Jo Talks Books: On Needing More Books Featuring Twenty Something Protagonists

Hi all! I had hoped I might be able to get another discussion post up for you in February, but alas, the end of February was super busy with assignment deadlines and work experience and everything, so I didn’t have time! Anyway, as promised, I’m going to be talking about the need for more books with 20+ aged protagonists this week as it’s something that I feel very strongly about and after all of the conversations that happened around this subject at the beginning of the year, I wanted to put my two cents in.

The book world is all about representation right now, and that’s awesome, it’s amazing to get to see people from marginalised communities telling their stories being recognised and finally starting to get the representation they deserve. However in terms of seeing ourselves in books, twenty somethings are the oft forgotten group. We have books for children, books for teens, books for adults (which are nearly always about older adults, 30 or even 40+) but the category for 20 somethings, New Adult, never really took off, so we are left wondering where exactly we fit and barely ever seeing characters our age in the books we read.

For me, I turned 20 two years ago and I am still at a place where I can relate to teens in books, which is why I still love and read YA, but at the same time, I would love to get to see characters who are at my stage in life. Your twenties are a super weird time, because you’re considered an adult, but you don’t really feel put together enough for that, you’re dealing with your first tastes of independence and having to manage on your own, moving away from home and having to make new friends at University, living without your parents for the first time, dealing with living with flatmates for the first time, I mean the list goes on. You have first jobs, first adult relationships, losing your virginity (because not everyone loses it at school), there are so many firsts and weird and different dynamics in your twenties and it seems like a really untapped area.

I know I really struggled when I first came to Uni, having to live away from home for the first time, hating my flatmates, not necessarily enjoying my course, having to deal with the fact that I wasn’t a heavy drinker in atmosphere that is very heavy on drinking. If I could have had books with protagonists who were the same age as me, dealing with the same issues that I was, I think it could have really helped me those first few months at Uni. Being in my twenties sometimes feels like being lost out at sea, but unlike teens, we don’t have as many books about our experiences to help keep us afloat.

At the moment, the large majority of NA books, books for twenty somethings are focused on the sex and relationships part of being a twenty something and whilst of course that is a part of being a twenty something, it is not the only part. I know for me personally, that sex has not been a part of my experience and that my friends have been a lot more important than me than romantic relationships in the last few years. We need more variety, more diversity to reflect the experiences of different twenty somethings.

Also I’d love to see more non-realistic fiction for twenty somethings. At the moment, the large majority of NA seems to be realistic fiction and not everyone wants that. One of the reasons I loved A Darker Shade of Magic so much (though it is labelled Adult Fantasy and not NA Fantasy), is because Lila, Kell and Rhy were all either in their late teens or early twenties and it was like YES, FINALLY, I am seeing characters close to my age, having adventures. A reader’s love of adventures doesn’t stop when they pass nineteen, and it would be great to see more older characters still having adventures! There’s so many options for YA and Adult readers and it would be great to see the same level of options for twenty somethings as well.

Your twenties are a time of massive change, from going to Uni, to getting your first jobs, to potentially having more serious relationships, to moving out and potentially getting your own house, changing relationships with your parents, changing relationships with your friends, balancing friends from Uni with friends from back home, there is so much to unpack there and having books that featured all these things, might make those changes easier to deal with.

There’s so much doubt that comes with being in your twenties, especially when you’re in Uni, because everyone is constantly asking you “What are you going to do next?” and you’re meant to be looking towards your future but everything feels so uncertain. There’s quite a natural evolution from YA into NA I feel, because you don’t immediately become an adult overnight, all of the feelings you have when you’re a teen are still just as relevant when you’re in your twenties, you just add a whole bunch of new concerns and doubts to them as well. YA is about figuring out who you are, and there’s a lot of that when you’re a twenty something as well, but also trying to figure out your place in the world and I reckon there’s some really interesting tension there (and we all know tension is a great foundation for a book!).

From people I’ve talked to though, this seems to be something that we’re crying out for, when I did a post on 20 something bloggers in the book community, everyone I talked to said they’d love to see more characters in their twenties. And I’m sure that people in their late teens would love to see University-set stories, because it would prepare them for going. If anything, I’ve found out more about myself in the three years that I’ve been at Uni than I did during most of my teen years.

Twenty somethings are notorious for being painted in the media as a generation who refuse to grow up, but how can we grow up when we’re being forgotten about and neglected by the books we read? In a year when we’ve been talking so much about representation and having characters in books we can relate to, we should be pushing for that for all age groups. Yes it’s important for teens of colour, LGBTQA+ teens, disabled teens, neurodivergent teens, teens with mental illnesses to have characters that represent them in books, but isn’t it also important than when those teens grow up, they can still see characters of their own ages representing them in books? Because that does not seem to be happening right now. Mental illness among university students is extremely high, it seems to me that not talking about this in books is a missed opportunity to potentially help someone.

Life doesn’t stop after you finish high school/sixth form. In fact if anything, the teen years are just the start of your story. Your twenties are just as turbulent, if not more so than your teens and emerging into adulthood is really hard. It would be wonderful if we could have books, in a variety of genres, that reflect this. No matter what year, or world a book is set in, twenty somethings have struggles that are unique to them and it’s not enough to have books of people close in age to us. Yes, plenty of us can still relate to YA, but it would be lovely to have books that reflected our changing experiences more closely. Considering that a large majority of book bloggers are in their twenties, it seems like publishers could really be missing a trick by neglecting books about characters of our age group.

What do you think? Do you think we need more stories centring around people in their twenties? What would you like to see in that sort of story, would you prefer a more realistic take, a fantastical one, a historical one, a thriller? What can we do to help push those books with twenty something protagonists that do exist (and do you have any recommendations for me?). Let me know in the comments!

I should have another discussion post for you guys at the end of the month, although I don’t know what on yet. If there is anything that you would like to see me talk about then let me know. In the meantime, I will have a new Top Ten Tuesday for you guys tomorrow!



Jo Talks Books: Blogaversary Q&A

Hi all! So for those of you who may not know, or didn’t read my Top Ten Tuesday post this week, Tuesday was my fourth blogaversary! Now I don’t usually do anything to celebrate, but this year I felt like doing something a little different, after all four years is quite a long time, I mean when I first started this blog I was doing my A Levels, and now I’m nearly at the end of my third year of University, my life has changed so much in the last four years and so has this blog and I thought it would be a pretty cool time to celebrate that. Now I asked for you guys to submit questions via a Google Form this week, didn’t get too many responses, but that’s okay, I’ll try and think of some questions of my own that might interest you! If there’s anything else you’d like to know at the end of this post then you can leave more questions in the comments. Hopefully this post will allow you guys to get to know me and the blog a little better and it should be a fun way to celebrate my blogaversary!:

  1. How did you get involved with the bookish community? Were you nervous to start?

I think I’ve talked about this a little on the blog before, but I’ll go over it again for any new followers. When I was 17, I saw someone posting book reviews on Tumblr, I thought it seemed like a cool idea, so I started doing them too. Obviously being in Lower Sixth, I was thinking about University and I was looking into ways to get into Journalism. A lot of the websites I looked at suggested that running a blog was a good idea, so I had a google to see how to start one up and came across WordPress. I always knew I would do a book blog, I’ve been a bookworm ever since I was a little kid, so it was a natural fit for me. I was nervous to start with yes, and it took me a good year before I really started to talking to anyone in the community, but the last few years I’ve really started to feel at home and feel like I actually belong here!

