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Book Blogging 101 - Filling in the Gaps

This is where I pretend that I know what I'm talking about.

Spawned from the Big Sis, Little Blog program, Book Blogging 101 was born. Do you have a question? Leave it in the google docs form and I'll try and answer them in the order they are received.

Q: How many reviews must I post in a week. I have a problem reading more than two books, sometimes I only manage one book a week - is this a problem?

A. There really isn't a must. It is really about personal preference.

Things you might want to keep in mind.

  1. Not everyone has the ability to read as fast or as much as others, so don't compare yourself to others. There are some bloggers that can read a book a day. I'm jealous of these readers, but having a job, a child and a husband does not allow me this luxury. Personally I think there are very few people that can do this...librarians. Now that is a job I'm envious of. Not saying that librarians just sit around and read all day - but wouldn't it be lovely??
  2. There are other things besides reviews that you can post on your blog. (I'll expand on this below)
  3. If you are feeling pressured to read more and review more maybe read a few short stories and review them, this way you feel you are reading and reviewing quicker.
  4. Maybe stay away from the HUGE epic novels for a bit. On a personal note I currently have THE HALF-MADE WORLD on my currently reading shelf. It is semi-long and more importantly an intense, in-depth read, not one that you will sit down and get engrossed in, more like something you read and contemplate. I've been reading it for like 3 weeks with other books in between. I even downloaded the audio book thinking I might be able to digest it better. The book is very good, don't get me wrong, it is just not a read a page here --- move along and do laundry --- pick it back and up and be ok. My point. Try to manage your reading shelf with books you know you might be able to finish quickly, leaving the bigger ones for times that you know you have a little wiggle room to read longer.

Let's expand on Item #2 above. I actually did a previous BB101 on prolific posting that you might want to refer to. {Here} It is just basically a list of memes that you might want to consider participating. But there is always that fine line, a fine line between just putting up a post to have a post, or actually conveying quality information to your readers.

Think of your blog as a media outlet. You are there to pass on information, you decide what that information will be, whether you are just writing a chronicle of your life as a reader, or you are set on just posting about books, books and more books. Making that distinction from the start is always helpful. Sort of like writing your mission statement. Think about the first paragraph of your ABOUT ME, this is usually a type of mission statement. Mold your posts around this mission statement.

If your mission is to talk about yourself and your life and your books, write fun posts about how you went shopping and what books you purchased, or your favorite reading spots, or other things that are not reviews - but are pertinent to your blog.

If you blog mission is to be a site dedicated to just reviews and information on books, maybe intersperse your reviews with FYI posts. Memes like the Waiting On, even though it doesn't have to be that exact meme. Write about books that you want to buy, books that are being released soon, fun happenings on authors blogs. Once you get a little more daring, send interview questions to your favorite authors and post their answers on your blog. Ask other bloggers to do guest posts or reviews.

Personally, I like to post book trailers if they were just released, and cover art. I know All Things Urban Fantasy has a great cover feature where she discusses new covers and whether she likes them or not. It is called Cover Art Coverage. Of course don't copy this idea, but it shows great ways of BOOK TALKING without reviewing.

Now for what I think you might want to stay away from. This is defined by stuff people don't really want to read. The filler posts and nonsense memes are basically it. The memes that are just there to fill in the space. (I'm really trying to hold my fingers from typing up the memes that I think are a waste of bandwidth space)

As a beginner blogger I participated in a few of these types of memes. But quickly found that I really wasn't getting any meaningful comments, except the standard... "Great pick, this is mine...URL." or "Thanks for sharing. This is my post URL." What it breaks down to, is that these memes are just there for generating cross blog visiting. I'll show you mine, you show me yours type of posts. Which in essence is not bad, you want to network, meet other bloggers, etc, but for those readers that are not other bloggers or are not participating in that particular meme, they really don't want to read that. Once again, make the decision on whether you want to participate in a particular meme based on your personal preference. I always weigh the pros and cons.

