Carol Baldwin is a huge supporter of children’s literature, which makes her a dear, dear friend of mine! I adore people who do their utmost to help shine the spotlight on the wonderful books being published today. I asked her to share a bit about what she does, and she graciously agreed.
Blogging for Fun and a Different Type of Profit
Sometimes I imagine being interviewed. (Be honest. If you’re working towards publication, you probably have similar fantasies.) So, when Kirby offered to host me on her blog, I thought: Here’s my chance! My book is still a work-in-progress, but who says I can’t be interviewed now? Without further ado, here is my imaginary interview.
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: I started blogging before it was a platform-building trend. Back in 2007, I was working on Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8. I must have bugged my editor, Emily Gorovsky Raij, with one too many this-is-what-I’ve-been-thinking-about-lately emails because she suggested I start a blog.
It sounded like a good idea, so I gave mine the understated title: “Carol Baldwin’s blog” (remember, this was before every writer and her cousin came up with clever names for their blogs) and started. My first posts were about Teaching the Story and teaching writing to teachers, teens, and at conferences.
Q: Why do you blog?
A: Blogging is an investment. Before I knew what a platform was, I was creating one. When I review books or blog about writing conferences, I’m making connections with authors, agents, and editors. The proof that I had unexpected readers in important places was when I met Carolyn Yoder, (senior editor at Calkins Creek Books) at my first Highlights workshop and she knew my name and my blog because of my friend, Joyce Hostetter, whose books she edits. At my second Highlights workshop, the assistant editor, Cherie Matthews, recommended my blog without knowing I was in the room. That was fun!
Q: Doesn’t blogging take time away from writing? How do you find time to do both? (this question was a real question from a friend).
A: I used to blog twice a week but decided that once was enough to keep my blog active and wouldn’t overload my follower’s inboxes. It is time-consuming, particularly if you chose to write book reviews. Even “simple” blogs (mostly images and less text) can take an hour or two to format. More complicated blogs, (book reviews combined with writing craft) can take 4-6 hours. I blog in the evenings and watch little TV.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting a blog?
A: Consider who your intended audience might be, if you have time to devote to it (you don’t have to blog once a week, but if you want your readership to stay with you, then you want to be consistent), and the content you will provide. Admittedly, I didn’t think of any of this when I started but the writing blogosphere has changed—there’s a lot more competition for a reader’s attention. Don’t blog just to promote yourself or your books. Your content should be something that your readers can use. I feature three of my favorites, Fiction University, Writers Helping Writers and Writers Unboxed here. They are popular because they consistently provide thought-provoking content. Two of my good writing friends admire my persistence in keeping my blog going; one has abandoned hers and the other rarely has time to blog. But a key factor for me is that I enjoy it. Every book giveaway is like a party and I love promoting books and authors. Although I have not monetized my blog, receiving comments that my blog is helpful is very rewarding.
Q: What are some of your favorite blogs to write?
A: I started a series, “You Heard it Here First” when I share an author or illustrator’s news about signing with an agent or when their book is ready to be released. I love those posts as well as when I feature teen writers or sharing what I have learned at a writer’s conference. Recently I have begun combining craft instruction with my reviews like these featuring Kirby’s latest books LIBERTY and AUDACITY STEALS THE SHOW. Integrating writing principles into my reviews helps those principles stick in my brain. It’s also fun to share my progress with HALF-TRUTHS, my first young adult novel.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Since I’m a big fan of giveaways and have profited by attending many first page critiques, I’m offering a first page critique to one of you. Please leave a comment by May 17 and I’ll use random.org to select one person to receive the critique. Include the genre (no erotica or horror), and your email address. Middle grade or young adult is preferred, but adult fiction is acceptable. No picture books. Submission should be 250 words and double-spaced. I know how tough first pages are. I’ve changed mine many times and now open with a totally different character and setting.
After ten years, almost 700 posts, and over 205,000 views later, blogging is Carol’s platform, passion, and perhaps a bit of an obsession. During the day, you can find her working on her young-adult novel, HALF-TRUTHS, golfing, or playing with one of her five grandchildren.