Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Girls Don’t Cry: Blogging Schedules

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Inspired by Book Buzzers, Book Girls Don’t Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don’t miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:

Planning is half the battle!

When you start a blog most people go in with absolutely no clue what it entails, nor how much organization goes into running one–especially if you want good constant content AND respect what publishers ask as far as reviewing the books they send to you on time.

My first few months of blogging were craz-ay! I was not using anything to keep track and just going about it with the flow, and it got pretty unorganized. I would forget tours I had signed up for, and I lost track of what was due for review (mostly Netgalley books then which are easier to “forget” you have at all). But first thing’s first, and I didn’t learn this until a few months after I started blogging hence why I’m mentioning it, but when you receive an ARC from a publisher, they like you to review them close to the release date. Some ask within 2 weeks, some within 4, and a few I’ve worked with had strict deadlines and wanted it no more than 1 week before, so how the heck was I supposed to keep track when NG started approving more and more and print copies would arrive? I’m very impressed to those who do blog successfully without a schedule as I know some do, and it may just be in my OCD nature, but I need more structure. And since publishers are feeding my reading habit, I like to respect their wishes as far as timing the best I can.

So here is what my blog calendar looks like–for those on a Mac, iCal is the best invention since sliced bread or something. But for PC I know there are some desktop calendars that exists, too, or Google Calendar is a good online one. Or if you’re more of an old fashioned gal/guy, a good paper calendar works–though online is nice because you can sync them to your phone (in most cases) and access them from anywhere.

(click for larger)
How to be a successful scheduler
It might look a little intimidating or time consuming to create a blogging schedule–I mean blogging is not a chore, right?–but it’s barely something I even notice doing and I admit I kind of like it. All you gotta do is open your calendar–do it! Now add in your weekly regular posts like any memes or features (the iCal has an easy “repeat” feature to make that super easy). Then, whenever you get an ARC–print or digital–go in Goodreads, add it on your ARC shelf (I know y’all have one ;), and since the release date is right there, pop up your calendar, select a few days or a week prior to release, and put it in! That was so not hard, eh? Then did you sign up for any tours? Even before you get confirmation that you were selected, put it in your schedule (most tour organizers will give you the date you requested during sign ups). This avoids double booking, and worst case,  deleting an entry is extremely easy I promise ;). Then what happens if you get an ARC and nothing is free close to its release (yes this will happen!)? Pick a random day where another review is scheduled and add it in; when the time comes you pick the one you want to read the most–we’re not machines! It’s also a good habit to schedule reviews realistically–don’t schedule 5 a week if you can only read 2.
On that note, will you get punished for skipping a review book? No! I’m not saying go request a book if you don’t have every intention of reviewing it, but publishers are aware that not all ARCs will get reviewed. Sometimes this is due to readers losing interest after the early reviews (or Blythe) convinces us it will not be our cup of tea (believe me pubs prefer no review at all than going in knowing you will hate it), and other times we just simply don’t have time. I have had to skip many ARCs that I have received and I have never been cut off from a publisher–although try to review at least “most” as these are not free of cost for them. With this said, if you can’t fit a new ARC into an empty review slot, double book and decide later on. Note that pubs also appreciate post-release reviews so don’t stress if you have to wait until after it’s released! If you see my screenshot I have a habit of putting “extras” on Saturdays and I keep moving them forward as months go buy–those are my “I should review when I can” book list. Yeppers, I’ve got a system for everything! >.<
A guide, not a rule
This leads me to talk about how you follow your schedule once you have it going. Don’t treat it as something set it stone. Don’t stress yourself out if you still have not read a book that is scheduled next week. Use your schedule as a guide, not a rule book. Don’t let it run your reading schedule either. If your next book on the list is a dystopian but you’re really not in the mood for that, switch it with another one. You have no idea how much my schedule gets moved around every week, but at least I’m aware of which book is due for review soon so that when I am in the mood for a dystopian, I should probably read that one. I have used a schedule for well over a year and not once has it caused a reading slump, a feeling of reading being work, or a dislike towards reading or blogging at all. Knowing how to use it and giving yourself slack is just as important as creating it.
So this is how I manage my blog! Anything blog related, even mailing out giveaway prizes and special notes for tour stops, I add it my calendar. I need order in my life! I don’t know how some do without *pulls hair out*.

How do you manage your blogging/reviewing schedule?
Seriously! I want to know your systems! 🙂

Also, don’t forget to leave suggestions for future topics you’d like to see! 🙂

You know you love me!
Xoxo, Book Girl!

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

Latest posts by Giselle (see all)

40 Responses to “Book Girls Don’t Cry: Blogging Schedules”

  1. Nick

    Great post, Giselle.
    I do exactly what you do when you get ARCs. I immediately look up their release date and schedule the reviews.
    I didn’t have a schedule when I first started either and like you, I’d forget tour dates or I’ll remember a day earlier and then I would freak. Now I use Google Calendar, which usually reminds me that I have posts about 2 days before.
    Scheduling helps be so organized!

