Blogging highlights for 2017

Now for the last of my year-end trifecta (the others being my Australian Women Writers’ Challenge wrap-up and Reading highlights posts). I don’t know how much this one interests others, but I like to document trends on my blog for my own record. I won’t be offended if you don’t read this, as if I’d know!

Top posts for 2017

Barbara Baynton 1892

Baynton 1892 (Presumed Public Domain, via Wikipedia)

Change has been slowly happening in my top posts – though a few usual suspects, like Virginia Woolf’s short story “The mark on the wall“, remain there. Last year, an Aussie book, Hannah Kent’s Burial rites, finally topped the list, but this year that changed again. Here’s my Top Ten, by number of hits:

Now some basic analysis. Firstly, four Australian posts (plus, again, the Awards page) appear in the Top Ten, one more than last year. Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones dropped to 12th position, while Barbara Baynton’s “The chosen vessel” regained its Top Ten position, and has been joined by another of her short stories from Bush Studies. (I’d love to know whether Bush Studies features high in the lists of other Aussie bloggers who have reviewed it.) Meanwhile, Red Dog just keeps on keeping on.

As I noted last year, short stories and essays (Wharton, Woolf, Baynton and Muir) dominate the top ten. This must surely be because they are set texts. I have a pretty good feeling that Red Dog is too!

AS Patric, Black rock white cityMy most popular 2017-written post – ranking 48th – was, as happened last year, for an Australian work, this time AS Patrić’s Black rock white city. (Last year, though, the top ranking post written that year was 66th in the list). The next 2017-written post, ranking 58th, was for another Australian work, Sara Dowse’s As the lonely fly. And to complete the top three, coming in at 71, was an English classic, Graham Greene’s Travels with my aunt. A rather eclectic trio, which appeals to me.

For the Monday Musings fans amongst you, my most popular Monday Musings posts were: Novels set in Sydney (posted November 2015); White writers on indigenous Australians (posted February 2014); Australian Gothic (19th century) (posted December 2012).

Finally, last year, I noted that there was a surprising post in my Top Ten, What do you say when you order food at a restaurant (posted three years ago in November 2014). Ranking 8th last year, it climbed to the top this year, just pipping Edith Wharton at the post (overtaking her in the last throes of December). Most intriguing.

Random blogging stats

Jane Austen by sister Cassandra (surely public domain!)

I always share some of the searches that find my blog, so here’s a selection of this year’s:

  • several searches included the words “analysis” or “reading guide” or, in one case, “reading guide answers”, such as the adventure of the german student reading guide answers
  • searches such as say please when you make an order and can i get or can i have for ordering food: you know, now, what post they retrieve
  • several searches seemed concerned with whether Jane Austen’s writing is progressive or conservative, such as, is emma by jane austen conservatove [sic] as the ending; how is the ending of emma by jane austen not conservative; progressive plot pride and prejudice; jane austen’s conservatism and progressivism related to pride and prejudice. Homework questions perhaps?
  • if im white can i write about aboriginals: regular readers here will know why this one found me
  • musings on the famous novel: this one picks up several of my Monday Musings posts
  • which journal is favourite in literature: what do you think?

I didn’t unearth any really strange searches this year, which could be partly due to the fact that the majority of search terms are no longer revealed to us … but I do miss the weird and wonderful ones!

Other stats that tell the story of my year. I wrote around the same number of posts as last year, averaging 13 posts per month, but traffic to my blog increased by nearly 10%. While numbers are not my  prime goal, and are not something I specifically focus on building, it’s nonetheless gratifying to think that the hours spent writing posts are not just for me.

My blog visitors came from 178 countries (6 more than last year). Australia, the USA, and Britain again filled the top three slots, with India edging out Canada for fourth this year, thanks partly perhaps to the lovely Deepika! My most active commenters (based on the last 1000 comments, says WordPress) were Lisa (ANZLitLovers), Bill (The Australian Legend), Deepika (New Fractured Light), Meg, Theresa (Theresa Smith Writes) and Guy (His Futile Preoccupations). A big thanks to them, and to everyone who reads and/or comments on my blog. Whether or not you comment, it is a joy to share books and reading with you.

Challenges, memes and other things

As I wrote in my AWW Challenge wrap up, I will participate again this year. (Here’s the Sign Up page).

I have now been doing the #sixdegreesofseparation meme, run by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest), for just over a year. I enjoy the challenge of completing these posts and that it results in my thinking again about the books I’ve read. I’ll continue with this one. I did, occasionally, do other memes during the year, which can be seen at this “memes” category link.

My biggest highlight of the year though was mentoring two litbloggers in the new ACT Litbloggers of the Future initiative, sponsored by the ACT Writers Centre and the National Library of Australia. Emma Gibson (see her guest post), Angharad Lodwick (see her blog) and I met several times to talk blogging, literature and ACT literary culture – and had great fun doing so. We wrapped it up at the end of the year at a meeting with Nigel Featherstone (ACT Writers Centre) and Kathryn Favelle (NLA), and agreed that while there are things we could improve if the program runs again, it did achieve its main goal of helping “to stoke cultural conversations in the ACT”. And that, really, is what it’s all about, isn’t it.

