Note: I somehow got my days really messed up and this post was supposed to be up on Thursday -- yesterday. So I'm posting it a day late, with apologies.
Today's theme for Armchair BEA is getting "beyond the blog" -- whether that means writing reviews professionally, becoming a freelance writer of some sort, or making your blog bigger than it currently is (the Armchair BEA website mentions monetizing your blog).
It's no secret that what I want to do is become a published YA author, but that's not exactly a path that's too connected to my blog. Sure, there are book bloggers who've gotten book deals in the YA world (Pheobe North and Lenore Appelhans come to mind), and I don't know, maybe somehow it's possible to use your book blog in the goal of becoming a published author. But if there's a secret to this, I haven't yet discovered it. I don't even mention my blog in queries, and so far I've never gotten far enough along in talking to agents to even bring up my blog. Reviewing and reading critically helps me in my own writing and editing, there's no doubt about that. But I don't see how blogging about books can help me get a book deal or an agent, and even talking about this topic comes precariously close to that one time I closed my blog after being told that sharing negative opinions about books online was a bad idea for an aspiring writer.
My goal is to have a career as an author. I no longer think that my blog will prevent that from happening (if I did, I wouldn't have opened the blog up again), but I also don't think of it as any sort of "stepping stone" to getting where I want to be professionally. I love reviewing books, discussing them, recommending them. Sharing my opinions. I love shining a spotlight on books I love, especially those that aren't getting much spotlight in other places, and helping readers find something they'll love.
Right now, my blog is pretty much where I want it. I have a good readership (not wildly popular, but the readers I do have are dedicated and, I think, value what I have to say) and am able to be a part of the incredible YA community without it becoming a full-time job or interfering with other priorities (like, say, writing my own fiction).
I want to get beyond the blog. Definitely. But not as a reviewer, librarian, or bookseller -- as an author. And as far as I can tell the blog is not a step on the path to achieving that goal.