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I’ve been a book reader my entire life, a chronicler of books for many years, but a book blogger for not even six months. I understand the reading of books very well. (It’s actually quite simple!) I understand writing about books moderately well. (Not quite as simple!) But, there is much I still have to learn when it comes to blogging about books. I have questions, things that are confusing, idiosyncratic anomalies that I see, but don’t quite understand.
Many in the book blogging community have been generous and welcoming toward my blog. Something I will be forever grateful for. Now, I’m going to ask for a little more. I have quickly come to realize that there is a wealth of knowledge out there and I’d like to tap into a little of it. I’m hoping that some, of the many, more experienced and far wiser book bloggers out there could answer a few of my questions. Also, that readers of my blog might respond to any of my queries they have an opinion on. Please, and thank you very much.
- What do you consider the optimal time frame for reviewing a newly released book? I see some people reviewing a book weeks or even months before it’s released. This seems too early to me, but I may be completely wrong. I’d love to hear what both readers of my blog and other bloggers’ opinions are on this question.
- How do you deal with the trauma of doing a negative review of a book by an author you normally love? I struggle with this more than almost anything. When I expect to like a book and then I don’t, I find the review incredibly difficult to write. Do readers of blogs want to hear negative reviews?
- What’s the best strategy for handling the balancing act of ARCs? How much is too much when it comes to ARCs? I seem to somehow have acquired five books coming out within a two-week period in January. Now I feel like it would be totally greedy to ask for more. Do I need to wait until I’ve turned in reviews to ask for more and how far ahead of publication is the optimal time to request ARCs? (Speaking of which, are the reviews you put on NetGalley copies of what you put up on your blog, or are they original content? Who reads the NetGalley reviews?)
- When someone inserts a link into a comment on your blog, do you leave it be? My sister, who happens to have a wonderful food blog, RecipeGirl.com, has advised me to edit out links. Do you agree with this? How do you handle comments with links?
- How important is Goodreads? All I use Goodreads for is keeping track of my yearly progress and doing the basic star rating. I don’t post any reviews on Goodreads. Should I be?
- Any tips and/or strategies for reaching more readers? I sometimes feel like I’m spinning my wheels here.
- What’s with all the Christmas books? Who knew that writing books with a Christmas theme was an entire industry in itself? Am I missing something here?
Credit: The stunning photo, Book City, used at the top of this post was taken by Magdalena Roeseler in 2013.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
1) Max a week or a few days before pub date, but I usually like to wait until on or after pub date (mainly b/c I want readers to be able to purchase the book via my affiliate links). I talk briefly about books before pub date on It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?
2) I hate this. It’s terrible. I try to talk about the previous book of theirs that I loved and say I’m surprised that I’m writing this type of review about X author’s book. I say what I liked and didn’t like about the book. I also link to my review of their previous book and recommend people read that one.
3) I find max 4 ARCs in a month is what I can handle b/c I like some freedom to mood read or add in something else everyone is talking about. But, it’s diff for everyone. I’ve recently really tried to rein in my ARC requests. Same review from my blog onto NG.
4) I leave it be if it’s pertinent to the post’s discussion or comment. If it’s solicitation or someone trying to pitch me a book to review, I delete the entire comment. That kind of stuff isn’t appropriate for a comments section.
5) I do post reviews on Goodreads…same content as from my blog, but I wait a day or so to post them to GR and add my blog link to the review.
6) Strategies for reaching more readers: this one is tough. Active on social media, join in blogger events (like Readathons and Nonfiction November), comment on others’ blogs, make sure your posts are SEO friendly, recruit your real life friends and family (and get them to recruit their friends). And sometimes it’s just luck!! It took me awhile to get some traction…I had very few readers for a year or so, at least. Don’t give up – your blog is great and people will start reading it. You’ll also get a better sense of your niche and the type of blogger you want to be.
7) Know nothing about the Xmas books…I don’t read them or review them.
Just my thoughts – others may have completely different opinions. And, feel free to email me anytime you have a question. Happy to help if I can.
Susie | Novel Visits says
Thank you so much, Sarah! This is great and I appreciate your encouragement and offer to answer questions. I’m sure more will arise!
What an interesting post! I’ll try to answer them!
-What do you consider the optimal time frame for reviewing a newly released book?
I try to do it on the day of release or a few days later (if I have it). If not, then after, even a year later. But not before. I guess it’s because I put links for buying the book.
-How do you deal with the trauma of doing a negative review of a book by an author you normally love?
I always try to say both good and bad things about a book. When you don’t like it… well, I still publish it but I don’t link the author via Twitter 😛
-What’s the best strategy for handling the balancing act of ARCs?