2. What do you like to do outside of reading?

I know it’s hard to believe, but I do other things outside of reading! Obviously I write a lot, not just these blog posts, articles for classes and The National Student, but I am a YA Fantasy writer as well, which I have been talking about a little in my Writing Corner and will be talking about more over the next few months. I also watch a LOT of TV, mostly on Netflix and a lot of movies as well. I’ve been horse riding since I was 8 and am a member of my University’s riding club and I’ve been doing Trampolining since I was 11 and am a member of my Uni’s Trampoline and Gymnastics Club as well. I am learning Spanish in my free time, in the hopes of doing a gap year trip to South America when I graduate Uni.

3. Do you find it hard balancing University and blogging?

Yes! That’s the simple answer to that one. I’d love to say that I’m some sort of blogging superstar and can magic up the time to blog between doing a full time Uni course, blogging and the rest of my life, but it’s not true. I’m only human and of course I struggle to fit blogging into my life, heck I struggle to fit reading in during really busy parts of the semester! There’s no magic formula to handling it, most bloggers would probably say that they live by a schedule, but I’ve never been like that, I prefer to be in the moment when writing a blog post. It does mean I have to squeeze writing blog posts into weekends or any smidge of free time that I get throughout the week, but I can’t imagine it any other way.

4. What do you feel is the biggest thing you’ve learned since you started blogging?

I’ve come out of my shell a lot since I first started I think! I’ve got a lot better and talking to people and interacting with people in the community and that’s been really great for me. My content has improved tenfold since I first started, I now take detailed notes for my reviews, I write in depth discussion posts, I’ve done Event Recaps, Read-a-thons, Quarterly Rewind posts, I think there’s a lot more to my blog now than just book reviews like it was when I started. I’ve also learned to open up a bit more and share more with you guys than I did when I first started and although I’ll never be one of those people who wants to share everything about their life on social media, I like to think I’m less of an enigma now than when I started blogging. Sorry I know that was a massive rambly answer 🙂

5. What is your favourite thing you’ve done in your four years of blogging?

That’s pretty tough to decide, I’ve got to write some pretty cool things, go to some pretty cool events, read some incredible books and meet some amazing people! I would have to say the best thing blogging has brought me though is YALC, I never would have discovered YALC in 2015, if I hadn’t started blogging in 2014 and now it’s an annual tradition that I go down to London for YALC every year with my best friend and it’s so much fun.

6. You’ve got to meet some great authors during the time you’ve been blogging, is there anyone you’re still dying to meet?

Well the thing about being a reader and a blogger is that you are constantly discovering amazing new authors, so the list of authors you want to meet changes pretty rapidly! I’ve met a lot of my must meet authors in the last few years, Sarah J Maas, Derek Landy, Maggie Stiefvater, VE Schwab, Jodi Picoult etc, but there is still a few I’d love to meet. Obviously JK Rowling is the ultimate dream-never-gonna happen one, but I am also desperate to meet Rick Riordan (again never gonna happen as he doesn’t tour outside the US) and Neal Shusterman (although again, he doesn’t seem to tour outside the US). I would also love to meet Leigh Bardugo, I know she has done UK tours in the past, so hopefully she’ll come back again and I’ll get to meet her. Ally Carter is another one I’d love to get the chance to meet, who might be a possibility as she has come to the UK before. I missed Stephanie Garber on her last UK tour, so I’m hoping if she tours again for Legendary, I might be able to make it, as it has a summer release date.

7. Has blogging changed the way you read/what you read at all?

Yes I think so. Not in terms of genre, I still primarily read YA Fantasy, occasionally branching out into Historical YA, Contemporary YA, YA thrillers and Adult Fantasy, but it has definitely changed the way I read. I am far more aware of new releases now and go actively looking for certain books, whereas before I would just wander into a bookshop and nose around, I do kind of miss the surprise of not knowing what I am going to find, but it is great to be aware of what’s coming out. Obviously in a practical sense blogging has changed the way I read, because I now make notes on what I read in order to review it and I also obviously have review copies to take into consideration now. I’m a little bit more aware of how much I read now as well, because of having Goodreads and I make more active goals with my reading during the year. I think these are all really positive things though and have improved my reading for the better.

8. Is there anything that you think people would be surprised to know about you that they couldn’t find out on your blog?

Obviously my love for books is pretty obvious and my bookish opinions and everything are quite easily found on here. I’ve talked about movies I like quite often as well, and TV. I think people would be surprised to know how big a part of my life music is, I don’t necessarily mention it all that often on here, but I absolutely love music, I listen to my IPod every day and am constantly adding new stuff. Music is a massive part of my writing process as well, as I have a Writing Playlist, it’s also a big part of who I am as a reader as I am never without my IPod when I’m reading. I’m a massive fan of musicals, like half of my IPod is musical soundtracks, be it TV, film or stage musicals.

9. What would your biggest piece of advice be to new bloggers starting out?

Get involved! The blogging community can be scary and intimidating to start off with, especially if you start as a teen like I did and it seems like everyone around you is older and more experienced than you are, but we’re all in the same boat, and we’re more than willing to help new bloggers out. It can be kind of lonely, just sitting behind your laptop, talking into what seems like a void and you think that no one can hear you, but connecting with other bloggers has given me a great bookish Internet family, so whatever you do when you start out, talk to other bloggers, they’re your one stop advice shop, support system and most importantly, friends in this community.

If you want more tips though, then I have a couple of posts, one for new book bloggers in general and one for student book bloggers so you can check those out here (small shameless plug!):

10. How do you take your tea?

This one is from my friend Hannah, she thinks she’s being funny, since she knows very well that I don’t drink tea! Or coffee!

So there you have it, a little bit more of an insight into me to celebrate my fourth blogaversary! Here’s to hopefully many more years to come. Any other questions for me, about blogging, books, writing, life in general? Leave them in the comments!

I will hopefully have another discussion post for you later this month, though I’m not promising anything, as it’s nearly the end of the month anyway and I have an essay due on 1st March! My next discussion post, whenever it is, however, will definitely be about the need for more stories featuring twenty somethings, be they university related or not. In the meantime, I will be fairly busy next week with work experience, so don’t expect many posts, but I will have my Top Ten Tuesday post for you all as usual on Tuesday.

Jo Talks Books: On Author/Blogger Etiquette

Hi everyone! I know, two discussion posts in one month, what is this madness? After all of the discussions around author/blogger interactions last year and into the beginning of this year and that inspired this post. I’m not intending this on being a post naming and shaming people for bad behaviour or making people feel bad if they have done any of these things, the idea is to help out new bloggers and authors in the community who may not be entirely sure how to navigate interactions with each other yet. So here we go, a few top tips for best interactions between bloggers and authors:

For Authors:

  1. Reviews are for readers, not for you. Don’t harass bloggers.

This is probably the biggest one and something a few authors seem to be getting wrong recently. That is not to say all of them, for the most part, authors are lovely people but there have been a few incidences of authors harassing bloggers recently over negative reviews and that is so wrong. We do all of this for you, unpaid work, unpaid publicity for your books and we are entitled to our own opinions. We don’t write our reviews for you, we write them for other readers and if we don’t give our full and honest opinion then we are doing them a disservice. Bloggers talk as well, if you harass one of us, then chances are, the rest of us won’t be willing to work with you either: it’s a small community and word gets around fast!

2. Do your research

If you want to approach a blogger to review your books (and we don’t mind it if you do, we reserve the right to say no but we don’t mind being asked), then do your research about said blogger. Read their blog, their review policy and see if they are the right fit for you and your book. If they are, then great, engage with them, they will appreciate that you took the time to get to know them and their blog. If they are not, then don’t approach them. It will just frustrate them and seem like you didn’t take the time to get to know them at all. We are all very different and not every blogger will be the right fit for your book!

