Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we were asked to provide ten tips for new book bloggers. As a “new” book blogger myself, I am not sure if I am qualified to give any tips. But then again, after only 3 months of blogging, this site has reached over 20,000 hits (well, maybe closer to 25,000), garnered around 1,100 followers on Twitter, over 800 “likes” on Facebook, and reviewed dozens of books. Perhaps there are a few tips I can provide… Thanks for reading, and please feel free to leave a comment below!

Tip #1 – JUST DO IT!

If you are an aspiring blogger, but just haven’t taken the plunge yet, all you need to do to start blogging is to just do it. First step: Open a WordPress or Blogger.com blog account and name your blog. Write a post then publish it. Then write another post and publish that. Make sure that your first posts include book reviews. Keep the blog a secret until you have a decent number of posts (perhaps 3-4 reviews and a welcome post at minimum) AND a look and feel for the blog that is related to books. Then take the plunge and announce the opening of your blog on social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter.

The point is to blog because YOU want to do it. That’s what book blogging is all about: YOU and your love of books. The followers will come from there.

Tip #2 – Remember WHY You Blog

Do not try to shape your blog around other peoples’ tastes. Also, forget about receiving ARCs, or taking part in the coolest blog tours or other events. Don’t worry about what the other guys are doing. This is about YOU. While it is easy to feel a bit green when you see the mailboxes of other bloggers, you must remember this: A LOT of work has gotten them to where they are today. As well as a number of years of blogging behind them. Blogging can be a full time job, and usually it takes 10x more hours of actual work on the blog than the number of books you will get in your mailbox.

But then again, if you start thinking of blogging as “work” then perhaps you’re blogging for all the wrong reasons.

Tip #3 – Remember the Memes, But Know That They Should Not Be All Your Blog Is About

There are many memes (weekly themes/features) out there that you can take part of in order to keep a good amount of content on your blog on a daily basis. That is, if you have something valuable to say about the topics featured. Meme’s should not make up the entire content of your blog, but they can be good for building valuable content.

A few memes that Making the Grade likes to participate in are:

  • Top Ten Tuesday (Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish): A weekly feature allowing you to create a Top Ten list abouto books and blogging. Weekly themes are assigned by the hosting blog.
  • Waiting on Wednesday (Hosted by Breaking the Spine): A weekly feature of an upcoming book that you’re “waiting for”. This feature is a good way to share upcoming titles with people who might not otherwise know about them.
  • In My Mailbox (Hosted by The Story Siren): A Sunday feature of the books we received in our mailboxes for that week.
  • Truth or Dare (Hosted by Jenna Does  Books): Featuring the books that we would like to see or have seen on film. Allows you to create a dream cast, assign a director, or provide other information to turn the book into a film.

Take part in all or none, but if you’re ever in need of good content, at least you know they’re there.

Tip #4 – Want to Gain Followers? Network, Network Network

This doesn’t mean that you can simply post your blog updates on Twitter and Facebook and leave it at that, it means to INTERACT with your readers: other book lovers, bloggers, authors, publishers, etc. Participate in book chats online, talk to people on Twitter, read other blogs and actually COMMENT on them. People will get to know you, and they will want to check out your blog.

Plus, what better way to spend your free time than talking books with other people? It’s a win-win situation since you’ll be getting to know a lot of awesome people in the process!

Tip #5 – Technical Tricks of the Trade, TAGGING

Tagging within your post is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tip you DON’T want to forget. Take it from someone who works in web design and communications. TAGGING is key to getting people to your site. If your site is doing well on a daily basis, it is likely because at least HALF (if not 60-75%) of your visitors are likely coming from search engines. It’s all based on your rankings in the search results, high rankings = better hits. How to make this happen?

