My Reading Process: Organizing My Reading Life

Market Research

By day I am an elementary school librarian and in the wee hours of the morning, I work on my children’s writing. Luckily these two fields feed each other in many ways. I often find that market research helps me in both careers. I write for the age group that I teach.

Both librarians and children’s book writers ask me how I keep track of what I read, how do I know what to read, and then how do I keep it organized in a way that I can refer to it later.

I’m going to walk you through my process that has taken me years to figure out what will really work for me. You may have a totally different process. This is a sneak peek into mine.

Email

I have a separate email that I use for subscribing to blogs, email newsletters, and store coupons. You know when you go to a store or when you order online and they ask you for an email address? I don’t give them my main email address. I use one email address for personal correspondence and queries and another email address for the subscription stuff. This insures that my personal stuff doesn’t get buried in the spam. It also allows me to only check the subscription email when I’m ready to.

How do I know about new books coming out?

Blogs

The blogs I’m listing are only ones I follow for finding out what new books are coming out. I follow a lot of other bloggers for writing advice and business related information. This list is probably not all inclusive, but when I listed the ones I read this week, and they are the ones that I typically read in a given week.

These blogs have lots of great book lists, but I can’t figure out how to follow by email. (If you figure out the email thing, let me know. I’d love to have these come into my inbox on a regular basis). However, I do like to read these:

Amazon

Follow your favorite authors and illustrators. Are there people who you consistently read? Whose work you always admire? Follow all of them on Amazon.  Amazon sends me emails when their forthcoming books go up on Amazon.

Newsletters

In addition to the ones listed below, I also sign up for publishers newsletters and author newsletters. However, the ones listed below are the ones where I get the majority of my reading lists.

Your local indie bookstore newsletters are also really important. My local bookstores One More Page Books, Hooray For Books, and Politics & Prose do a ton of children’s events. They also send out great newsletters full of good reading suggestions. Sign up for your indie bookstores newsletters. Even when I lived a few hours away, I still signed up for indie newsletters because they give such good reading suggestions.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

I follow authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, and so many more. When people put up pictures of their books, I go look them up.

Print Resources

I still dearly love getting print magazines in the mail. I have subscriptions to these and I dog ear the pages, rip out pages, and make my bigger lists from reading these magazines. I typically do this every few months, not weekly like I do with email.

Planning Ahead for Reading

Many times when I read about a book, it hasn’t come out yet. I had to develop a system that allowed me to write down the title and come back to it at its publication date.

Bullet Journal

I know a lot of people use Good Reads or Wish Lists on Amazon. After a lot of trial and error, I use my bullet journal. At the beginning the year, when I set up the front pages for my bullet journal, I set up 13 pages for writing down when books are coming out. I use one page per month. There are 13 pages because September gets two pages. A lot of books come out in September. As I find out about books in blog posts or newsletters, I write them down on the correct month of release. Sometimes, it’s unclear from the blog post of their pub date, so I look it up on Amazon.

Each month, I reserve books at my local public library. Of course they don’t have everything I want to read, but by the end of the month or the beginning of the next month, I’m able to get most of what I want to read. I check it off as I place it on hold. If it isn’t checked off, my local library doesn’t have it yet.

Keeping Track of Reading

As I read books, I keep track of them in my bullet journal. I have one spread that is for Middle Grade, YA, Craft Books, Nonfiction, Adult Fiction. I might take a few notes about them, but usually I just write down the title.

For picture books, I take much more copious notes. I jot down the title, the author, the publisher and year it was published. I take notes on the content or what I liked (or didn’t like) about it. Then I have a column for whether I’m going to buy it for my library or not. This extensive reference helps me when I go to order books for my library. It also helps me tremendously with comp title research for my picture books.

 

I love doing things electronically, and I have lots of excel spreadsheets at school for different lists teachers frequently request. However, for my at-home personal reading, this has worked well. Because I index my bullet journals, things aren’t too difficult to find. If I find books that would make good comp titles for a specific book I’m writing, I move them over to an electronic pitch sheet I keep on each book.

 

How about you? How do you keep track of your reading? What blogs do you follow that I’ve missed? Leave a comment to let me know.