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7.07.2011

Book Blogging 101: Major Book Blogger Mistakes




Major Book Blogger Mistakes

After reading a few articles about common mistakes that businesses make when connecting with their potential clients, I thought I could easily apply this from a book bloggers perspective.

Book Blog = The Business
Clients = Readers

The difference with book blogs though, is that there is so much variety within the niche group and that most book bloggers do not approach their blogs from a professional view-point. They think of their blog as just a forum to talk about their favorite subject.

Yet, time and time again I’ve been asked the question, “How do I gain more followers?” or “How do I network my blog?” And honestly, I think it does break down to professionalism and treating your blog like a business. It’s a mentality and a way of doing things. You can still have fun and use your blog to dish out what you think is important, but if you maintain a certain decorum and process it could help ground your blog and make it into a wonder of the blogging community. That being said, in my stalking around the blogosphere these are some of the things I’ve noticed that bloggers, even myself, engage in…but should probably make a habit of avoiding.

Book Blogger Mistake #1 Bad Writing


You are a writer. You write blog posts. You have readers. Readers do not like bad writing. You might not think of yourself as a writer, but you need to change that perspective. You might not be a fiction author, but your blog can be considered a media outlet. You are constructing reviews; just like large media companies will feature in their periodicals or newspapers. How can you critique an author on sloppy writing and poor grammar if your review is riddled with the same?

Don’t think it happens? I see it all the time. A rant on the shoddily edited work that they’ve just read and there is a word in the TITLE misspelled. If you hold grammar and spelling up to a higher standards in your reading preference do the same in your own writing.

But there is more to this then just hypocrisy. There is also the fact that bad grammar and spelling errors can jumble a thought and make it hard to understand. A good idea in a poorly constructed sentence won’t be as potent.

I think therefor I am. Much more potent than, I’ve been think alot, so I must have be in existence.

This is a very obvious example of an error but I see it all the time and on the same blog over and over again. I know not everyone is a born writer, but you can at least structure a sentence properly and know that you don't end sentences in commas and not every sentence ends in an exclamation point.

Some suggestions on improving your craft can be as simple as using a word processing software to write out your posts instead of typing directly into blogger or wordpress. Programs such as Word will highlight your spelling and even grammar mistakes before you copy and paste into blogger.

Don’t want to bring over all the formatting that Word copies with it? To battle this I go to EDIT HTML in the blogger editor and PASTE the Word copy directly into there. This way it doesn’t copy over formatting that Word will auto-insert into your code. You don’t have to know HTML you are just copying your words.

Another suggestion is to research your ideas, facts and concepts before you write them out. Don’t just randomly post about facts that you think are correct. If you are awaiting a book release, research the exact date and title instead of assuming you remember it correctly.

Lastly, always proofread your work before posting.

Book Blogger Mistake#2 The Disconnected Blogger.


One of the main thing you want to do as a blogger is connect with your readers. You want to post about things they want to read. To connect best with your readers you should get to know them, this way you can cater your posts towards them. Give them information that they want and not unnecessarily information that they’ll ignore.

Here are a few things that I've noticed by reading other blogs.

Half the time in my reader I skip skip skip because most of the time it is non-relevant posts. Non-relevant to me, that is. A post about baking cookies. A cover reveal on a book that everyone has posted about, rants about another blogger. Skip, skip. They state things like “this is my blog, I’ll post what I want”. Quite fine, for you, it is your blog and you can do what you want. But, if you want to increase your followers and make a connection with your readers you might want to step back and not be so self-focused. To put it in perspective - you could have the greatest invention (in your mind) of the century, but if no one buys it, well it'll just sit in your garage and collect dust.

I’ve also noticed that a blogger might talk down to their readers, take on the persona of “blogger knows best” (stop looking at me that way!!) and not account for the fact that the readers might know just as much, they are just using your blog for information gathering. I usually dub these bloggers, “blog snobs” (in a completely nice way of course). They might have great blogs, well put together, but if their posts come off with a “holier-than-thou” personality they might turn off a few readers. This can also happen without the blogger realizing it. Tone is a funny animal.

Take it to the other level, some bloggers put out a naïve, almost elementary voice when they blog. This also might turn off your readers, especially if they want a source for information and not speculation and childish type thoughts.

