Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Blogger's Take On Blogging (An Armchair BEA post)

Today it's all about blogging and although I can't speak for every blogger, I'll be giving you my "golden rules" when it comes to blogging about books--and other tidbits, because you know me, I run off on tangents.

The Golden Rules of (Book) Blogging:
  • Be yourself--or as my high school creative writing teacher would say, write in your voice. Read what you enjoy and never feel pressured into posting on a day where you're off your game. 
  • Don't bash anyone--this means if you didn't like a book, be constructive about it. What precisely didn't you like about it? Also, don't send hate mail to another blogger, an author, or even worse, to a publisher. 
  • Have fun--because that's what it's all about. If you're suffering from blogger's block, try doing a discussion post, reading a book outside of your usual tastes, do interviews, etc. But if that doesn't help, then don't be afraid to step away from your blog for a bit. 
  • Make friends--because really, how often do you get to talk with a ton of other book lovers who share your interest in the same sort of books!?
  • Network--good things may come to those that wait, but in the blogging world, if you don't put yourself out there, chances are people will never find you! Participate is memes such as In My Mailbox, Blog Hop, Follow Friday, Teaser Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday, etc. And that brings me to my next point. 
  • Balance things out--this means don't do strictly memes. Do a book review one day, an author interview the next, and then a meme (or any variation of this really, just don't do strictly memes). Also, find a blogging schedule that you are comfortable with. Maybe set time aside each day to blog or only blog on Fridays but knock out posts in advance (schedule them, that is).
  • Post meaningful comments--don't just stop by someone's blog with a quick "follow my blog (url here)!" Make sure your comment is relevant to their post. 
  • It's not about the free books--yes, they're a great, but don't ever start a blog where that is your only intention. 
How should I, as a blogger, get books to review?
I'd say that when you start a blog, it's best to buy books and borrow some from the library. If you've been blogging for less than two months, please do not e-mail a publisher asking for books. You need to build up content--I mean, the exception to this is if you've been reviewing for someone else for a while and can link the publisher to these reviews. Personally, I don't think Goodreads counts as "previous experience." Possibly join NetGalley if you don't mind eARCs--but remember to fill your profile in!

I want to contact a publisher for (insert title here), how should I do it?
Be polite, be professional, and be friendly. Do not copy and paste your email to them. Include the title of the book, the author's name, the ISBN, and perhaps the date that the book is set for release. Also include the number of unique visitors per month, page views per month, your mailing address, and perhaps how many followers you have as well. What genres do you read? Why do you want this book? These are things to ask yourself as you type up your e-mail. Lastly, make sure you're sending it to the right imprint, that you've spelled everything correctly, and that you don't sound like you're demanding the book. Oh! Please do not ask another blogger for his or her publishing contacts. It's one thing to have trouble finding it on the publisher's site, but it's another thing entirely to say, "Hey, I can't find it/don't want to look for it, can I have your publicist/publisher contact?" It's just not done--I mean, would you give out your personal phone number to random people who ask for it/post it on random sites? I didn't think so.

Other things you might want to know:
  • Have a review policy--because if you want to receive books for review, you're going to need one. 
  • Make your contact information easy to find--because if an author, publicist, or publisher comes to your site and thinks that they'd like to request a review from you, they're not going to want to go on an Easter egg hunt for it. 
  • Use social media to your advantage--okay, you don't have to do this, but having a Twitter account or a Facebook page can direct traffic to your blog. 
  • LinkWithin is your friend--I'm serious, having it set up has seriously helped keep people browsing around my blog, it can do the same thing for you. 
  • Have a stat counter--if you're going to review books or if you like to know that sort of thing. But do not obsess over your stats. No, you're not going to have amazing numbers when you've just begun your blog, but with hard work you too shall get there--I mean, my numbers aren't amazing either, but I keep on trucking regardless. ;)
  • Don't be afraid to say no--if you're being pitched a book that you don't feel is a good fit for you, don't be afraid to politely tell the author/publisher/publicist no and explain to them why it's not for you.
Lastly? If you haven't already and you're either new (welcome to the community!) or struggling with something, check out The Story Siren's Blog Help section or Parajunkee's Book Blogging 101 section.

