My sweet reader sister, Judy, just sent me this email:
I have decided to start a blog to review/discuss/recommend books. I have so many of my friends asking me what I am reading and what they should read on a particular subject. I think it could be beneficial for them and maybe others who stumble onto my blog.
I have a request: Could you give me hints and advice on what I should or shouldn’t do on my blog? It will be mostly books by Christian authors and links to blogs that either review books or discuss current events related to the books I read. I know the blog will probably evolve over time, but as for now, I want to share what I read with others and get suggestions from others as well. I would welcome ideas from a “veteran blogger”.
1. Get into a rhythm of regular posting: once a week, twice a week, five days a week, every day. It doesn’t matter how frequently you post, but it does matter that you post regularly so that people get used to checking to see what you have to say today or this week.
2. Focusing on one kind of book, one genre, is good. I don’t do it because I don’t focus my reading that way, but it is a good thing. The more people know what to expect the more likely they are to visit regularly. If you are writing a book blog, people expect most, if not all of your posts to be about books. Again, do as I say, not as I do.( I have my own reasons for posting about whatever I want to write about, and I don’t mind if I lose some readers along the way.)
3. Consider linking to book reviews of the same book by other bloggers. You can find those by using this focused Google Book Blogs Search Engine.
Be sure to list your blog at the Book Blogs Search Engine so that others who use that tool can find your reviews easily.
4. Write personal reviews. What I mean by that is: don’t try to sound like a professional book reviewer. I most enjoy the reviews that tell me what the book meant to the reader/blogger personally. What did the author make you think about? How did the book relate to your own life? What are some quotes that were meaningful to you? What made you laugh or cry? Tell me more than: “this was a great book.” But don’t include spoilers unless you warn me first. I don’t want to know the ending or the plot twists before I read the book.
5. Read other book blogs and comment on other book blogs and link to your favorites. In other words, participate in the book blogging community. Here are some places where you can begin to participate:
Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon
Booking Through Thursday
Reading Challenges (Collected at A Novel Challenge)
The Classics Circuit
Book Blogging Events
Faith and Fiction Saturday at My Friend Amy
Don’t try to do everything. Pick a couple of events or memes or challenges, and do them well. Look around and see what suits you best.
6. Don’t worry about getting “free books” yet. Those will come eventually–if the whole publishing industry doesn’t transform itself into who-knows-what with the advent of e-books and such. Just stick to your original idea: read what you want to read, and share what you love with others in your blog posts. Probably, someone, somewhere will offer you a free book, or a gift book, or an advanced review copy of a book. Be careful what you accept and know what strings are attached. Only agree to review books that you want to read and that you can find time to read and review honestly.
7. Don’t make your reviews too long, and use pictures. Some reviewers can get away with long reviews, mostly because they’re better writers than I am. And they have a lot of good stuff to say. When I try to write long book reviews, I usually end up repeating myself. (This book was really, really good. Really.) Keep it medium short, longer than Twitter tweets and shorter than the novel itself or even a chapter of the novel. And use some kind of picture to break up the text. I use a lot of book covers from Amazon. That’s the main reason I’m an Amazon affiliate. (And if you link to Amazon, and get a few cents back, or any other sales scheme, you’re supposed to tell everyone that you do all the time as if they couldn’t figure it out.)
8. Title your book reviews with the title of the book and the author. This tip may seem self-evident, but it’s tempting to try to come up with catchy titles for books reviews. However, when someone searches for a review of X book on Google, they won’t be as likely to hit your blog if you called your review “A Look at the Newest Great American Novel” instead of X book by Z author.
9. Ask questions in your posts, and answer questions posed by your readers in the comments.
10. Always link to blog posts that you mention, bloggers who gave you ideas, bloggers who pointed out something interesting to you, bloggers who made you laugh, authors’ homepages, etc. Link-love is kind, encouraging, helpful to your readers, and it brings people back to your blog.
11. If you get nasty comments or spam comments, ignore/delete. Do not respond to people who say unkind things on your blog. Delete them, and go on. Life is too short.
12. Enjoy blogging. If you aren’t enjoying it, something is wrong. Figure out what’s wrong, and fix it. Or quit blogging. Don’t let anyone or anything steal your joy.
My sister’s brand, spanking new blog is called Carpe Libris: Seize the Book. Please do me a favor and go by and leave her a comment and a big welcome to the Blogosphere of Books and Readers.