3. Do engage with us in a positive way, ask us to participate in street teams, blog tours, interviews, promotions for your book, that’s what we’re here for!

We want to engage with authors, so we are happy to participate in promotions for you book as long as we have the time to do so (we will tell you if we don’t). I would say the best way of doing this is to put the opportunity out there and allow bloggers to come to you, rather than the other way around (at least for street teams and blog tours, interviews obviously we will approach you if we want to do one), so that interested bloggers can take part and it allows bloggers who don’t think they have the time to not take part without having to feel bad about saying no.

4. Be respectful, follow our guidelines and boundaries

This kind of goes with point two, respect who we are and what are blogs are about and don’t approach us if we say that we don’t review books of your genre, or that we’re closed to review requests, if you try to bully your way in then all it will do is mean that you’ve ruined any chance of working with us in the future.

5. Don’t respond to tweets that haven’t included your handle

If we didn’t include your handle, then that means that we didn’t intend for you to respond to that tweet and if you do, it’s going to look like you’re stalking us. Even if it’s saying that we loved your book, if we didn’t tag you in it, then we don’t want you to respond.

6. Don’t contact blogs via any means other than the ones they put out there publically

Most bloggers have a review policy where we give our contact details, I have my email address on there and I’m also willing to be contacted through Twitter as that is a public platform. However, I have never, nor will I ever put my Facebook details on there, so if an author/publicist finds me through that, that would be a big red flag to me. Bloggers will only put out the information for the platforms that we wish to be found on and just because we put ourselves out there on the Internet via our blogs, doesn’t mean that you have the right to contact us via social media that we have decided to keep private. Just don’t do it, okay? Chances are we won’t agree to work with you and will be permanently creeped out.


7. Don’t tag authors in your negative reviews

If you didn’t like an author’s book, that’s fine. It’s our prerogative as readers, we won’t love everything that we read. But don’t tag the author in your negative reviews okay? It’s just mean. By all means, tag them in your positive reviews, authors like to hear that you loved their books, but don’t tag them in your negative reviews, as they can be disheartening to read.

8. Don’t approach authors asking for ARCs

Publicists are the ones you go to for ARCs, and they’re all pretty easy to find on social media, there is no need to approach the author for ARCs as they don’t have control of that. They may have a few, which they choose to giveaway but on the whole, authors don’t get many ARCs and they don’t want you tweeting at them asking for them, it comes across as greedy and not very respectful.

9. Authors don’t owe you personal information, so don’t demand it of them

Don’t harass authors asking if their books are #ownvoices. Those who want you to know that information will publicise it and if they don’t, they don’t want you to know. The only thing that an author puts out that you are entitled to, is their book, so don’t harass them asking for personal information. If they haven’t put it out there, they don’t want you to know it.

10. Read their FAQs, so you don’t ask them things they’ve answered over and over again

FAQs are Frequently Asked Questions. Most authors have a website with this information and it’s worth checking out, so that you don’t ask them something they’ve already answered a million times and end up frustrating them to no end.

11. Don’t harass authors over movie adaptations of their books: they have no control over them

This can apply to both authors who have movie adaptations of their books in the works and ones who don’t. Don’t ask the ones who do about casting, trailers, release dates, why the movie wasn’t as good as the book, didn’t include this part/that part, or blame them for the movie adaptation being bad. They have no control over movie adaptations of their work and you constantly asking questions about it, isn’t helpful. Equally for authors whose books haven’t been adapted into movies yet, don’t ask them why. Studios have to buy the rights to the books and if no one has shown interest in making the book as a movie, it won’t get made. Authors don’t need to be reminded of that. If they do have information about future movie adaptations, they will tell us, we just have to be patient!

So there we go, a quick guide to author/blogger interaction etiquette! Any questions about other dos and don’t of interactions between authors and bloggers? Anything else you would add to either list? Let me know in the comments!

I will have another discussion post for you in February, I’m going to be talking about the dearth of stories for new adults, the need for a larger range of genres and stories in the New Adult category and the need for more college aged stories. In the meantime, I’m hoping to do a January post for my Writing Corner, which should be up either over the weekend or on Monday, so stay tuned for that.

Jo Talks Books: On Encouraging Teens To Get Into Book Blogging

Hi all! Welcome to my first discussion post of 2018, very exciting! I had a lot of fun doing collaborations with other bloggers in these posts last year, getting other bloggers’ input into discussions on the blog so I wanted to continue this into 2018 and for my first discussion post of the year, I talked to five bloggers, 4 currently teens and one blogger who is an adult now but started blogging in her teens about how we can get more teens interested in book blogging. As a former teen book blogger (I started when I was 17), this is a topic that is very close to my heart, as when I was a teen, there seemed to be hardly any other teen bloggers out there to talk to. Thankfully this seems to have improved, but talking to the five girls for this discussion post threw up a lot of issues that affect teen bloggers, which I’m going to talk about further during this post as well as their ideas for what we can do to encourage more teens into book blogging and their advice for teen bloggers.

I was quite interested when I asked how the girls got into blogging, Ilsa, Sumedha and Charley all said it was out of boredom, from school, from exams etc. For me personally, it was to help me get into University as I had read that it was useful for Journalism students to have a blog. But it got me thinking, as great an outlet as blogging is, it’s not one that is advertised in school very much. If you want to get into blogging, it seems like you have to be the one to go looking for it yourself, if starting a blog was something that was talked about in school, then perhaps more teens would know how great it is and might take it up.

However, from the discussion I had with Ilsa, Sumedha, Charley, Ayla and Ruby, it seems that there are a lot of issues that could be putting teens off book blogging. I know that if I was a teen on Twitter and I saw some of the conversations happening around teen book bloggers from the past year or so, I wouldn’t be overly keen to join the community! Ilsa brought up the excellent point of the Epic Reads Book Nerd of The Year, that all the bloggers nominated were actually adult bloggers, despite it being a YA award. If I was a teen seeing that, I would be quite disheartened, because while awards aren’t everything, it definitely makes it seem like you are going to be less appreciated as a teen in the blogging community. Charley brought up the fact that a lot of newer blogs are by teens but they get ignored in favour of the more established adult blogs, again something that could be potentially off-putting if you were a teen looking to get into blogging, you might think, what is the point, when you only get a handful of followers and you see adult bloggers getting in the thousands. All the girls pointed out that adults had more time and money to pour into their blogs because they have jobs and don’t have school. I can definitely relate to that, as a student, I have to fit my blog around my university work and I don’t have the money to buy a domain name and pay for graphics and design and stuff. It must be quite intimidating as a teen blogger, seeing all of these other blogs out there that have all these fancy graphics and stuff and knowing you won’t be able to pay for anything like that.

