Today, Erin from The Hardcover Lover is here to offer up plenty of advice that I think bloggers both old and new could use a bit of!
Here's what Erin has to say:
Let's face it. Everyone is a neophyte at some point in their life. It doesn't matter what you do; everyone starts out as a beginner. There are many great benefits to starting something new, but we all know how frustrating it can be to be new but try to achieve great things.Yes, there are some awesome, established book bloggers. You can tell just by looking at their blogs that they've dedicated a lot of time to becoming great. Many of them have been in our shoes, and of course, we look up to their blogs. Their blogs are undeniably exceptional, and we hope to one day get there.
Tips, Tricks, and Advice from The Hardcover Lover:
On Starting a Book Blog:
- Make sure your blog is focused and organized.
Make sure you know what you want your book blog to be about when you start it - pick a genre or a few sub-genres that you know you want to feature on your blog. And make sure that they are ones that you’re interested in. You don’t want to force yourself to read a genre you hate just because you see a lack of blogs on it. Read and blog about what you love!
This not only gives your blog the organization it needs, but it also lets your readers know if their tastes are similar to yours. Many of your blog readers will also share your interests, so eventually, you'll gain a following of people who enjoy reading the same or similar books.
Having an organized blog will help you in the long run as many authors can see if you read something they might want you to review.
- Create an email address just for your blog.
I do not use my personal email addresses because I do like to maintain some level of privacy. I don't want all of the emails that I could be getting go to and flooding accounts that I use for work and to keep in contact with family and friends. It also helps because many spammers are going to get your email address if it’s listed on your blog. You can simply ignore those.
Authors may email your for review requests, and it helps to keep those emails separate from a work or school email address.
- Create a NetGalley or Edelweiss account.
These sites allow you to request review copies, and you can post those reviews on your
Publishers can also see your stats, so make sure that you post feedback for the books that you are sent. You’ll be approved for more books if you have a higher feedback percentage. If yours is low, many publishers won’t approve your requests because they don’t know if you are a reliable blogger.
- Be careful.
I never thought I'd have to say something like this, but unfortunately, I do. In light of some recent events, I urge every blogger to be careful when requesting physical copies of books. If you’re an underage blogger, make sure you have permission from your parents to give your address to authors and publishers.
If you have to write a negative review, do it professionally. Tell your readers why you didn't like the book in a respectful manner. You want your review to be informative, but you need to showcase your opinions in a way that would not offend readers or even the author or publisher of the book. Even though authors are in the writing field and are subject to criticism, they do have feelings. You don’t have the right to harass them personally because you didn’t like their book, and they don’t have the right to harass you if you didn’t enjoy it. We need to maintain a level of professionalism. Nothing gives authors the right to treat you badly because you didn't enjoy their book. (And believe me... there are quite a few authors who do treat readers with disrespect. Just a few of them can make bloggers feel unsafe, and it's not fair.)
If you feel attacked by the author, try to contact their agent or publisher to rectify the situation. Many times, a publicist can step in and stop this. If you’ve been attacked on Goodreads, report the incident. Do everything you can to stop the harassing.
On Maintaining a Book Blog:
- Have a review policy somewhere on your blog.
In my review policy, I include a list of genres I enjoy reading, but I also include a list of genres I don't accept review requests for. I do this so that authors and publishers understand what kind of books I'm willing to read and review. It also helps eliminate review requests for books that I know I wouldn't like.
- Maintain an active blog!
When I first started my book blog, I imported a lot of my Goodreads reviews just to have something on my blog, but I didn't need to do this. I realize now that there are better ways to update.
I like to make sure that I have at least one post per week, but sometimes, I have a lot more. If I know I won't be posting a review that week, I focus on bookish memes and book tags. You can also participate in blog tours, but I stick to ones that allow me to write a review because I like having unique and original content on my blog.
Interact with your followers and the bloggers you follow. Comment back. Reply to comments. Talk to other bloggers on Twitter. It’s so much more fun when you know you have a group of people to talk to.
Connecting with other bloggers takes time. I found blogs that were similar to mine to follow, and I commented on their posts. I started blogging friendships with them, and I often find myself spending a lot of time on their blogs.
On Annoyances, Frustrations, and Perks:
- I become easily annoyed when I see that an author or a publisher has not read my review policy. I know it might seem like a lot to read, but I have included it so that authors and publishers don't waste time trying to contact me for a review if their book isn't something that would interest me. Unfortunately, some authors still don’t read it, so it’s just one of those things I’ve become used to.
On the other hand, there are authors and publishers who do read my policy, but still want to see if I'd like to read it. They often state that they've read it but still think their book might be something I'd enjoy because of a similar book I've read. I've found that many of these authors and publishers can be very friendly and offer more information than asked for. Even if they’ve been kind and you’re still not interested, tell them. It will save you both a lot of frustration.
- I've added links to my Goodreads account and Twitter account on my blog so that I can interact with my followers on other platforms. It's also a faster a way for my followers to see what I'm reading. I love getting to know them better.
I've found that posting links to your other social accounts can have negative drawbacks. My Goodreads profile was becoming flooded with messages with review requests from authors, and I ignore them. I’ve also got a few review requests on Twitter, and I ignore those as well.
My review policy does state that every request must be done through email or it will be ignored. I feel bad, but I do this because I feel like email is more professional. It's also more organized.
- The more popular your blog becomes, the more you can be rewarded. Beware... this is not the reason to start a blog.
This can happen either by gaining more followers or by being asked to review more books. I don't let this go to my head. I know that there is always more room for improvement.
I also realize that I'm not in this for the free stuff, and you shouldn't be, either. Yes, getting free books is nice, but the whole point of having a book blog is sharing your opinions with others.
- I'm a very easily frustrated individual, so when I get behind on things, I become annoyed.
I have been tagged in a lot of things, and I'm so behind on them, that I fear I'll never get them done. They just aren't my top priority for my blog right now. I don't like to be pestered to do something at a particular time... I do have deadlines and a personal life.
I guess I just like when people are patient because I'm patient. I understand that not everyone wants to do what I tag them in and that it totally acceptable. Tags take a lot of time to create and post. I just wish for the respect that I give people.
- I want people to comment on my reviews more often. I always like to take a day to comment on just reviews because I know that's why so many book bloggers do what we do.
It takes a while to think about and write a really great review. You obviously have to take the time to read the book, and then think of a brilliant way to express your thoughts. It saddens me to see so many of my reviews ignored. If I'm lucky, I get two comments on them, but on the other hand, I get around ten to twelve on memes. I'd much rather have this trend be reversed.
I'm more likely to frequent your page more often if I see that you comment on my reviews.
- When I started my book meme, Soundtrack Saturday, I was expecting a much better launch. I'm learning to be more patient with it, and I'm hoping that it will grow with time.