Okay, okay, I know I probably should've talked about what I do when it comes to all of this, but I thought that I'd just stare blankly at my screen for a very long period of time before posting this--or making some reference to how we, the bloggers, are like the male Blue-footed Booby who struts his stuff and shows off his twig picking skills to impress the female Blue-footed Booby (ie. publishers). Also, a word of warning, if you haven't joined the wonderful world of Twitter, I warn you now that it is highly addictive! Well, blogging is addictive too, but that's besides the point. ;D

So that is my compilation of knowledge when it comes to blogging goodness. Yes, it's rather long, sorry about that! I really just hope that it was helpful and that it didn't sound like I was trying to be mean--because really, I'm not. I'm so sad to see that Armchair BEA is coming to an end and I'm hoping to maintain my budding blogger relationships--because y'all rock (though I think you already knew that). <3


  1. I wish LinkedWithin worked with my blog but it doesn't.

    To blog well you need to know: your topic, your audience and your voice. Come learn more.

  2. Fantastic post! I'm going to do set up two things for my blog now, having read this :D First, is a review policy because I shockingly still don't have one. I've been meaning to do it for ages but just never got around to it. I'll have to write one up soon.

    And second, LinkWithin! Why did I not even consider getting it before? I click on those thumbnails from people's posts a lot and now that I know where they get the widget thingy, I want one!

    Thanks a bunch for the awesome tips!

  3. I agree. Excellent post. I especially agree with asking others for thier contacts. I have shared contacts with my two closest blogging friends but they are BFF's, I mean I have slept in thier houses before, I would never hand out other people's private information to strangers.

  4. Great post! I haven't heard of LinkWithin, but if this means I can let other people know about your post (twitter, stumbleupon) then I will (is that what it means?).

    I don't necessarily agree with leaving only meaningful comments. Just leaving a link is bad, but just saying hello is nice, I think. I love to know who my readers are even if they don't have anything special to say.

  5. Great tips! I want to start contacting publishers more. But I am just getting to the point where I think I have enough followers. I'll send emails out after I move, probably.

  6. I like the "it's not all about the free books". Sometimes I think I'm one of 3 bloggers who don't take ARCs for review. My blog is as much to make actual individual friends (as opposed to publishing companies) as to remind me of what I read and what I thought of it.

    I really appreciate your comment about balancing things. I'm prone to get one-sided when life gets busy. That is, I will post the memes I'm committed to, but I don't have time for original posts (or haven't had time to read fiction). I'm struggling to keep that balance now.

  7. Great tips. I love LinkWithin! Parajunkie is a great source of information --she has answered a lot my questions. And I just discovered The Story Siren through BEA.

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful article.

    Jen at Red Hot Books

  8. When I started blogging, I reviewed my own books and ones from the library. It wasn't until almost a year that I received a book for review. I'll have to check out LinkWithin.

  9. I installed LinkWithin today, on your suggestion. So, thank you! I'm stopping in today via Armchair BEA and am a new follower!

  10. Great advice. I think saying no is a way of sticking up for yourself. Never be afraid of putting yourself first. Unfortunately, people will take advantage and before long you will be blogger burnout.

    Networking and making friends is so important. If you want an audience that is. Because we don't get to interact on a in person basis, readers can only go by what we post. Being friendly on your blog is the equivalent for me to inviting someone in my home.

    And yes, I agree with the meaningful comments. You can always find something to say, even if it's not relevant to the post, for instance how they like the design of the blog, the template, the font, the sidebar, anything is possible.

  11. Never even heard of LinkWithin-I need to find out more. Thanks for some substantial good advice for book bloggers.

  12. I LOVE this post! Such good information is here, and it's good for bloggers new and old. I especially love the LinkWithin tip; it's such an awesome resource!


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