Monday, 30 September 2013

Let's Fix This Before We Die

Blogging used to be a shit load of fun.

It still is fun, but not a shit load of fun; not as much as it used to be before the blogging community of writers started pimping way more book promo than interesting reading material.

I get it.

I'm guilty of it myself.

But now that Google Reader is gone, and I'm using Feedly, I notice it more. Whenever I take a gander at my feed, I scroll ... I scroll ... I scroll some more ... and all I find anymore are blog tours, cover reveals, author interviews, and BUY MY BOOK posts. Then I leave, and check out what's up on Facebook. As I said. I get it. I'm in the same boat. We are all publishing books, and lots of books, especially since there are so many of us going indie now.

But you know what? We have got to change this. I'm bored. And let's be honest, shall we? So are you. You may still visit blogs and comment, but I'm more than certain you are just doing it now out of loyalty.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are still some of you that post interesting reading material. But you're getting lost in the haystack, friends. I really hate to say that, but you are.

Let's fix this before we die.

I have an idea.

Create a new tab on your blog/website. Call it something like Blogger Love. Whenever you need to pimp your books, or fellow bloggers' books, post your blatant promo stuff there (unless it's a guest post). Then, on the main page of your blog, the REAL blog, write an article ... or even better, write an article that is in some way related to the topic or theme of the pimp post in your Blogger Love tab. Attract readers to your post with an awesome title. And make your first line count. Just like you do when you are writing a novel. Hook your readers. Lure them in. Keep them there with interesting content. Then, at the bottom of your awesome article, link to the pimp post in your Blogger Love tab. You could say something like this: Hey, and speaking of [topic of your article], check out this book by Blah, which explores a similar issue. He/She is celebrating their book release today. Please show your support and help spread the word. You could even provide them with a pre-written tweet to make things easier for them. Or, if what you want to pimp is short and sweet, you could just tack it onto the end of the post as it is, with a bit of a, Hey, by they way, have you heard? 

I know. This is going to take more work on your part, because you'll actually have to write the articles. But you know what? I think your readership will grow. This approach would be so much more effective, don't you think? After reading an interesting article, most people will click onto the pimp post, or the links at the end, because they enjoyed their visit. Why did they enjoy their visit? Because they weren't bombarded with promo and skip ahead.

What do you think? Could we start a blog revolution? I, for one, am going to try. And I'm starting today.

*Day SEVEN of the release tour for Briane Pagel's newest horror book, Temporary Anne, continues today, in which Braine is writing a story on the go, and blog readers get to choose how it continues. Great fun, right? CLICK HERE to find out more, and also how to receive a FREE book of his. Please show your support and help spread the word!

Note: My Blogger Love tab links to a new blog I created, because blogger only allows static pages and external links to be added to tabs. Other blog sites may have an option to create a new tab with a separate feed, however.
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49 comments:

  1. Great idea. I'm very guilty this week - I've got more guests and reveals than I've had in months. What I've done to regain ownership of my blog is be far more selective of which bloghops I join. I already have a separate blog on my website. I'd intended to just talk about me there, but I might add some broader topics.

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    1. That's awesome. You've got a head start!

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  2. It's such a hard balance. All my posts used to be essay-type until I knew more writers who were publishing and I began periodically hosting. When self-publishing exploded, so did the blog tours. I often say yes to blog tour requests. And since I only post about once a week because it's all I have time for if I'm going to comment back to commenters, it means my content posts are few and far between. The week before last I had a more poignant post, and people did respond more.
    But I also notice that people who are established bloggers often let their blogs slide. We keep in better contact over Facebook or even Twitter. There are only so many hours in the day, and I need to write too!

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    1. That's true. There are only so many hours in a day. But if you look at your blog like a newspaper or magazine that gets published every week, you begin to realize how important a good meaty article is, otherwise it's just like the ad section. I think it's worth investing the time. But it all really depends on what one wants and does with their blog. As an indie author, it might be more important to periodically post great content, as indies are most likely trying to establish their platform and brand.

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    2. If that caught on, I think it would be hard on self published authors because they'd lose their biggest place to advertise. Then again, I don't really want my blog to be an ad.

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    3. Personally, I think the more effective advertising is writing stuff people want to read. Then they have the incentive to check out their books. I could be wrong. But I could also be right. :)

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  3. Just as guilty. And yet people have come to expect all the book and blogger news at my site. Of course, I've always included more than just that. It's why I post a variety of small topics so there is something for everyone.
    Know what you mean about scrolling through Feedly and seeing all book stuff. Not sure when I acquired so many followers who are writers. Probably came about as a result of the IWSG.

