ZotA – Reflection on the 2017 #AtoZChallenge


So here we are at the end of my second AtoZ Challenge, the eighth to run since 2018: there have been governments with less staying power! The reflection post is an important part of the process, a personal review of what went well, and what less so.  Last year, I started off my review with the statement that “Like Gaul, my reflection is divided into three parts”: this had the dual benefit of working well as a joke (which was commented on – not just my opinion!), and giving it a good structure, so I’m going with that again…

Firstly, having come up with a theme some eight or nine months ago, it’s been brilliant to see the final execution of the plan.  I’ve generated ~28k words for this theme and whilst some are not so good, I think that there are enough to make it worthwhile developing this into a book.  Query letters, here I come.  I’ve had significant interest in the blog over the month and a lot more reads and comments than I had last years, so that was great as well.  As with last year, I’m planning an easy access index page, although depending on what happens with the book plan, some of the posts might get taken down in due course – we’ll see.  Last year’s challenge was a bit stressful, to say the least.  I had intended on getting all of my April posts written before April started, but in the end I didn’t manage this. What is slightly strange is that I was almost in exactly the same position as last year –  I always had a few in hand, but from a starting point of about 10 in hand, I wrote Z with three days to spare.  I had a much stronger plan this year though, and I think that helped immensely.

Last year I set myself some goals with the blog, mainly with respect to what people see when they land here, but also in terms of content.  I’ve tidied up a bit and made some changes, but I haven’t added as much content as I’d planned because I’ve been doing other things – writing a chapter for a book that’s out in the summer and setting up Fiction Can Be Fun with @Debsdespatches, to name two.  Neither of these have been trivial, but both have been worthwhile.  One of the blogs (which I’m ashamed to say I only checked in on at the beginning of the month and have now forgotten what it was called) mentioned that they’d pretty much done the challenge last year and then managed about eight posts since then.  I’m probably in that camp here at ‘Envelope’.  I’m not going to commit to a particular number of posts here over the next year.  Suffice it to say that I will post, there will be a mix of content, I will be advertising The Secret Science of Superheroes and I will be posting updates and/or related issues with respect to turning April 2017 into a book.  I have a post on this planned already…

Finally, again like last year, I’d hoped to be able to engage with the AtoZ community to a greater extent than I was able to. I’ve read quite a few blogs, left some comments and liked some posts. I’ve followed a few bloggers both on wordpress and twitter and am looking forward to following up on some blogs throughout the year. Particular highlights have been…well, actually one of my plans is to have a proper go at the #RoadTrip this year, so whilst there have been several blogs that I could add here, actually the list would get too long to be meaningful.  I’m going to write some reviews here over the next few months, so I hope you’ll come and have a look and see whether you agree or are inspired to go and look at someone’s blog you missed the first time round!  With regards to the community, the support has been brilliant, with lots of great feedback.  The daily comment-link really didn’t work for me for a number of reasons.  I did not post a link every-day, but did advertise via twitter.  I know that I did not get as many referrals from the AtoZ home page as last year: I think that a lot of people, like me, ended up looking at the comments on the blogs we like and following up on them.  My impression, from the outside looking in, was that there were fewer people participating this year than last year, and that the numbers linking on the comments declined as the month went on, but I might be wrong about that.  But I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is both figuratively and literally: i) whilst I can’t commit to being a co-host, I would be prepared to be some sort of champion for a group of blogs and ii) a frequent comment by the co-hosts is that linky-lists are a clumsy tool in this context, so I would be happy to chip in a few quid to get a programmer to come up with a customised app or something.  What do I mean by these ideas?  Well.  With the first, last year there was the option of flagging that your blog fit within a particular ‘genre’.  Some genre are quite niche with only ten or so blogs, and others are larger, and would require more than one champion.  If there was system with genre-champions keeping an eye on il/legal posting, that would help I think.  As a community, we want this to work and therefore we need to be prepared to help maintain it.  If we can spread the load that helps to take the pressure off the co-hosts.  With regard to the other point, this is not my area, and I’m not offering to bank-roll it(!), but if there was a crowd-funding proposal to get a developer to produce an app to help manage the event, then I would be willing to contribute.  My 2p, on the organisation of next year’s Challenge


See you next year, if not before!


PS – You might be interested in the AtoZ themed stories that @Debsdespatches and I wrote.


4 thoughts on “ZotA – Reflection on the 2017 #AtoZChallenge

  1. You aren’t the first person to suggest or offer to hire someone to monitor lists.
    The categories/ genres did make it easier for those who only wished to visit blogs of certain types. There are pros and cons. (The biggest con, right off the bat, is the sheer number of people who either don’t know which category they are in, accidently post in the wrong one, or post a broken/wrong link. If you’re laughing to yourself, thinking it can’t be “that many,” I encourage you to click to 100 blogs– on each one, click just the “Twitter” icon at each. Tally how many times you are sent to Twitter dot com or twitter@user@user to see an “error, this user does not exist.” That’s on the person’s own blog… it gets worse on a Linky List.) So the new program you mention would also need to preview a link to be sure it goes to a site, a working site, and also not the WordPress admin side of the site. It’d be quite a challenge. If you do find someone who can make this, and offer it up at the same competitive prices as Linky and the others, spread the word! There are MANY who have wished for it.

    You have good ideas. Thank you for sharing them. I hope you’ll never lose that spark. Rock on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi – good to see you’ll be continuing – and for your ideas … one of the challenges is having people who do adhere to the guidelines, and those who aren’t that technically competent … it’s the mix and keeping it simple – the simpler it is – the easier it is to be successful. The numbers reflect that … cheers and see you around – Hilary


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