At For Harriet, my biggest concern is creating community. It’s not about ad dollars or page views, but it’s about developing a platform for thoughtful women to come together to dialogue about issues that impact their lives. I’m a big advocate of literacy so when I came up with the idea of an online book club I knew it would be a perfect fit for the site’s mission. Not only could we support Black women authors with the feature, but we’d choose books that discussed important topics for Black women.
Well #BlackGirlsLoveBooks debuted in March and failed miserably. And it’s all my fault.
The book club didn’t work because I’d over committed myself. I hadn’t imagined how difficult it would be to read and annotate two books simultaneously. I tried. I really did, but I also have a life and the rest of the blog to manage. I just couldn’t fit it all in.
It was like being back in school. For the next edition of the book club, we’ll only choose one book. Lesson learned.
Listen To The Readers
I couldn’t keep up with the reading, and neither could the readers. I received a number of complaints about the pace of the reading schedule, but I brushed aside the concerns. I thought those who were really interested would keep up. They didn’t.
I can only assume that many women who would have loved to participate saw the reading pace and dipped. That’s definitely not how you build a community.
In the future, I’ll consider the time limitations of my audience. Without them this For Harriet isn’t possible. Silly me.
I really rushed into the book club. I had a general idea of what I wanted: a space for Black women who love to read to come together. But I had no idea of how to organize the discussions, and I didn’t do enough research into what would be effective. The structure of the book club changed halfway through the month. Though I’m not sure anyone even noticed. People were pretty much checked out by that time.
I also missed the ball on two important connection. I chose two very social authors but neglected to reach out to them to promote the book club. That was a major fail. I should have had my release together to send to them and the many black book bloggers as soon as BGLB launched. That was a massive oversight.
Each of these mistakes stem from a lack of planning. I should have known better, but these things can be rectified in the future.
The most important reason why the book club failed is because I didn’t follow through. I felt the momentum waning, and I just let it die. That hurt For Harriet’s credibility, and I know we’re going to have to work hard to gain that trust back.
The Black Girls Love Books book club was a much bigger project than I anticipated. I made a mistake by just jumping in. Every failure is a lesson, and I learned mine.
What has been your biggest blogging mistake? What did you learn from it?
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Kimberly N. Foster is the founder of Black Girls Blogging and Editor of For Harriet. Email or Tweet her.