Stuff On Sunday: The Numbers Game

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When I first started this blog, I didn’t expect to attract much attention and I wasn’t concerned. But after a few months I began to wonder if I should make an effort to build up an audience and, for a brief period, I threw myself into memes and giveaway hops. It was satisfying to see the numbers grow but I soon realised that the effort was largely in vain. As an eclectic blogger I was marooned in a sea of YA and PNR/UF focused blogs and what I wanted was to find bloggers who read books across genres so I withdrew from the frenzy and just kept plodding on.

While Book’d Out has a presence on multiple book related sites such as Goodreads, TheReadingRoom, Shelfari, Amazon and LibraryThing and social media like Twitter and Facebook it is more for the convenience of the publishers whose books I review rather than any ‘marketing strategy’. I don’t have the time, or the inclination, to aggressively promote Book’d Out,  and while I comment on blogs a fair bit, it’s because I want to, not because I am hoping for reciprocity (just as well really since that happens quite rarely).

Chasing popularity has never been my goal, reading and ‘talking’ about books has. So I resolved to forget about the numbers after about 3 months and I have, for the most part.

And then on Wednesday I got an email from Goodreads, that said:

“On behalf of the Goodreads team, I want to say thank you. You’re in the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! Your many thoughtful book reviews help make us a vibrant place for book lovers.

And our community has been growing! We now number more than 20 million members on Goodreads.”

I have to admit, I was pleased, even knowing that 1% makes me one of 200,000 other people to receive the same email. Checking the stats Goodreads provides, I was more surprised to find I am *at the time of writing* listed as the #2 reviewer for Australia, but that is an honor bestowed purely by the numbers of reviews I have contributed.

I don’t track my numbers anywhere else though I was shocked recently that Amazon notified me I was now a Top 500 reviewer. It seems my review of And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini has attracted enough attention to capitulate me up about 1500 places in the last two months. I have no idea why except I think it was one of the first posted and I am not entirely pleased either, with that sort of recognition comes trolls who can’t wait to tell you how wrong you are to think what you do, point out any grammatical errors or just be nasty and then vote your review as ‘unhelpful’. Frankly the quicker I am dropped back into anonymity, the happier I will be.

Book’d Out will turn 3 late next month. At the time of writing this post, the blog records my followers as 3,112, composed of email subscribers, WP subscribers, Twitter and Facebook  followers and though it is lovely to see that number in sidebar, I am still more interested in connecting with other readers, especially those like me, than finding ways to boost my statistics. If it is numbers you are chasing as a book blogger then you should be focusing on YA in particular or specialising in a genre like romance or paranormal. I know my eclectic reading list doesn’t suit everyone, but that is what I read and I am not willing to tailor my choices to chase popularity. I recognise also that since I read a lot of books by Australian authors that are (unfortunately) not available overseas that my reviews of those titles are of limited interest. I do confess I am disappointed when a review receives no comments, (though generally the ‘view page’ numbers are pretty good) but it’s because I enjoy the interaction.

Sure, it would be nice if all 3000 or so followers would comment on the blog, but I am grateful for those  those that voluntarily opt to subscribe in whatever fashion through whatever media, for those that stop by and click the ‘like’ button to let me know they have been here, and of course, even more grateful for those that take the time to leave a comment. I know there are a fair amount of lurkers too and I am content with that, though I’d also love it of you would say hi once in a while🙂 ). Regardless, I am going to keep plodding along.

So , what do you think about the numbers game?

58 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chrystal @ Snowdrop Dreams of Books
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 09:42:05

    Congrats, that is quite an accomplishment.🙂

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  2. laurelrainsnow
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 09:48:58

    Those numbers are quite wonderful, actually; but I am also one who wants to find book lovers who enjoy the books I love, and stop by to chat.

    Some of the memes (like Waiting on Wednesday) are full of YA/Paranormal readers…and I only rarely find like-minded book lovers. But sometimes I do.

    I hate those Amazon trolls, too; I have had some strange comments from mean-spirited ones. Again…not too often.