I'm pretty sure my Friday Follow blog hop probably aggravates a few people, especially when you scroll down through your Reader and it is all Blog Hop posts from book bloggers. Yep, that would aggravate me if I didn't participate. I made the conscious decision to start it on a day that is normally a little slow on my blog. It generates a lot of traffic, but I know that it is not pulling in "real" readers. It eats at my blogger conscious. I justify it to myself, because I've made it a side mission of mine to be a spring board for start-up book bloggers (hence this BB101 posts) and the blog hop does help newbie bloggers gain more followers. For me the Pros outweigh the Cons. I apologize to anyone that it insipidly drives closer the threshold of insanity. I really mean no harm.

But, I did weed out other posts that I thought were just "posts to posts". Which was one of the reason why I stopped posting "awards". At first I thought they were great and was very touched that other bloggers thought of me in these awards, but then as more and more awards came out and the amount of bloggers increased that you had to "pass it on" to, I came to realize that these awards were really more like those chain mail emails and just a way to say, "Hey I'm here." The awards where you passed it on to two or three bloggers that actually had a bit of thought put behind them were one thing...but then these awards started coming out where you passed it to 20 bloggers, it just got out of hand. The YOU ARE A BLOGGER AWARD pass it on to 20 people that blog, I saw no benefit in posting things like that. I don't see anything wrong with them, just me personally, I don't do them any more. Maybe if they became more meaningful, awards based on merit that fit a criteria that bloggers can pass on to maybe one or two other bloggers...I would probably consider participating again. Once again just my personal preference. I still think it is nice to be thought of when I receive these, I just won't do a post on my blog and pass them on.

To wrap this up, because it is getting a little long. Make a conscious effort to post quality posts that people want to read and you should be A-OK. Don't stress and try to read ten books a week and don't think you are failing because you can only do 1 review a week. Shoot for a post every other day and that should be enough. But, remember. The more you post, the more you lure people in with your information. Just make sure quality precedes quantity. Three posts a day on nothing but crap doesn't make a prolific blogger...

Ask your BB101 Questions here...


Jamie said...

I think that is why I gave up on so many of those memes early on. I created Top Ten Tuesday in which we make lists of different bookish topics with the topic set in advance. It's a way to fill in something when you don't have a review but also have something with substance that people can discuss. We've had SO many good discussions in the comments because of it. I mean, like many memes you do get the typical "Nice list" response but typically it's been a good time and I think it really lets your readers learn more about you in a fun way!

Great topic! I've only been blogging for 6 months now so I'm just beginning to learn this art of filling in the blanks and I think the most valuable thing I learned is that it's OK if I don't post for a day or two and it's OK that I can't read as fast as others.

Anonymous said...

Alright Im dying to know - what memes did you really want to list..:D You knew someone would ask.........

Melissa @ Mel's Books and Info said...

I have always lamented the fact that I am a slow reader--too slow sometimes. What someone can finish in a day, could take me a week or more. My husband is one of those fast readers and sometimes I am so envious of him because it would make my job so much easier if I could read faster. Like the blogger who sent you this question, I too have some down time between reviews because of my reading speed and lack of time. I do work as a librarian, but unfortunately I am not allowed to read at work unless it is review journals for collection development, or information that is job related. (And believe me we have all tried the argument that our current novels are aids in readers advisory, but the admin refuses to bite! :)) As a result sometimes I do feel like there is a lot of dead air on my blog, and I have tried some memes, but they are just filler. I really need to find something I can do consistently, that is unique, and informative. The trick is, finding that informative and useful filler. Thanks for the post, you gave me a lot to think about.

Chapter Chicks said...

I really like this post. I completely agree about bloggers who only post filler material, my thoughts are perhaps a little more strong. I feel so bad because there are some bloggers who honestly have really good reviews but will only post one a week and the other six days are teaser tuesdays and waiting on wednesdays. Don't get me wrong, I like seeing some of those, but not when those are the only thing on the blogs.

Kate said...

