Saturday, August 02, 2008

Sidebar Mania

Three blog posts in three days? Is it the apocalypse?

No. I'm just trying to get my Internet presence in order. My website is being completely overhauled, I'm finally paying some attention to Facebook (I've spent most of my time on MySpace), and I've been tweaking blogger to make it more surfer-friendly.

So you'll notice a few new bells and whistles on the sidebar, to make your stay at A Newbie's Guide to Publishing easier and hopefully more enjoyable.

I love indie bookstores, so I added a link to (formally Booksense) so people can find indie stores near them and order my books---one option I'd like to see added to the Book Widget from the fine folks at Adaptiveblue. If you're reading this, Fraser, contact those folks--I see no reason why they wouldn't want to become affiliates.

The new Videobar at the bottom links directly to my Youtube vids.

I've added a bunch of links to kindly bloggers who have linked to me. If you have a link to this blog but I don't link to you, contact me and we'll fix that.

Finally, I've made it easy to subscribe to this blog and individual posts with an RSS feed link. I've also made this blog bookmarkable on a bunch of social bookmark services.

Which brings me to this question: Do you use RSS feeds or social bookmarks? And if so, which ones?

I don't do either, but am considering it, and would like to hear some pros, cons, and recommendations.


Jolie said...

The first time I clicked on an RSS feed link, I was also signed into Gmail in another browser tab, so the link took me to a page where I could add the subscription to my Google Reader. Google Reader, as it turned out, is utterly awesome. I use it for all my publishing/writing-related blogs and read it every day. It makes it quick and easy to keep up with everyone. And I can use it at work without The Man seeing the URL of each blog I'm reading, because it's just a Google domain.

Dana Strotheide said...

Amen to the Reader! I LOVE my Google Reader. It makes it so much easier to keep up with blogs, news, sports, whatever. I've recently been looking for a job too (anyone need a muse?) and I can RSS job postings as well. It's super easy and I love Google's "discover" feature, which suggests new blogs based on ones I'm already reading... that's how I found this gem of a blog! Thanks J.A.- love your books and your great advice. You keep me going as a writer. :) You definitely need Reader though (and Google docs!)

Anonymous said...

I already have RSS set up on this site. Love it.

Like the redecorating.

Anonymous said...

Click on the blue "more" links in the widget box and you'll find a lot more options, Joe, including a link to BookSense. I have been lobbying (bothering) AdaptiveBlue to get it changed to IndieBound, change the icon, AND, get it moved to the front page of the box. As Fraser has said before, they're technologists, not authors, so I don't think they understand quite how important these indie stores are to authors. The more authors who ask for it I'm sure the more importance they'll place on getting it done, so drop them a line and explain why those independents are so important to us.

Spy Scribbler said...

Google Reader rocks. In fact, I only read blogs that have full RSS feeds. I've tricked out Google Reader (by using the Better GReader add-on with Firefox) so that it actually will open the real page inside Google Reader, and I can leave a comment.

Before, it took me hours to read 20 blogs, what with me going and checking to see if they've updated or whatever.

Now I read well-over 100 blogs in my Google Reader, comment on my "smaller circle," all in maybe an hour, max.

Chris said...

I use RSS Fees with Firefox (they have a feature called "live bookmarks" where RSS will auto-update your bookmarks)

BTW, for anyone who uses Firefox on more than one machine on a regular basis -- Foxmarks is an absolute MUST-HAVE plugin. It allows you to synchronize your bookmarks across computers. For someone who routinely uses 4 separate machines, it's a godsend.

Jolie said...

Thanks so much to spyscribbler for recommending the Better Greader! I am using it right now to leave this comment. God, this and Foxmarks (thanks, Chris!) is going to come in very handy during my breaks at work.

Bill Peschel said...

I only read RSS feeds, using bloglines. I hate hate hate hate Google Reader (and I've tried it at least three times). I find it slow and awkward, but it gets a lotta love out there, so it must be me.

Firefox has a Sage reader that seems pretty good, but I still prefer BL.

Anonymous said...

I use Google Reader in conjunction with iGoogle as my browser's home page. I subscribe to a hundred or so feeds --- from politics to sports to publishing/author blogs --- and the Google Reader widget sits at the top left of the browser window above the Gmail widget. I use the "star" feature quite a lot for feeds I want to revisit.

As for social bookmarking... I'd used StumbleUpon as my main tool until it got too unwieldy with so many bookmarked pages. Plus, it drives a lot of traffic to my blog.

Lately, though, I've been using Instapaper's tool. Not really social bookmarking, but it helps insure I read something, delete it and move on.

I see the value of things like Twitter and Plurk, but I just don't have the inclination to follow or use them heavily.

Janet said...

JA, I've been reading your blog through an RSS feed for ages. Blogspot automatically has that going.

I have a google page set up specifically for writing/publishing blogs and another for general interest. The advantage over bookmarking the pages is that I can access my Google page anywhere and I do tend to be away a fair bit nowadays.

JA Konrath said...

I'm curious... does anyone know if hit counters work on bookmarks and feeds?

Anonymous said...

I find RSS feeds invaluable. I track over 150 blogs and websites using Google Reader. Of course, that means HEADLINES make a big difference in what gets noticed.

Kerryn Angell said...

I use Google Reader too and love the 'Next' and 'Subscribe' links. Once signed into google, usually in gmail, I can just click 'Next' to go to the next unread post or if I've found a new blog I can click 'Subscribe' and Google Reader does all the work for me.