I then asked the girls for their advice about how they think we can get more teens interested in blogging. They came up with so many wonderful ideas, which I probably don’t have space to share all of here, but I’m going to try and include the most important ones:

  1. Focus on blogging as an outlet-This was Sumedha’s idea, she suggested that to encourage more teens to take up blogging, we should present it as an outlet for life, you don’t necessarily need to start a book blog, blogging can also be a way to talk about your life and get all of your pent up frustrations out there. We also need to show how blogging can connect you with people with the same interests who you might not get to meet in your real life.
  2. Support teens-Ilsa suggested this one, and I think it’s probably the most important one, because if we support the teens that we already have in this community, boosting their reviews, commenting on their blogs, friending them on GR, nominating them for awards, then the teens outside of the community will see how lovely and supportive book bloggers are and might be interested in starting a blog of their own. If adult bloggers make teen bloggers feel welcome then they will let their friends know and the community will seem like a much friendlier place to those outside it.
  3. DivBookBridge-This was something I didn’t know about that Ilsa mentioned in our chat, it’s an organisation that donates ARCs to diverse teens. I think supporting organisations like this would be a great way to show teens that we support them and could be encouraging for marginalised teens who want to get into book blogging but may not be able to afford the books about them, that there is an organisation where they can access these. You can find DivBookBridge on Twitter, @DivBookBridge.
  4. Publishers-Publishers need to think of their target audience more, by giving more ARCs to teens. If teens see that they will be thought of, that they will be appreciated if they join the community, then it will be a lot easier to encourage more teens to join. As adult bloggers, this might involve passing our own ARCs onto teens, or maybe even declining and directing publishers towards teen bloggers instead. This was Ruby’s suggestion.
  5. Established bloggers need to help out more-This was a general theme throughout my discussion with the girls, a lot of them felt that big bloggers tend to ignore teens and smaller bloggers and that teens have to work twice as hard in order to get noticed. In order to change this, we need to promote teen voices on our platforms as much as possible, especially those bloggers with big followings as they have the most influence. I am trying to do what I can for this, but I’m not going to have as much influence as a blogger with thousands of followers!

I also asked the girls about advice that they would give teens interested in blogging. Again, they had a lot of ideas, not all of which I can share as this post is already super long, but I’ll share the most important points:

  1. Choose an easy platform-Ilsa suggested this one and I would definitely back her up on this. Blogging is hard enough without having to struggle with coding and graphics and everything right away. I use WordPress and would definitely recommend it for a first time blogger, it’s so easy to use and basically does everything for you! Sumedha also added don’t worry about get a .com website right away (this is your domain name) which I would echo, four years into blogging, I’m still just using the free WordPress plan and it works fine!
  2. Don’t worry about sticking to a niche-Sumedha mentioned this one, that it is something that is mentioned in all of the first time blogger post and that it actually narrows your scope. Personally I find it easier just concentrating on books, but she’s absolutely right, you don’t have to feel like just because you’re a book blogger, that’s the only thing you can talk about.
  3. You don’t have to read a certain number of books to qualify as a book blogger-Another of Sumedha’s excellent points. When you first start out blogging, it is going to seem like everyone is reading and reviewing a lot more than you. But it is quality over quantity, and if you write quality reviews and other content then people will keep coming back, they won’t care that you don’t read 200 books a year!
  4. Don’t be too intimidated by anyone & don’t be too concerned with having everything perfect right away-This was Ayla’s advice and something I wish I’d heard when I first started blogging. The book blogging community is really friendly and I wasted like a year of connecting with people, being too scared to talk to anyone. Comment on other people’s blogs, talk to people on Twitter, we don’t bite and we love talking to other book nerds!
  5. It’s okay for your interests to change-This was Sumedha’s advice and I think it’s a pretty good one-you won’t necessarily be interested in the same sorts of books later on than when you first start blogging and that’s okay. If you write quality content, people will still want to read it, no matter what books you’re writing about.

Finally we talked about how we can help out teen bloggers when they first start. This was something that was especially important to me, as when I started out at 17, I felt like there wasn’t really enough out there about helping out first time bloggers, so I hope that any new bloggers reading this find their advice helpful:

  1. Sumedha suggested reading Book Blogging 101 posts, where current book bloggers give new book bloggers advice about how to run a book blog. She shared this one, from Ava over at BookishnessAndTea:

In this post Ava shares a masterlist of all of her tips posts for new bloggers, so you can essentially find everything you need to know about book blogging in this one post. Also whilst we’re on the subject of tips posts, allow me a tiny bit of self promo here as I did these two tips posts last year that I hope are helpful for new bloggers!:

2. Ruby suggested that posts about how to get into contact with publishers (especially for international bloggers) would be very useful because it’s not something that you automatically know about when you first start blogging. Ilsa then shared these posts by Lia @ LostInAStory, as examples of this.

A Guide to ARCS | #1 Emailing Publishers – Featuring Jess from Bookends And Endings

A Guide To ARCs | #2 The Master Who-To-Contact List for Internationals ARC Requests

3. Ayla was talking about potentially starting a business about helping new bloggers with all the things they need help with when they first start out and have one place where they kind find all the information they need, to make it easier for them. She’s not sure if anyone would be interested though, so if you are a new blogger who would be interested in this, then I’ll be putting Ayla’s social media contacts at the end of this post!

4. Ilsa is thinking of starting a project to boost the voices of teen bloggers, so again, if you are a teen blogger and you are interested in this, then her social media will be at the end of this post.

5. Sumedha suggested that we should compile a masterlist of all of the book blogging tips posts out there so that they are easier to find, which I think is a great idea, but it might be a little bit difficult to coordinate as I think there are lots of tips out there!

Thank you to Ruby, Sumedha, Ayla, Ilsa and Charley for helping me out with this post, making sure that teen voices are heard is really important to me, and I hope this post has raised some awareness for the issues that teen book bloggers face, but also provided some advice for teens interested in getting into book blogging! If you want to follow any of them, I’m going to include their social media below:


Twitter: @WhisperofInk



Twitter: @rubyraereads



Sumedha (19):

Twitter: @thewordyhabitat


Instagram: @thewordyhabitat

Ayla (21):

Twitter: @booksnbabbles



Twitter: @themisscharley



Teen bloggers, I want to know, what would be your advice for teens wanting to join the community? What do you feel the biggest issues facing you as a blogger are and how can we help? Is there anything that would have really helped you when you first started blogging that you didn’t get? Let me know in the comments!

I hope I will have another discussion post for you guys in January, as I kind of fell of my two discussions a month towards the end of last year, and I would like to get back into it. As usual, if there is anything you would like to see me talk about here, then let me know! In the meantime, I will probably next be back on Tuesday with my latest Top Ten Tuesday post, so stay tuned for that!

Jo Talks Books: On My Blogging Journey So Far

Hi all! I really did not plan on making you wait this long for my December discussion post, in fact I had hoped to have time for two before Christmas, but the run up to Christmas is always super busy and I have had so much to catch up on with the blog after my incredibly busy November of deadlines, so I just didn’t have the chance to sit down and write this until today. I had intended to write something different for you guys today, but that idea felt a little ranty for just before Christmas and I wanted something a little more light and joyful to finish the year on, so I decided to talk about my past three years as a blogger instead, a little look back seemed appropriate for the end of the year.

This year marked my third year of blogging, I celebrated (quietly) my blogiversary back in February. It seems crazy to me that I’ve been doing this for three years already, it seems like only yesterday I started this little blog and it’s grown to so much more than I ever imagined it would be.

I was 17 (though it was the year I turned 18), in my first year of sixth form, when I came up with the idea that would eventually become BookLoversBlog. I can’t remember exactly why I had the idea, I think I had seen someone else on Tumblr do it and I decided that I wanted to put up book reviews. That didn’t go particularly well, I wasn’t even sure anyone else on Tumblr was reading my reviews, but I enjoyed doing it, so I kept going.

Obviously in my second term of lower sixth, the teachers were starting to get us to think about what we wanted to do for University. I wasn’t really sure (I’m still not really sure!) but I had always loved writing, and so I figured that Journalism might be a good idea, as a job that involves a lot of writing. I was looking on websites, to see what sorts of things were recommended to get you into University to study Journalism (which I am now doing, alongside History as part of a combined degree) or to get a job in Journalism and one thing that came up again and again was having a blog.