Wrapping up my wrap-ups …

To conclude, a big thanks to everyone who read, commented on and/or “liked” my blog last year – and thanks to all the other wonderful bloggers out there, even though I don’t always manage to visit everyone as much as I’d like. While some people find the Internet and Social Media cruel and unwelcoming, that’s not what I find in our litblogging corner of cyberspace, proving that technology isn’t inherently bad for you. And so, I wish you all happy reading in 2018, and hope to see you again at your place or mine!

Finally, a big thanks to the authors who write the books, and to the publishers and booksellers who get the books out there. May 2018 be a great one for you (us) all.

36 thoughts on “Blogging highlights for 2017

  1. I do agree Sue, when I hear of people saying social media is awful, etc., I can’t help but think they’re just hanging out in the wrong corners with the wrong people! I’ve always found it a nice place to visit.

  2. Yes, Theresa, I think our corner of cyberspace is nice too:)
    Sue, I’ve hunted out my Bush Studies stats – 281 hits last year, but it’s well down the list at No 53 (but no 28 in hits for all time, 3508).
    My 2017 top ten are Faceless (5738), In the Fog of the Seasons End (3228), The Concubine (2916)and Ways of Dying (2727) (all books by African writers, always top performers, presumably on some college course), then Potiki by NZ author Patricia Grace, (Y12 Kiwi booklist?) my Indigenous Reading List (which is a resource listed at a number of universities). Then the first of the Aussies: The Pacific Room by Michael Fitzgerald (1564, no idea why this one did so well!), Someone Knows My Name a.k.a. The Book of Negroes then two Aussies, The Solid Mandala and I for Isobel. Just outside my Top ten is Tasmanian Aborigines, a History since 1803 (2012), which (along with Voss, 2009)) is an all-time top performer.
    What I miss is the info that used to tell us who linked to one of my reviews. I take pride in linking to other people’s reviews, it helps to share the love as well as offer different perspectives on the same book. I like to see who’s returning the favour. But now mostly all we see is the number of hits coming from search engines and Goodreads.

    • Oh thanks for checking that out Lisa. It’s really interesting isn’t it? Because I get fewer hits a year than you, my top one have about 2,500 hits and no. 10 has 1,000.

      Re who’s linking, I have stats – under Referrers – telling me how many come from various blogs (and which posts) including of course yours. And you can expand to see which posts. Are you thinking of something different, however? In 2017 my biggest sources were the AWW blog, then Kate’s (because of the Six Degrees meme), then you, then others like Kim, Guy, Bill etc. The numbers aren’t huge but it all adds up.

      I love looking at, and trying to undesnand, stats!

      • With the referrals, what I tend to see most of the time is sites that harvest my posts: today there’s something called meltwater, and a cdn project. When I expand it, the only two that I recognise (apart from Library Thing and Goodreads) are a link from Bill at The Australian Legend and from the VicNaidoc events page. Which might be right of course, traffic is down everywhere during the festive season!

        • Oh yes, for today I have Reader, Facebook and Twitter, plus a cdn too. I guess my question is, how has the display of Referrers changed? I’ve looked at them on and off over the years – sporadically, in other words – so can’t recollect how it used to be?

        • I don’t think it’s the display that’s changed, I think that (with notable exceptions such as yourself and Bill) either people don’t refer as much as they used to, (to me or anyone else as you can see in their posts) or some of the ones that used to refer to me are now defunct!

        • Ah yes, now I understand. I think you are probably right. I think the litblog world has become more crowded and people are not keeping up with what everyone is doing. You are good at going back and updating posts with links. I tend not to do that but I do try to link to you and a couple of others if I know they’ve done a book, when I’m writing a post.

  3. WG: Thanks for the introduction to Bill! I’ve just been visiting his literary blog – Lisa just above is right about the ability to see who is visiting one’s blog (not that I have one – but that doesn’t detract from her point) – and for me, too – Patricia Grace a long-time favourite back to the early – mid-1980s – Waiariki, Mutuwhenua, Potiki among the the titles!

    • Oh good Jim. Bill is particularly interested in early Australian women writers as you’ve probably realised so makes a great addition to our Aussie lit-blogosphere!

      I must read Patricia Grace.

  4. And I meant to add – you and Bill and other visitors here – always a positive reading/review – and response to what your “subscribers” add to the thread of comments.

    • Thanks Jim for this too. I do like the fact that many like you enjoy reading the comments – they do add significantly to the value of my posts I think, rounding out gaps, offering new perspectives etc. And people all comment respectfully unlike some of the things you see elsewhere.