Thanks for another helpful post! I've been blogging over a year now, but I've struggled to post on a regular schedule (and I pretty much took the summer off). I almost feel I'm just starting, because I'm trying to discover my review style. I think I lack something in my reviews, although I don't know what it is. I tend to put off reviewing books because I don't feel I'm giving them the review they deserve, but that's my 2011 goal. I joined a bunch of challenges in order to ensure that I post more reviews this coming year.

I feel the same way about the awards- the first few times I was super flattered, but they are a bit like chain letters. It takes away from the honor if you're having to pick 20 bloggers to pass the award on to. And then I have to feel guilty (and maybe slightly cursed?) if I don't pass on it on.

Moonlight Gleam said...

Thank you so much for this great post! It really helps new bloggers like myself know the do's and don'ts of blogging. I really appreciate all your input so please keep posting on Blogging 101 :)

Missie said...

LOL! I still remember one of the first e-mails I sent you when I started blogging asked, what is a meme?

Little did I know exactly how many there were. Whoa! I like participating in a few memes, but I won't do them as filler. I do them when I feel they are related to what is going on with my reading habits or books stuff.

I'm a slow reader, too, but I don't feel pressured to post every single day. Blogging is for fun! Why should I stress out over it. In fact, I'm glad I don't post daily. People would probably get sick of me, if they aren't already. LOL

I'm extremely grateful for your conscious effort to help new bloggers, because I have benefited from that help. TY!

Teresa said...

Thank you. This is a fantastic post. I don't really participate in memes and sometimes wonder if I'm missing the boat.

Aylee said...

Okay, thank you. This is what I wanted to hear because I'm often concerned I don't post reviews as often as a lot of other blogs seem to (only one a week). Also, yeah I'm starting to realize what you're saying about memes is true. I'm new to blogging so they're definitely helpful in getting new followers but I think I may be participating in too many. Anyways, thanks so much for this post.

Abigail [All Things Urban Fantasy] said...

Memes. For the most part I'm not a fan. I tend to stop following the blogs that do more than one a week because they come across as filler. But I have a few favorites sites that only post a couple times a week. I'd much rather visit a site with a few quality posts instead of 5+ memes a week.

If someone is really feeling like they need more posts, consider having friends do guest reviews, or find another blogger to team up with.

ParaJunkee said...

@Jamie - Thanks for sharing. Top Ten sounds like it could be very useful. I don't know if I could come up with a top ten thing every week though. ;)

@Tina - There are a few and I don't want to get all snarky about it, but I think the main ones are those tag your it kind of posts, some have actual worthwhile content but I've seen a lot that are just very similar to those emails that you get from your friends… favorite color is blue, I have a third nipple, I have a fantasy about Justin Bieber marrying my 13 year old and moving to Palm Springs… that kind of stuff. ;)

@Melissa - *gasp* Review Journals that is it? I would seriously be picketing outside. That is definitely the trick. As long as you make it yours and roll with it there will be people that read it and enjoy it. Think of it is a weekly column, if your blog was a magazine what could you write about on a weekly basis to keep people informed on books. Have you ever thought about getting help? Finding another person to read with you and review? That would be a good way also to increase your reviews.

@Chapter Chicks - Thanks. You are very true, you stop going to a blog when it is full of BS posts.

@Kate - I feel like that all of the time. I read someone else's review of the same book and I'm like, "Wow, that was so much more in-depth and insightful than mine, I'm a total shallow flake compared to her analysis!" But, I know me, and I'm not that find the meaning type of reader, I read for enjoyment not to find the hidden meaning. Humor of intellect is how I write. Just write how you feel, don't find a style let that style find you. You can't force yourself into a box. Cursed…yep, I'm sure they'll start with that. Pass this award to 20 bloggers or authors will never send you another review copy!!!!!!

@Moonlight Gleam - Thanks for chiming in, I'm glad they are helping you.

