Readers' Favorite

April 23, 2015

So You Want to Start a Book Blog

by Donna Huber

When I started book blogging I did it as a way to talk with others about my favorite books. I'm sure many book bloggers have this same desire. Others hope to get free books. As an avid reader, book reviewing sure helps support the habit. However, few book bloggers give much consideration to the mechanics of blogging. And unfortunately, this lack of planning often leads to frustration, burn out, and even the discontinuation of the blog.

So if you are thinking that you want to start your own book blog, here are a few tips on being successful.

Decide your platform

When I started blogging I just wanted to tell people about a great book I had read. I just decided one night to create the blog. Therefore, I didn't give much consideration to the platform. I had used Blogger before and was familiar with it. It is also easy to set-up. If you want something quick, then Blogger will be fine a choice.

However, now that I've been blogging for more than 4 years, I have sometimes wished I had started on WordPress. If design and layout is important to you, Wordpress would give you more options. I really didn't think about what my blog would become. I thought it would be just my personal musings. But it has grown past that to something more akin to an ezine. I would have more options for expansion if I switch to Wordpress.

Decide on a focus

While the focus of your blog can change and evolve over time, when you start out it is important to give some thought to what you will focus on otherwise it will be like your throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. I knew from the start that I didn't want to review erotica or horror (they aren't genres I like), yet that still left a lot of possibilities. Some of the most successful blogs focus on a single genre, i.e. romance novels, others focus on a target audience, i.e. children's books.

Besides genres you may want to focus on, you also want to decide if you will participate in tours, book promos, and/or hosting guest posts.

With the decision on your focus, you should also consider some policies and procedures. I wrote a post on these for a past Bloggeista weekend. You may want to review the post. In meantime, think about how you want to receive review requests (or even if you want to accept pitches at all). A review policy, even a rudimentary one, will save you time and headaches.

Decide on a schedule

When you first start out you may be very excited and think you will post every day, but for a new blogger that will soon become overwhelming. I planned to post one review a week. I don't read very fast, but I knew I had some books that I had read recently that I could write about. So I felt that was realistic. However, once I got started and discovered the "behind the scenes" activities involved with blogging, even that goal seemed too much at times.

Think about how quickly you read and your regular life commitments (if you are a parent you may have more time during the school year than in the summer) when setting up your schedule. Next consider the time it will take to write and format your review. I often find myself several reviews behind because I find the time to read, but not write. A year or so ago, I started to blog on the weekends and schedule my posts for the week. That has greatly helped with my blogging particularly as I've increased the frequency. I read often during my lunch break and in the evenings after a long day of work, I'm too tired to write coherently. So weekends have worked well for me.

Writing is just one part of a blog post. The layout and design of the post is just as important as the writing. You will want to add book covers and possibly book buying links. Do you want to include an author blog, or quotes from the book? These take time to format into a post. Then, you must consider adding color or bolding to make pieces stand out.

In my early blogging days (pre-book blogging), I was under the impression that if you post it readers will come. Well, it doesn't work that way. So you will need to budget time for promoting your blog (Twitter and Facebook are good places to start) as well as interacting with your readers.

Keep it Fun

The most important thing to remember when you start book blogging is to keep it fun. You can easily become focused on the mechanics of blogging, on the obligations of blogging, and forget about your passion for reading. Be a reader first and a blogger second and you are likely to be blogging long into the future.

Good luck!


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