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Book Blogging 101 - Reviewing a friends book

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.

This is a day late. APOLOGIZE! I'm a bit loopy on medication. Still sick.

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.

What are your thoughts when you have become friends with an author ? Reviews are tough when you become friends through twitter or another online place ?? How can you remain objective to their book ??  -- Julie

A:  This has to be my BIGGEST dilemma. The author is your twitter buddy, chatting it up all the time with you now. They ask you to review their book, what to do? Take it a step further, in my case (regarding the blog/web design). They are your client - you designed their web page or hosted their book tour, or design their jewelry, super dilemma, especially on remaining objective. It would be soo easy to just say this books rocks. In the beginning of my blogging career  I did review a clients book, and LUCKED out. Lucked out, because the book was really good. Yes, there were a few things that I didn't like about it and I stated it plainly in my review, but I didn't give it any special love. But, what if I hadn't lucked out? What if the book is terrible? It is something you have to keep in mind. Think about that before you accept. A bad review sometimes hurts a little worse coming from someone close and respected than it does coming from a total stranger. But - by asking you for that review they do value your opinion. It is a crazy little quandary.

Personally, I know I pushed my luck with the few times I accepted reviews copies from friends or clients, so I've stopped taking them, it might be a little harsh but I really don't want to stress myself out in that way. Now, if I befriended them on twitter because they were an author and I want to read their book, that is a different story. Basically, use your better judgment. Stay honest, stay real, and as a courtesy if you really don't like the book, I wouldn't review it and tell the author such. As a favor for a friend. They might say, go ahead and review it anyway. Even bad publicity is still publicity.

How do you make a favicon?  -- Ashley

A. Ashley, this is a pretty involved step process that starts with the creation of a 16x16 graphic. I might do a tutorial later, but right now here are a few sites that go into it relatively straight forward:

This site will convert from a jpg:
This is a good step by step:

I hope these help, I'll do a How To in the future though.

What is a Google Rank? How do I get one and how do I find out what mine is?   -- Carmel

A:  A Google Rank is how google ranks your site in terms of other sites. And I really hate saying this, but NO ONE but Google understands exactly what goes into achieving a high Google ranking. It goes from 0 to 10 and guess who is like the only page to be a 10? Yep, Google oh and maybe Facebook.

The higher your Google Rank, the higher you come up in search engine rankings. Organic searches at least. You can always pay to get higher results. To check Google Page rank it is recommended that you download the Google toolbar. Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure it only works with Firefox. I highly recommend using Firefox though because it is a faster browser and cuts out a lot of the spyware that IE lets through.

Carmel, I checked your site and it is showing that you don't have a page rank yet. How do you get one? Google lists it plainly as - get your site linked by high ranking sites. Meaning, my site is a 2 and Sheila's site is a 5, I run over and ask Sheila to put a link to my site on her blog --- my site is now a 3. It is why blog rolls can really play a heavy roll - and people pay blogs to advertise on them. It is also why I will put a press release on this blog in exchange for a link back on a publisher's site.

Some tips:
  1. Download the Google toolbar
  2. Contact sites with higher page ranks about getting on their blog roll
  3. Comment on blogs and leave a link to your site
  4. Leave your blog link on forums, and Facebook
  5. Install Google Analytics

Hey PJ,
So I have a bit of a dillema. I've received several emails from sites wishing to "offer their services" to me. I don't know which ones are scams, and which ones are real! But my other problem is I don't know if I should respond or not. If they're a scam, I don't want to talk to them, but if they're real, I want to keep a good PR rep.
I guess this is sort of a two part question. One; can you tell us a few of the common scams we might be emailed about? And two, should I respond to emails "offering their services" to say no thanks?

Thanks!   --Riv Re

A: If they don't give me the "scoop" in the initial email I don't contact them back. It might be a legitimate PR deal but what if they are just fishing? The more information the better. Here are a few steps to take before even thinking of replying to the email.

Step 1: If they are a company, they should name their company, so Google the company they listed. If you can't find out any information about the product or company then it is most likely a scam.

Step 2: Yeah, they have a website. Check to see if it looks like a legitimate website with a product. Is it nothing but fluff talk? A web site that is selling something, but you are really not sure what they are selling? Probably a scam.

Step 3: Ask around. See if anyone else is getting this email, you might be surprised with just a tweet what comes back.

If they pass those test then sure, go ahead and respond, but be wary. If you still don't have an idea of what this 'deal' is about after a second email, cut off contact. Do not respond and say no thanks. If they look squirrelly don't respond. Some common scams are ones that usually revolve around triangle type companies. Buy this catalog to sell this product etc. There are some Google Cash scams that are big and like Widget bucks and things of that nature that have you fishing for friends to sign up with you. Some might be legit but there are a lot out there that are just email fishing.

