A little while ago I received a few DM's on Twitter asking me how to be a book blogger which seemed a little bizarre to me, but when I thought about what they were asking me it made me realise that it took me a long while to consider myself a "book blogger." At the beginning of Emma's Bookery I was merely a girl who shared my opinions on the books I had read and a few pieces on some inspirational writers, but I didn't think of myself as a blogger of books. This blog felt more like a notebook of sorts, and I guess in many ways I still do. So with this nostalgia of blogger beginnings I'm going to share with you some tips of mine that have helped this blog become what it is today, and I hope to those of you starting out it will be of some use...
1. Creating a suitable blog It took me a while to realise that sometimes appearance is important, and when it comes to looking at people's blogs I am guilty of going on first impressions of it's appearance. I know I'm totally going against the "don't judge a book by it's cover" but I've learnt in the blogging world, having an organised looking blog is of great importance to lure in readers. Jazz it up a bit, make it your own! There are plenty of great skins/templates online to help out.
2. Read read read! An obvious one, if you're gonna be a book blogger you've got to love books a hell of a lot and have one near you at all times in case you have that spare five minutes to read a few pages. When you're reviewing books for someone and they may want it by a certain deadline, you do need to commit yourself. However, don't force yourself to read. If you're not in the mood then it will likely have an effect on your thoughts of the book, and therefore resulting in a not-so-great review.
3. Write up reviews of books you have already read This for me is the first thing to do when your blog is new. Forget about trying to get hold of ARC's, and focus on the books you have read and use them as practice for writing up reviews. They may not be perfect at first, but it's a great first step on improving your blogger personality and style in your writing.
4. Share your reviews on social media Social media plays a big part in getting your blog noticed. Post your review on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads- anywhere where you know someone is going to take a look. Don't worry about feeling like a spambot- all bloggers want their posts noticed and they're not going to take a step back when it comes to sharing their stuff on social media and neither should you. Be proud of it!
5. Create a Goodreads account Goodreads is the perfect way to keep account of what books you've read and reviewed as well as noting down books you're anticipating on reading soon. It's like a book catalog and it's full of other reviews for you to read, book clubs to join and interaction with other readers such as yourself.
6. Chat with other book reviewers/bloggers Chatting with other book bloggers/reviewers isn't just fun but a great way to network. If they like you and your blog then that review you just shared on Twitter will likely be retweeted by them for them followers to see and so on.
7. Interact with authors If you love a particular author and you can contact them then it's a great way to not only show them some appreciation but they might even reply. I'm not certain why this is particularly important to me but I find it fun, and a couple of times it has led to me receiving early copies of their books to check out- they love feedback and getting to know their audiences so don't be shy!
8. Write a review policy on your blog This sounds important but it's basically a page on your blog where you can be as picky as you like and state what genre's you like, what format you prefer (paperback, hardback, ebook) and whether you're currently taking review quests or not. It's great to also note here your email address and other contact details where publishers and authors can get in touch directly about you reading a book they think you might like.
9. Make a Netgalley account Netgalley is my love and sometimes the devil. It's a place where you can request books they have on offer that you're interested in for FREE! Remember though, these books are sent to you because the publishers want reviews and to receive feedback to note for themselves and the author. You may not always like a book you originally thought you would but that's the point of it, and having mixed reviews shows that you're not a complete suck-up too. These ARC's are ebook format which is in some ways fantastic because you can get reading straight away! The more you read and review on this site, the more likely you are to be accepted to read the books available.
10. Signup to Bookbridgr Another requesting site, only you get physical copies of the books (yay!). Like Netgalley, you request the book you would like and hope that you're granted permission. If you are then you get lovely book post- just don't be silly about it. The piles will soon pile up, and you're not likely to keep up with the reading load. Believe me I've been there and the guilt I've felt for leaving a book for so long is awful. I'm not being mean but don't request books just for the fun of it, and it's important to note that these are ARC's and are not meant for re-sale. You can give them away on your blog or passed onto a friend but for purchase? No no no.