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    1. Yeah, your blog is different, Alex. The thing with yours is that you PERSONALIZE the content, so I think the promo you do strikes some sort of balance.

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  4. I've felt this same way lately when perusing my reader. I see hundreds of launches, reveals, etc., and usually will only visit one (on the same release). I participated in my LAST fest this past week and have revisited the purpose of my blog through mind mapping. Yes, blogging has been boring lately, and I don't want to fall by the wayside.

    I've always tried to make my blog a little different than the others and haven't wanted to fall prey to some of the games played, although I have. That's over.

    I've determined that I want my blog to show what I'M up to, not others, although I will continue to spotlight various authors in my "Spotlight On" page (you're actually on that!). I do want to continue my monthly book club, but it's also getting revamped and is on hiatus until the new year. My mother's passing put a hold on many changes I was making.

    Good reminder, Jessica!

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. Michael, it sounds like you're in the same head space as me, then! I'm on your spotlight page? How did I not see it? *scurries over to check it out*

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    2. Yeah...you likey? I wrote it as your release, but put it up there afterwards. All others will be like your blogger love tab, with a link to the write up.

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  5. I tend not to fight the flow on these kinds of things - I'm a rulebreakin' rebel, but I also try to understand the forces at work and ride the wave rather than try to direct it.

    Yet, you may notice that I blog a LOT (well, especially since I've been blogging the book, but even before that, it was a few times a week). And of that, only a small amount was promo, usually other people's stuff. Comments are down but traffic is steady (or increasing).

    Here are my thoughts on blogging in 2013:

    1) Unless you're blogging controversial stuff, your blog won't attract comments. People read, get their info, and leave. If you have particularly inspired them, they may comment. More likely, they will share (Twitter/FB).

    2) This is okay.

    3) Community happens on FB now, not on blogs.

    4) People don't discover blogs via Google Reader (it shut down because people weren't using it), they find the material the way they find a good book: word of mouth. People SHARE good content via other means (FB, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). This is how it doesn't get lost in the haystack.

    5) The key is to provide content that will be shareable.

    6) Or, you know, just blog because you've got something to say. Whether people find it interesting enough to listen is up to them. And may be irrelevant to you.

    I blog as little (or as much) as I like. I blog primarily because I enjoy sharing my thoughts, or when I find something interesting/new/helpful. Whenever blogging is too much work, to me, that's a sign that I'm doing it wrong. It needs to be fun... otherwise people (including me) will go somewhere else. (And that's okay, too.) :)

    *Hugs* Jess! Love you!

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    1. We are on the same page and I totally agree with you. And I'm not after comments, anyway. I just want to make sure I post relevant content, and not get lazy and copy/paste blatant book promo. I want to post things that people are interested in reading. I'm not after interaction. I just want to READ. That's why I followed blogs in the first place. Because I enjoyed reading their posts. Your blog is one of them. Kudos to you for keep up appearances! :)

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    2. You know, it just occurred to me that blogging presaged the indie revolution - democratized writing and publishing. And it faces some of the same challenges now that the dynamics have shifted and matured - that of finding your audience. It's not that people don't read... it's that they don't use blogs as community (and therefore reading was often secondary to connecting). People don't read your book because they want to "connect" with the author - they read because they're interested in the content. I think it's the same way now.

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  6. I'm kind of over it. I'll probably have to get published before I really care about blogging again.

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    1. Aw ... :( Maybe you need to start something new? And think of TQQQE as a newspaper column you are commissioned to provide content for.

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  7. I gave up a while ago trying to gain new readers and grow my circle, now I simply write for myself and it's obvious I'm the only one really enjoying my blog!

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    1. LOL! Well, if you're enjoying it, that's the main thing! :)

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  8. I'll admit I've moved more away from blogging since I lost my writer blog. Blogging used to be more fun then. Now it's harder because I'm focusing on my target audience, but they aren't necessarily the individuals I was already following. Plus the time I have to blog has diminished. Before it didn't bother me to spend 12 + hours a week doing it. Now I don't have even close to that much time to blog.

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    1. That is so horrible what happened to your blog. I wouldn't wish it on anyone!

