This post is inspired by The Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday. The bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish love to make lists and it just so happens that I do too. The topic this week is: Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers. I apologize for the length of this post but this type of topic requires some explanation. Thank you to the bloggers at The Broke and The Bookish for this topic. I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on what I do and share it with others. I hope my tips are helpful.
Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers
1. Get an E-Reader
This is kind of a no brainer but you are more likely to receive books to review if you have an e-reader. Publishers and authors rarely give paperback copies to new bloggers and I have only received 1 in my 8 months of blogging. I was able to join a popular blog tour because I was willing to review an ebook copy of the book. It’s more affordable for publishers to send you ebook copies than paperback copies and as a new blogger you will need to be considerate to publishers. It’s more expensive than you may think to give away print and mail hard copies. Accepting an ebook copy makes authors and publishers very happy and that’s always a good thing when building up your blog.
2. Mix Up Your Content
There is a saying in the marketing industry that “Content is King.” If your content is stale, then your numbers will be stale. So the solution is to mix it up. One suggestion, broaden your reading to include genres or books you wouldn’t have normally read. This is will help you break away from reviews that all start to sound the same. One thing I’ve done to mix up my reviews is to due a double review of the movie and the book. Comparisons are fun to write and they connect with your readers.
Another suggestion, go beyond reviews to writing about the publishing industry, book covers, upcoming releases writing in general, and whatever you want. There are lots of weekly meme’s out there in the book blog community that can help you diversify your content. For example, this post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. They come up with some great topics that may get you to write about something you wouldn’t normally write about. Meme’s are also a way to connect with other bloggers and boost your stats. You don’t have to participate in weekly meme’s every week but they are always there when you need a post topic. For a list of book blog meme’s go to the I Am a Reader, Not A Writer blog.
My final suggestion is to be creative. Many great post ideas come from writing about what you like. You’ll probably find that if you like it, odds are others will want to read it.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask
If you are just starting off your blog and your not getting very many review requests, don’t be afraid to ask authors or publishers. I’ve developed several good relationships with authors just by asking them if I can join a blog tour or host an interview and giveaway with them.
I wouldn’t go straight for the big authors and publishers, but maybe ask a debut author or an author or publisher with a book about to be released. You may be surprised at how willing they are to have you participate in a blog tour and to receive a review. To find these authors you may need to spend some time on Goodreads exploring upcoming books and new releases. Indie author groups on Goodreads are also a great place to find authors.
If you are going to ask an author for a chance to review their book, I suggest offering an interview as well. This way you are giving them a little more publicity in exchange for a review.
Once you’ve reviewed their book, send them the link so that they can spread the word.
4. Stay Organized
This is pretty common sense but it’s important to keep a calendar of events and deadlines. I use Google Docs to keep all of my review requests, interviews, and giveaways in order. The beauty of it is you can access it from where you are. When you plan months in advance it can be easy to loose track of everything you agreed to. As soon as you agree to a review, interview, giveaway, etc, write it down in your calendar. It’s kind obvious, but sometimes you don’t think of these things when you are first starting off.
5. Write A Lot of Reviews Before Launch
Before launching your blog, build up a few reviews so that you can release them over time. I did this but I wished that I had reviewed more. The extra reviews come in handy on busy days when it’s hard to get a post up. If you have already launched, it also helpful to write a few posts at once and save them for later. This will help keep your posts active when your real live is active.
6. Be Social
Facebook, Twitter, Klout, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the list goes on. Your followers are everywhere and you need to be too. Not every person out there uses each social media outlet but I guarantee you that they use at least one of them. For example, I’m not big on using Facebook but I use Twitter everyday. I don’t necessarily check Amazon and Barnes and Noble for reviews but I refer to Goodreads a lot before I buy a book. I also use Goodreads as a way to connect, read other reviews, and stay update on new releases. Klout is a great way to see who are reaching when you use social media and how far your reach is. I don’t use it much but I’m hearing more and more about how I should.
7. Be Professional
Keep your reviews and communications professional. By professional I mean your posts and emails should contain general good grammar and spelling, be polite, and be respectful. Whenever I communicate with an author I always thank them for either stopping by the blog or thank them for participating in a post. I try to proofread multiple times (I despise writing errors but I do make them from time to time). Do not write to authors like you would write a text message to a friend. Believe it or not there are bloggers who do write like that.
Whenever I have to say no to review request I always try to be respectful to the author or publisher. They’ve taken time out of their day to contact me and I am always grateful they do.
Don’t be mean. It’s okay to write a negative review but the review should be constructive. Avoid taking pot shots at the author and their book but instead focus on the reason you didn’t like it. If possible try to find the positives in the book and write a paragraph on what was good about the book.
Your professionalism should carry over into all of your correspondence, such as Facebook, Twitter, commenting on other blogs, etc. If an author is looking for reviewers and sees a blog comment from you that’s mean or has errors, they may not want to ask you to review their book.
Note: Grammar and spelling are often times comprised and Twitter due to the 140 character limit so my comment above doesn’t translate to Twitter.
8. Be Resourceful
When you are new and not receiving a lot of copies to review might you have to buy books (gasp!). However, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. There are plenty ways to get your hands on a cheap book or even a free one. Here is a list of ways to find out great book deals:
- Twitter – There are many people who tweet about giveaways, kindle ebook deals, and other deals.
- Follow Other Book Bloggers – By following other bloggers you can often get an inside scoop for giveaways, book deals, and sometimes authors/publishers looking for reviewers.
- Amazon Prime – If you have an Amazon Prime account you can often get Kindle books for free or at a discounted rate. You can also purchase used books at a good price too.
- Barnes and Noble Educators Discount – Buying retail isn’t always the best deal but it can help lower the price when buying a new bestseller.
- Goodreads – Goodreads has tons of book giveaways all the time. It’s harder to win the giveaways of 1 copy but if you look for the giveaway that are giveaway a way a bunch your chances are higher. You can also sign up for the book swap program if you are willing to giveaway your books for free and pay for shipping for a book you want to read.
- Google Alerts – I have several Google Alerts set up to tell me about Book Giveaways. These aren’t always super helpful as they pick up tons of information but I have entered a few giveaways through my alerts that I wouldn’t have found out about otherwise.
- Borrow – By borrowing from family and friends, they can help save your wallet. Duh.
9. Be Patient
You might not get a flood of followers and review requests right from the start, and that’s okay. It takes time to build up a base and to get your name out there. Keep writing, reading, and blogging and they will come. A little networking doesn’t hurt either. I once agreed to a review a book and a month later that same author gave me connections to 10 other authors. That then spurred a multiple author interview about writing Kissing Scenes that turned into two of my most popular posts. And from those posts, I received reviews, interviews, and giveaways. That all happened over a 6 month period, which may seem like a long time, but it was fun and I gained a lot from it.
10. Real Life Comes First
It’s important to keep your commitments but your real life should come first. I’ve had to take breaks from time to time to support my family, my career, and to take care of myself. Don’t let your blog consume you to the point where you feel like you have post everyday. Even the top bloggers take breaks. I find that taking breaks helps rejuvenate me to read and write more.