Then to an opposite extreme bloggers that just throw out promo copy, recitation of book synopsis, book cover reveals and release dates. Basically all they are doing is regurgitating what publishers are sending them with no personality or opinions filtered into the post.

All three of these blogging types might work for a certain audience, but you have to make sure that you are pulling in that particular audience. That “big talk” blog might work if you have a well-educated readership, but if your readers are mainly holding only ‘some-college’ you might want to tone it down a bit.

Same with the naïve, elementary writing, if your readership is mainly young adult and middle grade readers it should work, but what if you are attracting the mothers of middle graders? You might want to pepper in some maturity and start writing for moms.

How do you get to know your readers? Ask them. Put a survey out. A lot of bloggers do this to find out their target audience. Make sure to ask things like age range, sex, level of schooling, etc. Demographics will make a difference in your writing style, especially if you review books for younger audiences.

Another site I can recommend is Alexa.com, they will analyze your audience for you.

Book Blogger Mistake #3 Quantity vs. Quality


You want to publish daily but you can’t come up with suitable reviews or content to publish, so you fill in the gaps with random posts. A lot of bloggers do this, filling in the gaps with memes, hops, mundane “pass it on” type posts and spam like material.

Let me just say one thing: Two Quality Posts are worth so much more than Five Mediocre Posts.

I’m just as guilty of this as most people. I felt I had to post daily and if I couldn’t come up with something pertinent I would just throw something out there. I’ve tried to fix that.

Successful blogs have a schedule and nine times out of ten stick to that schedule. If you don’t think you can handle five quality posts a week, narrow it down to three. Make sure you always post on the same day, so loyal readers will know that X blog will always post on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Tips to making Quality your priority:

  • Create a schedule of your post a week or two in advance. Know what is going up instead of just “throwing” something together at the last minute.
  • Brainstorm about what kind of topics you could discuss when you don’t have a review going live.
  • Take a good topic and break it up into a few posts. This can also get your readers involved and prepared. I’m actually doing that with this particular topic.

You shouldn’t just use this mantra on your posts alone. Bring this idea with you as you lay out your blog and add widgets to your sidebars. Quality over quantity. Does the widget you are adding to your sidebar matter? Will your readers be impacted by the information it is conveying? Or is it just a bit of fluff? Crazy, over-designed blogs can turn readers off by the slow blog load and the over-stimulation of too much eye-candy.

Keep these three tips in mind and you are well on your way to building a successful blog. Next week we’ll cover three more Mistakes Book Bloggers make. A little Book Blogging homework to bring back next week...what mistakes do you think you are making? What steps will you take to rectify it?

Now for some quick questions:


For your site you have a personalized icon in the tab.  I think it's cool and would love to know how to do it.  Thanks for sharing:) - Escape by Fiction

Blogger In Draft has made this easy! I would suggest you travel over to the Blogger blog and check out the awesome post that they have up. Favicon for your blogger blog.

I'm on a publisher's send out list for review copies and of course I really appreciate it but not all the books I get fit with what I like to read and I'd rather be reading books that I've bought (because I'm busy with school and can't get through both) but I feel bad not reviewing all of them. I don't want to be taken off their list altogether though. Any advice? Thank you! - Anonymous

Email your contact and be honest with them. Let them know specific genres that you prefer to review. Ask them if you can maybe approve titles before they send them out. Most publishers should be accommodating so they don't waste money and review titles.

I know that BEA is huge in the blogging world. Now that it is over for this year, are there any other conventions that are popular with bloggers, or do I have to wait a whole year before I can get in on the fun? - Sarah

There is always ALA (American Library Association) they have a winter conference. They also have some regional conferences. You might want to check out their website. Then there are always the Cons...there are tons of them. We have RomCon and ComicCon and DragonCon and Romance Writer's of America and they have Writing Conferences --- there are tons and tons. I can't give you my experiences, because I've only been to ALA - but I think BEA and ALA are the major ones where all the publishers exhibit.


That's it folks. Talk less. Read More. Happy Thursday.









Ask your BB101 Questions here...

40 comments:

Erika @ babr said...

I'm guilty as charged. Off to ponder how I can make my blog better, with more meaningful content. Thank you for an insightful post.

Man of la Book said...

Another great post.

I usually read my post out loud, that gets rid of 90% of the grammar errors and I catch a few spelling errors Word didn't catch.

