Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vote for My Next Giveaway!

Today is the last day to vote in my poll for my next book giveaway! The poll can be found at  my new blog, The Prairie Library, on the sidebar. It's a close race right now! So, vote, vote, vote!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

My review of Carrie Ryan's novel is up at my new blog, The Prairie Library. Here's the beginning to entice you: "When you think 'zombies' what comes to mind? Do you think of the latest video game or horror movie that features some skinny chick lopping off heads? Not your thing? Not mine either. Yet, I have inadvertently read two zombie books in a row. But both are completely different and neither are what I would have expected from a zombie story..."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The LA Times Spotlights Book Bloggers

Check out my response to the LA Times' article about book bloggers at my other blog, The Prairie Library. Just a reminder: I'll be abandoning Time Out in a few months as I'm posting all reviews on my new blog. Head over and vote in my poll for my next giveaway!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Goop Soup: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie book 3 by David Lubar

My review of Goop Soup is up at my new blog, The Prairie Library. If you have young kids you should really check it out!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: This is Me from Now On by Barbara Dee

My review of this book is up at my new blog, The Prairie Library. Hop over and check it out!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap and the Alexander Palace

My review is up at my new blog! That's right...my NEW blog! There's also links to pictures of the real Romanov family and their palace.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bloggiesta and My New Blog

Today is the last day of Bloggiesta. There are some great pictures of other participants up on Maw Books Blog! I did the RSS Mini-challenge today, finishing 5 out of the 7 steps, that Puss Reboots suggested. I spent about 3 hours today doing the bloggiesta. It was fun watching the transformations on other participants websites and hearing about their hard work. Thanks to those who stopped by and gave me more blogging tips!

If you haven't already, check out my new blog The Prairie Library. I have begun posting my book reviews at the new blog and will shut down Time Out in a few months!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Follower Alert! Time Out is moving as part of Blogiesta!

Maw Books Blog is hosting Bloggiesta to ecourage bloggers to whip their blogs into shape! There are challenges, prizes and great tips from book bloggers on how to improve your blog! The event ends Sunday the 13th.

In my recent post on Branding, I mentioned I didn't care for my blog name, Time Out. My layout has been giving me issues as well. Bloggiesta has motivated me to make a major change. I have started a new blog with a new URL at The Prairie Library. So, in order to keep following my posts head over to my new site and follow me there! In a few months I will shut down Time Out so, say goodbye to the old and in with the new! I  hope you like my new layout! Other than that, expect more of the same as you get at Time Out.

I finally finished E.M. Forster's A Room with a View and my review is already up at The Prairie Library along with photos of my honeymoon in Italy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On Returning to the Real World

Well, I'm back to civilization and want to say thanks for the well wishes on our camping trip! We had a fantabulous (spell check says this isn't a word, but I DO so there!) time! I evaded being sunburned too bad. Just a little pink on the forehead. That's me canoeing. I think next time I'll take the back seat because rear end shots are not the best. I'm shielding you from the other pictures...trust me.

Amanda, camping is my recharge session as well! It's oddly relaxing to me to be active outside. And it helped that the locals were awesome and gave us free cake and ice cream when we stopped at their berry farm. =)
I only read one chapter last week from A Room With a View. I don't know what it is with this book but it's taking me forever. I am enjoying it so I don't know what it is. I will try to be more articulate when I eventually post my review. How do you guys work in time to read when you're on vacation? Or do you just forget about it? I'm curious.
Today was my first day back to work. I've been unemployed/in limbo/playing housewife since December. It feels good to be a productive member of society again! I have my old job back at the University's library working for the circulation department. It's like old times again.
I hope everyone's summer is off to as great a start as mine!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gone Camping

Behold my terrible drawing skills! I am not your greatest ally in Pictionary. Luckily, drawing skills are not required for where I'm headed.

We'll be camping in The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. That's supposed to be me and my husband roasting marshmallows. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do some reading in between the biking, canoeing and cave touring. Notice the sun is shining in my picture. Pray it doesn't rain.Well, see you all next week!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Marketing Your Blog: Post Three on Branding

PART THREE: This post is intended to give ideas to book bloggers who want to increase their readership using methods of marketing. I will be writing from my personal experience. Although I am not an expert, I figure I can pass along some things I wish I had known a while back. Much will be obvious but some maybe not so much. Use what helps you, forget what doesn’t! This is post three of three in my marketing series.