@Missie - I had to google it. Not to mention in my head I was saying it "Mee Mee" but wiki bitched slapped that out. LOL. There are so many, so so many and new ones pop up all the time. I try to do five posts a week, weekends off. I try to read 2 books a week, so that is 2 reviews a week, usually 1 author feature like a post or interview, the BB101 on Thursday and the blog hop on Friday. If I get more reviews in Yeah for me. No stress and 2 books week is very doable for me. I've also taken to listening to audio books while I work so that increases my intake.

I'm very glad these are helping you and everyone else out. Who would have thunk it. My thing is that I just searched and searched for hours on the internet to try and find this stuff and sometimes I found it, others I didn't, so at least this way in the future peeps like me it will hopefully help 'em out.

@Theresa - I don't know about missing a boat. It might be a good way to network, but a lot of them are just for filler. My main one is the Waiting on Wednesday that Story Siren started. It was a great idea--- you can post the books you are interested in. It helps me keep track of my lusted after books soon to be released.

@Aylee - You are welcome. I hope it helps.

ParaJunkee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ParaJunkee said...

@Abigail - that is a great idea. Associate reviewers are a great way to increase your posts without cheapening your blog with filler posts.

Anonymous said...

I've cut way back on meme posts and have stopped accepting awards all together. You're right they are fun but not always the best way to generate meaningful comments and you get people who just want a follower in return and not someone who is generally interested in my blog. I think fun filler posts are personal ones that lets us get a glimpse into the life of a blogger.

Stephanie G
Paranormal Haven

June G said...

Honestly. You're such a doll for doing this. I was so honored to get awards, but it became like work when the requirement was to pass them on. I mean, if the reward is to honor good blogging efforts, what's the point in HAVING to pass it on. It dilutes the honor and loses its meaning if everyone gets one. I felt kind guilty about feeling this way, but I began to notice other bloggers saying they were now an "award free site" because they didn't have time to pass the awards on. I then knew it wasn't just me who was feeling the "burden" of awards.

I don't understand the point of some of the memes. They just don't seem very fun. I do love Waiting on Wednesday. I've learned so much from it: what new books are coming out, new authors I've never heard of, series etc. Folks seem to really be into that one.

Anyway, you've confirmed much of what I felt, but an "expert" such as yourself has said it out loud. Thanks.

Carmel @ Rabid Reads said...

It is definitely a fine line between quality posts and filler. I've participated in many memes. Some I've stuck with and some I knew after post 1 that it wasn't for me. I hear ya about the awards. When you receive three of the same one in 24hrs it gets a little annoying! I appreciate the gesture but tone it down!

Anonymous said...

Another great 101 post! I was trying to resist memes but they do make good filler. I agree with what you and the commenters are saying - it's all about balance. Eventually I'd like to get to a weekly routine sort of like what you've got going on, where each day tends to be devoted to the same theme, but until then I'm just focusing on talking about book stuff and writing stuff and only going to memes when (like yesterday) I find myself panicking because I don't have anything to post for the next day.

Anonymous said...

Posts like this are beyond helpful! Thanks for sharing it with us. :D

WonderBunny said...

This is a great post! I learn on ton from your 101 posts.

I hope is ok, but I do have a guesstion for slower readers/when reading epic novels and that is to give yourself a cushion. Due to a vacation I took last summer, I got behind in my book reviews...then I got overwhelmed with school work. All the while, I was still finding time to read books, but not write the reviews. Now I have a back log of book reviews that I can post up. If I read a new release book, I bump a book review that is for an older book to get the new release review up. I think it has work pretty well over the last five months for me. I have a list of four of five books that I've already read so when I have slow reading week, I still have two or three book reviews I can post up. Then some weeks I get more read or I have other contect to discussion on my blog and don't need as many book reviews.

Now if only I wrote those revies in a more timely fashion, I would be happy. :)

WonderBunny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WonderBunny said...

Gah! I really did read over my post before putting it up but that didn't work so well it looks like.

guesstions = suggestions
contect = content
revies = reviews

Also, I should add that I'm not a big fan of memes and I'd rather read a blog with one review a week then five memes (or even three).

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