  1. Add meta data to images – For images, it is a good idea to include for a title and alternate text with the name of the book and the author. For people, include the actor or actress, author, etc. You will pick up more hits because you have the content that people are looking for.
  2. Tag your individual posts – Both WordPress and Blogger make it easy to add tags to posts. I recommend tagging with the following: Book, YA, Young Adult, Review, [the genre(s) included in the post], [Book Title(s)], [Author/Actor Name(s)], Giveaway (if a giveaway), [Publisher(s)], Month/Year of Releases, etc.
  3. Tag in Twitter/Facebook posts – Tag (or @) the Authors/Publishers discussed within the post you are linking to. If they retweet you, that means more people will see your link = more clicks = more hits = more potential followers for your blog.

Tip #6 – Be a Perfectionist

For heaven’s sake, know the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Use your spell check and consult a dictionary when you’re not sure of a word. You know, that ever-convenient dictionary.com? Keep it handy in another browser tab. Oh, and read a post twice before you post it. That’s right, not only am I actually expecting you to READ what you type, I’m telling you to read it TWICE.

Be careful, be precise, be articulate, and be organized. Check your grammar and spelling. Correct formatting issues. Fix broken hyperlinks. Don’t notice a mistake in a published post and think there’s nothing you can do about it. We ALL make mistakes, even the best of us. Simply go back and change it. Remember: Your blog is your voice. Don’t get sloppy.

Tip #7 – Read, Read, Read

Yup, just because you start blogging doesn’t mean you stop reading. It may sound silly that I’m saying this, but soon you will see. Once you start blogging on a regular basis you will discover that it is hard to find the time to read. Trust me on this. If you must choose between reading or typing up a random blog post, choose reading every time. Never lose the love of why you started blogging in the first place.

Tip #8 – ARCs

DO NOT. Absolutely DO NOT start requesting books form the publishers until you have a healthy number of followers under your belt. For some publishers this may mean a little as 300-400 on Linky Followers, Google Friend Connect or one of the social network platforms. Other publishers may not even respond to your emails until you have 1,000+ followers and a certain number of hits per day/month on your blog, or if you have been blogging for 6+ months. If the publisher asks for information, you give it to them. And be honest. The other option is that you can decide not to work with them, it’s your choice.

But it is their choice as to whether or not they decide to work with you, so once you do send an email request for a review, don’t bug them. If a publisher does not respond to your email, it doesn’t mean you won’t get what you request… or maybe it does. Publicists are busy people, and you can’t expect them to respond to EVERY email that comes their way. There are HUNDREDS of other bloggers out there asking for the very same books you are. Respect their time and respect yourself by not being pushy.

ARCs are very expensive privileges, and very few are available. Publishers use them as marketing tools, and in the end their marketing dollars will decided where the ARCs go. Blogging IS NOT about free books.

Tip #9 – Don’t Be Shy! Emailing is Easy!

If you do think you’re ready to request an ARC, host a giveaway, conduct an interview, etc. – don’t be shy! Email your favorite authors, publicists, etc. A good starting point is to visit the author’s own website and check out their Contact Me page. Some authors provide only one general email address, others will provide their publicist’s emails, as well. Take what you can get, even if it is just a general email address (that’s where we all begin anyway).

Oh, and DON’T beg other bloggers for their professional contacts. Most publicists don’t WANT their contact information given out to just anybody. Bloggers won’t share it either. Bloggers are not being rude by not sharing, they are being respectful to the publicists whose information they hold.

Once you have an email address and you’re ready to roll, heed to the following advice: In your email, you must clearly state your intent in as few words as possible. It is vital that you include as must blog information as you can upfront, and be specific about what you are requesting. Most importantly, BE PROFESSIONAL.

Here is a good email template I recommend you use for requesting ARCs and adjust accordingly: (Again, ONLY use this template if you are ABSOLUTELY qualified to make such a request. Again, ARCs are not made for any “Joe Schmoe” or “Jane Doe” on the street.)

Subject: Blogger Review Inquiry

Good day,

My name is [Your Name] and I am the administrator of a young adult book review blog, [Blog Name]. I would be honored to have the opportunity to receive an advance copy in order to review the following title on my blog. Readers of our blog are a great fit for the promotion of this title:

[Book Title] by [Author] (ISBN)

BLOG STATS: [BLOG NAME] is actively promoting new and upcoming books; all in the form of book reviews, ARC tours, news and giveaways. As of [DATE], [BLOG NAME] averages ____ unique visitors a month, with a current trend of ___ page views a day. The site has maintained a following of ____ followers distributed across social networks like Facebook and Twitter and email subscriptions.