It's a bit strange at first but you get used to it. I did it all throughout college as well.

http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

"Confuzzled" Shannon said...

I realize I wrote you in your question box first. Geez sometimes I feel like I will never get things right. lol sorry! I just wanted to say again good post!

noiashui said...

Great post, really gave me something to think about.
(and my apologies, I wasn't paying attention and managed to first post my comment in your Ask A Question thingy >_< )

~Iben
Borough of Books

Dani @ Refracted Light said...

Thanks! This is a really helpful post. I'm new to the book blogging world and I have to say that I'm guilty on a few points. You quality vs. quantity argument was a good one and though I haven't gone crazy with the memes, I think I need to cut back a bit. :P Thanks again!

Danny said...

You are very right, blogging becomes more and more professional - but also bloggers have to adjust to this.

But yes also we are guilty of a few things. When we decided to go with a 7 day - every day a post schedule we filled some days with meme's. But, I came to love those meme's since they have a specific value. Take the Waiting on Wednesday and IMM, I love them both so very much. but one shouldn't post every day another meme. In the end, the Reviews is that what I love to read.

And... I'm guilty of bad grammar posts. But, I can hide behind my nationality and that english is not my first language - yet in the end it is no excuse and looks bad!

ParaJunkee said...

@Erika - We all are! LOL These posts help me to, because when you lay it out in black and white there is always something. Thanks so much for commenting and reading!

@Man of la Book - Good advice, I do that also. It does help.

@Confuzzled - Everyone does don't worry about it ;) - Thank you!

@nolashuf - Thank you. And again, everyone does it.

@Dani - We all are, no one is perfect right?? I think the quality vs. quality is a the main one for all of us and it really is ok to do memes. Some memes have merit, but there are some that are just to take up space. Some of the "award" threads are absolutely point-less, pass it on type things that are no more than those email spams that you get from ten of your girlfriends (pass this on to 100 emails or you will get hit by a car)

I've actually gone back and forth about the Follow Friday thing I host because it does promote a low quality post day - but it helps generate followers for blogs that need it, so I keep doing it and I try to offset it with the Feature Blogger and fun questions to at least have some thing on there. See we're all guilty.

SweetestLittleBookworm said...

I love this. Thank you so much!

ParaJunkee said...

@Danny - I think if you want to be a force in the book blogging world you have to treat it as a business. Now, this doesn't mean its a "job" it means that you have to have the business mind-set about it. You can still have a lot of fun with it.

Wow seven days a week is a lot of posting. I don't think I could accomplish that by myself. I agree with you that both the WOW and IMM memes are credible and have specific purposes. Memes like that are not low quality if you treat them properly. Take the time with your IMM and maybe write out the synopsis of each book, things like that can help make it more of a force instead of a filler. I agree one should not post a meme everyday.

And BTW Danny - your English is something to be proud of, just by your posts and chatting with you it never even crosses my mind that English is your second language. I've never really noticed anything glaring - unlike on some English speaking natives, in which their blogs are riddled with grammar errors. #justsaying

@Sweetest - Thank you. Makes my day.

Lisa @ Read.Breathe.Relax. said...

Thanks Rachel! I feel like the meme posts are the toughest part for me. I feel ok with limiting myself to two a week- and really working hard at be being creative.

Also, I think a good way to help figure out ways to connect with readers is trying different posts and topics. I recently tried creating a fun quiz for the book The Girl in the Steel Corset.

I was ready for the comments to roll in...but they didn't. At least I tried something new and got a better idea of what my readers are actually interested in reading. :)

Jennifer Wells said...

Thanks for the great post! I will be putting your suggestions into practice on my own blog.

Mandroid said...

Thanks for this post. I'm a new book blogger and this will definitely be things I keep in mind as I move forward. While browsing other websites, I've noticed that a lot of them go a bit crazy with the widgets and sidebar icons. As a blog reader, that really is the biggest turn off for me. That and ridiculous text fonts. Too crowded, too busy, difficult to read. The complete opposite of what a blog should be.

Leslie

Al said...

Hey! So, I got a new follower today, and they said they found me from your site! (it was probably from when I was featured- but I clicked over here- and saw this- and was like Oh goodness- maybe it wasn't good.
Alas, I should know better. :)
Great post.
I definitely need to be more careful with editing.

Moonlight Gleam said...