I see lots of book bloggers who get ARC copies from publishers and authors. How does a beginner blogger get onto that train?   -- Sarah

A: The hunt for the illustrious Advanced Release Copy. Well, first Sarah I would head over to and sign up. They have tons of advanced copies that you can read digitally and great titles. This is a good way to get in the ARC door.

Secondly, I would peruse a list of upcoming releases. It is March, so go and search for June's new releases. Write down the titles that you are interested in and their publishers. Once you have this list, I would mock up a 'Query' letter.

Hi my name is...
This is my blog...
I have this many followers...
I really love this author... etc.

Then send an email to the publishers of the books you like. Remember to always include your address. Look on the publisher's web site, they usually have special emails to request review copies. Pay attention to their instructions on how to request a review copy. A lot require title and author in the subject line and request that you include the ISBN. If you can't follow the rules in a request they usually don't send you a copy.

I would also suggest looking online for giveaways, always has ARCs for giveaway, that is how I got my first ARC!

I did do a BB101 on ARCs it was like my 2nd one, so give me a little credit, but it explains things a little more in depth.

I was thinking last night. ON those giveaways where you get multiple entries and then people add them up on the last question... How do people count the entries? I had one once and I manually placed the numbers next to each name, but I only had a dozen entries, so I could do that, but with 100`s of entries it`d be a bit ... well, too much work.
How do big bloggers deal with those?  -- Mayara

A: With a calculator. LOL

I would manually place the number by each name and add up. So if entry #1 had 10 entries they would be 1 - 10 and then entry #2 had 6 entries they would be 11 - 17.

It was a lot of calculating. And it frazzled me.

When I went up to 1000+ I stopped doing it that way. I added numbers to my comments and I have people comment for each extra entry. End of story. So to answer your question. We either add 'em up, or we don't deal with it anymore, like the way I'm doing it.

How many followers would you say you should have before you start having contests?   -- Kayleigh

A: Whenever you feel up to it. There is no set limit. I think I desperately wanted 100 followers so I had one at like 60 followers to try and get up there. It worked. You could have only 2 followers and have a great contest. There is no magic number.

Is there any way to highlight text in Blogger (kind of the way we can in Microsoft Word)? If possible, I'd like to highlight the bright/light fonts with the same color as my background, so that those who visit my blog to read it don't notice anything new, while those who use Google Reader end up with some dark areas on which to read the light fonts.   -- Enbrethiliel

A: That is a question that stumped me. They do have the highlight feature in blogger.

I don't really use it a ton.

Check what it looks like. No play on text.
Check out what it looks like. Play on text.

If you blog background is a standard color that is offered in blogger's highlight drop down it should work. If not, maybe think about using a color that can transition on both white and black backgrounds.

That's it kids. Talk less. Read more. Happy Thursday Friday -- oops.

Ask your BB101 Questions here...


Avery said...

Thanks so much for this! You touched upon some really great topics I have been wondering about!

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

Thanks for the info! I found all the information on linking really interesting. I don't know much about it or how it works. I add blogs to my blog roll because I like them, but I never considered the ranking thing! I should read up on this some more. :)

May said...

Thanks for answering my question about giveaways!
I was hoping there was another way heh
Makes comment-related giveaways much more appealing... ;)

Carmel @ Rabid Reads said...

Thanks for answering my question about Google Ranks! :)

Carmel @ Rabid Reads

barmybex said...

Thanks, that was very interesting, didn't know Goodreads did ARC's.
If you are on Goodreads, can i add you as a 'friend' I don't have any on there yet. :P
thanks x

Larissa said...

Hi, just thought I'd let you know I'm a new follower!!!!

nymfaux said...

@PJ--Awesome as always!!!! -Thursdays- are my favorites!!! :)

@Parajunkee & Ashley, I used these links to figure out how to add a favicon, and I thought it was super easy!

this one tells you how/where to add it:

this one converts a picture into a favicon (it's free and you don't have to sign up for anything):

the hardest part for me was finding/making a picture that had enough detail that it stood out, but not too much, because it was hard to see much detail in such a small size--PJ--yours is totally awesome!!!!

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks for answering my question! For some reason, Blogger's highlight button doesn't show up for me, so I had to do a tad more research. It turns out that if you change the font colour and then go to the HTML view and put "background-" in front of "color", you'll get to highlight the text just the same. =)

Now I'm going to do what I can about my background so that it's a standard colour that will let me do what you suggest.

Thanks again!

Chrystal said...

Thanks for the favicon info and links. :)

My anxious life said...

OK here is another noob question.. what is a favicon? Thanks!

nymfaux said...

@Anxious--if you look at the top of your browser, you'll see little pictures next to whatever website(s) you have open--For Parajunkee, it's the little skull with a pink bow; facebook is a blue box w/a white "f," blogger is an orange box with a white "B," gmail is a little envelope, etc...--those are favicons, and changing your favicon is another way to personalize your blog--I hope that helps!!! :D

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