On the Web [URL]

On Facebook [URL]

On Twitter [URL]

Again, I would be honored to have the opportunity to review your upcoming titles on the blog.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

[Your Name]
[Blog Name]

Tip #10 – Do You Blog? Share Your Link Below!

Why? For one, I love meeting fellow bloggers, so I want to know if you are a blogger! And two, by sharing your link below you are following Tip #4 above. I also recommend that if you see a link below, click on it, then comment on the blog, etc. Making new friends is fun, and there’s no easier way to make new friends than by sharing your similar interests with others! (Not to mention, I will know who made it through this entire post if you actually do leave a comment below. Muah-haha.)

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope that I was able to help at least one person out today!

Good luck to all who decide to blog and (most of all ) HAPPY READING!

112 comments

  1. Briana says:

    You have beccome popular in a short amount of time! Congratulations!

    Your points about getting ARCs are particularly helpful. I haven’t emailed any publishers yet, but I have gotten a couple from Shelf Awareness giveaways, and many of them don’t even ask about your stats, which makes it a great option for newer bloggers.

    Pages Unbound

  2. WhimsyDearest says:

    Thank you for the fantastic tips.
    This school year, I attended my first book convention, and I thought: seriously, why couldn’t I have I heard of book blogs sooner? It’s an entire underground community.
    Anyways, here’s my new(ish) blog:
    WhimsyDearest

  3. sarahbotbonkers says:

    I just started blogging last November and I thank you for this very helpful post. I specially like the email template. Although, I’m not emailing any publisher soon, it’s nice to see how it works and how to sound professional. 🙂

    Sarah,
    Smitten over Books

  4. CJ says:

    Hi:
    I just started a new book review blog last year. It was nice of you to put this list together for new bloggers. I can’t stress enough how important #5 is – every day I get visitors because of my tagging. Good job!

  5. CJ says:

    Okay, I’m clearly “comment challenged.” I didn’t know how to leave my website name in the
    comment field above!

    Okay, one more time: the name of my blog is Top Mystery Novels. Whew! Got it.

    Once again, I really enjoyed this article. Your tip about #9 is also spot on. Most publicists
    won’t deal with you unless you provide them with website stats. They need to know how
    many visitors/page loads you get each day before sending you any books. When I first
    started out I only had about 50 visitors at my site each day. Although I was awfully proud
    of my 50 visitors the publisher wasn’t impressed and told me to contact her once I built
    up my readership! So again, thanks for the great article.

  6. Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings says:

    Late to the party, I know, but I just found you blog and popped over to this article since I’m newish to the book blogging world 😀 Thanks for you guide to ARCing since I mostly didn’t know how many followers was enough to start asking! Now I know I need to keep working on those numbers 🙂

  7. Ana says:

    This was such a helpful post! Thank you! I totally agree with what you said about some bloggers starting a blog only to receive ARCs. I am not saying that actually receiving ARCs is a bad thing, cause I would be lying, but my reason for doing it is to meet people who share my love for books. I used to review for my friend’s blog OUaT for almost 3 years and decided to take the plunge and start my own book review blog. It’s a lot of work, but I am really enjoying it!

    Check out my Blog! 🙂
    http://owlalwaysbereading.blogspot.com/

  8. Georgia says:

    You have a really friendly site here. I’m fairly new on the blog review scene and your site is quite welcoming. Some very good tips there. I always wonder what content to add other than reviews.

  9. Brigit @escapeinsidethepages says:

    Thank you soo much for these helpful tips! I’m a newer blogger, with only two months under my belt, and I’m still struggling to maintain a good following. Your tips most definitely have helped though! I would love if you would check out my blog at escapeinsidepages.wordpress.com!

