Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers

1. Find a simple layout and stick with it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to blogs that I follow and the layout is different almost every time I see it. It’s not the layout change in particular that bothers me, just the fact that I have to figure out where everything is all over again. Confusing your readers is bad!
2. Don’t mince words. If the book sucked, it’s okay to say so. Seriously, tell us, because the whole reason we’re reading a book blog is because we want to know what books are good and what books aren’t.
3. Use pictures. A photo of the book cover is always helpful. (At least I think so.) That way, if your review of the book makes us want to read it, it’ll be easy for us to find!
4. Comment on other blogs. This doesn’t just mean book blogs, this means any blogs!  Start discussions, get your name out there, get traffic going to your blog.
5. Respond to everyone who comments on your blog. People tend to feel shy about commenting the first time, but it’s always up to them to break the ice. Make it easier for them with a prompt response so they’ll continue to feel comfortable joining the discussion!
6. Follow other blogs. When you find those awesome blogs that you love, make sure you follow them so you can get their posts by email or RSS feed or whatever you choose. This can be a great way to establish relationships with your fellow bloggers.
7. Use your “read blogs” page (on WordPress) wisely. I’m not sure what the Blogspot analog would be, but this is basically where all the blogs you follow are collected so you can scroll through the posts in reverse chronological order. Don’t gum up this goldmine of content with blogs that you only kind of like or blogs that only post about subjects you’re interested in sometimes.
8. Explore. Use Freshly Pressed and the tag search function to find things you’re interested in. I personally use the “Stephen King” tag a lot because there’s usually a decent amount of discussion going on about him and I love weighing in about his novels.
9. Have fun with it. Stressing about blogging kind of defeats the purpose. Blogging should be fun, and most importantly, it should really be for you. Unless you’re getting paid (and the vast, vast majority of us are not), your blog is for you, first and foremost. So do what you want with it, make it yours, and make sure that writing in it doesn’t become a chore. Because once it does, it’s hard to get back to it being fun!
10. Patience, grasshopper. You’re not going to be a famous book blogger overnight. I’ve been writing this blog for over a year, and March was my busiest month so far with just over 3,000 views. In the scheme of things, that’s not a lot, but I love that some of my posts get really great discussions going. And frankly, I’d be rather overwhelmed if all of my posts were getting dozens of comments.

Well, I’m not sure if this will help anyone at all—I still feel new to this myself even though it’s been more than a year. Good luck to any new bloggers out there!

This weekly meme brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

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24 thoughts on “Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers

        • Honestly I’m impressed with the amount of time you have to fiddle with everything! And it always turns out looking great. I have to plan all the changes I want to make in advance or else I’ll end up sooooooo indecisive and nothing will go where it should. I still don’t particularly like this theme I have now, but it was the only one I liked with three columns that I didn’t have to pay for…

          • Changing my theme is actually my artistic outlet right now. It’s something I do when I feel restless (which I often do) and need to play with colors and pictures. It’s relaxing for me and doesn’t take long, so I do it often. 🙂

    • Thank you! April is turning out to be not nearly as traffic-heavy as March and I have no idea why–I guess it was just a fluke 🙂 It does make me really happy though when I see new people finding my blog and joining discussions!

  1. I’ve basically changed my blog theme once. I recently changed the backround, but it’s still black and nothing has moved! I think an issue with WordPress, as far as I can tell, is that there’s no way to preview a new blog theme/background/header on your blog without changing it in real time. I don’t want everyone to see my crazy experiments!

    I agree that it’s okay to post negative reviews. I actually get a little suspicious if a blogger claims to love every book he or she reads, particularly if many of these books are coming from authors/publishers!

    • Yeah, I think this theme is my third in 14 months, so I try not to change too often either. There is a way to preview before activating, but not to check out all the theme options (like if you can have different color schemes or layouts within a certain theme). I actually started another blog about six months ago that quickly fell by the wayside, so I use that one for all my experiments now since no one ever sees it!

    • It’s always nice to get a response to a comment. One of the great things WordPress does (not sure if Blogger does this) is it notifies you when someone replies to a comment that you’ve left. That way it’s easy to keep the conversation going!

        • I don’t get email notifications (unless I check the “notify me of follow-up comments via email” box below the comment field), but WordPress has a header that shows up whenever you’re logged in and on the top right there’s a notifications box where it’ll show you likes, comments, follows, comment replies, etc. It’s a fairly new development, though.

  2. Excellent points! I especially agree with the second one about it being okay to point out a book that was disappointing to you. I have a friend that reviews books on a five-star scale and I realized that 97% of what she posts are all 4-and-5 stars. Talk about grade inflation! I want to know when something’s crappy.

    Also, I completely agree about the need to participate. No one’s going to come to find your reviews unless you’re out there writing thoughtful comments.

    • Exactly! I’ve actually noticed recently that a lot of my reviews end up being 4 stars when they should probably be 3, but I give it the extra one because I like the author or something. Gonna have to take a look at that 🙂

      Thoughtful comments are definitely the way to go. I’ve found myself in situations where I get desperate for traffic and try to post comments on a bunch of blogs, but they rarely bring any traffic if they’re not well thought out and relevant. Blogging is hard work! 😉

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