I’m the worst, I have like 50 arcs pending right now. I schedule them in the calendar and that way I know what I need to read next. But mostly it means I just read Arcs. For next year, I’m trying to avoid that!!!
-When someone inserts a link into a comment on your blog, do you leave it be?
Never happened to me but I think that has to do with SEO and no-follow links. Don’t know exactly how it works.
-How important is Goodreads? All I use Goodreads for is keeping track of my yearly progress and doing the basic star rating. I don’t post any reviews on Goodreads. Should I be?
I always post them there, there are many people who only use Goodreads and don’t read blogs (me, a few years ago). I think it’s the perfect way to reach more people, and if you link your blog in the review, it’s a win-win.
-Any tips and/or strategies for reaching more readers? I sometimes feel like I’m spinning my wheels here.
-Maybe Goodreads and Goodreads groups 🙂
-What’s with all the Christmas books?
OMG I’m always saying this hahaha
Susie | Novel Visits says
Annie – you’re great! Thanks so much for taking the time to consider my questions. It’s a big help!
1. If you are talking Net Galley books, each publisher has a different idea of when they want to see reviews put out there. You can find it on the publisher’s page of the site. I agree with Sarah though that a week beforehand is the general rule of thumb when not specified. I have been told that publishers don’t worry about some early reviews, but they prefer to not have them so early that the excitement dies down before the book is available to readers.
2. I don’t mind writing a negative review for any book. I never write anything that can be taken personally, and I try to include something that would have made it better. I have actually had a couple of authors thank me for the honesty and the input, and it led me to do some beta reading.
3. Publishers and PR reps read the reviews on Net Galley. I copy and paste what I have written for the blog, even if it’s a super casual review. They don’t seem to mind. I balance my ARC’s by being careful about what I request too far in the future. For instance, if a book doesn’t come out for another 5-6 months, I think long and hard before going for it. I have been caught with too many books piling up that way, it lowers my percentage while I am waiting to enter feedback, and it puts me in a position of not reading something that I might be dying to read when the time comes.
4. I would say that commenting is key, but that being said, you can go crazy with it if you don’t take the right approach. I suggest following blogs that you have a genuine interest in and that share your reading taste. By doing that commenting comes naturally and the content that your reading is of genuine interest. Trying to drum up an interesting and meaningful comment for an article that you aren’t interested in is torturous. I use Bloglovin’ to follow blogs that I love.
5. I love a GOOD seasonal read myself, but they aren’t for everyone. The problem for me is that they are usually of the more fluffier variety, so I read far less of them now. If I drum up books that are Christmas related that are classics, or have something of interest I am all for them.
Interesting conversation here. I look forward to your future posts now that I have found you.
Thank you so much! Your comments are very helpful. I just checked out your site. What a great idea for a twist on the usual book blog!
I’m a new blogger, too (about 8 months into it), so this post really echoes a lot of the questions I have, too! I’m looking forward to reading the answers you get!
Susie | Novel Visits says
I’d love to hear what you think, too!
Well, I haven’t had many ARCs yet. I read only paper books right now, so there’s less of an opportunity to get them. I have gotten some through Goodreads Giveaways. If I have an early copy of a book, I’ve been trying to post a review about a week before the release date.
If I had to post a negative review of a book by an author I loved, I would just be honest. We’re not going to like every book we read. Also, it’s up to us which books we want to review, so I could always just not post a review! I think readers do appreciate reading all types of reviews, though.
I use Goodreads to keep track of what I read, and I also cross-post my reviews there.
I’m also still trying to figure out how to reach more readers! I try as much as I can to read other blogs and post thoughtful comments.
Bea Skelley says
Interesting questions! Im not a blogger, so answer only from personal ideas.
It’s annoying to me to leave a theater after a great film and overhear another audience member already analyzing it to his or her companion. Where is the processing time, I ask myself. How can an artistic creation which took a lot of thought and creative energy be so quickly explained. So I would initially argue for more think time before an in depth critical review. However, after reading other bloggers’ comments I realize that the literary bloggers have many reasons to be quick with a review if possible.
Since free time is so limited, I abort reading a book after it doesn’t impress me favorably after about 100 pages. . .so wouldn’t be in a position to review it. Again, however, a blogger might habe business reasons to finish and review books sent to her by the publisher.
3 no comments on Arcs (what are they??)
