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Book Blogging 101: Genre Specific Blogging

Welcome to Book Blogging 101, where you ask a question and I try my best to answer it. I'm not an expert -- so if I get it wrong, shhh I don't want to hear it! LOL. No let me know in the comments if you have a difference of opinion, or know a better way.

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.

I love young adult books. But I also love Urban Fantasy and Romance, I can't see how to pair them all together in my blog. I was thinking of just going straight for the young adult books and blog about that only, but would I be shooting myself in the foot? What if I get bored? -- Sis

A:  Sis, remember before you start your blog, that if you brand yourself in a certain way you can really get stuck in that image.

Take myself for example.  The blog is all about the paranormal, even my AKA -- what happens if I reviewed a Western? or maybe a Memoir? Not that I would, but that would probably stray off topic a bit. It would be like an electronics reviewer, reviewing a mattress or shower head. People might not scream and declare them a heathen and stop following, but it might raise a few eyebrows.

But, what if I wanted to read Westerns? What if my other love was Westerns and I was feeling repressed by my paranormal books? I would probably start another blog and call it CowJunkee or something like that. Just so I wouldn't get things all confused and aggravate my hard core ParaFantatics.

So, this in mind think about how you are going to brand yourself when just starting out. Do you want to review just Urban Fantasy novels --- there sure are enough to keep on going with those, or are you going to go Romance only? Or are you going to just lump them all together and be an everything sort of blog. I review this this and this. People do it, it is not a big deal.  The one piece of advice I can give is that you know in advance what type of books you will review and what you will not. You know your likes and dislikes, don't accept or state on your blog that you will accept everything...when you really don't like Non-Fiction, or Memoirs or Westerns.

Someone asked me to review some make-up, but I'm a book blog, do you think it would aggravate my readers if I did a make-up review? -- FaerieGrl

A:  FaerieGrl, this is a slippery slope. Personally I've heard a bit of feedback on this topic and it is not always good. I know some readers get cranky about the giveaways that were very big a few months back. I did one, kept it to a bookshelf...since it was book related, but after that I didn't feel comfortable doing it. I felt I was pushing something on my readers that they didn't come here for. I'm not the BookshelfJunkee, right?

You might have 9 out of 10 readers that could care less if you review some lipstick, but are you staying true to your blog's mission? You are a book blog, what does make-up have to do with books? If it was maybe finger nail polish from Bree Despain to go with her latest Dark Divine novel...maybe, or eye shadow inspired by Twilight...there you go, but if it is just some mundane, everyday make-up, I might think twice. Is a thing of eye shadow for review worth calling to question the integrity of your blog? It really might not be a big deal to you, so don't sweat it, but if you are asking me, I think you might already know the answer.

Can bloggers post book excerpts w/out permission? If yes, how much? A couple paragraphs? One paragraph? One line? What's the limit? -- Joy

A:  You can always quote a printed piece. The MLA rules state that the quote must be placed in quotation marks followed by the page number "YOUR QUOTE" (66). Then at the end of the article you would put the name of the author, book, publisher and published date.

Quoting from advanced release copies and galleys is not recommended since scenes are still going to be edited and changed, so something you quote may not be correct.

"Fair use" (section 107 of the copyright law) states (quoted from the US Copyright Office)

"Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work 
The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.” 1

 Now a review is considered criticism so you are able to "reproduce" the work you are critiquing.

In regards to length. The code says "quotation of excerpts". Now how long that entails, it is really a matter up for discussion. I think a paragraph or two might be a reasonable assumption, but anything beyond that is pushing copyright infringement and I would contact the author, well really the publisher for permission, since the publisher is usually the one that retains the copyright. If I was an author I wouldn't want bloggers copying Chapter 1 of my novel and posting it on their blogs without my permission.

1. "Fair Use." U.S. Copyright Office. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <>.

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Joy Tamsin David said...

Thanks! Great answer. I thought posting excerpt was ok, then I saw one blogger (whose also a writer) post an excerpt with a note that she got special permission. So I thought maybe I'd been doing it wrong and we needed special permission all along. Thanks for clarifying for me! :)

Moonlight Gleam said...

Great post as always Rachel! I enjoy reading and reviewing YA, Romance and Paranormal written novels. More than that I can agree that it does get challenging. Thank you for sharing!

The Book Vixen said...

Good info about quoting from a book!

Juju at Tales of said...

Great answers.

Regarding branding, when I started out I thought I would only do whimsical and fantastical. But months later, I realized I wanted to read more. I didn't want to be held back. So I broke the mold and started adding bits of whimsy to my reviews instead of only reading whimsical things.

Great post.

I love the quoting section too :)

Deea said...

I've been wondering about the quotes too. Thanks for enlightening me - you have a lot of useful info there. Great post, as always!:D

Tea and Tomes said...

I was a bit worried about genre-specific posting, too. My book tastes can vary wildly. I say on the blog that I tend to read fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, and YA novels of the same genres... with the occasional piece of nonfiction or other type of fiction thrown in for good reasure. I try not to limit myself as to the books I review, even though I'm well aware that inspire of me posting reviews of books about life in other cultures or a good piece of historical fiction, people tend to think of me as someone who reviews YA urban fantasy, since that's what there's been a lot of on the blog.

I both like this and don't. On one hand, it gives me a niche, or rather introduces me to a niche filled by countless other people. Let's face it, reviewing YA urban fantasy isn't exactly uncommon. On the other hand, I hate limiting myself. If I read other books, why shouldn't I review them if I feel the urge?

Fortunately I haven't run into many problems where this is concerned. I make it clear that while I mostly read A and B, I'm not aversed to also reading C, so if something comes along that's a little out of the norm, people aren't hugely surprised. They may skip past that post on their reader, but big deal. Sometimes the abnormal book reviews on my blog have been the ones to get the most hits.

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