  2. Dragana Mitrovic

    I do it almost exactly like you. I’ve got a calendar where I enter everything. And also I didn’t have a schedule at first but then just figured out it’s easier making one.
    The only problem I had is what to do with review copies I receive that are already published. Since I’m already full of scheduled arcs I usually think ‘I will not enter them and read them when free space pops out’ and of course they remain unread. I may steal your trick and schedule those for Saturdays and then move them along. That’s a neat trick. My OCD thanks you for solving one problem that bothered me for months now. 🙂

  3. Sirtsu

    Planning is half the battle! – you nailed it on the head, girl!! I have my full schedule in Google Calendar but I do have a umm.. gahh, I don’t know how it’s in English. A pin board? Is that it? Ok, I hope you get it lol. Anyway, I have that on my wall and I have my Uni schedule there and different post-it notes etc and I also have a big calendar there (with the cutest animal pictures everrrr!!! *sigh*). I have birthdays, important tests or due dates and my work schedule there as well as blog tours/arc or rc review dates. This way I can keep up without constantly checking GC. + I’m more old-fashioned in the sense that I prefer a physical calendar over a virtual/phone one. Since I don’t request that many arcs in general, I don’t have the danger of forgetting to schedule a post etc. I just read for my own fun and mostly the books I’m in the mood for and my blogging schedule changes constantly. I try to have a variety of contemporary/fantasy or paranormal or dystopian etc books so that I won’t have reviews for only contemps for two weeks straight etc. That’s probably my only concern. Other than that I just like to keep things orangizes. I’m a freak like that lol. Nerdy if you prefer. Anyway, your advice is great for beginners as well as long-timers (lol). I take my hat off for people who do it without scheduling and have great relationships with pubs and authors and don’t get into trouble with their blogs.

    • Giselle

      I think pin board is right. Or a bulletin board. I was surprised by how many prefer physical calendars! Guess technology has not taken over yet! 😉

  4. Jenea Whittington

    Yay for a fellow OCD. I organize just about everything. I have a calendar that I use on my iPad and my laptop as well a a notebook that I keep up with then the books are released. I try and have my post scheduled about 2 weeks in advance. Being a stay at home mom, and my husband is a OTD truck driver, so I have lots of stuff to with the activities and events at school. So it definitely helps to have some kinda of organization. 😀

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  5. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I tried iCal (which is great) but I’m a bit more old-school and really do need everything to be written down in a physical calendar. I think it has to do with my getting pleasure in crossing things out, highlighting reviews I’ve sent to publishers and flipping through the pages. It’s tactile for me. Plus, I keep lists of books I need to review as well as a list of what books I have on my kindle, where they’re from and when they publish. That helps me keep on track somewhat.

  6. Ellen Alwaysyaatheart

    Great post. I would be a total wreck without my calendar. I also prefer a physical calendar. In fact, my looks like a “little black book” – LOL. I need to try an online one also. Thanks for the tips.

  7. Ashley

    Great post! I have two methods of organizing. First, I have Google calendar. Whenever I get an ARC, I plop the release date down on my calendar. So I can always see which releases are coming up.

    If I have made a commitment (like a blog tour), then I create a draft post of it on my blog and use the Editorial Calendar plugin, which shows me all my posts in calendar format. It’s absolutely awesome for easy scheduling!

  8. Amy

    Fabulous post babe!! You are much more organized than I am. I do have a loose schedule though, and I have two planners and sticky notes everywhere lol!! I keep my main planner right on my computer desk so when I check emails or sign up for tours, I write it in right away. I also try to keep a list of books coming out in the current month and next month in order by publish date on sticky notes and cross them out as I get to them. I don’t always stick right to the order, but I try to. And my physical books and tour books always come before Netgalley or Eldelweiss books.

  9. ODell @ Book Twirps

    I’m a planner, too. I have to. At first I just kept a spreadsheet with the books I received and the release date. Then I discovered a WordPress calendar plugin that is amazing. Now when a book comes in, I plug it into my WordPress calendar and it automatically creates a draft post for me. Total time saver.

  10. Emily

    I really love reading these posts. They help me so much, especially this one and your ARC requesting post. So I just wanted to say thanks!

  11. J. Anne Huss

    I don’t think I could function without my Google calendar, every night I look at it and update my Goodreads status and then schedule my blogs for the next day. And I’m a notorious last-minute reader for reviews. I hardly ever even load them on my Kindle until I’m serious about reading, so if I didn’t have the calendar, I’d miss all sorts of stuff. (Love the image of your calendar, it’s so neat! Mine is a mess of colors!)

