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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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!
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!