot and had fun, so I'm sure I'll join again next year. Here's what I learned this year:
1. You can't do it all. There were over 600 participants, most of whom posted at least twice during the week. There is no way to visit/read every post, every day. You need to have some sort of system - even if it's as simple as "visit every 12th blog" - to manage the tsunami of info. Which leads up to:
2. It would be helpful if the list of participants were "tagged" or grouped according to the main focus of their blog, e.g. YA, mysteries, books+, over 40, etc. That would make it much easier to visit blogs that have a higher chance of interesting me, rather than just clicking randomly. I and several other bloggers submitted this idea to the hosts and hopefully the'll come up with a way to implement it next year. And along that same vein:
3. I am blown away by the number of YA bloggers out there. It's fantastic that reading is so popular among the under-30 crowd! Though fantasy and dystopia are not normally my favorite things to read, I'm all for any trend that can get this many young people reading.
4. The Twitter Parties were a blast - hard to follow, dizzying, and confusing - but a blast. This was the time for all types of bloggers to be together and share ideas.
5. Prizes! The organizers and sponsors of Armchair BEA put together an impressive list of prizes. (I won on the last day - I'll share that when it arrives.) Also, hundreds of bloggers sponsored their own give-aways. I appreciate everyone's generosity, but got tired of filling out Rafflecoptor forms, so I didn't enter nearly all of them. Each blogger is free to set up their blog give-away however they like, but some blogs had way too many hoops to jump through for my taste. I don't care for forcing people to follow your blog, twitter, facebook, etc in order to get a chance at a prize. I want readers who are here because they get to know me and enjoy what I write.
6. I'm glad I wrote - or at least sketched out - my posts in advance. Taking time to write during the week would have meant I missed even more blog entrants. Thanks again to the hostesses for putting up the daily topics way in advance.
7. Visiting all those blogs made me aware of the importance of blog design. As each blog opened, I made a judgement within the first few seconds if this was a blog I wanted to explore further. When I began blogging, I used a pre-fab background and color scheme. They were pretty, but they weren't "me". Eventually, I made my own theme. I chose the vintage kitchen design because it conveys the mood I want - come into my home and let's discuss books and life over a cup of coffee. I appreciated the blogs whose design made a definite statement about the content and mood.
If you have a book blog, or begin one within the next year, or if you just want some great info on the upcoming books and trends in publishing, follow along with Armchair BEA next year.