I must clarify one thing before I start: I am not a book blogger, but I used to be – for about three years. (Fun fact: I also had a short stay on Let’s Get It On, Kansas City.) I’m an author, too, so – naturally – I adore book bloggers. In a metaphor, book bloggers are an author’s best friend. Readers who don’t blog are the friends that authors meet at the book blogger’s party. The reason I’m writing this is to make that party as enjoyable as possible. Below I have outlined some tips to help out book bloggers get started with their website as well as how to create a fun and safe environment for bloggers, readers, and authors. (Actually, a lot of these tips are good for any kind of blogger, so I hope you enjoy them.)
For Your Website: These tips will help your website be as user-friendly as possible.
1. Have a Contact Page, Review Request Form, and/or a Review Policy:
This is not for those book bloggers who only want to read what they choose on their own. This is rather advice for those book bloggers who are looking for authors, publishers, and other people to submit novels. Be clear about what you want to read and what you never want to read. Include types of information you want in a request, like a link to Amazon or the synopsis. If you are closed for submissions, put that at the top in bold. This way, requesters don’t read pages of information only to realize you’re not accepting anything. Clarify if you accept self-published and small press published authors. I would also suggest adding if you reply to all requests or only the ones you’re interested in. That way, you won’t get as many repeat emails, wondering if you received their request.
2. Have an About Me Page:
Include your favorite and least favorite novels, – and if you want to be really specific, include your ratings of well-known novels, like Fifty Shades or The Hunger Games. We want to know more about what you like. We don’t want to send you a novel that you’ll despise. Have a name on your blog. It doesn’t have to be your REAL name. But requesters like to be personal. We want you to know we enjoy your website and using your name is one way we can prove we aren’t sending you a mass request email that everyone is annoyed by. Having nothing to call you by is very awkward for some of us. Personally, I love sharing what draws me into a website, so knowing more about you helps us share your blog to others. For instance, if you’re a librarian, I will tell my followers how much I admire your dedication to spreading the love for words to others. (And being surrounded by books all day must be lovely.)
3. Include a Rating System:
I believe this is often neglected but really important because requesters want to know if, how, where, and when you will be posting reviews. Clarify if you will use the 5-Star Rating System and/or if you will post on other pages. For instance, if you say 3.5 on your blog, explain what you’ll do on websites that aren’t accomendating to that (like if you will generally lean up or down or if it depends on the novel.) State if you will or will not post your review no matter the rating. Unfortunately, there are many authors right now who are demanding reviewers to only post the review if it is a certain rating. This is causing a very hostile reading environment, and I hope this is a way to prevent that. Although I don’t agree with authors who demand this, I still suggest clarifying that you will post your review, even if it is below 5 stars. That way, they won’t demand it from you later or send you nasty emails when it happens.
The one last thing I would suggest is to consider the name of your blog carefully. It is your blog – of course – but try to avoid having an insinuating name that contradicts the blog’s purpose (ex: “Magical Book Reviews” when you don’t read novels with magical elements.) This will cause great confusion and lots of frustrations. It’s also easily avoidable.
At first, this was where I was going to start talking about rating and reviewing novels, but the post was too long, so I will share my thoughts on that another day. However, I have tips for authors as well:
Disclaimer For Authors:
Remember that book bloggers are your best friend. This means we must treat them as such. Respecting boundaries is important. Don’t request a review from someone until you have read their review policy, and definitely do not contact them with your dinosaur erotica if they state they hate dinosaurs or erotica or both (even if you think you will somehow change their mind.) If you receive a poor review, do not retaliate in any way. If you’re going to say anything at all, just thank them. They read your book, after all. If you promised to share their review, share it. If they promised to review a book but never did, be polite when asking them how they are and/or if they are still interested in reading your novel.
Sometimes, expectations are not what happen, but surprises can also be better. Helping one another know what to do in certain situations can improve everyone’s relationship, but it does take two. Taking these steps might help our friendship be even better than it was before.
We want the author-to-reader relationship to be a fun and an exciting relationship, so let’s be sure to celebrate one another with respect and enthusiasm.
Here’s to our love for books.