Wednesday, November 25, 2015

#BookBlogWriMo - Day 25 - Advice for New Bloggers

I've been blogging for two whole years now, and honestly, I still feel like a newbie. I see other bloggers throwing around words like "SEO" and "plugin" and I'm honestly freakin' clueless as to what they're talking about (and frankly, I'm probably just a little too lazy to do the research to figure out what those things are. I have books to read after all.) But I'm not here trying to be the biggest fish in the pond or even the blogger everyone goes to for help (because I'm probably the last person you should go to for help with blogging.) This is a hobby for me, a time-consuming hobby, but a hobby nonetheless. I just want to share my love of books with the world, and I can do that without knowing what an SEO is.

So even though I don't consider myself an expert by any means, I do have some advice for new bloggers that I think is pretty universal.

If you are open to review requests, the first thing I would suggest, and it's something I hadn't done until about six months ago, is create a page for your blog where you outline what you like to read, which genres you accept requests in, and any information that you want included with your review requests. Include your name, even if it's a nickname that you use for the blog because you prefer to keep your anonymity (which some bloggers do for various different reasons). If you post as K-Diddy on the blog, include that (especially if you are blogging with others) so that authors can address their requests to you personally (trust me, you'll appreciate being addressed personally.) Doing this will cut down on requests for books that you'd never be interested in reading in the first place because you really don't like paranormal romances. Also, make sure it's easy for authors to contact you, whether it's through a form on the blog, or a link to a Google doc, or simply by providing your blog email address.

My next piece of advice: it's okay to say no. When Courtney and I first started the blog, we accepted every single request that came our way, which ended up with us being super backed up on reviews and reading books that weren't necessarily our thing. I currently average one review request every other day (this is since I made my reading desires more clear on the blog), and even though I genuinely want to read most of the books that I get requests for, it's not feasible. I really can't keep up the pace of one book every two days while also writing reviews, building blog posts, and adulting at home. Sure, there are some weeks when I read 5 books in a single week, but there are others where I'm lucky if I can finish one. It's called balance. And there's really no good reason to accept a review request for a book that you don't really think you'll enjoy from the outset.

Another tip is use all the stars. I know the arguments against leaving 1 and 2 star reviews. "I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings"; that's fine because the reviews are for readers not authors. "Just because I didn't like a book doesn't mean others won't"; you're absolutely right, and if you are clear in your reasons for not liking the book, your 1 star review may inspire another reader to buy the book anyway because everything you didn't like about the book are things they know they enjoy. Sofia the Great from Platypire Reviews has a great blog post on this topic (read it here) that includes a 1star review for a book that I read and loved, and I still would have read it after reading her review because the things she didn't like are things I find interesting. But if you rave about every single book you read, how can anyone take you seriously?

And my last piece of advice is to know your limits. It's possible that you want to help everyone, but that is really not feasibly possible unless you are Superwoman. Building blog posts, keeping up on social media, and reading all the books takes a LOT of time. It's okay to take breaks if you're starting to feel burnt out (I do it.) It's okay to never sign up for a single release blitz. It's okay to not accept review requests at all and only read the books that you find on your own. The important thing is to be happy with what you're doing, because if you're not, it will slowly start to suck the life right out of you. - Katie

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