Branding: Making Your Mark: The look and feel of your blog can, in less than 5 seconds, decide if someone stays to read or clicks the X to exit.

My Name Is – Time Out by sheer default because I wasn’t feeling creative and wanted to get my blog going as soon as possible (because I was excited, ya know?). But I’m not crazy about the name. It’s OK. If you’re still a newbie blogger and don’t care for your blog’s name, change it before people consider you and your blog’s name to be one and the same. Think of your blog’s name as a name brand, like Starbucks. You thought of coffee didn’t you? Not stars and not bucks – coffee. The name and object are one and the same. That’s the power of a brand. You’re blog title is the same – a brand. Your brand. And it’s a difficult decision to change it late in the game. Sometimes, I visit a site just because their blog title is nifty. Brand power!

Color, Font and Layout Matter – big time! Your blog’s look (regardless of content) attracts or detracts certain readers. To gain readers, use a style that works, not necessarily what you may like best. This can be hard, I know. But a little sacrifice and effort can go a long way towards readership. And there’s usually a happy medium to be found.
  • Colors Send a Message: Be sure you are attracting the type of reader that matches the type of content you post. I want men and women readers so I have chosen a fairly gender neutral background color. Ladies: got a girly looking site? Then don’t be surprised if you never get many guy readers. Many just won’t stay if your web site is pink. Period. Food for thought. But maybe you read chick lit so gals are your target audience! Then pink might be right for you.
  • Let’s talk font. Simple is best. If it’s hard to read, they won’t stay. End of story. If a reader mentions difficulty reading your site, hurry and change the colors/font!
    • Keep in mind, if you use Internet Explorer but 30% of your readers use other browsers (check your analytics), it’s likely their browsers interpret fonts differently than yours. Also, older computers may have difficulty loading and reading a flashy or colorful website. 
  • Layout effects the way people process information on your blog. To be most effective:
    • Compartmentalize your side bar(s). Keep similar sidebar posts together for easy reader reference. 
    • The human eye likes symmetry. When applicable, do you best to make things line up and be sure text and graphics are not overlapping. A continuously sloppy layout sends the wrong message. It says disorganized, disinterested and unreliable. 
    • Many chose to pay someone to create a personalized blog with personalized buttons. Let your designer know not only what you like, but what kind of audience you want to attract with your look.
  • Keep your layout clean, tidy and with the most important information in prominent locations. Doing so creates an easy friendly reading environment and marks you as an author who cares about what you’re doing.
  • Your blog is personal. If you feel you’ve made too many sacrifices and lost the essence of “you” then by all means, make your blog look how you want. Blog design is a tricky tango between personal taste and reader needs.
About Me Page – a really good idea. Be honest (don’t exaggerate), be succinct (dispense with the “I don’t know what to say” stuff), be yourself (like you’re talking to a friend). This is not the place to talk to publishers. This is the place to talk to readers, to attract them into subscribing/following and to build community. Readers do not want to hear your sales pitch to the corporate world. Have a separate page or section for soliciting ARCs. I read so many “about me” sections that are THE SAME which is bizarre since we are all so unique and different. So, Info to Consider Including:
  • What you read – favorite books, genres, authors.
  • What your site is for - Blog because you love reading? For escape? Fun? Work? School? If you feel comfortable being personal let us know what type of school, what job or what reading club you read with.
  • Location makes you interesting. Where in the world are you?
  • What you do when you’re not blogging/reading.
  • How you heard about blogging and started your own.
Tone: Even Starbucks has a tone. And they try hard to set an appealing one (though lost on me – not a coffee drinker). A part of your blog’s brand is the way your blog feels. Your tone is comprised of everything visible on your site including: pictures, graphics, background, font, links, giveaways, blogroll, header, post titles and all text. Look at your blog homepage – the colors, the types of giveaways you advertise, post titles. Are they funny, serious, whimsical, pushy, gothic, academic, sexy, happy, forgetful? What word(s) comes to mind? This is your blog’s tone. Set a tone that reaches out to your target audience as well as one that reflects who you are.

Well, there you have it. My tips for marketing your blog: know your audience, actively pursue them and brand your blog. Remember, there’s no wrong way to eat a peanut butter cup write a blog. Just ok, good and (always) better. Be patient and attentive and you’ll gain the readers you’re looking for!

What ideas do you guys have about branding? What has worked/not worked for you? And if you actually read the entire post – wow, thanks! It got a bit long!