It was my blog’s 1 year anniversary three days back. On May 25, 2016, I started this blog with a review of Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child. Looking back, I realize that starting this blog was a spur of the moment thing. I had a little notebook where I reviewed books. I slowly moved the reviews to Goodreads, a friend noticed them, and she said “You know what? You should start a blog!”. And that was it! She said it one morning and this blog was up and running in the evening.
For half an hour until before I started this blog, I Googled about book blogs and tips related to blogging. I didn’t really get much of it and like with everything else I do in life, I decided to just wing it.
I wouldn’t change a thing about this journey. Not even the name, despite the fact “This is Lit” is slowly getting out of our Internet slang. Maybe I should edit it to “This is Lit AF”?
Over this one year, I’ve moved from being “just another book blog” to a blog that gets a lot of views and free Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) from authors in exchange for reviews. This list of tips is for all the new bloggers making use of the summer vacation and starting out. I want this article to give you what I never had–a one-stop for all things book blogging!
1. Review, review, review!
Well, this is pretty obvious. You’re here to review books. The more you review, the more chances you have of getting free books.
I see a number of blogs these days that are up without any post on them. DO NOT DO THAT. No one likes visiting a blog and not seeing any post. Make your blog public only after you have your first post up. Not having a post up is not going to hurt your chances, it’s just not very nice for visitors. They need a little something that’ll make them click the Follow button.
2. Add a review policy.
First month in, you probably won’t be contacted to review books. But, the more you post, the more you will get noticed by authors and publishers. When they check out your blog, they need to know what kind of books you like, your preferences, and other general details. Put up a review policy that is very clear and direct.
Take a look at my review policy for reference.
3. Participate in a tag/meme.
Tags are this amazing thing in the blogosphere. There’s a different tag floating around every other week. When you first start blogging, these will help you out. Every tag is about getting nominated and nominating other people. This is an excellent way to meet other bloggers. Visit a tag post and you’ll get at least 8 new people to follow. Book blogging’s version of a pyramid
scam friendship will help you grow your followers list.
Note: We need you to put original content out there, for tags are just tacky once the initial shine dies down. Do the occasional tag but make sure your blog is not all tags and memes.
4. Join NetGalley.
NetGalley is a site through which you can request to read e-copies of books that are yet to be released and review them. If you started a blog yesterday, don’t expect much results from NetGalley. Give it some time, have some reviews up, and a month or two later start requesting books on NetGalley.
A word to the wise: Don’t go on a requesting spree on NetGalley. Every blogger hears this but goes ahead and does it anyway, yours truly included. You may think your requests won’t get accepted by all of them, but publishers do need their books to be reviewed by a set count of people before they release. Make sure you don’t pile up too many books and struggle to complete them. Also, make sure you review ALL of the books you get through NetGalley. Your feedback helps books, period.
There are a number of other services, like Edelweiss, that help you get e-ARCs. I prefer NetGalley, but you can decide which service you want to use. Initially, you will only be getting e-ARCs. Once you become more established, the print copies will start coming in.
5. Review all the ARCs you get.
You’d think this doesn’t deserve its own point, but the sheer number of people who don’t follow this rule is huge. Review all the ARCs and galleys you get. It’s common sense and general courtesy to review the book you got for free from the author. Add a a line about how you procured the book. There’s a recent controversy in the blogosphere about thanking authors in reviews. Decide for yourself which side of this argument you’re on.
6. Add a Contact page to your blog.
Whether it’s a Contact form or just your email address, let it be known on your blog how you can be reached. The more your blog grows, the more authors and publishers will want to contact you to request you to read their books.
7. Don’t just write reviews.
I care about stats. I like knowing how my blog is going. At a particularly low point on the stats front, I got mad and wrote a discussion post on why reviews just don’t cut it anymore. I stand by my arguments, but that doesn’t mean you should just not review books. Take a look at what all the commenters (fellow bloggers) on that post have said. People do care. People still want to know what you think about books. Your stats will tank some day. But, they will also go up.
However, make sure you write content other than book reviews. Tell your followers a story. Lists are evergreen-make use of them! Write discussion posts about bookish/blogging-related thoughts. Remember, yours is a book blog–not a book review blog. Follow the core theme but don’t put up just reviews.
8. Comment on others’ posts.
This is the most important rule of all. Comment! You need to network as much as possible. If you encourage one person, they will come back and visit your posts. The blogging community is very open and friendly–reach out if you need advice, or just leave a comment about what you thought of someone’s post. This is how you build your reader base.
9. Be persistent.
Don’t write one post and expect miracles. Write regularly. Read other blogs and see how they’re doing it. When I started blogging, I wrote a post every other day. So did all the other people who joined WordPress that summer. But, with the start of the school year and people like me joining their first jobs out of uni, the number of posts dwindled down. Try to make time for your blog. Your voice should still be heard in the WordPress community. You don’t have to blog every day, just aim for a regular schedule. Remember, persistence is key!
Most of all, remember to have fun. You’re here to write about things you’re passionate about. Make sure you’re having fun while building your blog to be a successful website.
What did you think of this post? Would you like to add some more suggestions? Do it in the comments!