Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us…
Happy second birthday, dear Hail & Well Readdddddd, happy birthday to us! Though Hail & Well Read only got its name this past January, the blog as a whole has now been around for two entire years. Two! It’s survived all kinds of crises on my part, and plenty of joy otherwise. And, now we get to celebrate!
Go grab a cupcake or a doughnut or whatever sweet treat your heart desires. Celebrations and sappy reflection (and…a giveaway?) start now!
Where We’ve Been
Two years ago, I started The Words Gremlin on something a little like impulse. I needed somewhere to talk about books, since I didn’t have much of an outlet for that offline, and I had things to say! So many things. Don’t we all, as book bloggers?
So I plunged in. I braved WordPress all by myself. I joined a Discord, met new bloggers, made the deep dive into Twitter. It was a time for experimenting, testing the waters with how to write reviews and discussions, and how to find time for blogging around school (still the hardest damn thing I think I’ve ever done).
And then I even picked up Instagram. Which, believe it or not, I’d never touched before. See, I’m not one for taking pictures of anything happening in my life, and I have a small IRL friend circle. It didn’t seem like the platform for me until I realized that I could post so so so many pretty book pictures, and people would appreciate them! Wild.
Since then, it’s been more reviews, more discussions, tour stops (I can’t believe how much I like having my driver’s license, just for this reason…), and the biggest thing of all: self-hosted.
Self-hosting only happened back in January, but it was an enormous change, since The Words Gremlin became Hail & Well Read in the process. The overhaul made me incredibly nervous, because I was going to have to jump hoops with customer support if something went wrong (which it did, and yet we got it fixed), and I had my fingers crossed for smooth sailing.
Since then, it has been. And I suppose I’m making it sound like not much has happened between a year ago today and today, but that’s a complete second year of blogging, and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it this long. I’m hovering around 360 followers here, plenty more on Twitter and Insta, and I’m starting to contact publishers and publicity departments about ARCs. Speaking of which, I still haven’t missed an ARC deadline, even though we cut it close last November with The Guinevere Deception. Do I get a medal for that?
All in all, it’s just been so rewarding and fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Where We’re Going
We can only go up from here, I think! With the self-hosting comes a few plans I haven’t seen off the ground yet, namely my Etsy. I know, I know, I keep promising it and it hasn’t happened. But it turns out that working retail that doesn’t pay quite enough even if you pick up shifts makes it hard to put out creative work, especially if you’re putting out creative work that’s meant to sell. And ship.
So, the biggest next thing for Hail & Well Read is actually for me: job hunting. Somehow, some way, I’m going to find myself a job that isn’t hell on my wallet. And when I do that, I’m going to do my best to bring you guys all the fun book sleeves your heart desires. Not only that, but I suspect some embroidery might make it in there too. Now that I’ve learned to stitch, I’m a stitchin’ fiend. None of you can stop me!
But in all seriousness, I’m excited to find the balance that’ll allow me to be crafty without worrying about my bills. I think it’ll also be a positive for the blog. More time to read? Maybe even the chance to try audiobooks? (I can’t focus on them, but perhaps if I try while stitching…) If I can get it, I certainly won’t turn it down.
Other than that, Hail & Well Read is free-wheeling! We’ll see what comes in the year ahead, and deal with it along the way.
What We’ve Learned
Blogging has taught me more than a few life lessons. Mostly ones about managing my time. Which I’ll admit I often fail to absorb fully. Sometimes, that overachiever streak jumps out and you just can’t shove it out of sight.
But! Here are a few of the most important things I’ve learned.
1.) My shelf could be more diverse. Before blogging, I didn’t realize how much I was missing, how much of a bubble I was reading in. Now, I hear more and more about diverse titles, and I want to read more of them. Support more of them. Sometimes this means buying them. When money’s tight, it means requesting them through my local library. But I’ve learned I can do better, and that it’s worthwhile.
2.) Bunnies and books make everything better. Case in point below. You’re welcome.
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3.) I manage my time like the hottest mess around. That’s on me. Last minute blog posts are my specialty! Like this one, written literally the day before my blog’s birthday. Maybe next year, I’ll plan ahead so I can do a Q&A, or another fun thing? But for real, blogging’s taught me that I don’t always manage my time well, and that I can prioritize very well if I get my act together.
4.) Reading outside my favorite genre is good, actually? Okay, I knew this one in theory, but now that I’ve started dipping my toes into contemporary instead of all SFF, I know it for real. Do yourself a favor, folks. Read widely. And ask for recs if you don’t know where to start!
5.) The bookish community is passionate. Sure, sometimes it makes for a hot mess (usually on Twitter, where nuance goes to die and people make poor choices out in the open), but! You guys care so much about the books you read, just like me, and I love that! I love it so much! Not only that, you care about supporting those books. You make sure people hear about new releases that aren’t getting enough support from their publishers. You make sure people know when a book is problematic and shouldn’t have made it to shelves without a hell of a lot of editing and sensitivity reading. And you care about readers. You argue that audiobooks are reading (because they are!), that there are accessibility problems (especially with YA price points and paperback releases waiting a whole year after pub…), and that good representation of marginalized identities matter (because it does!).
I am always blown away by how much love and determination the community shows, even when it gets overshadowed by unpleasant interactions in other corners. For all the things that can go south in the book community, there are people doing right by their fellow bloggers and readers, and I love that with my whole heart.
A Second Birthday Gift From Me to You!
Maybe this is what you’ve been waiting for, now that all my sappy chatter is over with. And honestly, that’s okay! Anyways, to celebrate, I’m giving away one book valued $20 USD or less via Book Depository. That means it’s international wherever Book Depository ships! You just have to be comfortable giving me your address if you win, and the winner will be contacted via the email they provide to Rafflecopter.
Thank you for celebrating H&WR’s birthday with me, and here’s hoping there’s many more to come! 💛