  10. Leary Jacobson says:

    Hey! Thanks for these great blogging tips!! They are a great help!!
    I just started a book review blog a little over a week ago with two other friends that I met through book groups on FB. We also reviewed on a blog that someone else ran and decided we wanted to start our own.

    Our site is http://threegirlsandabookobsession.blogspot.com
    and you can like us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/3girlsbooks or twitter @3girlsbooks

    Thanks for your great tips!!

  11. Nathanial says:

    Thank you for this! I recently transitioned my blog from being all over the map to focused on book reviews, experiences and professional reflections. This is certainly very useful.

  12. Daniel B. (@publiusdb) says:

    Hey, thanks for the advice. As a semi-new book blogger, it can be a little intimidating. Remember the WHY I started writing about books is easy to forget in the excitement of getting an ARC and wondering: could I get more? Thanks for the reminder.

  13. Tori @ YA Book Queens says:

    Why great tips you have here! I’m a new blogger, and I’ve been looking around all day for helpful tips on how to get my blog started. You’ve helpe me out a lot! Thank you so much (:

    And you said to leave our blog link on the comments? It’s up above underneath my email, but I don’t know how this commenting system works, so here:
    http://yabookqueens.blogspot.com
    Thank you so much!

  14. Lynda B says:

    As a newbie to the world of blogging I really appreciate the tips. I agree with Daniel B. above, it is exciting to receive ARCs and easy to get caught up in the excitement. Thanks to NetGalley I have discovered some new authors that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise read. I was pleasantly surprised when a couple of authors actually made the effort to contact me and thank me for reviewing their books.
    Come on over and have a looksee.
    http://birch-bark.blogspot.ca/

  15. Vea says:

    I’ve been meaning to put up a book review blog for a long time now. I after reading your post, I somehow had the courage to start it. So if you visit my blog, it’s still empty because I just started like just now and I’m still figuring everything out. Hope we can be friends.

  16. Sam E says:

    This was so informative! Thanks! I was recently in a blogging slump after I begin and no one followed my blog, but I’m just trudging through now and blogging for ME! It’s wonderful. :3

    Sam @ faultinour-words.blogspot.com

  17. Tasha says:

    Thank you for this! I may have found this late, but this is the best info I have found so far. I haven’t done many posts since I started. I’ve been concentrating on my WIP, but this will help me when I fulfill my New Year’s resolution to blog more and regularly.
    Tasha
    Write For Your Life!
    http://tashadriver.wordpress.com

  18. MyFlyingCherry says:

    Hi! Thank you for your awesome post! I’ve been searching for one like this for a very long time, and there it is *bright light and angelic voices*. I was also searching for other bloggers with whom I would be able to make contact with! Again, thanks to you Jenna!

    My blog: amoustachebookshelf.blogspot.ca

  19. Kristi says:

    what an awesome post! even though I’ve been blogging for awhile I’ve learned something new! I’ve tried to overcome “allness” disease, we don’t know everything and our greatest learning occurs after we think we know it all! really enjoyed this, thanks!

  20. Amenah says:

    This is such a useful post. Thanks for writing it! I’m pretty sure I’ll be referring back to it over and over again as I try to figure out how I want to go about my book blog.
    I actually just started, but what I do know is I want to see if this is even for me before I go about trying to increase my follower count or requesting ARCs. Again, I appreciate this post so much – thank you! It’s so useful. 🙂

    My blog: http://latenightlamplight.blogspot.co.uk/

  21. Tori @ YA Book Queens says:

    I agree completely with the not finding enough time to read idea. Ever since I started blogging, reading has been difficult to get done. It’s kind of sad, actually 🙁 But yes, I loved this post! A lot of helpful tips, so thank you (:

    T

  22. Malissa says:

    My blog isn’t live yet so I don’t want to put in the link and have everyone wondering what is going on, (If it is alright perhaps I can come back and post it once I go live) but I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I have been considering blogging for about two years now but have always been too afraid. I decided to just throw my self into it, give it my all, and hope for the best so having these suggestions really helps to ease my mind (I am kind of, absolutely, terrified in a way) and remind me that I can do this. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, it is much appreciated.

