Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Blogging 101 {re-post}

Some of my lovely readers may have noticed that I've made some changes to my book blogging routine - what programs I'm using, how I set up my reviews, etc.  So I decided to go back to a post I wrote as a still-very-new blogger and give it a facelift.  I hadn't realized how outdated some of it was!  So today, rather than a Pinterest project, I bring you the new-and-improved Book Blogging 101: The All-Inclusive Guide!

Also, if any of you have book blogging questions, I'm open to creating a sequel - Book Blogging 101: The Q&A Edition!  Just send off an email or chime in at the comments below.

Book Blogging 101: The All-Inclusive Guide





Getting a Book

The first step to reviewing a book is... reading it.  Now, you can read anything off your home bookshelf or the library stacks, but I prefer actually getting a free book for my reviews.  So, I signed up for the Blogging for Books program by Waterbrook Multnomah publishers.  This is the program I started with and it was a great starting point, as well as my favorite for a long time.  However, now I would have to say my favorite is BookSneeze by Thomas Nelson - they have an amazing variety, and the choices stay available longer.  Other programs include...

  •  NetGalley - I have not used this because reviewers must be eighteen or older.
  • LibraryThing's Early Reviewers and Member Giveaways - These can have great books, awful drivel, and everything in between.  You just have to be willing to sort through it all and sometimes end up with a book not as good as you'd hoped.  Keep in mind that these are two separate programs, and (especially if you select the multiple-books-per-batch option), they will require as much attention as individual programs.
  • Zondervan Street Team - I just joined this group, and I'm psyched for what looks like some great books!
  • Team Novel Teen - I've never used this program and don't know how it works, but I know of several great bloggers that love it.  (I just sent in a request to join, too, so we'll see what comes of it! :] )
  • Tyndale Media Center - One I tried and didn't care for, mostly because I prefer fiction and they offer more inspirational nonfiction, memoirs, self-help, etc.  Lots of other reviewers love this program.
How Programs Work

Most programs are pretty simple.  Once you set up an account, you can choose from a list which book(s) you want.  Usually your preferences in your profile do affect your list of available books, so make sure to check all the preferences you might be interested in; also, keep in mind that what country you're in will probably affect what books are available and whether you can get ebooks or print.  Once you've chosen or won a book (depending on the program), it's sent off to you.  You then have a certain amount of time - usually thirty-ninety days - to post your review on your blog.  Some programs are more lenient about time frames than others, so be sure to check the rules.

Writing Your Review

You've joined a program.  You've chosen a book (or you chose several and won one.)  You've read that book.  Now it's time to write your review.

First you need to review the book on your blog.  This blog review will be your 'original review,' which you will copy over to the consumer site and the reviewing program's site.  When writing this review, I recommend following these guidelines:
  • Be on time.  While many programs don't have any deadlines, others require a review within thirty or ninety days of receiving the book.  You can check the rules of the program you're using, but I try to post all reviews within thirty days, just to be safe.
  • Keep it a good length.  Most programs have a minimum word length, but you don't want your readers to get bored and leave, either.  Check your chosen program's rules if you want.  I generally try to stay around 200-400 words.
  • Make it worthwhile.  Readers don't want you to ramble on about your favorite part, and they don't want something that sounds like a book report for sixth grade.  (At least, most of them don't.)  If you're not sure what to write, start out with a summary of the book.  Make sure not to give away any plot twists or surprises, but give the readers a general idea of the book's storyline or theme.  Then write your opinion.  Did the writing stink?  Were the characters amazing?  Were there holes in the research?  What did you (or didn't you) learn?
  • Rate it.  Whether or not the program you're using requires a rating, I recommend using a 1-5 star rating chart.  It helps sum up your review and clarifies your opinion. (Plus, if readers are in a hurry, they can skip to the star rating to get your 5 second opinion.)
  • Share the cover.  It's a well-known fact that readers prefer blog posts with pictures, and a book review already has a great built-in photo op: the book's cover!  No review is complete without it.
  • Add some links.  Everyone has a different idea of what you should include.  I link up to the Amazon book page, GoodReads book page, and author website, and I try to include a book trailer if there is one.  I also link up to related reviews of mine - like a book from the same series or by the same author.  Other reviewers include the LibraryThing, Shelfari, Barnes & Nobles, Christian Book Distributors, or Books a Million links; publisher site link; the author's social media links; first chapter previews (only if already online; don't add that yourself!); and other fun extras.
  • Include a disclaimer.  This is one of the most important steps.  The easiest way to explain is to show you Waterbrook Multnomah's explanation: "As of December 1, 2009, new FTC Guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information on their blog when positing a review of the product. As you are responsible for complying with the FTC Guidelines, we recommend that you review them, available at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html."

