2014 Focus for Bookwi.se

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I have been blogging regularly at Bookwi.se (and before that MrShields.com) since Sept 2009.  As of this post, Bookwi.se has 3288 blog posts including 875 Book Reviews.  In may ways I am surprised that I am still blogging after more than 4 years.

This ended up being an entirely too long post.  So here is the summary version: this next year I will be experimenting, I want to keep working on good content.  I will be posting a few less book reviews in order to keep the reviews good (and reposting some old book reviews to round out the content.)

And now the longer version: Why I started blogging book reviews was that I love to connect people to books that they love.  I also enjoy processing books out loud.  That is of less interest to others, but continues to be important to me.   In 2013, I read just under 200 books.  As a new parent, this is unsustainable and I know that.  I am going to intentionally try to read fewer books, but read them more deeply. (Although this is not my traditional reading style.)

In years’ past I have written posts about upcoming reading goals.  This year my reading goals are not subject areas (such as the trinity, or a single book of the bible, etc.)  Instead my 2014 focus will be on putting into practice (wisdom) rather than just acquiring knowledge.  So for the next six months I will buy no more than one new book a month (can’t stop cold turkey) and instead focus on books that I already have, and on re-reading books that I have read and valued previously.  I may choose to extend this focus an additional six months, but right now this is an experiment.  (As a side benefit my book budget can go to toward diapers.)

With that focus, I am also going to try and be more focused with my free and sale kindle book posts.  About 60% of my traffic comes from the free book posts.  (I only had one book review in my top 75 most read posts last year.  Almost all of the rest were free book posts.)  So I do not want to stop posting free books, I think it is a good service, it is good traffic and I personally like looking through the books to find books I want to read.  I also don’t want to stop posting Kindle sale posts, because this is where the majority of my Amazon income comes from (although it takes an awful lot of $0.99 books to generate much income.)

So that really does not leave me with a lot of room to make changes.  My future plans will be that I will post no more than 3-4 posts a day, one free, one review and one sale.  I will probably drop the Kindle and Audible sale posts because they are low traffic (although very low work since I just cut and paste Amazon’s page).  I have already significantly curtailed my Offsite review posts.  I like directing readers to other good reviewers, but again, traffic on offsite review posts is low and they seem to create a lot of confusions (I am not the one writing the offsite reviews).

What is frustrating to bloggers like me is social media and distribution of content.  It used to be that Facebook would share your posts to fans and the more people that click on a post or like it or share it, the more people Facebook would show it to.  Now Facebook wants bloggers like me to pay to reach our fans.  So it is normal now that only 2 to 4% of facebook fans will see any given post (even if 80% of those that do see the post either click through or like the post.)

Twitter is great, but it is easy to get lost in the noise of twitter.  Personally, RSS is my prefered method of tracking blogs as it seems to be for most of you.  Roughly 3 times as many people read posts via RSS as come directly to the site or come via social media.  Finally there is email.  Honestly I set up email subscription because my Mom wanted to read my blog.  But now email subscriptions are nearly as big as RSS subscribers.

For you as a reader, all of this does not matter much.  But for my as a blog author it matters.  I want to both be helpful for people, not waste my time and not let my blog be a distraction from work and family.  So expect posting times to change frequently and for me to start sharing through social media more often.  But I do not want to become a social media blog spammer.  So give me some feed back.  Michael Hyatt said a while back that sharing once gave him x traffic.  Sharing a second time usually gave him almost as much, and a third time was about 50% of the first post.  So with each additional social media post, you get more readers, but you also can alienate the readers that clicked through the first time (or have no intention of clicking through on that post.)

If I have learned anything blogging, it is that I really do not know how others think.  So my only method is experimentation.  And since by far the largest chunk of my traffic is RSS and Email (which I have much less data about how you read and see the blog) I always need to be careful that my content is more important than any strategy.

If you have bothered to read this far I am surprised.  But the summary version is that I will be experimenting, I want to keep working on good content.  I will be posting a few less book reviews in order to keep the reviews good (and reposting some old book reviews to round out the content.)

I am not looking for praise, but I am interested in feedback.  If you have any suggestions please feel free to comment below or email me at adam at chicago2000.net


Adam, this comment is for the “2014 Focus . . .” article which will neither let me see the entire post here nor connect me to the comment section. But I wanted to offer some random feedback . . .

I read ALL your reviews – on email – but how would you know anything about that kind of traffic? I do less and less with Facebook and sporadically at that. Thus, the email subscription is vital. And through that I have benefited by acquiring many free and some reduced price Kindle books. Until your year-end report, I didn’t realize I should make purchases from your blog-site if you are to collect any income from that source! (By now you realize I am less than savvy concerning how all this works.)