  5. Sue here’s my random summer reading thus far:
    The Gripping Beast by Australian Joan Dugdale. Found in one of our local free street book libraries. Woman suffers crisis and is then persuaded to acompany a friend to Norway. Venturing on to discover The Orkneys, her birthplace, she delves into Norse mythology.
    The Wreck of the Barque Stefano by Gustave Rathe. Brought down from Exmouth by our son Tom. Recounts the author’s grandfather’s shipwreck and survival with local Aboriginal tribes on the NW coast of Australia in 1875. One of the remarkable aspects is that the grandfather in question was a 16 yr old Croatian from a Croatian cargo vessel en route to Asia. Another is the anthropological insights the young author gains by being with the local tribes for six months before being rescued.
    Our daughter-in-law brought down The Door by Magda Szabo. Set in Pest, Hungary it describes middle European characters whose motivations are far removed from my life.
    I’m dipping into David Whyte’s Consolations: The solace, nourishment and underlying meaning of everyday words. Gifted by Bridie to the household. A new word with extraordinary insight and clarity every day.
    These were the books that serendipitously made their way into my life. I bought Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire and am right into it.
    What a happy and surpising reading summer thus far

  6. It’ll be a day or two before I can see my stats but I can tell you Vance Palmer’s The Rainbow Bird is #1 and daylight is second. Baynton does get looked at from time to time but I assume I’m too far down Google’s pecking order to make a difference except with very esoteric titles.

    • Yes, that’s true Bill. Until you gradually become better “known” to Google it’s the esoteric titles which get the hits. Google is mysterious though. Some of my posts for well known books appear really high, and others pages and pages in. I cannot understand it. A year or so ago, my review of Julian Barnes’ Sense of an ending (I mean my review of a big book by a top-notch Brit writer was way up in the rankings) but at that same time I couldn’t even find my review of Christos Tsiolkas’ The slap. It must have been something to do with the comments and where they came from.

      I love that people are looking for Palmer, and find you.

      • Google’s algorithm which dictates the visibility ranking of your posts changes frequently which might explain some year on year variations. It’s a complex business to figure out how to get higher up the rankings – combination of things like keyword density, number of inbound links, frequency of posting new content. People are making a living out of trying to tell us how to get better at this…..

        • They sure are, Karen (how did I put the wrong name there before!). I try not to worry about it too much and just write my blog the way I want to. If I were trying to monetise the blog it would be different but thankfully I’m not, so don’t have to read all that SEO stuff that comes at us.

        • Oh, that makes sense, Karen. I thought it was a bit strange – how would you know which commenters came via Google! Silly me. Anyhow, it seems to me that the Search Terms coming to my blog have changed over the years (and not just explained by Google’s privacy change because that happened quite a few years ago now.)

  7. This is without a doubt my favourite blog, and I’m always impressed by how much you manage to cover. Looking forward to more WG literary goodness this year. (I almost said next year, but of course we’re there already!)

    • Thanks a bunch Irma. That’s a lovely thing for you to say. It’s hearing things like this that keeps me going. It also adds that little bit of pressure for me to keep trying to improve! I look forward to more literary conversations here this year.

  8. Fantastic summary Sue and it was an absolute privilege to be mentored by you in 2017. Loving all the stats, it’s always fun to see where people are coming from, what they’re searching for and what they find on your site. Wishing you a very happy new year with fantastic reading for 2018!

    • Thanks very much Angharad. As I said I loved doing it. It was wonderful getting to meet you and Emma, to connect with other literary culture lovers here. You were both so open and fun to be with.

      And the same to you for 2018.

  9. Hi Sue, I don’t know how you get the time to read and the other activities you engage in, as well as your bogging. It is working anyway, and as I have said before your blogs are excellent. The information on Australian writers is always revealing and encourages responses. I am sure this year will be as good as last year.

  10. I also am fascinated by the top searches that show up on my blog statistics. I think it gives one a special insight into who might be landing at one’s blog without commenting.

    I also agree, their is so much nasty stuff going on in social media. Generally book blogs and lit blogs are havens for civility, even when the blogs stray into controversial territory.

    • Yes, it sure does Brian. We have to guess of course, but I’m suspicious that most of my top posts relate to set texts. They are just too unlikely, to me, to be sought by general readers. Is this the same for you?

      And yes, good point re book blogs being generally civil even when people disagree quite fundamentally. Can we argue that it says something about what book reading does for us?

  11. Thanks for the links to several posts i missed, especially Edith Wharton whom i am due to reread soon! She has a North Florida connection, having been one of many elite new yorkers to come as far south as the railroad would take them then.
    I also want to thank you for this window into Australian literature and modern writing, a subject sadly sorely neglected in the US, at least when i was in school. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks very much andypop. One of our Aussie lit-blogger aims is to spread the news about Aussie writers more widely, so it’s always great to hear comments like yours.

      One day I plan to read Hermione Lee’s Bio of Wharton. I didn’t know about her Florida connection, but she’s a favourite of mine.

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