Advice

Beginning Bloggers- Pros and Cons for blogging

Hello everyone, so I’ve been blogging for officially for a few months now. Wow, the time has flown. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve really enjoyed and what has been a bit of a struggle with book blogging. I decided to share it with you incase you’re interested in getting into book blogging or just need to know that you’re not the only blogger experiencing the struggle and rewards.

  1. The Community (pro #1) – I’ve just begun to really start interacting with the book community and everyone is so friendly and fantastic. I don’t have a lot of friends who enjoy reading or have time oddly enough and this has really given me an outlet to start talking to those of you who have similar interests. It’s so warm and great!
  2. Time Commitment (Neg #1) – A blog that is updated approximately every other day or even a couple of times a week is a huge time commitment. Writing is fun, but the moment you give yourself a schedule there’s personal pressure. Now, you don’t have to keep a set schedule, but realize that if you want to new people to chat with you on your blog a set schedule I’m finding is optimal for at least getting your posts seen.
  3. Broadening of horizons (Pro #2) – I began this blog to talk and discuss particular elements of fantasy books. Mainly, characterization, world building, and diversity. I know what I enjoy for characterization and world building, but I hadn’t really been looking for any diversity. It wasn’t intentional, but I was reading books about all white characters almost all the time. I don’t think reading those books are a problem, but what was the problem was assumed there weren’t other types of stories out there. I didn’t think the problem was me. I just thought people weren’t publishing different stories. Well, I was dead wrong and now I’ve start to realize and really explore more diverse books. I must say that they’re amazing!
  4. Remembering stuff ( Neg #2) – I like to say I have the memory of a goldfish. I read a lot of books and do a lot of stuff. It’s really difficult for me to remember a large amount of detailed information. This is mainly important because I want to create a lot of lists. People love lists and they’re also very helpful for people who want to read a particular type of book. So, in order to remember books and characters well enough to create lists I takes notes. This really slows down how quickly I can read and can dampen the enjoyment I have for reading.
  5. Patience (Pro and Con #3) I list this as a pro and a con, because it really is for me. I have been slowly building a blog following, but it’s been slow going. This is a con, because as I mentioned I want to talk with other book lovers and the more people you have following you the more likely you are to have a discussion about something you’ve posted. It makes sense. However, it’s also a pro. I think instant success can sometimes make people (or at least me) lazy. It takes me time to write what I feel like is good content and even then sometimes it goes up before I feel like it’s 100% ready. There’s no problem with taking your time and I think that’s an important lesson on it’s own.

What do you think? Have you experienced these as well? Are you concerned about them?

Advice

Beginning Book Bloggers- ARC 101

Hello lovely readers, I hope the day is treating you well! Today I want to talk about ARCs. ARC stands for advance readers copies. This is probably one of the best perks outside of the book community itself to book blogging. It is where you get free copies of a book with the understanding that on some platform you will leave a review. As a lover of books this is amazing! However, it’s also really easy to overwhelm yourself if you’re not careful. In this post I’m going to discuss general ARCs stuff and also some precautions about what I call the ARC trap.

Where can you get ARCs?

NetGalley– my favorite site. Full of professional publishers

Edelweiss+ – also full of professional publishers. Haven’t personally used.

BookSends ARC – sends you an e-mail with ARCs you can choose. Very small selection. The deadline to read is usually very short compared to other sites.

Reading Deals – the first place I ever got an ARC. They’re very clear on book review expectations and etiquette which was nice, but their selection isn’t very good.

I’m sure there are even more than this, but these are the ones I’ve either heard of or used myself. You can also always personally ask the publishing company or author for an ARC though with no following and limited experience you probably won’t have much luck.

How do I get approved for ARCs?

This is the golden question. For smaller companies that handout ARCs like BookSends and Reading Deals anything you request you can usually receive no problem. Fairly straight forward. I’m not really familiar with Edelweiss+ so honestly I can’t really speak for that website, but I’ve heard a lot of people use it so I wanted to include it. NetGalley is where I get all my best ARCs from. It’s a great site! Now, NetGalley is hub for a variety of publishers that receive your requests and then either approve or deny them. If you look at the publisher’s preferences you will see that almost every publisher has the right to approve or deny your request basically just because they want to. However, there are some things you can do to really improve your chances. 1. You need a platform. I’ve been approved when all I had were Amazon and Goodreads accounts, but it’s not the best. A platform such as a blog really tells the publishers that you have a following and that you’re taking this seriously. You don’t even need a large following so don’t worry about having tons of followers! 2. You need to keep an eye on your feedback ratio. Your feedback ratio is the number of books you’ve given reviews for compared to the number of ARCs you’ve received. Some high profile bloggers may be able to get away with low ratios, but starting out I’ve found a low feedback ratio tends to be why I get denied a book.