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  9. This is definitely true. I've noticed it on other blogs as well as on my own. I keep thinking ... when *this* happens, or when *that* happens, I'll have more time to write better content on my blog. It hasn't happened yet!
    Um ... I'm still trying to come up with a solution that works for me! But what you've decided to do is great :-)

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  10. I keep my pimping to a minimum. Pretty much someone has to directly ask me to share something, or it has to be like a good friend's very first book. So maybe a couple times a year? But yeah, i just scan over those posts now, if at all. I don't even really see it

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    1. I think everyone just scans over them now unless they are directly involved in it.

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  11. Well I’m not very guilty of this and when I do slip in a sly promotion it’s usually in the body of an article on something else. All of which means I don’t sell very many books but I’m not sure if I did ramp up the promotions on my site I’d sell any more; it would probably lose me what few regular readers I have. (I know it says I have 246 followers but I’m not convinced.) You’re saying nothing new of course. We need to promote ourselves. Which is hard when we’re the kind of people who like to hide behind fictional characters. It’s also hard thinking of new and interesting stuff to say that’s not been said before and let’s face it EVERYTHING has been said before by far cleverer people than us. And yet love stories still sell more than anything else. Why is the world not bored of love stories? It’s a tolerance thing. When Live Aid arrived on our screens we were bowled over by the message but after all the other ‘[fill in the blank] Aid’ concerts we all got a bit sick of it. But we never seem to get sick of love. Odd that.

    I’m a member of a couple of writers’ groups of Facebook and on one of them they had a real problem with constant promotion, so much so that they’ve taken a hard line and only allow each of us one promotional post on a Friday and that’s us, but in the midst of the fray I pointed out what I thought was obvious: We’re promoting to the same people over and over again. I’m not saying don’t promote—I have friends who I know will want to read any new book I bring out—but once you’ve let them know when you need to be looking elsewhere. We’re flogging a dead horse keeping on and on and on about the same thing to the same people. Not selling books is frustrating especially when you’ve worked for years on the damn thing and you know it’s good and worth reading but you can’t force people to buy it. Half the time you can’t give the damn things away either because everyone has so much to read already. Reading used to be fun. Reading’s not as much fun as it used to be because no sooner have you read one book you realise that you’ve added another three or four to your to-read shelf. When it was a physical shelf that was easier to moderate. With ebooks we just keep filling up those hard drives. Because we love books. We love to be surrounded by books, hundreds of books, but we’re mortal and most of us will never get through all the books we want to read before we die.

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    1. Reading is still fun for me. But I've let myself "off the hook" so to speak. I read what I can manage and don't let myself feel guilty if I can't get to a friends book as soon as I would like.

      You raise some interesting points. We are just pimping to the same people all the time. That's why I think having a newsletter is the best option, to be honest. Subscribers KNOW it's going to be advertising, and they WANT to hear about it. A blog is better as a place to read interesting articles, even if everything has already been said, there is always going to be someone who is reading about a specific topic for the first time.

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  12. I agree! In fact, as I am about to launch my first book, something I have worked extremely hard at and am very proud of, I don't have the heart to make a big deal about it for all the reasons you've just mentioned. When I posted the cover the other day I didn't even call it 'Cover Reveal.' I'm thinking about just throwing it onto Amazon and maybe not saying anything. Or maybe just a sentence or two. Like, it's done – read it, don't read it, have a nice day, y'all.

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    1. That's how I feel about it nowadays. I'll use my newsletter, as my main advertising platform, I think.

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  13. Thank You Jessica!! Someone had to say it, and you say these 'obvious to some' things so well.

    I also browse past many book promos, unless I've signed on for a blogfest, or I'm a regular visitor. That means blogfests may have to change their tactics, since the main item of the blogfest is to get others to promote your book. 'In Your Face' promoting is getting stale.

    I'm all for seeing more posts with content that isn't promoting and the idea of having that promo at the end with a catchy hook is superb! I like to learn about things when I read blogs. Content is important to me. Tell me about your town, or your interests, but give me something to THINK about.. The A to Z challenge seemed to bring out much more interesting posts than the daily fare.

    I like the "Blogger Love" tab idea - There can also be a reminder in one of the sidebars to look under the tabs. I'm all for your great idea, Jessica!

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    1. I'll be trying out a new format for two blogfest launches this week, with content at the beginning of the post which segues into the promo. I'm wondering what the promo owner will think of the change.