PJ, this is such an informative post! I love it! I agree with everything you said! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts BLogging 101 ROCKS! :)

Chelsea / Vampire Book Club said...

This is a great post and tackles several of my pet peeves, too. All your points in this one come down to two things: taking your blogging seriously and respecting your readers.

But, because I am one of those bloggers who calls out editing errors, typos and the like in her reviews, I have to say it: There are errors in your post about how it's important to proofread.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your tips fit so well for any blogger, especially the connecting with followers and quality posts rather than quantity. I learned very quickly what my followers wanted to read.

ParaJunkee said...

@Lisa - I hate when that happens. I've done some things that I thought were super "stimulating" and got maybe one or two "That was great" comments off of it. You never really know what will happen right?

@Jennifer - Just remember you can only do so much. It's a work in progress.

@Mandroid (Leslie) - I agree with you. Blogs with a ton of widgets can over-stimulate and make for a poor reading environment.

@Al - No it was not! LOL I did not cite anyone in this post.

@Moonlight - Thank you for the cheerleading. I appreciate it.

@Chelsea - I think most bloggers do take their blogs seriously…and respect their readers. Just sometimes they don't realize how they come off in writing. And about the proofreading, no matter how many times you read over an article it always helps to get someone else to look at it. Bad Grammar Happens. It would help if it was pointed out what was wrong instead of just saying there are errors though…that just came across as a jab.

@Alex - that's great that you know exactly what your followers want to read. Personally I'm still trying to figure it out. This particular post seems to be popular though ;)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

#2 could easily be rephrased as "Know your target readers"--which is golden advice!

I suppose the follow-up to that is: "Know how to attract them."

I'm one of those who has a very eclectic blog, which does hurt my quest to find blog friends in the ways you've described. But as I'm well aware that my target reader is someone who likes that kind of blog and has one of her own, I know that it's worth sticking with this strategy. And so far, I've been pretty lucky, having found pals in the book, Horror and even Catholic blosopheres! =)

LinWash said...

I'm not a blogger, but I read a ton of blogs, because I love them. So thank you for this post. I remember posting a comment on a blog and receiving a snide response from the blogger. I posted a response to clarify my position, making sure that I didn't come off as rude or petty. But I was so rattled by the response, I deleted the blog from my favorites and never returned to it again. (And my comment was about the book discussed, rather than the blog.)

Escape by Fiction said...

Thank you for answering my question. I've been using the old version of blogger and now I've converted. Have a great day!!

Good reading ~ Escape by Fiction :)

Jessica said...

Such a fantastic post! I know sometimes I'm guilty of throwing up random posts on days that don't already have something to fill them. I try my best to make sure they are something different, or fun though. I'm not big on memes.

You gave me a lot to think about! I think I'll set up a poll for my blog readers this week and see who is reading along!

Amy said...

Great post! It is always helpful finding out new things about blogging and how to make it better! :)

ham1299 said...

Excellent post. I think my biggest problem is not wanting to slim down my sidebars. I like having lots of things there, but I know it can slow things down a bit. I occasionally prune them a bit, but it doesn't always result in much reduction. Perhaps I should survey readers, as you suggested – get their input on the sidebar items. Hmm ...

Otherwise, I totally agree with you on professionalism. I view blogging as a hobby, but I always present myself in a professional manner. (Especially since I have experience as an editor and offer my services! ;-) )

So far as memes and such, I gotta tell you, I'm conflicted. I don't post them as filler or fluff, but because I think they're fun. I like sharing a line or two from my current read (Teaser Tuesday, The Friday 56, etc.). And I like reading lines from others' reads. Getting that small peek inside the book can give someone exactly what they need to decide whether to read it.

With that said, I don't participate in ones that don't interest me: IMM, WWW, etc. I only do the ones I enjoy reading. (Plus, IMM always came across to me as a brag-fest. And I don't want anyone to think I'm being a showoff.)

Again, thanks for the great post. I enjoy your Book Blogging 101 posts. :-)

Riv Re said...

Awesome! I didn't know that Blogger now has a Favicon thing! Just made one, thanks for the tip!

Sandy said...

Another fun con with lots of writers and free books is RT - Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, which is usually April/May. Its 5 days of nightly parties, and daily panels led by authors. Its mainly romance books but when I went there was also lots of YA as well and to my surprise (and delight) graphic novels. I think each year the convention expands in the genre department but like I said its mostly Romance novels and the nightly events I would recommend 18+ xD. RT is also on the pricey side.

