I was thinking about some posts Brianna and I could put on our blog and I realized that we haven’t done this topic before. So here we go!
A little over two years ago we started book blogging but when we started I literally had NO idea what to do. I searched for hours on Google trying to find how people write reviews, how people blog about books. I ended up empty handed, no one had what I was looking for. Now, I think there are a few more posts about it, which is great! Here’s my take on book blogging, how you can start, tips and things to keep in mind 🙂 I hope you find this helpful.
Choosing A Book Host
The first place you really want to start is choosing a place to start your blog. There are three main main places that I can think of where people chose to have their blogs. WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr and maybe Weebly.
I chose WordPress because it was easiest for me and I LOVE LOVE LOVE how the layout looks. There aren’t a ton of themes to pick from for your blog unless you pay to upgrade (which we haven’t). Blogger is another one of the more popular choices from what I’ve seen. I don’t use it personally because I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to do ANYTHING on there. But some people felt the same way about WordPress so it depends on the person. Blogger and Tumblr allows more customization which is definitely a plus. I just picked WordPress because it was easiest 🙂
Now that you have your blog, you can REVIEW stuff! YAY, give yourself a pat on the back!
One of the most important parts (I think) about book blogging is reviews. I think you really need them in order to be a book blogger, don’t get mad at me, this is just my opinion.
When I started off reviewing I had no idea what to write. Book reviews, to me, are just thoughts written down with a rating.
Let me start off with how Brianna and I do our reviews.
While Brianna and I read, we keep track of anything that comes to mind while reading. The good things, bad things, random things. Everything. We make each thought it’s own bullet point and keep track of them in our own notebook. This makes writing the final, online review more easier. All we really have to do in the end is type up what we wrote and expand on the ides to make the reviews more in depth.
Here’s a picture example of what our notes look like. Sorry if you can’t read my handwriting AND beware of spoilers (I don’t think there’s any on here but you never know!)
I decided to cut out the book title, can you guess what it is?
This isn’t how you HAVE to review books either, it’s just how Brianna and I do it. I know some bloggers don’t take notes at all while others keep track of thoughts on their phones. It’s completely up to you on how you review!
Crossposting reviews is a great way for authors to get more feedback and for potential buyers to know more about the book they’re interested in. Talking about books in more places than just your blog really helps an author’s work get out there. It doesn’t really matter how you felt about a certain book, all that really matters, is crossposting!
Now what is crossposting? I kind of mentioned what it was in the above paragraph, but crossposting is where you publish your reviews on more than one website. Specifically retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and book sites like Goodreads. I’ll talk more about Goodreads in a different section below, so for now I’ll really talk about Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.
Let’s start with Amazon. Unless you’re with Amazon Vine, you’ll have to wait to post most book reviews until they’re out. So if you get arcs, you’re going to have to wait (sadly). Now how do you post your review on Amazon? You click on the book you want to review, scroll down until you see the ‘write a customer review’ button, then you rate the book out of five stars and add your review. The reviews take a few minutes to post BUT you’ll receive an email from Amazon when your review is accepted and posted, so don’t worry. Amazon is simpler compared to Barnes & Nobles, which I don’t post on often…
For Barnes & Nobles you click the book you want to review, click the, ‘write a review’ button and submit your review. It’s kind of simple but for some reason it gives me a lot of trouble when I try and post my reviews. I tend to just stick with Amazon and Goodreads because of this.
Like I said posting your reviews elsewhere really REALLY helps authors and publishers. Try to post ALL your reviews (bookish and non-bookish) elsewhere to help them out.
I know I mentioned Goodreads, it’s basically a huge book website that lets you find and keep track of books. I’ll talk about it in part two! :).
ARCs are Advance Reader Copies, or books that are given to bloggers, librarians and booksellers to read/review. They’re super helpful to publishers because it helps spread the word of new, upcoming books. Usually people recommend that, if you want to request ARCs, you do so 6ish (it varies) months after you start your blog. Brianna and I requested one when we were maybe 3 months in, I think it depends on the publisher.