Polenth said...

I use Stumbleupon for social bookmarks. If you're looking for a site to organise your bookmarks so you can use them anywhere, Stumbleupon isn't a good choice. The layout isn't really designed for that. But it's the best one I've found for getting other people to visit your bookmarks, as they'll be sent there automatically if it's related to their interests.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is in the prime spot of my iGoogle page, through your RSS feed. It's fabulous, because I've got a bunch of writing blogs, news headlines and weather all on the same iGoogle page (as well as customizable pretty pictures on the top for fun and inspiration) as my main web page, which I have open all the time. When you post, my iGoogle page updates and I can click through and read, giving you the traffic.

Chris said...

The advantage over bookmarking the pages is that I can access my Google page anywhere and I do tend to be away a fair bit nowadays.

Foxmarks actually works THROUGH a site, so, on any machines where you have Foxmarks installed, you can access them as bookmarks (that auto-synchronize -- add a bookmark, and it's available on all machines). However, you can also go to the foxmarks site, and access all of your bookmarks from there, so it's the best of both worlds.

I'm curious... does anyone know if hit counters work on bookmarks and feeds?

Hit counters work on visits to your site, so however they visit it (whether by clicking a bookmark, clicking a link on an RSS feed, or clicking through a social networking site) the hit will get recorded.

Just subscribing to the RSS feed won't register as a hit (though there are likely counters that determine the number of hosts subscribed to your feed).
An RSS "feed" is really just another file on your web site (like an HTML file, PDF files, whatever) that the RSS readers look at periodically to see if there are any updates -- you could probably set up a counter to see how many times your RSS file was "hit", but that information would be useless (because it's done automatically by every reader about once every hour).

Now "pre-cachers" may be a different matter (some plugins/sites will download the site so you can see a quick preview) -- I have no idea how those affect your hit counter.

Unknown said...

I use Google Reader to read about 4o different blogs and feeds (not all have posts everyday). It is much faster than having to go to each page, but the downside is you don't get all the extra stuff like your sidebar goodies.

Occasionally I do get curious and go to the actual site just to see if anything is new.

There are many other readers but I like Google since I use a desktop and laptop and can access the account from either and not get repeats.

Anonymous said...

JA wrote:
"I'm curious... does anyone know if hit counters work on bookmarks and feeds?"

Kinda sorta. I notice you've got several widgets for a handful of feed readers out there. I recommend that you use FeedBurner and have a single point of contact that can people can use to subscribe with whichever reader they prefer. They can also get your content via e-mail if they prefer.

FeedBurner then gives you aggregated stats for each method your subs use to get content delivered. Plus, it's completely free and owned by Google... chances are good it integrates well with Blogger.

Unfortunately, FB doesn't track social bookmarks (unless there's something I'm missing).

Anonymous said...

I'll echo Rob in saying Feedburner is a wickedly cool tool to use. And you can, to a limited extent, track some social bookmarks through it. Example:
one of the features of Feedburner is that it allows the blogger to add buttons to Digg, delicious and Stumbleupon directly to the feed, and it also provides counts when those posts have been submitted to the services (so, Digg This (3) save to delicious (been saved 4 times), etc, etc.)

Feedburner is a good tool, and well worth the time and effort to look into. Worth it for the blogger, worth it for the blogger's readers.

I use rss, on Google Reader for all my blogs. I simply won't waste my time anymore by having to go check on blogs all the time to go see if they've updated (I read this one in Google Reader for example).
I'm also very fond of bloggers who give me the option to receive email notifications when I make a comment and there are more responses after it. Gives me more inclination to participate in conversations.

I am on livejournal as well, though, since I have a lot of friends there and they sometimes use locked posts. I can read their public entries on Google Reader, but the locked ones I need to access via lj itself.

The only social bookmark tool I use is Stumbleupon. I like it for the value it gives me though, to use as an index of sites and articles on the web I liked and might need to reference again in future. The other aspect is simple enough: stumbleupon is very easy to share with people if your primary blogging platform is wordpress. There's a plugin that collects all your stumbles and automatically makes one daily post to your blog, containing all the links you gathered.
What I like most about Stumbleupon? you download a toolbar. Doesn't matter then if a blog has a button or not (like you'd need with Digg, and others), and there's no manual logging into the site to submit the link. You just hit the icon on your toolbar called "I like it!" and it's added to your stumbles.

Personally I also like the look of it. And, you can hit the icon called "Stumble" anytime, anywhere and Stumbleupon will toss you to random pages based on your interests.
I've found some really good stuff that way, especially online art.

Anonymous said...

oh, and Feedburner counts the amount of feed subscribers you have, as well as "reach, which is a guesstimate as to the amount of people interacting with your content. Different from hit counters though.

Carolyn Haley said...

What the heck is RSS?

Unknown said...

Really simple syndication. It's a way to subscribe to feeds from blogs or internet sites and kept updates on those pages automatically

Anonymous said...

I'm new to the whole RSS thing, but I am using Google Reader to keep track of the Blogs I like to read and I have added quite a few to that lately.

On the other side of the coin, I look for places where I can cross post my Blog entries. So far, that is one. I have my main Blog set so it automatically loads to my Amazon Connect page.

RSS is great to help keep everything in one place and easy to keep track of.

Karen Syed