Scheduling Content

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If you think for a second that I wake up in the morning and type up and post my blogs at exactly 8am on the dot–you are–incredibly–wrong. All of my posts are scheduled, let me repeat that:

ALL. OF. MY. POSTS. ARE. SCHEDULED.

Reviews, book tags, TBRs, recaps, updates, all of it. All scheduled. In fact, right now. I have 25 days scheduled for December. A post a day for 25 days. It’s wonderful. My blog will run itself while I take a little break.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Scheduling your posts for the morning means they’ll already be up for you to schedule social media posts.
  • Scheduling posts for the morning also gives you more time to garner views.
  • Scheduling helps you to keep a steady schedule and also lets you stay ahead of the game. A few bulk days of drafting posts will make for a few easy months in which you can add more timely posts in between what you already have scheduled.
  • Reviews should be scheduled as soon as you finish so that the review goes up within 2 weeks of the book’s publication date.

On any blogging platform, you can schedule your post under post settings. For example, on WordPress, the schedule settings are on the right at the top of the drafting page; on Tumblr, they are beneath the post.

I try to fill out my months with at least 2 posts a week so that I can keep to a relatively steady posting schedule. Again, I highly recommend posting at least once a week when you start and building up to more.

There are many types of posts which can be anytime posts that you can use to fill out your schedule. I keep a running master list here. Take a quick look at it and then check back next week when I talk about formatting your posts.

Your First Book Review

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The time has come for your first review! Hooray! It’s time to tell the world how you felt about that book. Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did you feel… nothing? All very important. I have a few rules about reviews that I think most, if not all, newbie book bloggers should listen to:

Reviewing Etiquette

#1 Do Not Insult The Team

A lot of work goes into a book, even the bad ones. There is no reason to attack the author, the editors, the cover artist, or the company. Period.

#2 Say It Professionally

Even if you hated every aspect of the book, there is a professional way to present that. There is no reason to say things like “it belongs in the trash,” and if you feel the need to say that period, refer to rule #1.

#3 Be Honest and Kind

Bit of a blend from #1 and #2. Don’t lie and say that you enjoyed the book when you clearly didn’t. No one is asking you to lie about your opinion. But be clear about what bothered you or bored you without being insulting.

Writing Out Your Thoughts

I see a lot of first reviews that come out sounding like a book report. Book reviews are not book reports. You can sum up the plot with the back copy and move straight into your review.

My reviews tend to be a little formulaic, as do most bloggers’. It tends to follow as such:

  • An overall statement about your feelings on the book
  • A summary/the back copy (which you can copy from GoodReads)
  • What you liked
  • What you didn’t like

Remember to be specific about both what you did and did not like. There is a difference between “I liked the setting” and “I liked the island setting” and “I liked the fantasy isle and how vivid the author’s description was of the plants and wildlife.”

Starring System

Most bloggers use a starring system. Some bloggers make their own images for their stars (or popsicles, or owls, or glasses of wine, etc) but I prefer to use emojis/symbols in my post so that I know it will show up on every device. Specifically, I use these:Β β˜…β˜†Β½.

Obviously, your view of what deserves four and five stars may differ from mine but here are my criteria for my reviews.

β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†

Well this was just terrible and highly problematic. I found little to nothing of merit in it.

β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†

Also terrible, but I found one or two things which worked well. Most of the time, when I give a one star review, I usually enjoyed what they wereΒ trying to do but found the execution done poorly.

β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†

One or two things caught my eye but much of this book was problematic. I may have enjoyed the ideas but not the writing or set-up.

β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†

Only a few problems and otherwise a good and compelling read. The bulk of my reviews tend to be three stars. Many bloggers fall here with a “I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it” sort of mentality.

β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

I definitely recommend reading this book! It was really good and you should give it a chance. You will love it if you love X genre.

β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Everyone needs to read this book. I don’t care who you are, pick it up and devour it.

Some bloggers break their reviews up into sections and star multiple points of the book including:

  • Cover Art
  • Opening
  • Ending
  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Couldn’t Put It Down-ness
  • Intellectual Depths

Personally, I think one rating is enough, but it’s really up to you and what you like about the books.

Requesting ARCs

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Everyone loves reading books before they come out! I know I do! But how do we book bloggers get our hands on advanced reader copies? Let me count the ways.

#1 NetGalley/Edelweiss and Other Services

NetGalley, Edelweiss, First to Read, and many other programs offer a way for you to get an e-galley of the book before publication. It will be delivered to your kindle or nook for your reading pleasure. Because you are getting a galley, chances are there will be mistakes in the copy, so try not to hold them against the book when you review it.

#2 Conventions

I attend BookCon every year and run around to the many booths to get my grubby little hands on advanced copies. When you get a physical ARC, they have information for who to contact with a review and when to post it on the back cover. Which brings us to the next way to get an ARC.

#3 Contact the Publisher/Agent

As you review more you will make contacts with publishers, agents, and authors. You can reach out to them to request specific copies of books. I personally request from Sourcebooks, HarperCollins, and the New Leaf Literary Agency. I have made these contacts at conventions. Continue reading “Requesting ARCs”

Feature Images

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Let’s talk images! Every post should have one! You heard me. One. Yes, there are exceptions and personal preferences so let’s just dive right in.

Feature Images

Feature Images are great! They are the first image people see for your post. You can see mine for this series right at the top of this post! You also probably saw it in your reader, twitter feed, or facebook feed. You said, “Oh! Jessica has a new informative post up! I should click that!”

Would you have clicked if there was just a grey box? Or just the logo on my site?

Probably not.

There are many tools online to make images for your blog. I highly recommend Canva.com. They have many templates, sizes, images, fonts, and plenty of tools for you to create eye catching material for your blog.

Every template has a different size for its features. It might be a perfect square, it might be 800×500 pixels. You can check this in most media/customization settings on most platforms.Β  Continue reading “Feature Images”

Setting Up Your Blog

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It’s time to get started! You’re not writing a review, you’re not posting your “Hello, World!”, you’re not creating content. You’re choosing from a plethora of themes, colors, and widgets. But even before that, let’s talk names.

Naming Your Blog

For most free accounts for blogs your username will become part of the URL to your site. For example. If your username on WordPress is SomeRandoBlogAboutBooks, your URL will be SomeRandoBlogAboutBooks.wordpress.com.

Imagine putting that on a business card to promote yourself.

That’s insane.

And consider what your blog is going to be about. My blog started as a place to post work for school. It had to have my name. Now I use it to promote myself as a writer, it should still have my name.

Here are some tips for naming your blog and coming up with your URL.

  • Are you a writer yourself and do you need build a platform?
  • Keep it short and sweet and easy to write down and remember.
  • Read it out loud to avoid awkward words

Continue reading “Setting Up Your Blog”

So You Want to Start a Book Blog

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So you want to start a book blog, or vlog, or podcast, or bookstagram, or literally anything online having to do with any awesome book you’re reading. Great! Good luck!

I love finding new book blogs to follow, so whether you’re just reviewing or having discussions, feel free to leave the URL in the comments.

There are lots of things to consider when you start a book blog: Continue reading “So You Want to Start a Book Blog”