I think you should wait at least 6 months though. Why? Because by then you might be more committed to your blog and not give up. This is important because you don’t want to request a book you’re not going to read. It’s not the point of arcs and really doesn’t help anyone out. As a blogger it’s important to hold up to your end of the deal, but there is an exception to this. If you don’t like the book, or don’t have time to read it, I think it’s best to either trade it or give it away to someone who will.
That being said, I don’t think it’s a good idea to request 50 books at once, unless you’re going to read them all. It’s best to start off slow and see at what pace you can read. Make sure to request books you think you’ll like instead of what’s the most popular. If you don’t think you won’t like it, please don’t request it. You’ll be taking this chance away from someone else who will love it.
Now how do you request arcs? There are two different ways. You can request eARCs (which I think are easier) and Physical ARCs.
I’ll talk about these first since, as I said, they seem to be easier for me. I tend to get a lot more eARCs than I do physical copies. This might be because I request them more… There are two main ways people request eARCs, I don’t know of any other places. Edelweiss and Netgalley.
Edelweiss and Netgalley are very similar, in my opinion. You can sign up as a blogger on both websites, add your stats and link to your blog. Then you can click on the category you want to browse and request the book of your choice! Edelweiss has an option that lets you add why you want that certain book. I’m not sure if publishers look at it but I always add why I want it just in case.
Netgalley keeps track of how many books you’ve requested and how many you’ve actually reviewed. It keeps track of your Feedback Ratio, the recommended ratio for requesting books is 80%. From what I’ve seen, however, quite a few bloggers aren’t close to that 80%, Brianna and I are, so I’m not sure if it really matters. They also have ‘Buzz Books,’ I’m not sure if Edelweiss has them. Buzz Books contain TONS of samplers from upcoming books and sometimes they even contain links that take you to the Netgalley request page. I highly recommend checking those out.
It’s important to update your information on these sites too. Because it might help you get more eARCs in the future.
From my experience, these are a LOT harder to get. I’m pretty sure physical ARCs are more expensive than digital ones, so publishers REALLY need to know you’re going to hold up your end of the bargain. The first thing you do when you see a book you want to request, physically, is you find out who publishes it. I usually do this by going to the Goodreads page and finding them it’s under the summary. When you find the publisher you then go to their website and find their contact page. From there you find the imprint you’re looking for and find the email.
When I find the email I need I open up an email. The first thing I say is the book title, author, release date and ISBN (which can all be found on Goodreads (I LOVE Goodreads)). I explain to them WHY I want to book, tell them about my blog (how many views we get a month, how many visitors, followers and so on) and why we’d be a perfect fit for it. Then I give two-three links for examples on what our reviews look like. After that I close out my email and leave a note of my address if they would like to send me a book.
Don’t panic if a publisher never replies! I rarely get replies from them, the book will show up if they want you to have it 🙂
The only publisher that has a DIFFERENT way to request books, that I know if, is Penguin Teen. You can find their post here.
Now that that’s over, please just keep in mind, it’s important to try to review books you request 🙂
So you’ve got all this down and now you’re cruising along but BOOM people throw out words you don’t know. The book blogging community has a ton of words and it took me a while to know what they all are. So here’s a list!
-ARC (I said this above) it’s an advance reader copy
-DNF- Did Not Finish
-TBR- To Be Read
-FC- Finished Copy
-ISO- In Search Of
-Swag- Bookmarks, tote bags, shirts, things like that!
I think organization is SUPER important for book blogging. It’s a good idea to keep your notepad (if you use one) in a certain place. It’s a good idea to know when deadlines are for Blog Tours (mentioned in a later part) are and publishing dates for books. Brianna and I keep a calendar were we write down the dates when our posts are publishing. We try to keep reviews on the same day each week, as well as keep track of memes and extras! Keeping a scheduled like this can help a lot, especially if you scheduled things ahead of time (which I highly recommend in case you fall behind!)
Rooms…are a different story…
Ask For Help
Last point to part one YAY! Time to celebrate this has taken me AT LEAST four hours to put together. To think I have TWO MORE POSTS COMING? It’s time to chill for now~
This is me, right there, summed up.
Back to the topic, I think it’s important to ask others for help. I know it’s hard but I think the community is SO supportive of new bloggers now. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because, believe it or not, we all had to start where you are. Right now 🙂
If you want to know more about Goodreads, social media and giveaways, check out post 2!