    Enjoy your blogging journey. It’s a fun way to connect.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 28, 2013 @ 15:13:01

      I don’t know how the numbers compare Laurel, generally book bloggers don’t like sharing specifics but I know I’d rather have visitors who visit, whether they comment or not, than artificially inflated numbers.
      Thank you to you for your visits and comments🙂

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  3. Lisa Walker
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 10:02:58

    Congrats Shellyrae, I know I don’t comment often, but I’m readin’🙂 (and appreciating)

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  4. Kate Belle
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 10:46:14

    It’s wonderful and deserved that you have achieved this kind of following and recognition. It’s also admirable that you don’t chase numbers Shelleyrae because that’s what keeps your blog posts fresh and honest. Honesty attracts many more genuine followers than marketing focused effort. Good on you and know I am liking, liking and enjoying your work.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 28, 2013 @ 15:14:36

      Thanks Kate, I think you can tell the difference between those that are all about the marketing and those that are about the books

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  5. Lloyd Russell
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 11:00:05

    I admit that I like the idea of growing my blog. Part (not all) of the reason is that I want to recommend good books and want those recommendations to get to more people. Like you, I read a lot of different genres, and I write like I think. I’m pretty sure my writing style is not for everybody. So be it.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 28, 2013 @ 15:17:30

      I don’t think its a bad thing to want to grow your blog Lloyd, and I think your goal is a good one.

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  6. Jeannette
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 11:29:08

    I am an example of a reader that finds great value in your reviews and blogs. Thanks for your efforts. You have introduced me to a number of books that I would not normally have considered. Good numbers or not, keep going with you passion, it shows!

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 28, 2013 @ 15:22:48

      I’m so glad that you shared that Jeanette – that is what Book’d Out is all about for me – introducing books to people that they then enjoy! Thank you.

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  7. jacabur1
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 11:53:34

    As one of those subscribers who lurks and reads but only rarely comments due to not really having a lot to contribute congrats on all your accomplishments as since you say they are not motivated by aspiring to greatness but rather your love of reading and sharing what you enjoy they mean more to you and therefore more to those who continue to follow and enjoy your efforts Shellyrae! Happy 3 years, here is to “plodding” through many more.🙂

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  8. readingwritingandriesling
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 12:05:54

    Those are amazing stats! Well done. That is a lot of hours of reading (and writing). Well done. I like that people are reading my blogs….I think we all like to see the numbers grow – I particularly like seeing WP’s little orange button glow when I log in – it is great to have likes or comments, to know someone has read your work, though like you I find not many people comment (which I find a bit frustrating) – I wonder is this to do with the ritual of other social media – that a “like” replaces the need to talk? The “like” if you agree mentality?

    I really enjoy blogging – about books and life in general. I have discovered some amazing reads since I started blogging and reading other peoples blogs.

    Keep up the great work.🙂

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 28, 2013 @ 15:26:28

      A lot of people only comment if they feel they have something to contribute and while that is nice and something I try to do- I’m all for commenting just to let you know someone is reading and has enjoyed your post.

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  9. brendat59
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 12:14:31

    Congratulations Shelleyrae! I also received that email, and I was very chuffed!! But I knew you would be well and truly up there, as your reviews are always amazing, beautifully written and extremely helpful🙂 So well done!
    I also read all of your blog posts, and find I look forward to them, even if I don’t always comment. Keep up the great work!
    Thanks for your recommendation of The Son-in-Law too, I finished it last night, and loved it🙂

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  10. readingwritingandriesling
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 12:17:42

    PS – I never realised there was stats on Good Reads until your post. I havent really paid it much attention until lately, I made one of the top 100 lists of Australian reviewers!! That I am proud of – as I just add reviews and forget.

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  11. Helen
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 12:38:51

    I like reading your page and review on books. Especially if it is a book I have been thinking of buying and then I see u have reviewed it . Keep up the good work.