There was never really much question of what I would blog about. I had always loved books, ever since I was a child, and I had been reading Jamie’s (who is a part of The Broke and The Bookish, the team who currently run the Top Ten Tuesday meme until January 2018 when it transfers over to its new home at The Artsy Reader Girl, as TBTB is shutting down) blog, The Perpetual Page Turner and really loving it, so I figured that I might be able to do something like that. Set up my own little corner of the Internet.

I’ve never been the biggest computer whiz, I mean I can do Word, Powerpoint and all that, but I’d never done web design before, and I didn’t have a clue where to start. So I did what everyone does when they don’t have a clue how to do something: I googled. That googling then led me to WordPress and it was surprisingly easy to actually set up the blog, within a matter of minutes, I had my blog up and running and had transferred my Tumblr reviews over.

That’s not to say that starting BookLoversBlog was by any means easy. I look back at some of my early reviews and I absolutely cringe at how bad they were! When I first started reviewing, I didn’t take notes at all, and simply relied on other’s Goodreads reviews to help me remember what had happened in a book. Luckily I learned from my mistakes and in 2016, I started my first review notebook, where I now note down in minute detail all my thoughts on a book (I am now on notebook number two and will make it to number three in 2018!). I have definitely found that my reviews have improved tenfold since I started keeping notes, though my 2015 reviews aren’t bad and actually past my very, very early reviews of 2014, they’re relatively decent. Still I have definitely noticed an upturn in comments on my reviews since 2016 and I think that’s in part due to their improved qualities.

I also found it difficult interacting with the community at first. I didn’t really know how to, I was a 17 year old girl in what seemed to be a sea of twenty and thirty somethings, and could find no one my own age to talk to (so believe me teen bloggers, I know how you feel when you say it feels like this community is overrun by adults, I’ve been there. There definitely seems to be a lot more teens around now than when I started in 2014, though I didn’t use Twitter much back then, so I don’t know exactly how many other teens started blogging in 2014. But still I know we can do much better! Reader teens, start a book blog, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have). So for my first year, I was incredibly quiet on the blogosphere, barely interacting on Twitter, simply posting reviews on my blog every few months. No wonder I didn’t get many views in my first year. Still I was determined to carry on and do better in 2015.

And I did. My blog views were unrecognisable from that first slow year. They were in the hundreds by the end of 2014, in the thousands by the end of 2015. My followers also slowly but steadily increased, first into the double figures, then triple and now, just over a week till the end of 2017, I have 711 followers. Yes it’s a relatively modest number, but I am so proud of it. I never even thought that 10 people would follow my blog, let alone numbers into the hundreds.

In 2015, I started doing memes on my blog. I did a few too many at first, wanting to do one for every day, but it became clear early on that was far too much. The one I have kept up on is the meme I credit for helping me get more involved in the community. Top Ten Tuesday is such fun, and a great way to get to know other bloggers without too much pressure, you just visit their blogs, leave a comment, they come back and visit yours and voila! Without even realising it, I had finally managed to make a foothold for myself in the blogging community and really started to feel that I was a part of this family of internet bookworms. Doing this got me more views, more comments and more followers than ever before and really built my confidence as a blogger after that first year.

The teacher who helped with our student newspaper at sixth form really helped me out too. I said I had a blog, and she asked to look at it and then gave me all these tips about how it could look better and be easier to navigate. After talking with her, I decided on the theme that I currently have, I think it was something a little different when I first started blogging and created the menu in the header of my blog so it would be easier to find things. It definitely seems to have paid off!

Becoming more active on Twitter is something that has also helped me in the last few years of blogging. I had originally only got Twitter because my sixth form wanted us to have it in order to follow their Twitter feed to get updates about events, but I quickly learned it was a good way to publicise my blog. I wasn’t very active about actually talking to people on there to start off with though, I’m quite a shy person, so even talking to strangers on the internet is intimidating! Still over the past few years having got to know other bloggers through their blogs, I have felt more confident speaking to people on Twitter and joining in things like Armchair BEA and #ukyachat has only been a good thing for my blog. It has also allowed me to do discussion posts like the ones I have done this year where I have talked to other bloggers about their blogging experiences, which have been some of my favourites to do.

One of the biggest changes in the past two years has been my Netgalley reviewing. When I first started blogging, I was pretty oblivious to ARCs, as I didn’t really visit others’ blogs back then, aside from to get kind of an idea as to how a book review was set out. I only really became aware of ARCs in 2015 and even then, I never thought I’d get any as there was no way I’d be confident enough to email publishers for them and even then, my blog was pretty small, I didn’t think I’d get accepted.

Then in 2016, I found out about Netgalley, and figured maybe I would have a better chance with online reviewing. As with all Netgalley newbs, I got a bit overexcited on requesting at first, and was accepted for way more than I thought, so I got kind of overwhelmed! I reviewed 8 books on there that first year, and I don’t want to say that ARCs are everything to blogging, because they aren’t, but I definitely noticed a difference in the number of comments and views on my reviews of ARCs as compared to finished and published books. Joining Netgalley has only enhanced my blog, and I hope to keep requesting and reviewing books from there for years to come.

I have also in the last year or so, been approached to do posts on my blog for a couple of different companies (Arhaus this year and Eventbrite last year) and have actually been approached by publishers and asked to review their books, something I never thought would happen when I first started blogging, which I just think shows how much my blog has grown in quality in three years.

I started doing these discussion posts last year and have been thrilled with the response they have received, you guys have all been so positive and willing to interact that I wish I had started doing these years ago! It’s so nice to have a space on my blog to talk about any and all things bookish without the constraints of a review or a meme and it’s another thing that I feel has increased the quality of my blog in the last two years.

I’ve also started talking a little bit more openly about my personal life than I did when I first started blogging, through different tags and awards as well as my Quarterly Rewind posts that I’ve been doing since 2015. I wasn’t sure about sharing much when I first started, I didn’t even share my real name (though those who found me through Twitter would know it as I kept it on there), since you never know who can find you through the Internet and a lot of that was due to the fact that I was only 17, now I’m an adult (well kind of anyway!), I’m less wary to share things. But having got to know so many bloggers through Twitter and their blogs, I found I wanted to share more of myself on here and whilst there are some things I will always want to keep private, I quite like getting to share little tidbits from my life and pictures of me and my friends and family (with their permission of course) with you guys, it makes my blog feel a little bit more personal and I think it has improved for that.

I have also liked having goals, both for my reading and my blog over the past few years as it gives me a real sense of accomplishment when at the end of the year, I see how many of those goals I’ve achieved and how much I’ve done, both with my reading, my blog and my life.

It’s crazy to think how much has changed since I first started blogging. I was a 17 year old who hadn’t even done my AS Levels yet and had barely even started thinking about University. Now I’m 21, I’m in my third year of my University degree and about a year and a half from now will be graduating (that’s crazy frickin’ scary!). I started with barely any views and just a handful of followers and now I get thousands of views and hundreds of follows a year and have made some great friends and read some great books because of blogging. It has been hard, it has been stressful at times, it has taken up more hours of my life than I ever thought it would and it has become so much more than a mere hobby to get me into Journalism school! I would never have said when I started this blog, that I would be here, writing this post three years later, but I’m so glad that I am.

So to finish off this incredibly sappy and nostalgic post (perfect for Christmas, am I right?), I want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog, read this blog, supported this blog and me over the past few years. Thank you to everyone who was so welcoming when I made my first foray out into this community and who are so lovely to me on Twitter. Thanks to all those who leave lovely supportive comments on my blog, to Netgalley and all the publishers who have given me the chance to review their books. And most of all thanks to the wonderful authors and their beautiful books that I have read, both for this blog and prior to it, without you, I would not be doing this now.