  23. Shalon says:

    thank you that was very helpful. I do not have a blog yet, but that is how I found you through Google.I believe I understand now how to do it. So thank you, Shalon

  24. Kathleen says:

    I loved #6. Thank you for the tips! My blog’s barely 1 month old but I agree that blogging does take up a lot (time, food, rest, sleep). When I started, I thought it was just write-down-what-I-thought, preview, publish… POOF! DONE! Oh how wrong I was.

    But I’m enjoying the community so I may hang around until my schedule allows me to. So I guess it’s SEE YOU AROUND! 🙂

  25. Chetana says:

    This is a great post. Thank you. This really helps me, a new blogger, with a lot of things. I especially agree with the advice on Networking. I am a bit shy when it comes to interacting with new people but I’m slowly starting to open up and meet new people or at least follow them 😛

  26. Meg says:

    Really good advice! Right now, I’m moving from hobby book blogging (reviewing books that strike my interest, when I feel like) into more professional blogging (getting eARCs, having a posting schedule, having a format for reviews, etc.).

  27. Emily says:

    This is awesome 🙂 I just found this now a couple months after I started book blogging! Love the template email as I have a tendency to just sit and stare at my screen trying to figure out the appropriate wording for those emails!
    Check out my blog 🙂 Don’t be afraid to comment and talk to me I love meeting new people! http://rooftopreading.wordpress.com

  28. Julia says:

    I know this was posted a couple of years ago, but I just came across it and wanted to say thank you for all the help! Please check out my blog if you have the chance.

  29. Carissa Bookworm @ The Bookworm Insider says:

    These are GREAT tips!!! I have been blogging for almost a year, but I haven’t been great with ‘PR’ until recently. I did start requesting books on Netgalley, which I am regretting doing so early because I didn’t expect to be approved, so I went and requested like 50 books… *sigh* I have a lot of reading to do. 🙂

  30. Kei says:

    My blog just turn one and it has been an amazing blogging year! I was surprised to read your tips, somehow I’ve followed most of them without ever searching for tips when I started, just did what I love and bloged about it. I totally agree with you on the ARCs, if there’s a book you want to read then don’t hesitate to request it, I got my first one just a few months after I started and it felt great to get an email from the author! Great tips!

  31. Alanis says:

    Hi my name is Alanis, I just started a blog of my own recently. I am so happy to have found these tips! They will come in very handy and I just want to say thank you for making this post! I appreciate all the help I can get! I would love for you to check out my blog.

  32. Gian Francia says:

    HI! Love the tips about book blogging. I’m new to this and I love love to read and getting to know people and sharing them the reviews. I would love to hear your feedback! Whenever you have the time that would be awesome 🙂

  33. Orlagh Mc says:

    Great tips for new bloggers! I’ve been blogging for nearly a year now and excited to keep going and meet more people from this growing community! Feel free to comment on any of my posts – I love meeting new people.

    orlagh-mc.blogspot.co.uk

  34. Jet says:

    Hi! I’m a newbie at blogging and your tips have helped so much.
    Thank you for making this post xx
    I’ve only ever reviewed over twitter and tumblr so I was rather nervous about blogging but this site has helped heaps! I even scored my firs ARC (on twitter but through my review on my blog) so thank you heaps.

  35. Shanice says:

    I tried book blogging a few years ago because I wanted ARCs…I barely made it through a month. Now I have a fashion/lifestyle blog that contains mainly book reviews. I cannot stress how important it is that you blog for you and not free stuff. Great post!

  36. Lorryn says:

    I am so happy you posted this. I have been thinking of starting a blog for a few weeks now and I just keep chickening out of it. I love reading and I love talking about books. My biggest problem is that I don’t think I can keep up with all the new books that come out to review them. I work full time, I am in school full time and I have 3 kids so the idea of starting a blog as well just freaks me out and I don’t want to start it and it fail. But I guess if I don’t try I will never know right?.

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