Note: Do not ask me for tips on origami. I borrowed all these photos from the internet, and I do not make any animals out of paper.
So, being a book blogger is now a thing. If you’re a reader/fangirl/fanboy, blogging about it means a big community (where geeks can all band together to take over the world), where you can find like-minded souls to share the hype and the flops and the overall love for books. It is good.
However, like with all good things, humans tend to forget that “in moderation” is really the best motto for life, and now book blogging is developing its own issues. For example, the “echo chamber” — meaning we all seem to be getting excited about and promoting the same authors and series. And the very sad notion that if someone disagrees with your review, they need to be strung up by their thumbs. Truly, this is not the sort of environment we should be cultivating.
So, here’s my advice for those of us just starting out in this interesting internet culture.
Along with creating the design/layout for your blog, plan which social media sites to join and how to link them to your own site. Of course, you hope that this will be fun. But, realistically, it’s just as much fun to see your stats go up, and know people are experiencing your content. So, after you place posts on your blog, you need to let folks know it’s there. One of the best things I did for boosting The Invisible Moth’s visibility was to join Twitter. Lots of book bloggers really like using Instagram or Facebook as well.
A personal note on social media: You don’t have to do all of it. Find the sites that you feel are easy to use, have a community you’d like to be a part of, and connects others to what you want to share the most.
Choose which sort of books you want to review most, but let yourself break the mold every now and then. If you mostly read fantasy, it’s totally fine to build your foundation on fantasy fiction. But if there are certain classics or fluffy romantic contemporaries that just really stir your soul, feel free to share those with your readers, too. After all, it is your blog.
Having a posting schedule helps, but it’s not necessary. In my experience, declaring that you will, without fail, be posting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday is not realistic. Things happen. You’ll get sick, go on vacation, misplace the charger to your laptop, need to make an emergency trip to the vet…and your post won’t get uploaded that day. And nothing’s wrong with that.
Don’t feel compelled to only read the hot new releases you see “all” the other bloggers featuring. Last year, I realized that there’s a big problem within our community — I’ve read other posts that refer to it as “the echo chamber syndrome.” Indeed, it seems that there aren’t just 4 or 5 people discussing the new Cassandra Clare/Rick Riordan/Nicola Yoon/Marissa Meyer publication, these are the only discussions going on anywhere, and “everybody” loves them without any dissent. Hey, guys, I’m sorry, but there are plenty of other books out there to read, and if you just don’t care for a novel/series that the majority of your community seems to adore, that’s really okay as well.
Doing tags or challenges is optional. Honestly, I’ve given up doing these, as well as weekly themes, because I simply don’t have the time, and I’d rather be someone who posts discussions/topics I came up with on my own. There’s no right or wrong; a lot of newcomers feel it’s expected of them after another tags or links them. You can if you want; but most bloggers won’t hold it against you if you opt out.
Don’t feel bad if you hit a reading slump, or aren’t sure what to review this week, or even just want to hide from the world for a while. The great thing about maintaining an online presence is that you control how much of it is in your life. Sometimes bloggers need to take a break (the local vernacular is “on hiatus”), either because physical life is requiring your online stuff to take a backseat, or you’re just not feeling the posting/tweeting/instagraming vibe. And all of that is just fine.
Most of all, keep it fun. Unless you’re one of the rare breed who’s being paid to blog, you’re here for fun, so it needs to stay that way.
Having a platform to share my thoughts on things that are close to my heart has been very rewarding. But a major part of what’s made it worthwhile is all the super-supportive feedback and conversation I’ve received from the visitors to my site. That’s what makes this ongoing project really special.