That sounded way too much like an awards speech didn’t it? I will probably look back and cringe at the above paragraph, but ah well, I have a lot of thanks to give. One last one and I swear then I’m done: Thanks for an amazing three years of blogging so far and here’s to many more to come!

I want to know fellow bloggers: How did your blogging journey start? Do you still marvel in amazement by how far you’ve come since you started? Let me know in the comments!

I don’t plan on having any more discussion posts for you this December as I will be incredibly busy in the run up to Christmas and then New Year and I feel like this is the perfect way to end my year of Jo Talks, so I will back with new content for this feature in 2018 (which is in under two weeks? How did this happen?). In the meantime however, I will have my final review of 2017 and various wrap up posts coming in the next few weeks leading up to 2018, so stay tuned! I’m not done for the year yet!

Jo Talks Books: On Twenty Something Bloggers in The YA Community

Hi everyone! I had totally planned on getting this discussion post to you guys sooner, but November has been a crazy busy month for me, I’ve had basically back to back assignments for the past few weeks, so I didn’t have time to sit down and write this until now. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you will have seen back in February that I did a discussion post on teens in the YA community, talking about the issues relating to them after some Twitter drama earlier in the year. I decided that as a follow up to that, I would write a post about the experiences of twenty something bloggers in the YA community, see how our experiences differ to those of teens and the issues that we face.

Being a twenty something blogger in this community is a strange thing. Not in that there aren’t many of us, on the contrary 20 somethings probably make up the biggest proportion of YA bloggers out there, as a lot of us start blogging in our late teens and just keep going. At some point, every teen blogger will become a twenty something blogger, unless you hit 20 and suddenly decide you’re not going to blog anymore. It’s a strange time, especially when you’re in your early twenties, as we don’t really fit anywhere. We are young adults, but we’re not teens, so by being so prominent in YA it seems like we’re trying to take over their space. There are book bloggers who blog about adult fiction, but it’s a much smaller community than the YA one and we don’t exactly fit in there either, because 20 somethings have different concerns to say 30 or 40 something adults. NA isn’t really a thing, so the community that is the most natural fit for us, is one that doesn’t really exist. It’s a strange feeling and something that I don’t feel is talked about very much, so I decided to speak to some other 20+ bloggers about our place in the community. Here is what they had to say:

Q1: Do you feel like it’s hard for 20 somethings to find their place in the community, particularly those of us who are close in age to teens?

Yes! Especially when YA fiction featuring 18+ year olds are shelved with teenagers rather than a separate YA section. It’s not clear cut what qualifies as teenage fiction and YA fiction, and then there’s NA! I hardly see anything labelled as new adult and it’s not clear just what that is. Some people may feel that people 20 and above are not young adults and shouldn’t be reading YA books, especially people who don’t read YA and consider it teenage fiction.

-Joanne, 21 (no this isn’t me, we just have the same name and happen to be the same age!)

Personally I’ve not found it too hard to find my place in the YA community mostly because this past year or so I’ve been more vocal and involved social media wise because it was the first time I wasn’t feeling anxious or shy to do so. When I was a term and blogging everyone I followed and spoke too was older so I looked up to them and was worried I was just an annoying teen. I can look back on that now and realise that wasn’t the case at all but I was also just far too shy to be that active when I was a teen.

-Lauren, 24

Q2: What have you found to be your biggest struggles as bloggers (related to your age or not)?

Trying not to feel like I’m copying everybody else in terms of reading the same books. But at the same time, feeling like my voice isn’t being heard enough BECAUSE I don’t always read the same books as everyone else.

-Hayley, 21

I definitely feel this one sometimes! I do read a lot of the hyped releases, so sometimes you do just feel like you’re writing the same stuff as everyone else, but then when I write about books that aren’t as well known, I don’t tend to get much interaction on those kinds of posts because not many people have read them, it’s a hard balance to strike!

I haven’t really struggled that much with blogging about YA books, but I think there are certain attitudes about adults blogging that need to change to be honest. *shrug*

-Steph, 28

I would totally agree with Steph here, there are attitudes about adults blogging that need to change. Sometimes on Twitter, it seems like people are so passionate about making a space for teens (which we of course absolutely should be doing) that it sometimes comes across as if people don’t want us adults to be here at all, and that’s not right. We work just as hard at getting our voices heard as teens do and just because we’re a little bit older, doesn’t mean we don’t still have useful things to say. There’s also still an element of judgement around adults reading YA, even within the community, you hear people saying “This isn’t for you” or various iterations of that, and whilst I know they mean we are not the intended age range for YA, it still comes across as rather hurtful.

I feel like the book blogging community has so many young readers & they all want to relate to the people who are reading the same books as them. I don’t think it’s hard for us to find a place in the community, but I think it can be hard for us to have a large following since we aren’t the age of a lot of the people who like our content.

-Temecka, 20

It can be hard as a new blogger to make your voice heard when you are new but equally a lot of us are starting to face criticism for reading YA when we are no longer teens but we can also not be considered sophisticated or ‘adult’ enough for a lot of adult books which obviously isn’t true. However, there are a lot of bloggers our age who are hugely successful in the community.

-Lauren, 22

Lauren and Temecka had very similar points, we’re of an age, where we’re older than teens, so seen as “too old” or “taking up space” by reading YA books but at the same time, we’re barely adults so we’re not seen as an authoritative voice on those either! It’s very hard to win at this age!

Q3: Why do you think people in their twenties gravitate towards YA so much? Is it because of a lack of designated community/very few options for books featuring people in their twenties? Or is it something else?

I think it’s a combination of no designated community for us and the fact that I don’t feel like an adult. I still feel like a teen playing house or playing grown up. I don’t even know about taxes or where I’m going to grad school so I certainly don’t fit in with the adult groups.

-Bayy, 20

This particular comment resonated particularly with me. I turned 21 back in September, but I honestly still feel like a fake grown up! I can relate so much more to YA characters who are still trying to figure their lives out, than to adult characters in books who have careers and families and seem to have everything totally together! Discovering who you are and not knowing what you want with your life doesn’t stop at 18 guys!

I would love to read more about university and those early adult years but don’t seem to find many books that cover your early 20s without being romance. YA is also so progressive when it comes to social issues that I think it is really leading the way in fiction. I also like books I find easy to read and don’t have to really concentrate to understand some hidden meaning, especially if I’m on the train!

-Annalise, 23

This is something that I struggle with a lot as well, I would love to read about university and early 20’s life, but it’s just not out there! YA has so much more diversity than adult fiction.

As someone approaching their mid-twenties, I’ve gravitated towards YA because I can’t find myself in books. I struggle to get my head around a lot of adult fiction and I have to really be interested in it in order to actually pick it up and read it. There isn’t a lot of issues covered in adult books that I can relate to. I also think that YA shouldn’t necessarily include teenagers, because technically YA is people who are 20+ in my eyes as teens are exactly that until that approach the end of being 19.

-Aimee, 24

Aimee is absolutely right, it’s so difficult to find yourself in fiction once you reach your 20s, heck even when you get past about 18 it’s very difficult to see yourself represented as a young adult.

Q4: Have you ever found that teens (for whatever reason) have been hostile to you as adult bloggers on Twitter?

I think a huge difficulty is money, it’s something I struggled with when I started blogging and why I’ve gone through so many blogs before settling. I haven’t found anyone specifically come out and be hostile, but it does hurt when people say that YA isn’t for me. It’s what got me back onto reading at 14, it’s my passion, has been ever since  although it tends to be adults who say it

-Cora, 26

I have never had any backlash at all, from anyone or any age group. I’d argue the book blogging community is one of the most inclusive.