  12. Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

    So I mostly use the to-do list app called Todoist (it’s amazing!) since I like lists of what I need to do and it works well for assigning myself tasks each day, since then I don’t have to take the extra effort of remembering what I need to do and then doing it. I have put my review books in my “blog” project with the date that they are being published to help me decide what to read next. I also have actually writing reviews in there since otherwise I put them off too long (>.>). However, I’m going to try iCal on my computer and phone to organize my life in general and to have a blog calendar to let me actually decide when to schedule posts. I don’t have as many books to worry about publication dates for, but this way I’ll hopefully get planned posts more organized, haha! Thanks for poking me into finally getting a calendar set up!

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

  13. Ali Ginger-Read

    I’ve been using Google calendar and it helps so much! Plus, it’s nice to have access to it from everywhere, you just never know when something is going to pop up. Ooh, and I can color code everything ~ which I love. Reviews stay red until I have it all written and formatted then I turn it green so I know I’m done and can move on. I’m very visual so this is great for me!!

  14. Sarah Elizabeth

    I never had a calender originally, and I had no idea how to schedule a blog post! Now a calender is essensial though, and I try to get posts ready and scheduled as early as possible! Would never manage without a calender now!

  15. Jasmyn

    The online calendars are very useful if you have associate reviewers/writers on your site. Then everyone can see what is scheduled and not double up tour dates or interview posts. Everyone picks their favorite color so you can even tell who has the day taken – then if you absolutely have to have a date that is already taken you can just look up who has that color and try to work out something with them.

  16. Debz

    This is great advice! I’ve been keeping a schedule for a while now and it helps me so much. One thing that I do with Google Calendar is color code things (reviews are blue, memes are purple, etc…), which helps me see at a quick glance how well balanced my schedule is and if I need to move things around. Since I’m still a smaller blog I don’t have TONS of review books, but lately I’ve been getting enough that adding the release date to my calendar is brilliant! I usually don’t schedule reviews until I’ve actually finished the book because my reading schedule is unpredictable, but having the release date there will definitely help me plan out my reviews! Thanks for all this advice!

  17. Alexa Y.

    I am all about the schedules. I just discovered the joys of using Google Calendar to make sure my blog is properly scheduled – and I LOVE IT. It makes my OCD little heart happy to have everything so organized, and so far, it’s been successful on keeping me on my toes when it comes to reading the stuff I receive for review on time!

  18. Kelley (Another Novel Read)

    What a great post, Giselle! Back in January I decided I needed to start a schedule for my blog, too. I’ve been using my Google calendar and I love it! I pretty much follow all of your suggestions, so I’m chalking that up to both of us being geeks for organizing. 😀

    Having a schedule on my calendar has helped me SO much. I can easily see what’s coming up, which means I can plan my reading accordingly, but I can also start prepping blog posts ahead of time. It feels so good to look at my calendar for next week and know that all the posts have already been written (or mostly written)!

  19. Megan K.

    You spoke a lot about this on my post, too! I think your way of organizing things is pretty much what most book bloggers do nowadays – they follow a loose reading schedule, but can also stray from it sometimes. I think that’s the best way. I don’t quite remember my blog being as busy as it is now when I first started it, but then again hardly anyone knew about it so I was pretty relaxed, lol. Actually, even now, as you know, I don’t have a REAL schedule. I read what’s going to be published first and ocassionally find time to squeeze in books for leisure reading. That’s been working pretty well, but it might be better if I had a written schedule.

    Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your tips, Giselle. They helped a lot!

  20. mynovelopinion

    I just posted on how I am feeling utterly overwhelmed and disorganized. I didn’t even think of Google Calendar so that I can sync to my phone. Going to set it up right now. (new follower on Bloglovin’)

  21. Aman Panesar

    I’m a pen and paper gal, I tried the Google calendar but it’s just too much of a hassle for me. I have one of those notebook calendars that I love, they are pretty handy and I like to write things down. Though I don’t follow my schedule to the point unless it’s a blog tour. I make a list of books I need to read for a month and I’ll around it depending on the mood.

  22. Kellie Sheridan

    I use Google Calendar as the colour coordination is a life saver. Purple for reviews, lavender for promos and tours, teal for memes and discussions, that way I can quickly scan my upcoming posts and see if I have a balance of content.

  23. Krazzyme(Young Readers)

    Love this post giselle it’s inspired me to start scheduling again. I’ve stopped recently and it’s become SUPER chaotic. The whole post is very informative as always . Keep up the good work

  24. tiffnanny

    I just put together my schedule this week and already I feel much better about blogging, I can’t believe I didn’t make one sooner considering I am a post-it/everything-goes-down-in-my-planner junkie.

    For my schedule I used Google Calendar and I created a separate tab just for my blog, similar to your iCal. Then each day I have written down what I am posting that day. Easy peasy! Scheduling takes the guess work out of blogging, win win!

