Awards Rewards Prizes: #bookblogging vs #writing


Awards? Rewards? Prizes?

What’s the difference?

I did a little digging…

An ‘award’ is given to recognize personal achievement (e.g. scholarship, completing 100 hours of community service, etc.), whereas a ‘reward’ is compensation or incentive for doing something (e.g. completing household chores or returning a wallet). A ‘prize’ is something offered or won as a result of victory, as in a competition or contest.

When I was ten years old, I won $18 in bingo. The $18 was my ‘prize’ for having won. Recently, I won the BookSparks 2015 Summer Reading Challenge Grand Prize. More on that in a moment… But first, let me say this:

I love book marketing. 

Love everything about it.

I love reading books, love blogging about books, love connecting with readers.

I love connecting with fellow writers, love promoting fellow writers, love learning from fellow writers.

Readers, writers, books. I love them all.

My time as a book blogger has been so rewarding, it’s difficult to put into words. As I reflect on my work as a book blogger, I feel a sense of achievement, and that is my (personally felt) award.

So now that it’s 2016, and I’m entering my fourth year of writing, editing, reviewing, blogging and social media marketing-ing . . . I thought I’d pause a moment to take stock.

A (Very) Brief History with Much Left Out


2013: I launched “Julie Valerie’s Book Blog” with a reading campaign to “Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.” I finished the year having read and reviewed 55 books in my genre. I attended BEA and other writing conferences; connected with readers, writers, and industry insiders; and learned A LOT about social media marketing, offline publicity, and what makes certain authors’ book marketing campaigns tick – while others fall flat. For me, 2013 was a year of firsts where much was learned. I finished the year with a solid understanding of how the industry works and a marketing plan for when my first novel is released.

CourageJacketWeb2014: Read and reviewed 67 books in my genre while finishing my first novel. Also launched a series of blog events, and a popular Wednesday “Hump Day Books” series that focused on the craft of writing and book publicity. What I learned from the “Hump Day Books” series? The value of building quality content. That Wednesday series brought my average website visitor reading time to over 17 minutes. Average page views per visitor to my website? Eight. That’s some crazy great stats in a crowded blogosphere and I’m grateful. Perhaps I’ll revive that program in 2016 . . . the verdict’s still out.

My proudest accomplishment in 2014? My short story, LLL, was published in A Kind of Mad Courage: Short Stories about Mothers, (S)mothers and Others.

2015: Read and reviewed 75 books in my genre while editing my first novel and continuing the many additional series and programs launched through my website. Big in 2015 (for me, at least)? The launching of the Fiction Writers Blog Hop and the 85K Writing Challenge.

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Also big in 2015? Winning the Grand Prize for the BookSparks 2015 Summer Reading Challenge. If anyone knows how to launch a great social media campaign promoting books and book reviews – it’s the folks at BookSparks. Fabulous. I won a beautiful vintage suitcase, vintage luggage tags, and a $300 gift certificate on Southwest Airlines. Still pinching myself. Thank you, BookSparks! A mighty fine prize. Much better than my $18 bingo winnings.


When I reflect on the 55 books I read and reviewed in year one, the 67 books I read and reviewed in year two, and the 75 books I read and reviewed in year three, I now realize I’ve read and reviewed 197 books in my genre. At the time of this post (January 25, 2016) I’ve read and reviewed two books in 2016 and will read and review one more before the month comes to a close . . . bringing my grand total of reading and reviewing to:

200 books in 3 years

Here’s some fun math:

If each book averaged 85,000 words – I read 17 million words
. . . and then sat down to write about those words through my 200 book reviews.

Folks, when it comes to reading and reviewing, I gotta say, it was fantastically rewarding, and even resulted in my winning a (grand!) prize. But I’m exhausted. Grateful and proud, happy to help, but exhausted because I’ve been reading and reviewing while also launching other programs and trying to focus on my personal and professional writing. The ultimate ‘award’ I’d like to achieve with my life is to connect with readers through my writing. So I think I need to set the ‘prizes’ and ‘rewards’ of book blogging aside for a bit and focus on achieving that personal ‘award’ of connecting with readers through my own work.

As the month of January tends to be a month for proclaiming New Year Resolutions, in 2016, my focus will be the launching of my own writing career (getting that finished début novel into the marketplace) and writing my second book.

So from this point forward, I plan to channel my energies into writing a book a year (the inspiration behind my launching the 85K Writing Challenge) and I’m looking forward to serving on the Communications and Annual Conference Committee for James River Writers. I’m going to continue running my Fiction Writers Blog Hop series (last Wednesday of every month) and see about launching the 85K Writing Challenge out of the Facebook group platform where it is now and onto its own self-sustaining website so it can grow and become whatever it is meant to be.


My things-to-do list for 2016:

  • Introduce Book #1 to readers. (I’m currently exploring options in publishing.)
  • Spend the first three months (January, February, March) writing Book #2 while also hosting the 85K Writing Challenge.
  • Spend the second three months (April, May, June) editing Book #2.

Come July 2016, I’ll reassess and make plans for the second half of what I hope will be a great year.

But I must say, as far as awards, rewards, and prizes go, I’m proud of the 200 books on my book-review bookshelf. When I look at them, I smile, remembering the places I traveled and the lives I lived through the pages of those books.

I am forever grateful to the writers who wrote the 17 million words I read. The pleasure was all mine. A truly awarding, rewarding, and prize-worthy experience.

Thank you.

Oh, and, a little something I like to say that’s especially applicable at the moment . . .


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Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP click here:

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