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  12. Sylvia Johnson
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 18:18:38

    I’m glad you’re going to keep plodding along 🙂

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  13. Marg
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 19:14:57

    I go through phases in terms of stats and things. At the moment I am in a ‘couldn’t care less’ phase but it is still gratifying knowing that people stick around. The only thing that I know for sure is that the number of visitors is usually directly proportional to the effort that I am making both in terms of posts but also in terms of how many comments I am making etc.

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  14. Rachelle Lerner
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 23:47:39

    I don’t blog because of numbers. I started blogging because I started book challenges. I am trying to read more than the cozies I have grown to love. I must admit I feel a special connection to you due to your name as I used to be called Shelly and now like to be called Rae.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 29, 2013 @ 15:00:33

      Most people assume my name is Michelle – but it isn’t – just Shelley and Rae is my middle name🙂

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  15. notesoflifeuk
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 02:27:00

    Well done🙂

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  16. Kaley @ Books Etc
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 04:31:59

    What a great post! I’m a new follower (I actually am commenting here first and then will follow everywhere lol) and found your blog because Chrystal at Snowdrop Dreams and Books mentioned that you like to read a variety of genres. I’m always excited to find other bloggers who aren’t strictly YA because we’re a rare breed. Congratulations on what you’ve accomplished so far🙂

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 29, 2013 @ 16:11:47

      Thanks for visiting Kaley, i am always on the look out for non YA focused bloggers as well, I’ll be dropping by your blog.

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  17. Michelle Walker
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 10:18:35

    Congratulations on some great stats Shelleyrae,
    I am not numbers focused because I don’t see the stats on the site so I don’t give it much thought but it is admirable to not be driven by the numbers.
    I do read and love your reviews though I am definitely a lurker

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  18. Jenn J McLeod | Come home to the country...
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 11:09:22

    Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you …. You know the rest! I also know I remain in awe of your ability to read AND watch TV!!!!! The Reading Room peeps sure are lovely. Surprising how many people don’t know about it. Hey, maybe I can do a special Author Harvest with you. Book bloggers are authors! (You sure know how to write an awesom synopsis!)

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  19. Diana Leigh
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 12:56:48

    Congrats! My blog turned 3 this year too – the time went by fast, and was a lot of fun. Here’s to many more great years of book blogging.

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  20. Imelda Evans
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 15:28:28

    I, for one, am very glad that you continue on! I don’t comment as often as I should, but I have enormous appreciation for people like you who are good at book reviews and I am in awe of how fast you read and get the reviews up! I would have burnt out long ago, as reviews are really not my long suit – or even my mid-length suit. Congratulations on your milestones and yah boo sucks to the trolls!

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 29, 2013 @ 16:20:54

      Thanks Imelda, I dread the thought of burn out. The reading isn’t a problem, I would read as much as I do without the blog but I still find writing reviews hard and i am rarely happy with any them.

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  21. Bec Brown
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 19:29:48

    Great job Shelleyrae – I’m not surprised you have done so well is because your reviews are great🙂

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  22. Kate Forsyth
    Jul 30, 2013 @ 11:19:34

    Shelleyrae, I read your blog post with great interest (as I nearly always do!) I know just what you mean, about wondering about comments and numbers and so forth. I feel the same way. if its any consolation, I read your blog (and other people’s) many more time than you probably realise as I get it in my email stream. I’ve bought books on your recommendation and sometimes I have a conversation with you in my head about it (thanks, Shellyrae, great review – thanks for the recommendation, I really enjoyed that book.) I don’t always post such comments, though, usually because I’m always in a rush and often read my emails on my phone, while waiting in the car to pick up a child or similar. So I just want you to know that your blog is wonderful, and valued, all the work that you do to support books and writers is amazing, and you must keep going. We all love books so much, and we want to live in the kind of world where books are celebrated – so all of us need to working and trying and celebrating just as hard as we can! Thank you & bless you & don’t give up!