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  14. Thanks for hitting a big nail on the head, Jess. I haven't liked doing cover reveals and all that jazz but saw no alternative. I don't have the computer skills to do what you suggested, but I'm definitely handling my upcoming launch differently. You're right, we're all peddling books to each other when we should be focusing outside of ourselves. Suggestion: Why not set up a new blog and call it Launch Site? In the comment section, we could say what we're doing. I've dropped out of Goodreads because I think the site's a waste of time. Twitter's just a promo thing I've escaped. And FB just isn't for me. Bottom line: I'm not comfortable with promoting myself. It seems so, well, odd.

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    1. Well, you have to do what you are comfortable with, otherwise there is no fun in it! :)

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  15. I still love blogging, partly because I love short-form writing, being an ex-journalist and short story writer rather than a novelist. I think all authors ought to blog because it's such a good exercise at perfecting each small piece of text. I have two blogs - one my personal writing blog (www.youngbyname.me) on which I'll publish whatever takes my fancy, and the other my professional one, Off The Shelf Book Promotions (www.otsbp.com), offering book promotion advice to indies. I'm happy to support indie authors by having guest posts on Off The Shelf (never on my personal writing site), including providing stops on a blog tour, but only if their contribution includes valuable lessons on book promotion and doesn't distract from the blog's main thrust. And the text must always be original.

    The guest posts on Off The Shelf are usually in the form of an interview, not least to make sure that I remain in the spotlight too!

    I don't want to read thinly-veiled ads for books on anyone else's blog either - if I'm following a blogger, it's usually because I want to hear from them, UNLESS they have a track record of inspiring guest posts on their main subject from great writers e.g. your blog, Jess :) or have an enticing, specific theme that requires constantly changing writers e.g. Roz Morris's Soundtrack strand. Coherence and consistency is vital. Same goes for the ALLi blog that I edit - I seek interesting content, and if the piece is good, the writer will get readers to clicking on their byline to find out more about them. If they happen to be promoting their book on that clickthrough, fine - that's their bonus, but it should never distract or detract from the quality of the actual post.

    I feel the same about Twitter: I unfollow tweeps who indiscriminately RT other writers' promo tweets in the vain hope that they'll return the favour. The odd tweet of a helpful blog or news item is fine, but if I follow a tweep, it's because I want to read about them, not just pick up a load of secondhand links. I'm constantly amazed at how few people simply do not get that!

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  16. Crumpets Jess - you've set a storm here ... but not being a published author - I get bored reading all the pimping stuff all over the place ...

    So I agree with you ... and a blog should be a platform for you not necessarily your books et al - it's keeping your credibility up .. and giving/providing interesting information from a different angle.

    I've done very few blog hops - I do the A-Z and have used them along the same lines as my blog, but shorter posts ... I join one or two other supportive postings .. but I like to do things differently - and keep my audience ...

    Good thoughts here - cheers Hilary

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  17. I have to agree with you. I've stopped signing up to pimp stuff, and I've tacked my already promised pimping onto the end of my posts. It's so bad on some days when everyone is pimping the same thing and there's NOTHING new to read anywhere. I think you just showed us the man behind the curtain...and I admire your bravery.
    Tina @ Life is Good

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  18. I stopped doing promo posts on my blog quite awhile ago, even for my own stuff. When I have a new release, I'll do a "Sneak Peek" post and that's it. Everything else happens on social networking sites and my newsletter. I like that you're bringing this up because the blogosphere does seem to have been saturated with pimping each other's stuff. Sometimes it seems the only way to help our fellow writers, but I do think it's even better to tell people outside of the blogosphere about books you love and want to share, and even more helpful to actually go buy a copy, and even more helpful to request it at your library so others can find it. There are so many other ways to share that last longer than a blog post, I think.

    I love blogging so much now that I've moved back to actual posts logging my journey. :)

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  19. As a reader - I'm looking for content. I don't read a lot of blogs and other than a handful of close friends I don't follow that many blogs on a regular basis any more. What I'm after is solid content with a unique spin OR quality content that adds to my knowledge base. Consequently most of the blog posts I read come via Twitter.

    As an author I am struggling to know what the relevance and importance of blogging is to me now. I started blogging in 2007 and I feel a little fatigued in regards to blogging. The number of posts I have put up in the last year is testament of that. BUT... I feel the pressure to maintain a regular blog presence. Then get jaded when I spend half a day writing a blog post of original content no one sees. That's half a day taken out of writing fiction. Since April this year those half days haven't been around.