-Rebecca, 22

I don’t ever feel any hostility from teens however,I would like to say that just because YA “isn’t aimed at us” we’re allowed to have a say in the industry etc, even if we aren’t teens.

-Rosie, 23

I was very happy to hear the responses for this one, pretty much everyone said that teens are always lovely to them on Twitter (which has thus far been my experience also) and I found Cora’s response about it being mostly adults saying we don’t belong in this community especially interesting. I think in a well intentioned attempt to help teens voices be heard, some adults have a tendency to try to silence each other and that’s something we need to resolve, we need to all work together to make sure everyone’s voices are heard rather than trying to silence them. I also totally agree with Rosie’s point, we are still a part of this community, even if YA isn’t aimed at us, as part of the community we should get a say on industry stuff, if we want to.

Q5: What can we do to ensure both adult and teen bloggers feel welcome in the community?

I think bloggers just need to listen to each other. Old or young, we’ve shown we have something to say. Supporting each other is also important, as showing people you appreciate them will keep them blogging. 

-Beth, 26

You need to listen and be inclusive. A community is give and take, and the easiest way to help with problems is give more than you get. Comment back, engage in conversation, just be NICE. If someone says that something is harmful to them then listen. Blogging feels like shouting into the void, it’s nice to have someone notice.

-Cora, 26

Q6: Would you like to see more books about people in their twenties, like us?

DEFINITELY. There are so many YA books about 15 and 16 year olds when they are still teenagers! A young adult is 18+ and it’s a shame when books are commonly shelved under teenage fiction. There is definitely a lack of books featuring 20 year olds and above and the trials and tribulations they face, be it in the modern day or in a fantasy.

-Joanne, 21 (again not me)!

I think this is one of the big difficulties of the classification of YA the way it is, technically we should really call it teen fiction as YA does make it sound like we’re talking about people aged 18+, who are technically young adults. The big problem is that NA, which is the classification for people of our age, just isn’t a thing at all, books about 20+ are usually shelved either in adult or YA and publishers don’t seem to put out books about 20+ characters anyway, because even though there definitely seems to be demand for it, there’s no obvious category to market it in.

Definitely! My problems haven’t stopped because I got accepted into college. Now I have grad school to think about and a career. Not to mention first apartments and all sorts of things. I think that part of our lives gets glossed over a lot and it’s not fair. I want to feel less alone. 

-Bayy, 20

This one bugs me a lot too, because there are so many interesting and life changing things that happen in your 20s and it’s a shame that we never get to see that in books.

It depends how they’re written. I’d love to see characters who are my age that I can relate to, but it doesn’t happen very often! I’ve tried reading New Adult before but it doesn’t really appeal to me in the same way YA does. (Not going to lie, all of the NA I’ve tried has way too much sexy time and not enough relatable content)

-Katie, 25

I feel the same way as Katie, New Adult is just not for me because of the abundance of sexy times in there, I actually did a whole post about why we needed NA that isn’t totally romance (or sex) focused, if anyone wants to check it out!

Q7: What do you think 20 somethings have to offer the community which is unique to us?

We’re at that point where we’re having to stand on our two feet and discover the real world as it really is. We learn that everything we learnt in school/uni, etc. isn’t all that important and that there are other strengths and advice that we can offer which wouldn’t be patronising.

-Aimee, 24

We have survived through teenage hood! We’ve got through school and maybe some murky relationships and fights amongst friends and family so we can understand characters and their motives more having been through something similar already. When you can connect with a book because of something similar the character has been through to you, the story feels more real and more likely to invoke emotions intended by the author.

-Joanne, 21

Q8: Do you ever feel undervalued in the community, for your age or for any other reason?

I have never felt undervalued. I just found it hard to be involved in a lot of things because I don’t have a huge following and my emails to publisher seem to always go unanswered.

-Lois, 20

I can definitely relate to this, especially in my first year or so of blogging, I found it really hard to get involved and I didn’t even attempt to get anything from publishers until I got Netgalley last year! It can be hard sometimes when you have a blog with a smaller following to feel like you’re getting heard.

I definitely feel like unless you have that large following or are a publishers favorite you miss out on a lot of stuff. From opportunities, to audience, to connecting with other readers. I feel like it’s a popularity contest a lot

-Bayy, 20

This was a common response to this question, that if you’re not a large blogger, you don’t get as many opportunities. I don’t really know what the solution is to that particular problem, I’m a relatively small blogger myself but I have had the chance to do some cool stuff, I get e-ARCs from Netgalley, I’ve been asked by a couple of companies to do posts for the blog & offered a few ARCs from publishers, but I still feel like I don’t get as many opportunities as some of the bigger bloggers do. Bayy’s absolutely right though, it does seem like a popularity contest sometimes and it doesn’t help that to publisher’s it’s all just a number’s game.

Q9: Is there anything you would like to see change in the community, both for 20 something bloggers and in general?

I’d definitely echo that book events are concentrated in the south east, and I also think publishers can be a little shortsighted and mean when it comes to things like ARCs, etc. By this, I mean not responding to emails (which can feel like shouting into a void), making fans do stupid tasks for books (this happens with a few publishers at YALC) or only sending out books to bloggers with huge followings.

-Annalise, 24

This was part of a larger conversation with the bloggers I talked to, but essentially an issue that was brought up time and time again was that book events do tend to be concentrated around the London area. I didn’t actually realise this was an issue until I moved to Scotland, but it’s very true! From book tours, to book events like YALC, everything is based in the south, the furthest North authors seem to go for author events is Newcastle. I’ve managed to go to a paltry two book tours since I came to Uni. I think as a community, we definitely need to show enthusiasm for events in the North so publishers see that there is a demand and perhaps send more of their authors here!

The location of book events really bugs me. I can’t afford 100+ just for a book event, I also did a mini rant about availiability on my twitter this morning hahaha

-Rosie, 23

I would like to see more of an offline community with events, meetups, and the like, especially outside of London. 

-Kelly, 22

Thank you to everyone who participated in this, it was so interesting to get to talk to other bloggers of around my age and see how they feel about the community! I know this post is an epic tome, so well done to anyone who actually manages to get to the end of it, I’m sorry for the length, I just wanted to make sure that as many people as possible who took time out to answer my questions were featured and I got way more offers than I was expecting to participate in this!

If you’re a twenty something blogger then please feel free to add your two cents in the comments! The discussion we had as a group was so interesting, I honestly wish I could have shared it all with you guys, but alas, this tome of a post would be twice the size if I had.

I definitely will not have any more discussion posts for you in November, as it’s the 30th today, but I will definitely be back at some point in December with a new discussion post (maybe even two as I have the whole of December off!). In the meantime, hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more from me as tomorrow is officially my last day of Uni, I have a book review and several features for my writing corner already planned for December, so stay tuned for those! I will also be posting my wrap up of this year’s NaNoWriMo very soon, so you have that to look forward to as well!