4 only would worry about links taking a reader to a site that might infect her computer – probably not likely
5 I don’t look at goodreads
6 have you tried “boosting” your fb posts? It costs about $20
7 I bought a Christmas book at a concert recently that my neighbor had written!! I thought it was so unusual that a person i knew would have written and puvlished such a book — apparently, though, from the comments above — it’s a trend. Who knew??
JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing says
I only recently discovered your blog and had no idea you were new to all this!
1.What do you consider the optimal time frame for reviewing a newly released book?
I don’t accept many review books these days, but tried to run a review on publication day or as soon after as possible.
2.How do you deal with the trauma of doing a negative review of a book by an author you normally love?
I hate when this happens! I started a “Pick or Pass review format for those cases.. and list both what I thought was good and what was not so good. Hopefully that will help readers make their own decision.
3. What’s the best strategy for handling the balancing act of ARCs?
I was getting too stressed over ARCs and have stopped accepting them altogether. I still have a NetGalley account, but have only requested a handful of books all year. I’m enjoying blogging a lot more without them (recently celebrated my 8th anniversary) and love reading whatever I want, whenever I want.
4. When someone inserts a link into a comment on your blog, do you leave it be?
Unless it is a regular commentor and a legitimate link, I remove it.
5. How important is Goodreads?
I mostly use it for keeping track of what I read, but sometimes post my blog review (or an abbreviated version of it) with a link to the post, too.
6. Any tips and/or strategies for reaching more readers?
My best advice here is to read and comment on other blogs and join events or readalongs. I’ve met many of my best blogging friends though readalongs and have discovered many new blogs through events like Nonfiction November.
7. What’s with all the Christmas books?
It’s crazy, right? I’m not much of a seasonal reader…. have probably only read one or two Christmas books in the past five years.
You’re doing a great job with this blog, and I think we have similar reading tastes… I’d be happy to answer any other questions if you’d like to email me.
JoAnn – Thank you so much. I appreciate all the advice and words of encouragement. I’m having fun with the blog and meeting some great people. Congratulations on your 8th anniversary….fantastic!
I’ll have a go at answering:
When to review? Be guided by the publishers guidelines, they usually request you don’t post until a month before publication date
Reviewing a book you don’t like … well first of all kick out the thought that it is traumatic. All you have to do is explain nicely what and why you disliked. What you dislike somebody else will love
ARCs from NetGalley. They will, I’m told, refuse ARCs if you do not proportionally review. Also if you have your 80% badge and order more books, then you have no longer reviewed 80% and the badge will be removed The NetGalleey reviews are more for the people who gave you the book, it is too soon to post on your blog or wherever so you send your review to the publisher via NetGalley. Ought to be the same review really, just maybe tarted up a bit
You really ought to post on Goodreads and Amazon, authors rely on these reviews. It costs authors to give you books, you want to read it for free and they want a review. You have an affiliate link so you must be interested in publicity, posting on GR will help with that as will Twitter
Good luck with your blog
Thanks so much for the tips, Bec. I hadn’t really thought about authors relying on Goodreads and Amazon, so will definitely take your advice and start adding my reviews to both places. I am on Twitter. Will look for you there! I love that you do audiobooks. I’ve only listened to a few, but would like to do more soon.
Ann @ Books on the Table says
I just discovered your great blog — welcome to the fun world of book blogging! I’ve been blogging for about 3 1/2 years and I still have much to learn myself. I have a slightly different perspective from most other bloggers, since I am a bookseller in an independent bookstore. This means I don’t usually post negative reviews, because I see my job as RECOMMENDING good books. I do have a page on my blog where I list all the books I’ve read, and if I didn’t like one, I’ll comment there, but I don’t post negative reviews. I have no obligation to post reviews on ARCs. Our bookstore receives hundreds of ARCs every month and that’s all I read, but they aren’t given to us with any strings attached. We’re just supposed to read as many as we can so we can be better booksellers. I would say NEVER to feel obligated to review an ARC. The worst that can happen is that that publisher won’t be as generous to you in the future, but the integrity of your blog depends on choosing what you want to review. You don’t need to work for free for publishers. I don’t post on Goodreads because it’s associated with Amazon, which would love to see my little store go out of business. One way to get your blog noticed and get more readers is to contact the book’s publicist when you post a good review. They will often share these reviews on social media. And as others have mentioned, commenting and visiting other blogs is great. But my feeling is that I’m not just looking for other bloggers to read my blog — I’m trying to reach regular readers. Don’t be shy about inviting family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances to follow your blog. Good luck!
Ann, thank you so much for taking the time to look at my blog and to give me some great advice. I definitely want my blog to reach regular readers and am going to try your tip of contacting publicists when I post a great review. I recently found your blog, and am very impressed with it!