Saturday, October 22, 2022

A Few Things I've Learned about writing a Book Blog

Back in late Febraury when I started this blog I had no idea what I was doing. I had been a blogger for years, starting a green blog back in the early 2000's, which then morphed into a food/parenting blog about 8 or 9 years ago. Back then parenting and home making really was the center of my life. With two out of three of my children about to leave the nest I knew I needed to return to myself a bit. Reading books was the one constant throughout my whole life. I've always considered myself to be a big reader, with the type of reading style that could really get expensive. first step, other than creating this blog was to get myself an account on Netgalley. 

1. Sign up as a book reviewer on a major platform. 

Two of the major platforms is Netgalley, and Book Sirens. Both platforms have many opportunities for books to review. The more you review the more opportunities you will have to get books that publishers are holding out for.  Lots of publishers won't approve you right off the bat, but as you go along you'll get more and more yes's.

2. Start an Instagram and work on building it.

The "Bookstagram" community is a really amazing and supportive network. Things have changed so much in the last 15+ years I've been blogging, and Instagram has really taken the lead. In the last six months I've joined groups of readers, and they are from all over the world. It is so amazing to have all these people to talk books with! I now chat with authors and readers alike just about every day. I really love it.

3. Read what you love.

I have a pretty firm niche here with fantasy and fantasy romance books, and occasionally I stray...but the best reviews for both readers and the authors will be from reviewers who already like the genre they're reading. Don't let anyone book shame you either.  Love smut? You'll find a group of readers who also love smut..or mysteries, or horror, or fantasy too. You'll find your people if you're authentically you. 

4. Don't be greedy.

Piggybacking a bit on #3....when a publisher offers to send you a book, only accept books that are in genres that you love.  This was a mistake I made early on thinking I could read anything they sent.  Whether e-book or physical copy, don't grab a middle grade sci-fi if it's not your thing. It doesn't benefit anyone and just costs the publisher money...specially if they've sent you a physical copy.

5. Join book tours.

Joining book tours is another way to network, make friends, and have the opportunity to read books that otherwise you might have to wait for. A book tour is usually lead by a company that's been hired to have reviewers read their books.  You'll often recieve either an e-book or physical copy, and usually they'll send you some book swag too.  I currently participate with about four different book tours, but I always fall back to rule #3...I only join tours with books that are primarily in the genres I already love. 

6. What if I hate a book?

It happens. You can't be expected to like everything. Often times, specially if I was approached by the author, I will explain why I don't like it...kindly. My career as a music teacher has taught me how to kindly give constructive critism, and I use that skill here. I break it down, whether it's grammar, cliche, a story I've heard before...whatever it is, I give the author my review. However if I've come to the book on my own, and the author hasn't asked for my feed back or reached out to me in anyway I will post it here publicly.  In cases like those I won't reach out to the author because they didn't ask for my opinion to begin with...I'll just post it here and leave it at that.

7. Do not sell books authors have given to you, or share e-books they have given to you.

This isn't a legal thing, but more of a moral thing. You have every right to sell a book that's in your possession but some would argue it's unethical due to you benefitting from the sale instead of the author.  If you need to purge, consider donating it, or ask the author if you can sell or offer it as a giveaway.  It's kind to reach out to the author first, and wait until after the book has been publicly published.

8. Use your own photos as much as possible.

This is one of those I've known for a long while now having been a blogger for so long, but I figured I'd put it here anyway.  Using your own photos means not running across any copyright issues. You cannot use what ever photo you google to suit your needs. I have heard horror stories about bloggers who have made NO money at all get fined tens of thousands of dollars for using a photo that wasn't theirs. Don't take my word for it, look up the law. It doesn't matter if you've profited, you've redirected the photo to you from it's original creator possibly costing them money...which is why you can be sued. Don't do it. If you need to use other photos, try using websites like Pixabay 

9. Don't expect to earn any money.

Blogging can be lucrative for some, but it is a slow going slow building type of thing.  Slow and steady wins the race here for views and income. If you make $100 in one year off your blog you're doing better than most. My blog for me is a creative outlet. One I use to connect with other people who like the same things I do. If I make some money off the side that's just an added bonus. Most of my income for this blog comes from being hired to take photos.

Things that I plan on exploring in the next few months with my blog is...ahhh Tiktok. You might start seeing some reviews on there.  I will also experiment and see if it's worthwhile to build up my pinterest board. I may do it just for my own enjoyment and inspiration. Are you on pinterest? You can follow me here. 

Another idea floating around patreon. I might..I'm thinking about it. 

Do you write a blog? Tell me about yours in the comments!

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