… and not lose your mind
On June 10th I will have been blogging for one whole year. What started as Books’n’Bits and then evolved into Online Blanket Fort has been both a source of joy and a source of horror over the past 12 months.
I started a blog as a way to pass the time when I was out of work. Reading was my bag so I reckoned a book blog was just the thing for me. And it is… now I have a handle on it!
When I started I was totally new to the whole blogging world. There’s a whole community out there, full of folk and their blogs and all of them have different reasons for blogging. Some have it as a hobby, some have it as a way of showing their skills to potential employers, some use theirs to make money.
I’m going to talk about Book Blogging because that’s what I know. These are just my opinions and you may not agree with some of them while others you may find yourself nodding furiously and thinking ‘YES!’.
So, where to start?
What to review?
What are you going to post about?
Old books. New books. Obscure books. YA books. Romance books. Thrillers. Crime. True stories. Biographies. Autobiographies. Fantasy. Children’s books. Comics. Plays. Poetry. Yet to be released books. Books you read as a child. Books you never thought you would read. Books you love. Books you hate.
Write long reviews, short reviews, reviews with lots of emojis, reviews with memes, reviews with typos, reviews in a fancy font.
TIP 1: Review whatever you damn well please. It’s your blog. It’s your time. It’s your hobby.
When are you going to post?
It’s your blog. It’s your time. It’s your hobby. I personally can’t stick to a blog schedule of posting on set days. It stresses me out thinking I MUST have something up on a certain day and by a certain time. But if it works for you then do it.
TIP 2: Don’t have set times and dates for posting. If you do, do not beat yourself if you can’t meet them. Life happens.
The stress of posting to a specific time and date brings me nicely onto…
A what now?
When I started my blog I had absolutely no idea what on Earth a blog tour was. I was approached out of the blue to take part in a promo tour and had to ask so many questions of the organiser.
A blog tour is essentially an author hiring a company/ person to organise a selection of bloggers to read their book, review it, post a promo for it, or have a competition about it on a specific date. Each blogger takes a turn and the idea is to promote the book and create a bit of a buzz about it.
I have a love/hate relationship with Blog Tours I must admit. The tour organisers I work with are nothing short of amazing. They have the patience of saints and I’ve no idea how they organise so many flaky book bloggers all at once. That said, when you’re already snowed under with books, for me, a blog tour is added stress.
Just say no!
This is my problem. The email comes in with a blurb about the book and a date far in the future. I read the blurb. It sounds AMAZING. I say yes to the blog tour, get the book and promptly forget about it. Or worse, feel obligated to read the book and give it a glowing review. Even when I don’t rate it/ can’t get into it. Recently I took the stand I wasn’t going to do that anymore. And it was quite liberating.
I will no longer do Promo Posts and I am far more selective with the books I choose to read for tours.
Blog tour organisers are human. They understand. Tell them if you’re struggling with a book and there’s always an alternative.
Tip 3: Speak to your blog tour organiser.
Oh Netgalley. How I love thee. Oh Netgalley. How I loathe thee.
Netgalley, a source for pre-publication Advance Review Copies of major releases as well as lesser known authors.
DO NOT GO CRAZY ON THIS WEBSITE. You will be approved for more books than you think. You will end up with 7 books to read all with the same publication date. You will hit a reading slump at the crucial moment. You will freak out and not read the majority of your approvals.
My current percentage on the site is 42% (the recommended is 80%). This is because I’ve had to decline to review a heap of books that were archived before I could read them, just won’t be reading some I was approved for and have simply left some far too late to review. My choice but it has affected my approval rating.
Tip 4: Ca’ canny with Netgalley.
Book Twitter can be a toxic place. I know, who’d have thought? In the past year I’ve seen Twitter (and Facebook/ Insta) storms over: The style a review is written in, the length of a review, the posting of negative reviews, the taking of pictures for Bookstagram, the fact some bloggers seem to get the big releases… I could go on.
There is a BRILLIANT article by Sam Leith regarding Twitter Storms in the book blogging community. My favourite quote from it was this:
“… a portion of Book Twitter loves the idea of being keen on books rather more than it loves books themselves.“
This is true. You will meet book-snobs. Ignore them as best you can. They are usually the ones at the centre of the storm.
Tip 5: Twitter can be a highly toxic place. Try your hardest to ignore the spats. Don’t get involved. And if you do end up involved try and remember that there are actual people on the other end of those Twitter handles.
The best advice I can offer to Book Bloggers in an attempt to keep sane is to get yourself a crew. A clan. A group. Yes, a clique. Make friends with some other bloggers, chat, have a laugh, talk about books, talk about life, talk about the colour of your cars, talk about EVERYTHING. I have a wee group of friends on twitter and they are WONDERFUL, they know who they are as well.
Tip 6: As in real life, friends are important. If you can, do make some online pals as blogging buddies are invaluable.
So there you have it. My advice. What would you add to these tips? Let me know in the comments!