12 Tips for New Bloggers, Especially Book Bloggers

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
Weekly Geeks
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.

Thanks.

27 thoughts on “12 Tips for New Bloggers, Especially Book Bloggers

  1. What a great post, Sherry! I think you made a lot of good points about how to get started blogging. I love your twelfth point!

  2. Awesome post! Nicely stated! I’ll try to keep this commented longer than a twitter feed but shorter than a book although there is much to be said for each of your points. You, however, said it best so I shall leave it at that. Thanks for writing that up!

    Off to the “sister site”!

  3. Great list! I’ve been torn about the sticking with one genre. I was debating about that especially since I’ve been on such a YA kick lately but I love reading all sorts of books. I figured my blog was more for me so I would just blog about whatever I read.

  4. Thanks, Sister! I will keep this list handy so I can refer to it often. Of course, I ALWAYS do what my big sister tells me, right? :) And thanks for the link. Love you!

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  6. This is great advice, Sherry. I’ve just crossed my four-year mark blogging, and I still got both new ideas and reinforcement of old ones from your post. (I didn’t know about the Book Blogs Search Engine, for example). And I agree 100% about things like not worrying about the free books, and being generous with link love. Thanks for the post!

  7. Great post! Really great advice especially on picking a genre to blog about even if that is not the only genre you read!

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  9. Thank you for taking the time to compile this list, it is a great one and I learned valuable new things! Headed to welcome your sister now………..cheers and Happy New Year!

  10. This is simply excellent. I am learning so much this weekend, I feel my head is going to explode. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Thank you for sharing this not only with your sister but with all of us out here in the blogosphere who struggle to get their hands around bringing some sense of order to the daily chaos our passion has brought to our lives. You are a blessing.

  11. I would agree that everything you say is good advice…especially the enjoying part….except maybe #2, the one genre.

    Actually, part of the reason I starting blogging was to get out of my own one genre reading. There are so, so many good books out there that we might not normally consider or might not consider ‘our thing’ that I like to be introduced to something different and then in turn introduce my readers to something a little different. I think there is a place for the one genre blog and there are several I love…but I also think this is a great role for a wider view.

  12. This is a great post! What great ideas for a beginning blogger.

    I see Caite’s point about the one genre: I think what is important is that bloggers have a focus. Obviously, if people read lots of different kinds of books, there are people interested in reading about that. I think it’s nice to find specific blogs that know what they like though and don’t go to far out of the way trying to please an “audience.” It should be for yourself firstly.

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  14. Great tips! I’ve been debating whether to start a new blog just for book reviews or to just incorporate them into my regular blog. Either way, I will be doing my best to use many of your tips.

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  17. Some great tips here. I particularly agree with number 10. I think it’s really important to link out to other bloggers. Not only does this help you to become part of the community, it is also really helpful to your readers. I’ve found lots of interesting posts by following links.

  18. Hello, thank you so much for these really cool tips, they really make sense. I recently started a book blog, it’s only two posts old, so they will be able to help me a lot.
    I have a question. One of my blogger friends suggested that I could occasionally, like maybe once a month, have a guest reviewer do a movie review or review a piece of music I could have a special day for it, like Film Fifteenth or something. Do you think this will be a good idea for my blog in the long run?
    I would love to participate in the various community of book bloggers, they must be freakish people just like me!

    Please take out a few minutes to visit my blog and leave me a comment about if I’m doing it right… Thank you so much. My blog is here: http://riversihaveknown.wordpress.com/

    Love,
    Amritorupa

  19. These are so fantastic! Thanks so much for taking the time to write these “obvious” things down to help new bloggers like me!

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