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  23. Teddyree
    Jul 30, 2013 @ 16:33:33

    I feel exactly the same way, while I don’t chase numbers and I’m not interested in growing my blog further, it’s always nice to have readers interacting and commenting, well otherwise you’re just singing into the wind so to speak. When you’re excited about books it’s nice to share that excitement with someone. That’s why I try to comment on my favourite blogger’s reviews (and Shelleyrae you’re one of them) I’d hate to miss something truly special and it’s nice to acknowledge the time and thought that goes into a review. Besides as a fellow eclectic reader, I’m almost always drooling over your TBR list lol.
    I’ll be around to say Happy 3rd Birthday to Book’d Out next month🙂

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  24. Helene Young
    Jul 30, 2013 @ 19:11:33

    Congratulations, Shelleyrae, it’s a wonderful achievement. I subscribe to your posts so I’m a lurker who reads those post in my inbox – I’m never sure how that’s measured, but your reviews are very much appreciated! I’ve discovered many new authors through your recommendations and haven’t been disappointed by any of them.

    I wish I had more time to interact myself, but life’s too crazy busy. I’m always fascinated on my own blog by which posts get comments and which ones get multiple visits and no comments. I’ve given up worrying about the numbers and blog because I like to blog. And now back to deadline hell…

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Aug 05, 2013 @ 13:49:24

      That’s okay Helene – I am happy that your writing efforts are directed to your next book because then I get to read it!

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  25. Leslie
    Jul 31, 2013 @ 01:37:18

    I got the top 1% letter from goodreads too and it was a surprise to me. I have no idea what my stats are, there is nothing listed on my profile. As for Amazon, I hover in the 3K range which is below top reviewer status and keeps me away from most trolls.

    I feel the same way you do about the hops and giveaways. I tried them but they did little for my readership for the reasons you addressed. And after a while I realized readership builds on it’s own and it’s better to have followers who read what you read, not followers who only want a free book. I enjoy the interaction and comments but I realize most people don’t have the time to comment everyday. if I spend too much of my free time commenting, I’m not reading and writing, so I understand that it’s a balance.

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  26. Dianne
    Aug 03, 2013 @ 15:10:24

    Another lurker here, Shelleyrae! I subscribe but rarely stop to comment – on any blogs, actually – but that doesn’t mean I’m not reading them! The very fact that your reviews cover an eclectic range of books is what keeps me interested. And when I hear about a book, I often check to see if you have reviewed it, because I think you write very thoughtful, intelligent reviews. So (selfishly) I’ll add my voice to your admirers and say don’t ever stop!

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  27. stacybuckeye
    Aug 04, 2013 @ 11:29:37

    I received that email from Goodreads too and was surprised and pleased. I’ve been blogging for 5 years and I’m still a small voice in a big crowd, but I have made good friends and that counts for something🙂

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  28. Kim Lock
    Aug 06, 2013 @ 15:07:33

    Lovely, thoughtful post Shelleyrae. I agree with you, I think in this day and age of social media it can be easy to become fixated on stats and hits and numbers, and to loose track of why we are doing it in the first place! As a debut author, sometimes I’ve found it hard to sit back and feel enjoyment for the accomplishment of just being published, because publicising work in the Facebook/Twitter/Blogosphere is now so crucial, yet can be so overwhelming and time consuming.

    It is wonderful bloggers such as yourself who support writers not only by reading their books, but by telling others honestly what they think of them. I’m so very grateful for what you do! And as others have said, I’m often dropping by your blog when I’m ready to add to my TBR pile. I tend to think to myself: ‘if Shelleyrae liked it, I probably will, too.’

    Do it because you love it, and I think you’ll always find the energy. And on the days you don’t have the energy, you owe it to yourself to rest and nurture yourself. Your readers will wait, I’m sure!😉 Your blog is terrific, whatever you do with it. Keep up the great work! Kim xo

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  29. Emily
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 18:49:30

    Wonderful post, Shelleyrae. Since I started my blog I have been constantly paranoid about whether anyone is even reading it but you’ve really given me some perspective here. I look up to you. Thank you!

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