Today, Julie from Bloggers[heart]Books is stopping by to talk about how she took her blogging and interacted it in real life. Julie started blogging a few years ago and has since gone to college for publishing, become a freelance editor and works under author C.J. Redwine.
Interested in going into the publishing world? Editing? Take a look at what Julie has to say.
Tell us a little about you and your blog, for those who don't know who you are.
Well, I'm an 18 year old college student in NYC. I blog at Bloggers[heart]Books and review YA books primarily, but I'm open to other things. I try to do discussions often as well. I also do lots of "extracurriculars" - I read for a couple of authors, I help run the Incarnate street team, I'm assistant to C.J. Redwine, and now I edit.
Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging technically in February 2009. My current co-blogger, Lanna, had created this giant group blog for anyone interested and we talked a lot on the Twilight IMDb boards (...yeah, we know) about books and had a similar taste, so she invited me to join. We blogged sparingly and then at the end of November 2009 I was procrastinating finishing NaNoWriMo and started searching things. Somehow I stumbled across other YA bloggers and it went from there. We've been pretty dedicated to the blog since then. Lanna and I are the only bloggers left
You're going into the publishing industry. Did your blog shape that? How?
Without a doubt! I'd considered a lot of careers before blogging - teacher, author, fashion designer, singer, psychologist/psychiatrist, journalist. It was always more creative avenues, but I hadn't considered publishing before I was...16 or so. I think it was about a year after I started blogging, probably around my 16th birthday, definitely before the end of my junior year of high school. I remember that much because Pace University went on my list of colleges to apply to because of it's Publishing Program.
All I knew at the time was that I adored the feeling of someone buying a book I love because I told them I loved it. I figured I could put together campaigns and launch books that people would then go pick up. I was one of those people who admired campaigns, but I also had a bit of an insider look on what the frantic book buyers and bookish people who influence others to buy books would look for. Later on, I also realized I loved picking and poking at people's books when I could tell them how to make it better and...actually have it happen. None of these realizations couldn't have happened without blogging or without me meeting all the people I've met blogging.
Has your blog helped you with getting to know the industry, &etc.?
My blog has taught me how long everything in publishing takes. Nothing stings more than hearing about a book sale and seeing it's release date is a year and a half from then.
But it's the people I've met from blogging that taught me why. Multiple drafts and rewrites, copyedits, line edits, designing a cover, putting together a marketing campaign, scheduling tours/blog tours - these were all things I'd never considered. It's kind of vague idea in your head beforehand that they have some stuff to do but, really, why can't I have my damn book? Then I learned about it. I learned about the people involved and all they have to do. I've seen a lot more and understand a lot more about what goes on behind the scenes of books at first just from meeting people through the blog, then from joining those people behind the scenes. And I know there's still plenty I don't know about.
You go to author signings, conventions, and more. What does that do to help your 'real people' life?
I can honestly say I've never been more social. I only had three real friends before that read and I could see often, but they had very particular tastes and weren't as dedicated to reading as I was. And I was in an area that had two Barnes and Nobles...and that was basically it for bookstores in my entire county unless we wanted to discuss religious bookstores. I had to go to New Jersey for indie bookstores. It wasn't really easy to find people I could relate to. But now I typically go out at least once a week to a signing or a dinner or lunch or just a chat session with someone I met through blogging or at a signing or at a convention.
Also, I'm even more broke than I was before. So there's that. Negative side effects, ya know?
You're a teen editor! How did your blog help with that? What made you decide to do it?
Well, my blog gave me the opportunity to start critiquing books, even if it was a little late to change anything. It also provided me with a reason and some of the resources to refine my own reading. I was given the chance to explore new genres and ways of writing and see what works for me and what doesn't. And the wide variety gave me time to learn what was good writing vs. bad writing and a good relationship vs. an unhealthy one and perspectives and tenses...I think any voracious reader picks up on these things without realizing it. Some people do realize it and choose to utilize it.
I started editing for some friends mostly while in high school. Nothing big, just authors who I talked to a lot who wanted my opinions. Then one author I'd never really talked to asked me if I would. When it happened again just after I started my first semester in college, I started thinking seriously about it. I really loved doing it. I love the thrill of opening something that hasn't been vetted and wondering if I'd fall in love. And knowing someone trusts me so much is always an incredible feeling. So I started wondering if I could take this and utilize it and get something I can physically use out of it while also padding my resume. I started thinking about it around the middle of September and started taking steps toward it, which then stalled when the semester got heavy. Then around Thanksgiving, Brent asked if I wanted to come join Teen Eyes. The timing was perfect and it would be less work for me, so I went for it.
Julie currently works with author C.J. Redwine (left) and has
helped Suzanne Lazear (right) in the past.
Have you had any opportunities that you wouldn't have had without your blog?
Dozens. I went to ComicCon and I'll be going to BEA and I help run a street team and I'm an assistant and I'm a beta reader. I wouldn't have met my best friend without blogging because I wouldn't have been going to Jackson Pearce's livestreams. I wouldn't have been able to introduce a couple of my now-friends to blogging and get them started. I never would've entered two different writing contest, one where a panel of authors picked me as one of 5 winners and another where I was a finalist who got to have my story read by editors at Harper for consideration in publishing it. I wouldn't have nearly as many friends or as good a social life. I probably wouldn't have gotten into this college because this gave me something unique to add to my applications. I never would have met/seen 4 of my heroes in person in a few months span. I wouldn't have fallen in love with hundreds of books because I never would've considered them pre-blogging. Basically, my blog shaped most of high school and now it's shaping my college life. And I'm perfectly okay with it. I don't think I'd be as happy any other way.
What's your favorite part about blogging?
The community, probably. I love having this supportive network of people who will cheer me on and laugh at my stupid jokes and be happy to go out to drink tea and chat. There's people who will listen to all of my inane thoughts and assure me I'm not crazy for some of my opinions. That's something that a lot of people have a hard time finding as teenagers and I found that...even if it wasn't the traditional way.
What's your least favorite part about blogging?
First things that pop up are the drama and the jealousy/bragging. There are so many people who are so desperate to get books or get hits that they'll risk scandals. And, of course, there can be jealousy over people getting books that you want. It happens to me from time to time, even though I should theoretically know better. I just try to get over it and remind myself that ARCs don't define my worth as a blogger (which is what largely gets me). It doesn't always work when there are people bragging about their epic hauls because then I'm annoyed enough that they are bragging, but I think it also is just one of those things that happens sometimes. And the internet makes it hard to read the tone of things accurately. Either way, it's all unpleasant and I hate when I start to fall into the traps of it.
What advice do you have to new bloggers?
Have fun. Try things that seem new or stupid or different if they interest you, even if you don't think anyone else will be interested. Be honest without being unnecessarily cruel. Don't plagiarize. Don't be afraid to ask other bloggers for help, although don't ask us to give you everything you could ever need either. Try to dedicate some time each day to do something for you blog - reading, reviewing, networking. It helps if you develop a pattern or routine early on (because I really wish I had).
What advice do you have to bloggers who want to use their blog in 'real people' stuff?
Do what works for you and makes you happy. For me, that meant being really secretive with anyone not bookish for a long time. It also means that I spend a lot of time sitting at my computer, locked away from people and not talking much. That's a life I'm okay with. And don't do something bookish because you think you should, but don't reject the idea of it just because there's not much money to be made or it's hard or someone in the world won't approve. If you have the skills and you want to turn what you've learned from blogging into something you get paid for, why not do it? I think there's little in life you can do that's better for yourself than getting paid to do something you enjoy doing.
In a follow up to last week's post: BizTech Magazine did a post about how your online presence can help you land a job!