This week we are celebrating the 100th issue of Self-Publishing: The Carnival of the Indies.
This is our monthly “blog carnival” that’s been appearing since 2010. Although most blog carnivals have disappeared over the years, the support of the self-publishing community shows that this type of content curation is still prized by readers.
Since 2010 The Book Designer has become a high-traffic site with thousands of visitors every day, and the influence we are able to share with other sites in our community is one of the reasons we continue to put in the time and effort needed to host this regular feature.
What started as an experiment in sending outbound links to worthy sites within our community turned into an institution. These days, I see the badges of writers who have been featured bloggers over the years on so many sites.
Looking back, here’s part of what I wrote in the announcement post “Welcome to Self-Publishing: The Carnival of the Indies” on October 6, 2010:
Last year when I started The Book Designer blog, I was looking for ways to find readers. I kept running into the advice to look for blog carnivals to participate in.
I had no idea what a blog carnival was. A gathering of bloggers, like a street fair? It sounded festive, and it turned out to be a great discovery.
When blogging first got started, bloggers would put out a call for entries to get other bloggers in their field to send in their best blog posts.
A compilation of the best posts submitted would be issued as a blog carnival. The links were divided into subject categories, and the carnival would come out weekly, or monthly, or on some schedule that suited the blogger.
Marketing With Blog Carnivals
As the number of blogs proliferated, there were blog carnivals for almost every subject area and niche. And why not? It works for both readers and bloggers:
Readers get a convenient, curated list of articles that are probably going to repay a visit to the contributing blog with good content and value. They are already gathered, vetted and sorted. This is one of the most valuable functions you can perform for the readers in your niche, because otherwise a lot of this content will go unread.
Bloggers get a chance to share their best posts with a wider audience, since all bloggers who participate in the carnival link to the post from their own blogs. Because the best blog carnivals are tightly focused on their niche, there’s a great chance that readers of other blogs will be delighted to find more great content in their area of interest.
If you are a nonfiction author with a blog on your topic, I would encourage you to check and see if there are any blog carnivals in your niche. Participating is an easy way to market your blog, and to find new readers.
Time for Something New
Blog carnivals don’t seem as popular as they once were, but they are still a great idea. While searching for carnivals to participate in, I found a number aimed at writers and writing blogs. And there’s Cathy Stucker’s great blog carnival oriented to book marketing, Selling Books.
But I was disappointed to find no blog carnival for self-publishing. What’s up with that?
Since there are so many more bloggers writing about self-publishing, it seemed like a great time to start one up, so that’s what we’ve done. I call it Self-Publishing: The Carnival of the Indies, and this month will be its premier issue.
Now it’s more than eight years later, and time to take stock of how this whole plan has worked out in practice.
Well, as it turns out readers have been avid consumers of these blog articles right from the beginning.
- It’s a win for readers, who are increasingly deluged with content but have little way to figure out what’s authentic
- It’s a win for bloggers, who receive attention to their writing and traffic to their blogs from Carnival readers
- It’s a win for the host, since we satisfy a need of both these audiences, resulting in increased traffic, authority, and good feelings for “sharing the wealth.”
And even though blog carnivals are rare these days, perhaps you should think about staring one in your field of interest.
Statistics Tell the Tale
Perhaps through the accumulated statistics you’ll be able to get some idea of how broad a reach the Carnival of the Indies has achieved.
Here are some highlights:
Total number of issues: 100
Total number of articles published: 3,201
First issue published: October 31, 2010 (Halloween)
Largest issue (59): Issue #37, October 2013
Year with most articles published: 2013 (571 articles)
Topics by Articles Published
–Marketing and Selling Your Books: 1,117 articles
–Writing Tools & Tips: 861 articles
–Indie Author: 556 articles
–Self-Publishing Success: 305 articles
–Book Design & Production: 285 articles
–Ebooks & Ebook Readers: 77 articles
Top Featured Post Authors
—Joanna Penn – 14 issues
—Carla King – 12 issues
—Mark Coker – 11 issues
—Kimberley Grabas – 10 issues
—Belinda Pollard / M. Louisa Locke / Helen Sedwick / K.M. Weiland / Dave Chesson – each featured in 6 issues
—Dave Bricker / Louise Harnby – each featured in 5 issues
–Over 100 other bloggers chosen as Featured Post Authors
From the Editor
As many readers know, Shelley Sturgeon, the editorial director of the blog, does most of the work on the monthly blog carnival posts.
This can be quite a job, from maintaining lists of bloggers, notifying them, gathering and formatting the submissions, editing and verifying the entries, then making sure it all looks good and is ready for my contribution: selecting the featured bloggers.
Here’s what Shelley has to say about her part in the process of posting 100 of these blog carnivals:
“Each month, I process the submissions and do the initial review of the articles for Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies (known as “COTI” around here).
I reject the submissions that are too old or completely off topic (You’d be surprised by some of the off-topic submissions we’ve received over the years!) and the ones that focus on the promotion of products or services. Then I prepare the post draft for Joel’s review, send out the reminders and schedule the COTI tweets. It’s a fairly big job putting it all together each month.
“I’m a virtual assistant and had only started working for Joel a couple of months prior to the first issue of Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies in 2010.
“Until I’d worked with him, I’d never heard of a blog carnival, but I quickly realized the merit of the concept.
“At that time, I would regularly submit Joel’s articles from The Book Designer to other blog carnivals across the web, but those blog carnivals are pretty much all gone now, and have been for quite some time.
“To me, that illustrates how amazing it is that Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies is still chugging along quite nicely every month, featuring many articles each issue submitted by some of the best self-publishing authors and advocates on the web.
“One hundred issues and going strong! That’s quite an accomplishment! Thank you to all of you who have contributed, continue to contribute, and read our post each month.”
So thanks to everyone who has contributed to our roundup over the years. We plan to be here serving readers—and sending out links—for years to come.
If you have a favorite blog you’d like to see featured here, encourage them to submit their best articles here.