  25. Henrietta @ Leisure Reads

    Thanks for sharing how you manage your schedule, Giselle! I use google calendar and like you, I sometimes have to switch books around depending on my mood. So, you can say I only loosely follow my schedule 😛

  26. Giselle

    Thanks so much for all your comments, guys! I was too busy with work today to reply individually like I usually do on these posts. But sounds like a lot of you use Google Calendar good to know it’s a good PC option (I wasn’t sure it was any good)–also seeing as it’s Google, back it up as a hard copy every so often if you can! And YES to color coding! I use color coding for my tours I have a different color for each tour type and blitzes. It’s a life saver. I can also turn them off so it doesn’t look as cluttered, and I can look at just 1 at a time (you should see when they’re all on you just see a HUGE mess! haha.). You’ll notice in my screenshots the others on the side are all off (out of sight out of mind! >.<)

  27. Jesse Burgoyne

    Wow, you are so organized. I love it! I try to keep all of my scheduled posts in my calendar. iCal is definitely the best thing ever. It makes it so easy. I also use the Weave app to keep a neat to-do list of everything that needs to get done. Lately I’ve been so out of it though. I need to get back on schedule and start reading more.

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  28. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    *bows down to Giselle*
    This post made me laugh, but only because it made me realize how bad I am at scheduling stuff. I use a very complex system for remembering book reviews, cover reveal, tours and other blog related stuff. Ready for it? I write it down on my hand! Seriously, you should see my hand right now, I have stuff written down that’s going up tomorrow. I write it on both sides of my hand AND I draw arrows on my other hand pointing to my other hand. You know, in case I don’t see the hand with the reminders. I feel so lame!
    I really try to be organized, I just bought a nice planner, calendar and download a bunch of planning apps. I used them one time. I spent more time picking them then using them. I guess I’m just not an organized kind of girl. Really awesome how you organize everything though.
    *high five*

  29. Michelle

    You give such great advice… keep doing these posts!! I wish I had seen stuff like this when I first started blogging, it wouldve made my life so much easier. Sometimes you don’t realize the most obvious things until you’ve already created a mess. I didn’t even think to keep a schedule until I was really confused and then it took me a while to straighten it all out. Now I have a paper copy planner that I use only for blogging. I guess it’s the old school way to go, but I’m not all about doing everything on my phone.

    Seriously thanks for sharing!!

  30. Trish Hannon

    Great post. I’m still a new blog so don’t have to worry about getting confused yet. Never too early to get organised though and I love the idea of colour coding too to keep the blog looking balanced with different types of posts. Yes I was that student who spent hours making lovely colour coded revision charts!

  31. Melanie

    *applauds loudly* WOW. Giselle, this post is really good and helpful! I hadn’t exactly been scheduling my posts on a calendar like that but I just text it into my phone (as I review books on my phone, post on GR then post in my blog) and make a remider. But you have somehow persuaded me to make a calendar now that thanks what I shall do! Thanks for the advice, love! <33

  32. Savannah Bookswithbite

    I have a schedule calendar as well and yes it totally helps! I do my best to stick with it but if I get busy or if I’m just not in the mood for the book. I change it or move to a later date.

  33. Chelsea

    Thanks for the amazing advice! I am one of those people who needs organization and scheduling too! I started blogging in February and have been trying to organize myself. I didn’t realize that some publishers on NetGalley had specific timeframes for revies so thank you for sharing that too. I am loving blogging and realizing there is so much to it and so much to learn from others.

    • Giselle

      Not just on Netgalley, if you get print ARCs too they all have tehir own guidelines as to when to post a review. On Netgalley you can usually find what pubs prefer under their publisher profile, but general rule of thumb if you’re not sure if no more than 4 weeks before the release date (though a lot prefer 2) or 6 weeks after.

  34. Lauren Elizabeth

    I use iCal too, and mine pretty much looks exactly like yours (recurring blog posts + new stuff), and I usually look at it daily in monthly view so I know what’s happening over the next few weeks. I do use it as a guide, not a rule, and sometimes (like last week, when I got unexpectedly called out of town and had spotty internet) I have to deviate majorly. But it’s still really helpful for getting back on track too, even if I miss something. Amazing discussion! 🙂 I love this feature!!

  35. Micheline D

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this since it went up – I’m finally here 😀 Ok,so you inspired me: I’ve been wanting to set up Google Calenders and I just started as I was reading this!! I didn’t use to have so many ARC’s but I’ve been getting more and my little list thing isn’t cutting it anymore >.< Anyways, I appreciate how you discussed like loosing interest in shitty books, having 2 books release in 1 week and all that jazz, I definitely try to review all the ARCs I get but sometimes some fall through the cracks for wtv reason….Awesome discussion yet again, thanks for all the valuable info and input!!