Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. They created this feature because as I quote, "... we are particularly quite found of lists". 

Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers on their blog as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

I'm not even going to pretend to be an expert with this week's topic, I mean, after close to two years of blogging I am still learning new things each and every day! I'm just going to provide some advice about things that I wish I had known when I first started blogging, starting with a topic that most new book bloggers want to know more about- ARCs. 

ARCs are not the end of the world. I know, I know, this is REALLY hard to swallow when you see someone with an ARC of a book that you are. Legitimately. Dying. To. Read. But look at it this way, from my experience, ARCs only come out a few months before a book is released (I think I have maybe gotten one 6 months in advance?)- so that means that you don't have to wait all that long for that highly coveted book! Remember guys, ARCs are a privilege and not a right- if you are blogging solely to get ARCS you might want to reconsider whether you are blogging for the rights reasons (ie. you are blogging to share your love of books).

But... How do you get ARCs? Don't. Email. The. Author (I mean, there are a few authors out there that are okay with this because they will just forward the email to their agent, publicist, or publisher, but I think that the vast majority aren't, so it's just better not to and plus, SKIP THE MIDDLEMAN! It will probably save you a lot more time in the long run, plus your favourite author will have more time on his or her hands to write)- authors don't get tons and tons of ARCs of their books to distribute to bloggers and reviewers, they only get a handful, AND they have to use their hand earned money to ship them to you. 

The best way to get an ARC is to directly contact the publisher- look on their website, the vast majority of them have a specific email address to contact for review copies. Join an ARC tour- there are plenty of them out there like Around the World ARC Tours. Join NetGalley. Enter Goodreads giveaways (seriously, they have these going on ALL THE TIME and in some instances 100 copies of a single book might be distributed!). And if all else fails and you can buy a copy of the book from somewhere like The Book Depository which has some of the cheapest prices around WITH FREE worldwide shipping and/or you could always check out the book from your local library. 

Blog consistently and blog quality stuff. That thing I said about ARCs? Some publishers will actually only distribute ARCs to bloggers who post up to 5-6 times a week. And posts which are exclusively book related posts (For instance on NetGalley Entangled Publishing states, "We are looking for reviewers who.. Update their blogs daily or almost daily... Blog about books!", as does Knopf Doubleday when they state, "Blog should be updated daily or almost daily... Blog content must be relevant to the book being requested...). Also, when readers stop by your blog every couple of days for three weeks straight hoping that you will have an updated post and you don't, well, they will be less inclined to stop by for the 850283058th time.

As for quality stuff? Memes are nice and all, admittedly I do participate in upwards of three a week, but anymore than three or four I'd say is too many. Also, I personally dislike it when a blog posts more than one meme a day. Yawn.

*That isn't to say that memes are bad, they are a great way to get a blog rolling and a great way to meet new people, but you don't want your audience to feel like they are drowning in them.

Don't allow yourself to get burned out. If you are starting to feel burned out, take a step away from blogging. I have done it on numerous occasions myself, typically around December and April when I can't successfully juggle blogging and my final exams in school. Remember, for many of us blogging is a hobby, we aren't being paid to do it, so it's okay to take a break every now and again. Just explain the situation to your followers and all will be fine and dandy. 

Make yourself accessible in the world of social media. I cannot tell you how much my blog has grown from being an active Tweeter- seriously, Twitter has opened up so many doors for me, from making contacts that I might not have otherwise, receiving ARCs and books (seriously, do you know HOW many authors and publishers have Twitter giveaways that very few people partake in? A lot!), and the likes of. Ditto with Facebook. A lot of people don't have blogger accounts and therefore only follow their favourite bloggers via Facebook, Twitter, and the likes of, so if you aren't participating in these forums, then you are missing out on a lot of potential readers. 

But don't allow yourself to become too dependent on/ obsessed with social media. Because before you know it, you will be cruising Twitter for hours when all you had intended to do was "check in" (I admit that I am terrible at this. If I am working on school stuff on my computer, which can be upwards of eight to ten hours, I will have Twitter up the entire time)- use that time that you would have otherwise spent on Twitter doing something productive- like writing reviews, scheduling posts, or better yet, reading.

Make an identity for yourself. I recently read that there is something like 5 million blogs in the world. That is A LOT of blogs. Obviously those aren't all book blogs, but there are still quite a number of those too. Because there are so many blogs out there (I mean, there are probably 60+ active YA-focused blogs run by my fellow Canadians that I could find in a snap, so just think of how many American YA-focused blogs there are, when y'all have ten times the population that we do) you want to set yourself a part from the rest of them. Admittedly, this is something that I have struggled with A LOT. I think that now, almost 2 years into blogging I am starting to finally find my identity in the world of YA blogs (I think that the creation of my avatar has given me a much needed boost of confidence since she is a logo of sorts that I can carry beyond my blog header, on bookmarks, business cards, etc).

What are you good at? Or what are your interests? Use those to help you establish yourself. Take Jenny over at Supernatural Snark for instance, she is arguably known for her snarky, yet extremely eloquent reviews or Melissa over at Books and Things for her reviews of a mish-mash of genres, her habit of starting in the middle of a series, and her love of animals.

Don't start drama, better yet, don't get involved in any sort of drama. So many reputations have been destroyed in the book bloggy world because of drama and it is a damn shame. I mean, you work years to establish yourself and then it can all be lost in an instant with an inappropriate or offensive tweet, email, remark, or anything along those lines.