11. Know your boundaries As I've mentioned above, don't go mad on requesting books. If you know that you don't have time to read these books because you have exams or busy with other things then don't, because there will likely be someone else who does have time will read and review the book quicker than you! This tip applies to taking on blog tour posts (interviews, reviews, extracts, giveaways etc), if you have a busy schedule then don't agree to help a publisher out unless you can commit yourself completely. They like reliable people to help out (I mean this in the nicest way possible).
12. Be honest with your reviews If you don't like the book you've been sent for review, don't make up that you loved it when you thought it was awful. Just notify the publisher by email if you can't give it a three-star rating or above, and they'll be understanding and respect you for being truthful. This doesn't mean you shouldn't post your review on your blog, oh no. As a blogger, having mixed reviews on books is a great way to show that your reviews are honest. There's nothing worse than picking up a book on recommendation when someone has said how great it is and you find it awful. Okay maybe they did like it but if they didn't that's pretty rubbish and a waste of money for you to purchase a book you didn't like. Share your opinions it's fun!
13. Show author support on social media Giving an author a cheeky retweet or even writing a small tweet expressing your love for their book, will mean a great deal to them. Giving their book publicity is what they want because they want readers to love their book and for it to be successful. Showing them some love is always welcome, and a great way to spread the word to your followers and other fans of the author to check out the book.
14. Sign up to publishing reviewer lists This isn't a tip that is thrown in your face exactly, and sometimes it's the publishers that ask you if they can put you on their reviewer lists. However there really is no harm in asking a publisher if you could be put on a list, and if they say no then hey at least you tried. For me this tip is for later down the line when you've been blogging a while and your reviews have been read by a number of readers.
15. Try to attend book events This is a tip I need to work on myself, and I'm always envious of those who attend book events- they look so much fun! Meeting fellow bloggers, authors and obtaining even more books is pretty much my idea of perfection. For me it feels a little scary because I'm so used to talking to my friends online but I think meeting them and others in person will work wonders for my blog, and making new contacts to aid me in my dream to work in publishing.
16. Host giveaways You can host giveaways on your own or through blog tours, and they're fun to achieve new readers and spread the love for a new book. I mean who isn't partial to a free book? If you're hosting them yourself then note that you'll obviously have to pay postage fees, start with your country of origin and when you have money from your job or even from earnings on your blog you can decide to do international giveaways to reach out to a wider audience.
17. Don't just post reviews You're probably thinking, "but what else do book bloggers talk about?." The answer is quite a lot of things actually, we take part in memes like Top Ten Tuesday where each week we have a topic and our job is to choose a top ten and talk about them. It's a great way to build up your TBR and try new genre's you haven't thought about before, and it's a great way to use gifs too! There's so much about books you can talk about- just get your creative head on!
18. Join in with Twitter chats These past 8 months, I have joined in with a fair amount of Twitter chats. Whether they're book related or not they help me grow my audience and spread the word of my blog and my nerdy self. I've made so many new friends because we have similar interests, and it's just fun too be sociable (on your laptops ha!).
19. Offer your review services on social media I told you social media is important...spreading the word of your blog and your reviewer services is the best way to get yourself "out there." Even if it is authors who self-publish who contact you first, by reviewing a book of their's will give themselves and you publicity in the blogging world. In a way you're helping each other out; they'll like you for being a prompt and awesome reviewer and you'll like them for giving you the opportunity to read a book for review.
20. Be yourself! Last but certainly not least is to be yourself! Creating a fake persona is a no no, I mean if you met some of these friends online in the future and you turn out to be someone completely different then well that's weird and kind of suckish. Being you is the best thing to do and those who are your friends will love you for who you are, and this certainly accounts for life in general but in blogging I feel it's certainly an important element of your blog. Your personality will shine through with your writing, and it will hopefully have a positive effect on your blog.
No doubt there are probably a vast amount of more tips to be provided for you but I feel that these are the main points to focus on when being a great book blogger! If you have some tips of your own then please do share. Hugs and love,