I still prefer old-fashioned books, as I am wont to tell you with every comment, but I do appreciate the many virtues of Kindle – especially the opportunity to become acquainted with unfamiliar authors without monetary risk.

I look forward to any reviews that you post. Also, your running comments on how listening to audio versions compares to reading continue to be intriguing since the lion’s share of books I “read” are recorded. (I can listen during many of my working hours.) So many recorded books are available at or through my library, I would seldom consider purchasing an audio version – unless it was some classic to which I’d return repeatedly. The artistry involved in narration fascinates me. I have greatly improved my own narrative skills simply through listening to readers like Frank Muller, George Guidall, Michael Beck, Tony Britton, Simon Prebble, C. J. Critt, John McDonough, Rob Inglis, Barbara Rosenblat, and Jonathan Cecil. (Since narrative skill has resulted in my leading the scripture reading ministry at our church, this is not “simply” a matter of reading “bedtime” stories.)

Happy reading – and blogging!

    First, thanks for letting me know about the blog error. I learned something new this morning about titling posts (a number creates problems.)

    Second, I am not opposed to RSS or Email subscribers. I personally subscribe via RSS to 90% of the blogs that I regularly read. But when you come on the site I get more info about how long you read, how many pages you look at where you enter and leave. I don’t really do anything with that other than try to understand what types of content are more popular than others. With RSS I only get how many people look at a particular post and how many total clicks were generated on that post (the clicks may be to Bookwi.se or to Amazon or to somewhere else, but I don’t know that.) My email service is free and I get no data other than subscriber numbers. Which is fine because I am not ready to start paying for more data.

    Also to clarify, you don’t need to purchase from the site, if you click through on an email, that works the same way. The short version about affiliates is that each time you click on my links to Amazon there is a code that is used to identify that you were referred by Bookwi.se. That code tells Amazon that a referral amount goes to Bookwi.se for any purchase that you make withing 24 hours (or when you click on another affiliate link from someone else.) I know I probably click on a dozen affiliate links a day in my reading so the 24 hour thing rarely makes it for me. But that little string of code in the link is the same whether you click from an email, RSS or on the site.

    Finally, thanks for the comment about audiobooks. I will keep that in mind, I appreciate good audiobooks but I don’t always comment on the quality because I don’t know how many people like audiobooks.

    Just FYI, it is likely that your local library participates in Overdrive (about 80% of libraries do). That is a way to check out audiobooks via your computer or phone without even going to the library. And they are free. My library has a rotating library of about 1000 titles for audiobook. You might want to look into it as a way to listen without paying.

Thank you! It helps to know I can connect directly from your email and the code goes with me.

I do use the Overdrive audiobooks through my library frequently! However, it seems to me that the library is dumping more of its existing audiobook stock and acquiring new ones less vigorously, relying overmuch upon Overdrive. Perhaps it is cost-effective for them, but I think it’s a mistake even so. This is a phenomenon that has continued to increase in popularity, and Overdrive is simply not as useful a form for it (at least for me).

“If you have bothered to read this far I am surprised”

I, too, was surprised I read that far. 🙂

Random datum: I started following your blog for free and discount books, realized I really enjoy your reviews, and have greatly de-emphasized (though not nearly enough, from a purely rational perspective) acquisition of free/discount books. But–I still check in occasionally (manually, now, rather than via RSS as previously) to catch up on reviews and any appealing deals. I think your reading interests may actually quite similar to mine, which include (among other stuff) theology, ranging from scholarly to relatively “popular”; “mind candy” including YA/sci-fi/fantasy/thriller; cognition, etc. Since I’m feeling loquacious, a few books you might find interesting–there’s a chance you’ve even reviewed them, but I didn’t search–include Carol Dweck’s Mindset (lots of fluff, but a brilliant core); John Medina’s Brain Rules for Baby, and David Crump’s Knocking On Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer, which combines great exegesis and real-life significance in treating the topic of prayer. Your review of Whole-Brain Parenting (forget the exact title) struck me as interesting–I’ve added it to my to-read list.

    Thanks for the comments Joel. About the books, Whole Brained Baby is written by one of the co-authors of Whole Brained Child. I picked up the prayer book when it was on sale but haven’t read it yet. So I will move it up on my list. I haven’t heard of the others but I will check them out.

    I am glad you like the reviews, that is really what I enjoy writing.

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