Barking Book Reviews: bush league blog does good for Jeff Chappell?

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Blog

Barking Book Reviews Blog Garners Attention: Will A Hobby Metamorphose Into Something More?

Barking Book Reviews: bush league blog does good for Jeff Chappell?

It seems my little hobby, Barking Book Reviews, is garnering some unexpected attention. The good kind. Last week I got an email from a PR and marketing firm stating that they had added my book review and news blog to their database of media outlets. They had enclosed the related entries, should I wish to make any changes.

Then today I woke up to an email from someone asking me if I would care to review a forthcoming novel and interview the author. This person’s email domain is that of a major U.S. publisher.

I think my feelings about this can be adequately described thusly:

Cool! Wait. What?

The thing is, I started the Barking Book Reviews blog with an idea that I could eventually build it into something that I not only enjoyed, but might generate me income or get me further work. In essence this blog was and is a hobby. As I explain in the about section of the site, I like to read books and I like to write. For years I’ve worked as a journalist writing about things that other people wanted me to write about; this is me writing about things I want to write about.

But I figured this would be a process that would take place over a span of years, if at all. As a hobby, sometimes I spend a lot of time on it; sometimes I don’t. Lately I’ve been trying to keep the blog updated frequently, at least a few times a week, with reviews or news that catches my eye; I tend to add a little bit of commentary to the news. Other times I’ll post something that’s not a review per se, but more of just some thoughts or reflections on an author or their works, such as this entry on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.

When I first came back abroad last autumn I was on holiday, and then I settled down to restart my ESL teaching career. Then I tore my quadriceps tendon, and had to deal with that. So for months, Barking Book Reviews lay fallow, along with this site and my personal blog.

But as life began to settle down, I found myself with time and a hankering to write – once a journalist always a journalist, to some degree, I suppose. The thing is, I really do enjoy writing reviews; they are actually quite fun to write, even when they are a lot of work — like this review of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, by Caitlín R. Kiernan (which you also see in the screen capture above). It’s a good kind of work. Even the newsy posts are fun to do, albeit time consuming.

But I haven’t really done anything to promote this blog other than search engine optimization and linking to relevant blog posts on other sites. Certainly I haven’t done anything in the way of social networking these days, such as Tweeting or posting on Facebook, which would seem to be the number one way of driving traffic to a website these days.

Barking Book Reviews: literary pontification from the Gecko's Bark, aka Jeff ChappellNevertheless, the blog’s traffic has been growing slowly but steadily of late. Still strictly bush leagues, in terms of traffic, though. Over the previous four weeks it’s received 676 visits, 649 unique visitors and 920 page views with an average pages per visit ratio of 1.36.*

But I suppose it must be quality of traffic, which no one has quite figured out a way to measure. In any event, here I am getting contacted by marketing people and publishers.

Where will it lead? A road to something bigger? Or is it the first bean in the proverbial hill? We’ll see.

*P.S. Before someone asks, I’ve got my own visits filtered out of that; in fact after experimenting with that lately, I’ve been meaning to post the best way to do that with regard to Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.

If you’re like me, you use more than one computer – I even use more than one operating system on one computer. Plus any good webmaster tests his sites in all of the popular browsers. Then there is the fact that I often use a VPN service. So I needed a simple, convenient way to filter out all of those various visits from different browsers, computers, etc.; filtering just one IP address or range of IP addresses isn’t really an option for me, and I didn’t want to filter all traffic from Viet Nam. This last option wouldn’t help when I visited another country in Southeast Asia, anyway.

But more on this later.

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