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Manchester Blog Awards

The city's sharpest cyber-scribes step out of the ether and into a Tib Street jazz club. Sarah Tierney will be there to witness

Published on October 17th 2008.

Manchester Blog Awards

Becoming a fan of a blog is like finding a fantastic new friend who you don't have to make any effort with whatsoever. You can chuckle at their stories, get the benefit of their knowledge and advice, and feed on their gossip, without ever giving anything in return. An ideal relationship, if you ask me.

The annual Manchester Blog Awards, which will be held on Wednesday 22 October at Matt and Phreds, is one of the few occasions when the bloggers get something back for their efforts. Held as part of the Manchester Literature Festival, the awards celebrate the best of the city's blogerati with six categories that cover the spectrum of blogging, including Best New Blog, Best Neighbourhood Blog, and Best Arts and Culture Blog.

Kate Feld, the director of the awards, has been writing about blogging in Manchester for over three years now on her Manchizzle blog, so she's an expert on the scene. Although referring to it as a single 'scene' sounds very 2006 nowadays – as Kate explains.

“It's diversified so that instead of having a blogging scene, there's a literary blogging scene, and an art blogging scene. It's splintered off into very active little communities, which is really exciting.”

“It's an embarrassment of riches at the moment,” she continues. “Take a look at any of the shortlisted blogs – they're all really amazing this year. The quality of the writing is phenomenal.”

Being the director of the awards, she won't compromise her impartiality by naming a favourite. But I've no such responsibilities, so I don't hesitate to highlight Dear Kitty and Single Mother on the Verge as two top reads. (The fact that I've got an occasional walk-on role in SMOV, and that Dear Kitty is by fellow Confidential writer Nicola Mostyn, has no bearing on these recommendations at all).

Dear Kitty is up for the Best New Blog award. This advice column answers perplexing and uncannily pertinent questions such as, 'Why is your new boyfriend just your old boyfriend with different hair?' Single Mother on the Verge by Maria Roberts won the award for Best Personal Blog last year and is in the same category in 2008. Since her 2007 win, she has been picked up by Penguin; the book version of her blog about life on a South Manchester council estate will be out in June 2009.

Chris Killen, who writes Day of Moustaches, is another of last year's winners who was subsequently head-hunted. His novel The Bird Room will be published by Canongate in January 2009. Along with Maria Roberts, he'll be reading at the awards on Wednesday night.

The lure of a big bucks publishing deal is certainly an incentive to many bloggers. Though Kate Feld cites the desire to express yourself and have total control over what you publish as the main draw for most.

But with so many blogs cluttering up cyberspace, how do you create one that will actually get read? Kate has some advice.

“If the writing is good, you have a good blog. Obviously that's really important for a literary blog. But a blog is a filter too. It presents people with links to other pages and information that people want to know about – with some blogs the quality of the stuff you're linking to is what really matters.”

Northernnights is an example of the latter, containing links to MP3s, videos, and info about Manchester's clubbing scene. It's up for Best Arts and Culture blog.

“Aside from the writing,” says Kate, “the main thing is the focus of your blog and how well thought-out and communicated that is. You really need to know what your aims are. You can have fun with it but you need to be immediately clear about what you're trying to do.”

There'll be plenty of established bloggers there on Wednesday to give beginners a taster of their best posts. As well as Chris Killen and Maria Roberts, Sally Cook (Nine Chains to the Moon), Socrates Adams-Florou (Chicken and Pies), Jenn Ashworth (Everyday I lie a Little) and Maureen Ward (Diary of a Bluestocking) will read. There'll also be DJ sets from music bloggers jonthebeef of (Black Country Grammar) and James (Yer Mam!).

The Manchester Blog Awards will be held at Matt and Phred's Jazz Club on Tib Street in the Northern Quarter on Wednesday 22 October at 7pm. Tickets cost £3/£2. Click here to order online. Or just turn up on the night after 6.30pm and before 7pm.

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James T PostlethwaiteOctober 17th 2008.

Bloggers. I can't stand people who comment on website message boards.

emma graceOctober 17th 2008.

it's certainly nice to know how you feel james ;)

James T PostlethwaiteOctober 17th 2008.

You're right to avoid it Max. Bloggers keep going on about how they feel. Who cares? Let me tell you how I feel about it. It makes me sick, it reaches a fist into my innards and extracts my intestines, it's a bit retch. I hate people telling me what they feel. Now what do you feel?

Max HeadroomOctober 17th 2008.

I'd never do it.

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