Jo Talks Books: Tips For Student Book Bloggers

Hi everyone! I know it’s been ages since I last did one of these, but the reasons why actually lead on quite nicely to what I’m talking about today. As most of you know by now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while (if you’re new, then welcome!), I am a Uni student, in my third year at University of Stirling doing a joint History and Journalism degree. Earlier this year, I did a discussion post about Tips For New Book Bloggers and it was pretty well received, so I thought I’d do another Tips post, but this time for Student Book Bloggers. It’s a big change for anyone, starting Uni and I know that when I started, I was worried about how I was going to balance my blog with everything else. So I thought that today I’d put together a list of tips, things I’ve learned over the last three years blogging at Uni, in the hopes that I will be able to help out next year’s crop of student book bloggers and any students currently at Uni who are struggling to keep up their blog whilst at Uni. I hope you guys find these tips helpful:

  1. Find a schedule (or not) that works for you

I personally don’t schedule my blog posts, I know a lot of people swear by it, but for me, I’m not really a planner so it doesn’t work. I have a rough idea of what I’m doing in any given week/month, Top Ten Tuesdays, reviews, TBR updates and discussion posts are my staples and I write Quarterly Rewinds as and when needed, but I never schedule any of it in advance, I just sit and write in the moment because that’s what works for me. However, if you are a big planner, then a schedule might be the perfect thing for you, you can sit and write all your blog posts on one given day of the week. It all depends on what works for you.

2. Travel is your new best friend

Seriously. You will never have so much free time as when you’re travelling between home and Uni (assuming that you don’t go to Uni in your home town), it’s a great time to get reading done/blog posts written (assuming you’re on transport with Wifi), so make the most of it. When I’m on the train home, I have five hours to spare, and you can get so much reading done in that time. Even if you’re just on the train or on the bus somewhere, it’s a great chance to sneak in some extra reading (if you don’t get motion sickness, I’ve been told a lot that I’m weird for being able to read on public transport, so if this doesn’t apply to you then I’m sorry!).

3. Always set aside some time in your day to read

You will get busy when you’re at Uni. It’s a fact. Between classes, friends, clubs, nights out, essays, it seems like things will never stop and it’s easy to forget about reading. This is why one of my tips is to always set aside some time in the day when you’re going to read. This will give you a chance to decompress, which if you’re an introvert like me, is essential, it’s also an easy way to keep up with your own personal reading whilst you’re at Uni. Even if it’s just half an hour that you can squeeze in between classes, it’s worth it. Personally I read before I go to bed, it’s a habit I’ve had since I was a kid, and a great way to relax and decompress at the end of the day. It also gave me a sense of comfort when I first started at Uni because even when everything was changing, I always had that hour at the end of the day where it could just be me and my book.

4. Pick your reads carefully

I’m sure you all already do this, but when you’re at Uni, it’s twice as important. You will probably have less time to read when you’re at Uni, so you want to pick books that you’re pretty certain you’ll enjoy, there’s nothing worse than being overwhelmed with Uni work and struggling through a bad book at the same time. Also take into account your reading speed and workload when it comes to picking your reads. My first year of Uni, I only managed to read 3 books, I think part of that was just the whole starting Uni thing, but I also wasn’t very good at managing reading and blogging with my new workload. The past two years I’ve managed to read a lot more and part of that is being better at managing my workload, but the other part is picking books carefully. I am a slow reader, one book every two weeks for the most part (summer is an exception, I have more free time and read more), and so I have adjusted that accordingly with Uni. For the most part I read books that are on average between 300-500 pages because that’s what works for me. I save the 500 page plus books for the summer when I have more time to devote to them. It might be different for you, but you have to find what works. If you have lots of assignments or during an exam week, it might be better to read a shorter book. If you’re having a light week, go for that hefty book! It’s all about working out what the best book is for the amount of time you have.

5. Your work comes first. Take a break when you have to/need to

Blogging is a great thing to have and it’s a nice way to relax from Uni, but ultimately you are there to get your degree. Your work always has to come first. If you have to take a few weeks off from your blog because they are particularly heavy with assignments then do that. If you have to take a few weeks off because your mental health is suffering, then do that. NEVER feel like you are obligated to blog. Your readers will understand and be there for you when you are ready to come back, when your work load is less stressful.

6. Reading e-ARCs whilst watching Netflix is a great way to get more read

If you’re like me, then most days, you will feel more like watching Netflix in your down time. However, there is a way you can binge watch your favourite shows and get reading done. When you’re just chilling watching Netflix, you can always knock some of your e-ARCs out the park whilst doing it. This obviously won’t work for everyone, as I know some people like silence whilst they read, but if you’re like me and don’t mind a little background noise, then throwing on an old TV show you’ve watched thousand of times whilst knocking out an e-ARC, is not a terrible idea.

7. Don’t go request crazy and don’t be afraid to turn down offers if you don’t have time

That last one leads quite nicely onto this one. Don’t go request crazy on Netgalley, Edelweiss or whatever other platform you use, or for physical ARCs either. I made that mistake recently and now I’m trying to catch up with 4 or 5 ARCs that all came out in September/October. So be conservative with e-ARC requests when you start/go back to Uni. You may not have as much time as you’d think to read them. You also don’t need to accept every blog tour, review or whatever other requests you get. You don’t want to be overwhelmed with stuff for your blog as well as Uni, blogging is supposed to be fun, if it’s becoming as stressful as Uni, then you’re taking on too much. It’s okay to get a few e-ARCs and do some blog tours if you have time for them, but don’t take on everything. Publishers will be far more understanding if you explain you have Uni and you don’t have time to do everything right now, than if you take on something and then don’t deliver because you don’t have time.

8. Uni doesn’t necessarily have to be a barrier to your blogging. You’re having a whole new set of experiences, use them!

Yes you are busier, yes you might not have as much time to devote to your blog as you did when you were at home, but look at this way, you are having all these new experiences that you can write about! Personally, I don’t blog about Uni much, I tend to steer clear of more personal posts, but if you do write personal posts, then going to Uni could add a whole new aspect to your blog, it doesn’t have to be a barrier, it could be an inspiration!

9. Adjust your Goodreads challenge accordingly

If you’re a student book blogger using Goodreads, which I feel like most of us are, then you likely do the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Now before Uni you might have been managing 70, 80 even 100 books a year. The likelihood is, when you’re at Uni, you might need to adjust this a little. There will be weeks when you’re so overwhelmed with deadlines that you won’t get as much reading done as you’d like. So don’t pressure yourself! If you’re going to do the Goodreads Challenge set it slightly lower than you usually would. That way, you can adjust up if your reading is going well, but you can also adjust down if you have a really heavy assignment week. The point is balance. Be realistic about how much you are able to read alongside your deadlines, it’s all very well challenging yourself, but you don’t want to have a breakdown mid year when you realise a) your assignments are kicking your butt and b) you’re behind on your Goodreads challenge. There also may come points in Uni when you get a bit slumpy because you have so much work to do and you’re just not in the mood to read, so take that into consideration too.

10. Have fun!

I know this is cliche and I included it in my last tips post, but it really is the most important thing, both with your blog and your Uni experience in general. You want to be having fun with it, so make sure your blog is something that you’re doing to have fun, relax and destress, if it starts feeling like a chore or an obligation, reevaluate, take a break and hopefully come back with a fresh pair of eyes and a renewed excitement for your blog.

So that’s it, my tips for student book bloggers! If you are a student book blogger, chime in, I want to hear what your tips for blogging at Uni are. If you’re a book blogger (or any other type of blogger) about to go into Uni, is there anything you’d like to know? Not just about blogging whilst at Uni, but Uni in general? Let me know in the comments!

As it’s so late in October that I’ve got this up, I don’t think I’ll have another post this month for you (I know, I know, the two posts a month thing this year hasn’t always been the best, again Uni), but I will have another discussion post for you next month, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I feel like now’s finally the time to talk about it, so I’m going to be talking about the weird place of twenty somethings in the YA community. I’d like to talk to some other twenty something bloggers for this, so if you are a twenty something blogger with Twitter then please hit me up, I’d love to hear your opinions. In the meantime, I’m planning on starting my new writing feature, hopefully tomorrow, so stay tuned for that.