In my opinion, the only time I think that you should start "drama" (and by drama I mean, "A low key and nicely worded email to the person in question"- take the high road peeps!) is when you find out that someone has lifted something of yours, whether it be a meme that you created, a review or something along those lines. Otherwise, just leave it be.

*However, that's not to say that I don't read blogger-related drama. Because I do. What can I say? It's my guilty pleasure, it can bring me hours of entertainment. But I think that it is also a good learning experience, IE. THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD NEVER BEHAVE. SO YEAH, DON'T BEHAVE LIKE (INSERT PERSON'S NAME HERE), also it provides you with different perspectives and ways of thinking that you might not encounter otherwise.

Get rid of Captcha. Seriously, Captcha is perchance the most annoying thing I have EVER encountered in my time as a blogger/ a reader of blogs. Don't know what Captcha is or how to uninstall it? Rachel over at Parajunkie wrote a fantabulous post about it/ made a video on how to GET RID OF IT.

I personally haven't had Captcha on my blog for over a year now and haven't had any problems with spam or anything along those lines (*knock on wood*). I think that if you *do* have Captcha on your blog that you are missing out on A LOT of comments because A) a lot of people won't even bother commenting on a blog with Captcha installed and B) *if* someone does leave a comment on your blog and they incorrectly type in the wrong words in the Captcha box they will be less likely to give it another try. So save yourself (and your followers) a lot of headaches and just uninstall it.

But most of all, have fun! There are few things I can think of that are more fun than talking books with people from all over the world who share similar interests to you.


  1. WOW!! this is really so helpful :) thanks for sharing

  2. Ah, the drama tip is such a good one! Given the fact that the vast majority of book bloggers are women means that drama is going to happen at some point! I agree... Steer clear! Also, love the "don't burn out" tip. Sometimes I need to give myself a break! We all do! Especially since it's not like we're paid for this! :)

    GREAT post!

    Check out my Top Ten!

  3. Hi there :) just popping in...

    Great tips. I hope after this meme everyone who has captcha gets rid of it!

    I'm also your newest follower :)
    Waiting On Wednesday

  4. I don't agree with Karis that drama has to start because most book bloggers are women ... is that starting drama? Lol - but seriously - excellent tips - especially about ARCs not being everything - seriously!


  5. All good tips Avery! This year has definitely been a year of drama, I don't remember as much the prior two years but it could be that I was just paying more attention this year. And I've gotten burnt out several times over the course of running the blog, and like you I usually just take a step back and read some non-review books and remember why I love reading so much:)

    Also, I always have to do captcha like 7 times. I never get it right. Stupid indecipherable words.

  6. Great posts! I miss all the drama. I guess I'm not drawn to it so I never see it. LOL

    "Blog consistently and blog quality stuff." I have the first one down... just need to do the second. ;)

    1. Bahaha! I know what you mean Melissa! After I wrote that I was kinda like O.o

      I think what I meant was when you review a book have more than a sentence book review, especially those ambiguous one sentence book reviews that can be applied to a gazillion other books, "This book war thrilling and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I would highly recommend it." Well, that's nice and all, but what else?

  7. I post every single day and I make sure that it's something that someone can comment on or start a conversation with... That said, it doesn't mean people actually comment. I don't really make follower count a priority. As long as people visit, I try to have a conversation every time.

    When I got sick, I took a couple days break.. But I'm so addicted to blogging, I came right back the next day, and I felt better already haha.

    I tweet my daily post so that's my way of networking.

    I don't think of myself as a book blogger because I do post a variety, it just so happen that most of them are book-related.

    Seriously, why don't people get rid of their captcha? It's so annoying. I tell them but they don't listen to me.

  8. I love the twitter picture. It's so true that it can become addicting. There is no such thing as "checking in" lol it sucks you in. I also agree with captcha. I turned mine off awhile ago and have gotten some spam, but I know how annoying it is so I just leave it off. My Top Ten Tuesday

  9. Love the tips! Thank you so much for posting them. My brain has officially turned to mush from over-saturation of the most incredibly helpful advice today :)
    Angela @ AJ Arndt Books Blog

  10. Seriously great tips! And I love your new AVI. You have to make a new button that I can grab!

    I had no idea I had Captcha on my Blogger blogs until I saw Parajunkee's post the other week. I took it off all. As I'm always signed in, I just never knew. But I hate it. And totally agree everyone should remove it. Especially with the two words that are illegible!

    I have (on occasion) found it fun to read some of the drama, but when I followed it I found myself angry and exhausted so I stopped looking at any of it whenever possible. And I really don't like reading about authors or bloggers behaving badly. It makes me sad. But I do love it when thieves get called out. At least it stops them (hopefully) from being their behavior.

    But I do agree, if it's not your fight it's better to let those involved hash it out and always try for a private approach first. If that doesn't work then take it public in as professional a way as possible.

    Great tips Avery, and I totally agree with all!

  11. I think these are all great tips! It kind of makes me take a sigh of relief. Especially the one about numbers. I am still a very new blog and I have a hard time not focusing on the number of followers I have, the number of pageviews I have and so forth. I keep telling myself to calm down, but it is so hard sometimes. Thanks for the tips!!


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