Hi guys, I was in dire need to write some filler posts for in between reviews so I’ve decided to write my top tips for book blogging. I don’t by any means think I’m an expert, I just thought it might be helpful to people, especially new book bloggers, to learn what I’ve found beneficial to my blog and my time as a reviewer. I hope you find something useful here and by all means, if you have any tips of your own leave them below!
If you haven’t yet actually made the scary step and created your book blog, there’s probably lots of things you want to know. Before I started, I actually got in touch with a book blogger (Lindsay from bookboodle) and she helped me set up my blog, told me the ins and outs and is basically the reason I’m here now so if you need advice don’t be afraid to ask. Decide which blog host you’re going to use, think of a cool name for your blog and away you go! There’s lots of lovely themes you can chose from so pick one to suit you. If you want your blog to look more professional, go for it. If you want it to be more personal to you, go for it. There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s YOUR blog so create it how YOU want.
It’s really daunting being a new blogger. When I first started my blog and set up my Twitter account I saw all these other book bloggers chatting to each other and joking around who were obviously friends and I just thought, ‘Holy crap, I’m on my own, I’m never going to make any friends’. Luckily for me (and all you newbies out there) the book blogging community is absolutely wonderful and everyone is so friendly and willing to help. I’ve met some really lovely people online and you will too over time. If you’re having a problem – don’t be scared to ask for help. If you like what someone has written – tell them. If you’re new – don’t be ashamed to admit it. We were all newbies once!
Social networks are your friends
If it wasn’t for social networking, the only people that’d be following me are my mum and my boyfriend. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, Instagram are only a few I can think of. Obviously it’s not vital you use all of them but I would definitely 100% recommend Twitter because not only is it a great place for meeting authors and book bloggers it’s a good site to promote yourself on where people can help you advertise your blog by retweeting your links. It’s not only good for your own blog but It’s great for finding other blogs you might like as well. Follow tons of book bloggers/authors/publishers on Twitter! Don’t forget if you want to keep your blogging and private life separate you can always make separate accounts. I know a few people who like to keep their Twitter for blogging and their Facebook for personal use and that’s absolutely fine.
Honesty is the best policy
When it comes to writing reviews everyone has their own style so find a style to suit you. Everyone’s entitled to write how they want to but in my experience, there’s a few things you should keep in mind when writing reviews. Firstly, don’t give the story away. A review is supposed to discuss characters, writing style and what aspects you liked/disliked, writing down everything that happened is completely unnecessary. A short paragraph in your own words of what the book was about with suffice because it gives readers a rough idea of what the book is about without giving away too much detail and for authors/publishers it shows you actually read the book. Secondly, be constructive not destructive. You’re not going to like every single book you read – that’s fine but when you come to write the review on it try and give constructive criticism rather than slagging the book/author off. Someone would have put a lot of effort into what you just read and just because you didn’t like it, doesn’t mean other people won’t. Lastly, be honest! I can’t stress this enough. It ties in with the point I just made but publishers and authors appreciate honesty and although you may feel bad about writing a negative review of their book, they understand that everyone has different tastes. Like I just said, as long as you’re not personally attacking the author and are constructive and honest then you’re not doing anything wrong.
Be willing but know where to draw the line
Be open to review requests. I personally read lots of different genres but if you’re a romance blogger for example be willing to accept romance novels from authors you’ve never heard of before. However, if you’re getting lots of review requests and feel you can’t keep up with them all SAY SO. It’s your blog so don’t be afraid to draw a line when your ‘To be read’ pile is getting too long.
If you build it they will come
Blogging isn’t easy and you’re not going to build up a decent following overnight (Well you might, if you’re really lucky). Everyone’s heard of the saying, ‘If you build it, they will come’ and in this case it’s absolutely correct. When I first started I had absolutely no idea where people got followers from but they grew with each review I was posting. Keep working hard and remember it’s a slow process but it will be worth it. I promise.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Someone asked me how you get publishers to send you books without having to beg them and in my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for books to review. Once the publishers know you’re reliable, will read the book and give it an honest and fair review they’ll be more likely to use you again in the future. You can find all publishing companies on Twitter so follow them so they know you exist! It is also worth including a ‘Review Policies’ page on your blog so authors and publishers know exactly what they’re getting from you. Include information such as what genres you accept, the time frame you review them on and what format you accept books in (paperback, eBook or both). On WordPress you can add a ‘Contact Form’ to your page (You can probably do this on Blogger too but I wouldn’t know) and I find that looks really professional and you can include your own sections for people to fill in.
Use your time wisely
Due to other life commitments like work, children, everyday chores it can be and probably will be hard to keep your blog completely up to date but it’s not impossible. Split your time between your own blog, other blogs and reading books which are due for a review wisely. Personally, when I go on my laptop first thing in the morning I reply to any emails or Tweets then check my ‘Reader’ on WordPress and see what everyone else has been up too. That will take about 30 minutes then I can get on with working on my own stuff. It obviously depends on the individual and what your daily routine is like but I’ve found it helps if I set myself daily goals of reading for example, 4 chapters a day. The reason I’m writing this post is because I needed filler posts to publish in between reviews so that’s something else worth thinking about because you don’t want your followers to get bored, especially if you’re reading a particularly long book!
I had no idea the book blogging world was so big when I first started blogging. I thought I was just going to read a few books that were on my shelf, write about them and be done with it. How wrong was I? Obviously if you want to do that, that’s completely your choice but there is so much going on that you can get involved in which will not only help your blog but support other authors/bloggers too. Blog tours, cover reveals, author interviews are all great ways to get yourself out there (virtually of course) into the book blogging community. You will always find people looking for bloggers to take part in events on Twitter so keep an eye out.
I asked my lovely Twitter followers what their top tip would be for someone who is thinking about starting a blog, here are some of the great answers I got:
@ThisChickReads: Blogging is supposed to be fun. So have fun and don’t think about what others will say about your blog/posts. Just enjoy. Be 100% honest. Blog readers and authors appreciate honest and constructive reviews. Be polite, but honest.
@patchworkbunny: Do what you want to do not what you think you should do.
@marymayf: Be yourself – don’t just copy other’s opinions.
@ArcadiaBooks1: Try to find something new to say – makes you stand out from other bloggers! Read between lines!
@Wetdarkandwild: My biggest tip – only read what you want to read and write it to please yourself, for fun, don’t worry about anyone else.