Book Blogging Project #1: So, you want a book blog, eh?

bookbloggingproject

The Book Blogging Project, thanks to lack of a more suitable and less cheesy sounding title, is a project in which I will take newbie book bloggers on a journey through Book Blogger land. In this series, I will cover everything from why you would want a book blog, to how you can receive ARCs in the mail, get people to comment on your blog posts and write quality reviews. Inspired by Book Blogging 101 written by Parajunkee, and feeling obligated to do this due to the rather large amount of newbie bloggers emailing me questions, I have decided to write my own series covering the how-to’s and the how-not-to’s of book blogging.

The Book Blogging Project is featured every thursday on I Heart Reading with a new post and new but exciting content!

You feel like you have been reading since beyond the beginning of time. There is no book in your local library you haven’t read, or at least glanced at, and you feel like it’s time for the bigger work. Inspired by the huge amounts of book blogs on the internet (trust me, some days I think there are more book blogs than there are people in the world), you decided that you want a book blog yourself. Well, good for you. Now you can join us here in Book Blog land, and quarrel with the other book bloggers over who has the most followers and who you have to kill around here to get an ARC. No worries, I’m just kidding. Sort of.

First of all, you have to ask yourself why you want a Book Blog. Now, here are all the wrong reasons why you’d want one:

  • Your best friend, book junkie #1478978 has one.
  • You want FREE books, of course! Because, you know, they’re like, FREE!
  • J.K Rowling is your idol, and since you didn’t find of any other suitable way to contact the most famous author in the world, you’re pretty confident that book blogging is the way to go! I mean, she will know it when you write a review for Harry Potter, won’t she? Won’t she?

Regardless of what you might think at first, creating and maintaining a Book Blog, is a lot of work. If you want a consistent reader base, you will literally spend hours a day writing up new posts, participating in memes, commenting on other people’s blogs, twittering, marketing your blog, emailing authors and publishers, and scratching your head wondering where all your spare time went. If, on the other hand, you are happy with a smaller reader base, and you’re confident that your Book Blog will grow enough over time, then you might only have to spend an hour or so a day working on your Book Blog, and perhaps even less. Just don’t expect the readers, followers and authors to just come strolling in. The Book Blog community is way too large for that.

The other classical idea newbie bloggers have about Book Blogging isn’t true either. We don’t get tons and tons and tons of FREE books. And even if we do eventually receive a couple of review copies in our mail, those books aren’t free. They were send to you by the author or the publisher in exchange for an honest, and hopefully constructive review. It’s not saying you have to review every single book you find in your mailbox, but if you own a small blog and are just starting out, you better review every.single.one. Because if Publisher X sends you Book Y and never heard from you again, you can be positively sure they’ll never send you another book again. Publishers, contrary to popular belief, aren’t idiots.

Another myth I want to dispose is the “it’s my chance to meet my favorite author ever’ one. Occasionally an author will reply to my review of their book (especially if the author was the one sending me the book in the first place), and I can tell you that when Gretchen McNeil commented on my Waiting on Wednesday post in which I mentioned her upcoming novel Possess or when Maureen McGowan commented on my review of her novel Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer, I was on cloud nine. But I’m not delusional. I have written reviews for novels by authors like Lauren Kate, Suzanne Collins, Julie Kagawa and Raymond E. Feist. They haven’t commented on my blog yet, and I’m pretty sure most of them never will. But that’s alright. Because I’m not blogging in the vain hope one day J.K. Rowling will notice me and send me a fruit basket.

Alright, so now you know all the wrong reasons, let’s take a look at some of the right reasons:

  • You LOVE books. You actually live, breathe and eat books. Yummy.

Yep, that’s all. Or well, that’s enough. Loving books is enough reason to start a Book Blog. If it’s a good enough reason to keep up the Book Blog, now that’s another question entirely. If you want your Book Blog to become successful, there will be other qualities you’ll have to possess as well:

  • You will need to be assertive. You have to market and promote your own blog on all sorts of outlets: Facebook, Twitter, BookBlogs.ning. At some point in your Book Blogging career, you will have to contact authors (and in an even worse case scenario, publishers) and actually ask them for a review copy of their book. Don’t wait until authors/publishers/other book blogger come to you. Contact them, let you know of your very existence, and get them to visit your site.
  • You will need a giant amount of professionalism. You can’t just email an author and say “Yo! I want to review your book, yo!” or something along those lines. You can’t risk to ask author interview questions like ‘What is the color of your underwear?’ and most of all, when someone (author, publisher, other book blogger) makes a fit about a particular review, your website, or anything else that makes you feel personally attacked; you need to remain professional enough to handle the issue without causing even more e-drama.
  • You need to be a social, outgoing person. And if you’re not, then you have to pretend to be. The Book Blogging community is all about giving and taking. You follow, they follow back. You comment, people comment back.
  • You need to be as interesting as possible. Imagine the most interesting person you know. Now try to be just as interesting. Be catchy, fun, entertaining. And not only when you’re writing blog posts or book reviews, but also when you’re talking to other book bloggers on Twitter, book groups, etc. If you want your visitors to return to your website, you will need something that interests them enough to come back.
  • You need a lot of patience. Rome wasn’t built in one day, and a Book Blog isn’t built in one month. You won’t get +1000 unique visitors a day after one month of blogging, and you won’t be added to HarperCollins’ regular reviewers list (if there’s even such a thing). Consider yourself very lucky if you receive your first ARC and have 50 Followers after one month of blogging.
  • You need discipline. If you blog one day, and then don’t blog for another two weeks, you will see your number of visitors dropping faster than flies. You need to be consistent and disciplined, and if you cannot be, then you need to schedule a couple of posts beforehand. Blogging regularly is the key to success.

Comments

  1. Great tips! I agree with everything you said!:) And even after almost 6 months of blogging, I still consider myself a newbie. I still want to learn and to improve my blog…
    When I first started blogging, I didn’t know how much work it would require, but I love everything about it! I wish this was my full time job and I had more time to do it!:D

    Oh, and what I didn’t know when I first started was also that authors actually read your posts, get into contact with you and you even get free books. I still squeal when it happens!:)

    And I’d like to add something else: of course you need to be interesting, but it’s also important to keep it real. If you try too hard to be interesting and just to impress other bloggers/authors, things tend to become a little…forced. So you need to find the balance. šŸ™‚

    Ok, I’m already rambling here. One question though: do you ever get in contact with any publishers, do you get ARCs? Since you’re not from US and all… (just curious)

    xoxo

    • Hey Deea! Well since I’m not from the US I get most of my ARCs from authors themselves (self-published authors or those published with a small publishing company) and none of the mainstream publishing houses has contacted me yet. I did get one ARC of The Girl Who Was On Fire from SmartPopBooks though, which I was very excited about.

      Apart from that, if I want ARCs, I go to Netgalley or S&S Galley Grab to get the mainstream titles. I hope one day they’ll actually send me paperback copies, but that might be something for in the future.

  2. Hi! Thanks for such an interesting and informative article. I agree w/everything you said. It’s amazing the contacts you can make just by saying “Hi” on twitter or on a blog. I find myself getting discouraged sometimes, but then I remind myself that it’s all about the books. Then I’m okay. Thanks!

  3. Great tips!! I have been blogging since December 2010 and there are many days that I spend hours upon hours trying to tweak things. Great post!

  4. Excellent advice for the newbie book bloggers

  5. I agree with Deea – excellent post. My blog is 4 months old, so I am still a newbie too and learning how much time and effort it takes to get it right. My book blog is also my author home page ,so, in some ways, I have double the work.
    I look forward to seeing what you are going to tell us about next time!
    Regards

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