Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Confessions of a Beginning Book Blogger

A few months ago, I started another blog called Confessions of a Beginning Book Blogger. I wanted to have a place where I could explain or rant about my adventures in blogging. Unfortunately, I let the blog slip and it's fallen into limbo. I figured that after a year of blogging experience, it was time to dust off my old title and try to be of some use.

I tried to think about what I wish I had know in the beginning and what advice I felt would be the most helpful. This post came out of it. I hope bloggers or people thinking of becoming bloggers, learn some tips and tricks.

What I wish I had known at the start

1. Followers aren't everything- While I love and appreciate all of my followers, they don't necessarily help me. Authors/publishers/other bloggers/readers may respect that you have a large number of followers. However, that doesn't make them want to like you, want to give you free merchandise, consent to interviews or anything else. Your content, attitude and how long you've been blogging tends to decide that.

2. Not all authors like bloggers and vice versa- Some authors don't feel that bloggers are a good way to get the word out about their series or that they increase book sales at all. I haven't personally encountered any authors yet that dislike blogger buzz, but it's best to be aware that not all authors or publishers are rooting for bloggers. Also, as long as you aren't acting entirely disrespectful and publicly bad mouthing them, it is okay to not like an author personally or not like their books.

3. ARCs are a sensitive subject- Do not ask bloggers or authors for ARCs, bloggers will only get one and authors only get a few which they hand out in contests, to family and other places. Always ask the publisher for ARCs and do not be offended if they ask for additional information or refuse to give you one. Do not assume that because you are a blogger you will receive a large number of arcs or even popular ARCs. Most bloggers don't even get ebook arcs until they've been blogging for at least 3-4 months. Getting physical arcs can take blogging for 1-2 years. You still may not even get them then, depending on the number available and how often you blog. In short, it can be hard to get them, there's a limited number of them, don't treat it as a status symbol and be understanding.

4. Blogging is work- Not only is it work, it is time consuming work. Memes are a weekly or monthly commitment to write at least one post. Reviews can take up to an hour or more to write, depending on how many things you want to say about the book. Researching new releases, new authors, reading the books you select, getting book review requests, answering questions or comments, making up contests, all of it is a lot of work. You really have to love and believe in what you are doing in order to be willing to keep doing this. *Side-note- Blogging can also become pretty expensive. For instance, if you want a customized blog design, your own url or website, buying the books you want to read, buying the books for contests and shipping those books.*

5. You have an effect- It may not seem like it at the beginning, but your words do matter. Wether you're giving a good review or a bad one, you're heard. When you make a comment or respond to one, you're heard. Any opinion you voice on your blog is heard by someone. I don't get many comments or followers. However, I know I've influenced people's feelings on books and that makes me so completely happy.

My Advice:

-Be kind, be respectful and understand that your words, however passionate or dismissive, have an effect on someone, somewhere.

-Pace yourself. Do not think that because you set a record number of posts one week that you have to keep up that number every single week after. Blog when you feel like it and when you have time to do a good job.

-Separate author from story. Authors can write fantastic books, but be jerks in person. Stories can also be less wonderful than you hoped, but the author can be one of the most awesome people you've ever met. Do not judge one based on the performance of the other.

-Realize that not everyone will like you or your opinions. This sort of goes without saying, but I still have a problem remembering. Difference of opinion is a wonderful thing for inspiring debates, however comments can become more personal and defensive than factual. The Story Siren, for example is a very sweet woman with a really popular blog. She gets a lot of selfish and petty hate mail, just because she receives a lot of arcs and states her opinions. Listen to constructive criticism, not hate and don't take either to heart. Most importantly, do not react to it. Let the jerks be the ones considered temperamental and rude, not you.

-Remember, this is a voluntary activity. If ever the stress of blogging becomes too much or it doesn't fit into your new schedule or you're just tired of posting or reading, you can stop. You do not have to keep going if you don't want to. It's not "the end" if you quit doing blogging, there is always a chance you could pick it up again at a later date or start a completely new blog. Do what feels good for you.

-Followers, stats, readers, comments, ARCs, none of these are status symbols and should not be treated as such.

-Do not be offended if an author won't read your review or other blog posts. I understand the urge to be proud of your review and show them how much you loved their book, believe me, I do. However, you have to understand that they're busy people with work, life, family and other important things. If they do not have time to read it, or don't see it, it is not meant as a personal offense. I've also come across authors that deliberately choose not to read reviews because they can't handle or don't want to do it. In those cases, don't press or annoy them into it, that will only make you look bad and them angry.

-Open up to new ideas and credit your sources. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten inspiration from another blog. Sophistikatied Reviews, The Story Siren, Mundie Moms, The Broke and the Bookish, The Perpetual Page Turner, Chick Loves Lit, Bloody Book-a-holic have all been invaluable resources to me over the past year and I always credit them for their ideas that I end up using. They're nice and give amazing suggestions to other bloggers.

-Don't be afraid to be social. Talk to other bloggers. Engage with your followers. Work up the courage to talk to or have an interview with an author. It took me the longest time to get over my social anxiety and I still have problems with it. You just have to remember, the absolute worst possible thing they can do is say no, which does absolutely no harm to you at all.

-Be yourself. Yes, I am using the most cliche phrase of all time and my writer's heart is sobbing somewhere in a corner. However, this is the most important advice I could possibly give. You have to use your blog, do with your blog and post on your blog what you want. Don't change who you are or put on a persona to please someone else. It will only make you less satisfied with your work and feel like you have no control, when really, you have all of it.

This is all the wisdom I currently have to offer everyone. Hopefully on my two year blogoversary I'll have new insights to give. Good luck to all the new bloggers!

Happy Reading,

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