"How many followers do you have?"
It's the battle cry of those who just found out you have a blog and (well-meaningly, most of the time) want to know more.
It's a question most bloggers who are open about their hobby with people they know in person have received—but it's a question that doesn't provide much quality information about the blog or the blogger.
So I'm here today to say that yes, I'm a blogger, but don't ask me about my follower count.
Instead, ask me about how I got into book blogging, how I stumbled upon one YA review site back in December of my eighth grade year, how I found several more from there, how I made a list of blogs to check daily. Ask me how, when I first decided to start my own blog, I got nervous and deleted my first post before trying again and putting it back up.
Ask me how impatient I felt the first few months as I searched for readers—but, even more importantly, blogging friends. Ask me how thrilled I was when a girl I talked to at a Twitter chat sent me a quick business email that spiraled into a long conversation that's now been running for more than three and a half years. Ask me about how getting an email from Summer is still a surprising daymaker (and how I currently owe her a response).
Ask me about the first convention I attended, ALA Annual 2013 in Chicago. Ask me how I labored for hours as I tried to design my own business cards because I was 15 and I didn't have a job and I was too cheap to pay a professional. Ask me how I counted down the months, weeks, days before the event, and how I couldn't stop car-dancing on the way there, even when we got hit by a surprise hailstorm en route.
Ask me how, as I talked to publicists and snagged ARCs on the showroom floor, I felt a passion for literature absolutely palpable in the air, and I knew for sure I wanted to work in book publishing. Ask me how I returned home bursting with excitement and carrying tote bags bursting with books. Ask me how the entire experience was so formative, so central to who I am today, that it served as the topic for more than one of my college and scholarship essays.
Ask me about the time I first met a blogging friend in person. Ask me how I felt when I first locked eyes with Willa in the McDonalds in the lower level of the McCormick Place Convention Center, where we had agreed to meet after a more-complicated-than-necessary text exchange, where I had begrudgingly ordered lunch despite my health-nut concerns. Ask me how a smile spread across my face, how it felt like one of those scenes from a romance movie when a couple is reunited after months apart, except platonic, obviously, and except "apart" was a norm that seemed less troubling thanks to the Internet.
Ask me, if you truly need to know about numbers, how many thoughtful comments my discussion posts get, how often I'm told "I'm going to read this book because of your review."
Ask me how much fun it is to embark on new projects like Lit Up Review or A Novel Chat with some of my best friends—not some of my best blogging friends, but some of my best friends, full stop. Ask me how much time and effort I put into these endeavors, in addition to the post-writing and graphics-making and tweet-scheduling I do for my own blog, but how it rarely feels like work because connecting readers with books is one of my greatest passions in life.
Ask me how incredible it is to have one of your favorite authors tweet at you to say they loved your review of their book. Ask me how incredible it is to have friends who will be even more excited about this seemingly-simple occurrence than you are.
Ask me how much I love being part of an entire community full of people who love reading as much as I do. Ask me how much I love being able to talk about every book I read—whether that means discussing it with someone who's read it or convincing someone who hasn't to give it a shot. Ask me how much I love blogging.
Ask me how, as long as I have friends and readers, as long as I get thoughtful comments, I'm not going to worry too much about follower count.
Ask me about the experience, about the details and events that have made my four years of blogging so meaningful, about my passion for reading and talking about books, about the people I've met and the places I've been and the goals I've accomplished. I'll be more than happy to answer.
This post was inspired by a tweet featuring impeccable GIF usage from Kaitlin at Next Page Please—go check it out!