I’ve had this blog for almost a year now (tomorrow’s the anniversary!), and although I’m enjoying the writing practice and the interaction with readers, it hasn’t necessarily grown as much as I might have wanted it to. So I am seeking advice – from all my readers, but from fellow bloggers in particular.
From those of you who are experienced bloggers, especially book bloggers, I would love to know how you’ve made it work: what your strategies are for types and timing of posts; how you use social media to your advantage; how you connect with publishers and authors; and how you’ve carved out a niche for yourself.
I’d be glad to hear your thoughts about anything from the loooooong list of questions below – and if you’d rather reply at length and in private rather than via a comment, feel free to get in touch with me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How often do you post per week?
- How long do you try to make your posts?
- Does a post’s timing (day of week and time of day) matter?
- How do you encourage blog comments?
- Do you try to reflect on book trends and controversies?
- How can I help create advanced buzz about books?
- When’s a good time to write about book prize races – before and/or after?
- How many book blogs do you follow and how do you keep up with them all?
I generally publish one straightforward review per week, usually on a Monday, and then my general strategy for other posts is to alternate between lists on a theme (with mini reviews), event or travel write-ups, and personal reflections or opinion pieces. I also do a monthly reviews roundup and often report on my library borrowing at the end of a month.
I try to make my post timings sensible for both US and UK readers, so I usually aim for 9 am ET / 2 pm GMT. I follow about 10 fellow book bloggers and already that feels like the limit of what I can sensibly keep up with, though I’d love to be supportive of others in return. I’d like to think it’s not always a tit for tat scenario, but I also accept that I’m more likely to get follows, likes and comments if I’m returning the favor.
- How can I attract more followers (blog and/or Twitter)?
- How often should I check Twitter and post on it?
- Where do you draw the line in terms of who you follow on Twitter?
- How can I best use Twitter to my advantage?
- Do you always tag a book’s author and/or publisher when you tweet a review?
- Is it worth making a Facebook author page?
- Are there any other groups (Facebook or other) I should be part of?
- Are there blog networks or directories I could join?
- Can you think of any blogger perks websites I should sign up for apart from NetGalley, Edelweiss and Blogging for Books?
I think I follow about 300 Twitter accounts. I go on there every few days and find it completely overwhelming; I can be scrolling for 20 minutes and not even get through a few hours of posts, let alone a few days’ worth. I follow a lot of publishers, so use the site mostly to keep an eye out for new books and enter giveaways, plus I link to my blogs and bylined reviews. However, I don’t know whether I should be following all the authors, publicists, fellow reviewers, bloggers, and freelance writers I can. It just seems to snowball!
I also cross-post my reviews to Goodreads and sometimes to Facebook, either on my own page or in a UK Book Bloggers group.
Publishers and Authors
- Do you request books, or are they sent to you unsolicited?
- How do you keep track of what’s coming out and decide what to ask for?
- How far ahead would you request a title?
- Are certain publishers particularly helpful and accommodating?
- How can I know definitively whether an American title is also coming out in the UK, maybe at a later date?
- Are your requests always granted?
- How many times do you follow up with a publicist before giving up?
- How can I help support debut novelists?
- How can I get involved in blog tours and giveaways?
- How could I bag invites to literary events in London?
- Is it possible to get involved in judging a literary prize?
Maybe my expectations are unrealistic, but I’m sure I’ve heard other bloggers talk about receiving boxes full of review books, unasked, months in advance of the publication dates. Some people seem to be doing blog tours and interviews every few days. I’ve gotten a bit braver about sending e-mails to publishers asking for a book I fancy reviewing on my blog, but I don’t feel like I quite have the etiquette down yet.
My long-term aim is to be a judge for a major book prize, like the Bailey’s Prize or the Man Booker Prize. (Hey, a girl can dream! I certainly read enough in a year to keep up with the load.) I also like the sound of getting dressed up for a book release soirée or similar.
Finding a Niche
- Would you rather see more straightforward reviews on my blog, or fewer?
- Is it important for me to specialize in terms of what genres I review?
- Is it advisable to list my e-mail address on the blog?
Tomorrow I’ll unveil an updated blog design to mark the one-year anniversary. I’m also tailoring my “About” page.
I’m grateful for any and all pieces of advice. I may have been doing this for a year now, but I still feel like an utter newbie! Here’s to another year of reading and writing.