Beware the ARC Trap

What is the ARC trap you ask? It’s when you requested lots of ARCs, think you didn’t get approved for any of them, and so request more only to later get approved for all of them and then you have six or more ARCs and limited time to read everything. Plus, your feedback ratio is now horrible. Now, if you’re thinking that’s oddly specific then you’d be correct. This has happened to me multiple times and I don’t want it to happen to you. It puts you under a lot of pressure that you don’t necessarily need or want to be under. Publishers are very busy and probably receive hundreds if not thousands of requests for books every day. It can take a publisher anywhere from a couple days to a month to see your ARC request. I didn’t realize this at first at it put me under a lot of pressure to quickly read a lot of books that I didn’t necessarily have time to read. I would encourage you if you’re just starting out as a reviewer to only request one or two books at a time. Most publishers are kind enough to e-mail you that they have denied your request for their ARC so you should usually know if the publisher has seen your request or not.

ARC Etiquette

So, I would say there’s definitely some ARC etiquette I would personally recommend that bloggers/reviewers follow. If you are getting a free ARC it’s important to remember that the author and publisher are giving you a gift. They worked very hard on it and probably put in a lot of love. What does that mean for you? You need to actually take the time to read the book. Don’t skim it, don’t give up on it even if you don’t like it. Read it. Now, there of course can be an occasional exception. I have DNF-ed one ARC, but that should be a rare occurrence. Once you’ve finished it, give a thought out review. It is 100% okay to give an ARC a bad review. Honesty is the best policy my friends and if you’re not being honest then you’re not helping anyone. But, if you’re going to give a single star to a book then there needs to be a reason just like if you gave it five stars. This is part of why you were given the ARC in the first place. Honor that responsibility.

Transparency is also important. If you were given an ARC it’s important to make sure you let readers know you received it as a free ARC. This has personally never changed how I feel about someone giving a review for a book, but again I think honesty is the best policy and letting readers know is a good trust builder.


Does that answer all your ARC questions? Were there things I didn’t cover? Let me know what you think!

Advice

Top 5 Reasons I Follow a Blog

One question I believe all first time bloggers and bloggers in general ask themselves is how can I get followers? Followers are really the lifeblood and fun part of a blog. Without followers you’re basically shouting into the void. Followers bring great conversations and shared interests. So, I’ve been doing research which includes looking at tons of blogs and I’ve analyzed why I follow some blogs rather than others. As a caveat, I’ve been looking primarily at book blogs. Consider some of these things as you create your blog.

  1. Interesting content– all book blogs have lots of similarity when it comes to content. So, it makes sense that what really sets a blog apart is new and interesting content. I love a good discussion or blog post about something I haven’t heard of before. This concept also works no matter what topic you’re blogging about. If you’re saying the same thing as everyone else then there’s less interest.
  2. A desire to connect with readers– I love bloggers that seem like they want to talk with me. Blogging is a very social activity and if you never respond to anyone when they comment or seem disinterested then people aren’t going to go out of their way to chat with you.
  3. Evergreen Content– evergreen content is content that never really expires. Like all those My Top 5/10/20…lists. It draws me in. I can read a post that you made a year ago and still enjoy it. I’m not sure what’s so appealing about lists, but I love them.
  4. Visually Appealing- I love looking at well-organized, easily read blogs and I don’t think I’m alone in that one. I want to enjoy looking at your blog and navigating through it. If it’s hard to read or just really rough to look at I’ll find a different blog.
  5. Lots of Content- The more content the more I can read from you and the more I can learn if we have similar interests and tastes. This is really tough when you first start a blog if you don’t want to burn out. I would advise like many bloggers before me to stick to a schedule. Then, you won’t burn out, but you still have regular content coming out even if it’s just once a week.

What do you think? Are there other things you consider when deciding if you’re going to follow a blog or not?