Not that there are actual rules (nobody panic). (Unless you’re doing something I expressly put on the list of don’t’s. Then wallow in your shame and change your ways.)
No, kidding. But being a book blogger is in fact much harder than many people realize; so here are some tips to help you survive the online jungle, and successfully continue your endeavors for sharing your love of reading.
DO read what you like, and post what you want to. There are few things more frustrating for a bookdragon than feeling compelled to read books they simply have no interest in, just because “everybody else is reading it.” There’s nothing wrong in sticking to your favorite genres. Only write reviews if that’s your preference. Or only post discussions. Whatever — it’s your blog, and most of us are not being paid to do this, so what’s the point of not enjoying it?
DON’T turn your comments section into Confrontation Central. Yes, you have every right to express your opinion. So do those who comment on your blog. Even if it doesn’t match up with yours. The trick is to maintain a presence that keeps yourself and your readers comfortable. Most people who didn’t like a certain author/series will just say so nicely, and not mind if you loved the minature pandas out of it. If you feel somebody’s really getting out of hand, though, probably the best thing to do is just ignore it, or block it (I mean literally, via technology).
Also, know how much disagreeing is too much for you. If “Mysteries are so retardedly boring, I don’t know how anybody with half a brain cell can read them” honestly doesn’t bother you, then don’t draw the line there. But if you’d really prefer people to stick to, “This one just wasn’t my thing, thanks,” then don’t be afraid to lay down the law. Again, it is your blog, and ultimately your decision.
DO visit other blogs. Especially when you find another blogger who reads a lot of the same stuff you do. Not only can you find some great new authors this way, you build online relationships that may become important and lasting.
DON’T do the “follow for follow” thing. If you really like someone’s content and want to subscribe to their blog, please go ahead. But subscribing only with the hopes that they’ll do the same for you is kind of like only sending forwards of crude jokes to your distant relatives. Most of us do end up following each other, because we build friendships through our common interests. That’s the ultimate hope for a lot of us, not to have 10,000 subscribers (9,000 of which may not even read our posts).
DO give your honest opinions about books. Yes, I really mean that. And “honest” does not mean the same as “cruel and unusual ways of expressing your personal dislike of a specific novel.”
Of course, it is your blog, and ultimately your decision on how negative is too negative. But personally, as an author myself, I would feel really horrible if I read a review that basically told me to go jump off a bridge (including gory details of what it would look like after I hit bottom), simply because the person didn’t enjoy my book. That’s where I get my guideline from. Tactfully saying, “I just felt this was too dull and I couldn’t relate to the characters since they all seemed not to care that they hurt the old lady’s feelings,” can make the difference between losing and gaining respect among your fellow bookdragons/authors.
DON’T worry about doing ARCs. Now, I may feel a little blue in the face, because this is a topic I’ve covered a lot lately, but it bears repeating. ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy, and is a free edition of an impending release, sent either by the author or the publisher, in the hopes of getting lots of reviews out before the sale date. Many book bloggers feel becoming someone who gets all the coveted ARCs is the Holy Grail of this venture. However, there are a lot of downsides to having to read a book you may not even like, on a deadline, and needing to post a review that other people are going to make a big deal of. My advice is don’t sweat getting approved for ARCs if it sounds like your seventh circle of hell.
DO become as engaged as you want to be. Jump on the bandwagon for tags if you think they’re really fun. Start accounts on Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and Pinterest if it makes your little heart flutter with joy. Sign up for blog tours, guest posts (writing and receiving), host giveaways.
And also, never be afraid to step back and disconnect from certain platforms or activities when you know it’s simply overwhelming you.
Remember, all of this only works if you’re truly happy with it.