Grace Fonseca said...

I admit that I'm guilty of doing memes a lot as well. I do the ones that I think fit or will work for my blog the best. Like In Your Mailbox or Waiting on Wednesdays, and Follow Friday (of course). Another fun conference, is Authors After Dark. I always have a good time. Can't wait to see what people do for costumes this year. It's going to be super fun. Having gone to my first BEA this year, it is fun, but you have to have a plan or you will just be lost. Comic Con is fun (the one in NYC, not the other ones). Living in NYC has great advantages.

Alison said...

Great post! I try to follow all these tips. I take my blog very seriously. I spend probably 15-20 hours per week either blogging or doing something with the blogging community. It has eclipsed almost every other hobby. I don't mind this, because I'm having fun, but I'm not going to sacrifice so much of my life and not put forth my full effort to make my blog the best it can be. I do think a few meme's like the FF and IMM are worthwhile. They are how I've gotten most of my followers - they may not all become frequent visitors, but for every 5 infrequent visitors who follow me, there's probably 1 who does read my blog daily.

Also, I think FF and IMM are a lot of fun - particularly the question of the week. I dropped WOW b/c it was just functioning as a space filler for my blog. Now I have one extra day of content. I love reading Top Ten Tuesdays but think it's too much work to put together each week. :-)

As for content, I definitely think that quality writing is key. I try very hard to have proper grammar and spelling. I know my writing is not perfect and my reviews generally are not of the same quality as a paper I'd write for work or school, but I purposely try to keep the style light. Sometimes writing that is too "good" in a literary sense is a turn-off when I really just want to know whether a book is worth reading. There are only a few bloggers with really "good" writing that I have the patience to read.

I agree that it's important to write to your audience. That's why I decided to keep my blog mostly limited to YA. I've started reading Karen Moning and J.R. Ward's books but aren't reviewing them on my blog. I want to keep the type of books I review largely consistent.

Anyway, sorry I wrote such an epic post, but your BB101 gave me lots to think about!

Lupdilup said...

Shooot!! And I though I was doing so good!...lol
$35.00 every quarter to grammarly
$4.00 a month to Ginger it.
Publishing a post at only 4 or 5 errors found...
priceless in my book..lol( I'm probably beyond grammarly's help)
Great post!! this is the reason I follow and I'll continue to follow.

Lily Child said...

Wow, awesome post. You have some great advice here. I will definitely be making some changes once my new design is posted! :D

Twimom227 said...

Great advice, thank you. I just put up a post yesterday asking questions to my readers about how I can improve my blog! Thanks to MamaKitty for pointing me to your blog post today. -Jen

Tina said...

OMgosh Rach- I look back at some of my first reviews and want to slap myself- they were like first grader reviews...HAHA, well at least I can say Ive grown as a reviewer. I even took a grammar course for a refresher, I cant believe how much you can loose in a span of 10 years out of school.

My Life With Books - Jennifer K Jovus said...

The blog snobs made me giggle. I have used the term too and wondered if it was just me or if there are really snobby bloggers.
Have a great weekend.

Azza A. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Azza A. said...

This pretty much covered it. Every new coming book blogger needs to read this, me included.

Thank you for writing it, it really helped a lot.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Cool honest advice. Thank you.

I read this one with pauses to make sure I didn't fall into any of these categories.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

My rule of thumb: I try to ask myself, "Would I want to read this?" and I skip things I've seen already on too many blogs.

Jen @ A Book and a Latte said...

As always great post. You've given me a lot to think about. Now that I've been book blogging for a few months, I'm really trying to evaluate what I'm doing and how to make my blog better. Thank you! ~ Jen @ A Book and a Latte

Jen B. said...

I love your blogging mistake points. I am a readers not a writer or blogger. I have seen some great blogs and some WTF blogs. I hope bloggers take your points to heart!

Vampyre Gurls Book Club Blog said...

☆tyvm★I am a new blogger & am guilty as charged! I am excited to try out these awesome suggestions!

Cat said...

Thank you so much for all your wisdom, as a new blogger I will take heed of your sage advice and try my best not to bore, talk down to, advertise too much or post for the sake of posting.

Your 101 post is an absolute gem!

Thanks again

Cat

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