    The upside... reading this did spark some new ideas on how I might inject some life back into my blog but until I work out what I want my blog to achieve I have no doubts I will flounder a little longer.

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  20. I just read about this post over on Talli's site. Sorry I missed it, originally.

    I couldn't agree with you more. I often feel stagnant blogging now. Although I love helping out fellow authors, I do miss sharing my personal journey in writing and also in life. You really are correct, here, and you've given me something to ponder for a while. I had already decided after my full blog schedule winds down in November to schedule less and write off the cuff more. I'm so glad you pointed this out!

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  21. Yes! I very much agree. I'm not a published writer (yet), just a blog (and book) reader, and I get quite bored with book promotion posts. In fact, unless they're few and far between, I don't bother reading the blog any more. The blogger love button is a great idea. (Oh, and I came over from Talli's blog, too. Which I still read because she's got interesting things to say. Case in point.)

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  22. I love this idea! (Also coming to you from Talli's blog!) I want to support fellow authors, but I know most of us tend to avoid the cover reveals and guest posts. Some friends and I actually started a blog for promo purposes, Writers of Mass Distraction.

    A good friend and fellow author, Mike Saxton, pointed out that promoting books to other writers tends to be pointless because everyone's there to sell books, not buy them. And sites like Goodreads and Shelfari have become a huge time-suck.

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  23. I tend to agree with what you're saying I tend to pass quickly by those promo posts and hope my comment is not exactly the same on all of them. I don't get overly involved in a lot of reveals and tours and such.

    When someone is promoting their book on my site I try to get them to do a post on some sort of controversy to make things more interesting and stimulate discussion. Something different than what's been on other tour stops. I think it's worked fairly well when I've done that.

    When I do a cover reveal I try to add some other material to interest the readers who might not care that much about the book. There is a lot of redundancy on blogs and I'd prefer to avoid it. I'm redundant enough recycling my own thoughts.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  24. so I guess you're not interested in participating in my cover reveal blogfest?? LOL... Totally kidding. Couldn't resist. I've done so many cover reveals for others that I felt entitled, but I did make it a fun theme and not all about promo. When featuring other covers, I include them with an actual article. I've found that my readers don't care about someone else's cover, they come to read my post, so I include it all in one, or else is a waste of valuable time. I blog to maintain the network of writers and writing community I already have, but it's not where my book readers are--I know that. For that, I'll focus on Twitter and FB. Even so, the more exposure you can get for your book, the better, and I don't mind helping fellow writers out.
    Ever blogger has the option to say no, and every blogger has a responsibility to be creative and interesting in their posts, or why blog anyway???

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  25. It's a tough question, because I want to help other writers. Right now I'm pimping my latest book, so am returning the favor... a lot. One way around it, I'm trying this blog trade thing - trade blog posts with other writers so we both get unique content. I won't do a shoutout or reveal by itself... rarely. I imagine come January I will try to reclaim my blog again. But like Susan said, sometimes I just go with the flow. And this fall is very, very active.

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  26. Fantastic post, Jess. And I agree with it for the most part. I don't think blogs were ever intended to be an advertising space, they just kind of became that--particularly in writing circles.

    I think part of it stemmed from when traditional publishing WAS publishing. You'd see authors share the launch of each other's books, etc. as a goodwill gesture, but it never really reached the point of over-saturation because the time from writing to publication was SO much longer. And almost never controlled by the author.

    Anyway, indie authors have just mimicked what we've always seen on writing blogs, but as we all know the paradigm has changed. Now instead of having one cover a month to share, I could literally share one every day of the week--every week.

    I don't view the increased frequency of books being released to the market as a bad thing at all btw. I love it! For readers. For authors. It's awesome-sauce as far as I'm concerned. However, I do think we need to change how we share our good news with one another.

    And I'm as guilty as anyone of doing it, because I want to give my friends a shout out any way that I can.

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  27. Oooh, fascinating topic! I do get a bit frustrated with promo, promo, promo. I love helping other authors, but sometimes I check in with a blog to learn or connect.

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  28. This is exactly why I drifted away from blogging... I wanted to reciprocate on comments and visits, but just couldn't bring myself to comment on all the promo. My personal blog has remained fairly static - and I have a review blog that has always been separate and a part of my reading obsession - so that's different anyway- but great way to fix the issue. Came to you via Talli's by the way. Laura x

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