Posting Your Review

Now that you've got a nice review ready to be read, you have to get it out there.  Once it's on your blog, you should copy and paste it to your favorite consumer site.  I use Amazon, since it's a widely known site and most review programs accept it.  The lesser known your favorite site is, the less likely it is to be accepted by your program.  Check the program guidelines. (Just a note: you can post your review on multiple consumer sites.  If you use several sites and have the time, I recommend doing that.  As a rule, I post on Amazon, GoodReads, and LibraryThing, regardless of how or where I got the book.)  Make sure to include a link to your original review.

After the review is on your site and a consumer website, most programs require that you post it on their website.  If this is true of your program, there should be fairly easy instructions on your program's website.

And if you really want to get that review read, share it with everyone you know.  Share the links - to your original blog post and/or the review program site - on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and any other social network you use.  Ask your blog readers to check out the review program site, and ask readers on the consumer sites and review program to stop by your blog.  Keep your posts connected, and your voice is sure to be heard.

Now What?

You've signed up for a review program and received a free book.  You read the book.  You reviewed the book.  Your review is now all over the Internet.  So what do you do now?

Start over.  Request a new book to enjoy.  All the programs I've seen have no limit on how many times you can get free books for reviews, as long as you always post the reviews on time.  This is the great thing about these programs - it keeps going for as long as you want!  All you have to do is give your opinion or thoughts on the book and you get more books for free.

But if you want to show your appreciation for this wonderful deal, here are my suggestions:
  • Share on your blog or website.  If you go to my Reviews page, you'll see links to posts (including this one!) about writing reviews, links to my reviews... and links to my programs.
  • Share on social networks.  You don't have to have a recent review to share your program with the world.  Every so often, share the program link on those social media pages of yours.  If you have reader friends who might be interested, share it on their profile.
  • Share on your blog.  Write a post on how awesome your program is, or (like me!) share with your readers how they can use it to get their own free books.
  • Do a giveaway.  After a while, the books can pile up.  If you loved a book and think your readers will too, have a giveaway!  Let readers know that on a certain date this gently-used book will be shipped to one lucky winner.  Have them stop by the program, author, or book webpage and share what they learned; share/tweet/blog about the giveaway; or like and follow you, the author, and/or the publisher to enter.  As a bonus, running giveaways (and posting them on giveaway sites online) is a great way to boost blog traffic and followers.  (P.S. From my personal experience both as host and as an entrant, it's a much better idea to use Rafflecopter than to stick it out with the comments-as-entries method.  The website has very simple instructions and is super-easy to use.)
And that's the end!  Doesn't it sound so easy - and fun?  I must admit, I'm addicted!  Try joining one of the programs I listed and you'll discover just how amazing it is!

10 comments:

  1. Nice!

    Interesting blog ypu've got!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very good info. . .I've been looking for something to post regularly about on blog and reviewing might be it, since I love to read. Thanks a bunch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure thing! I'm glad it helped you out :)

      Delete
    2. Hello again! My first book is on it's way from Blogging for Books. I'm so excited. To thank you, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award: http://missionincomplete95.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/discoveries-and-nominations/

      Delete
  3. Thank you for the tips! I was wondering how to get started with blog reviewing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well thanks for stopping by! *curtsies* Glad to be of service, miss!

      Delete
  4. Have you ever had issues with Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books? I signed up in March, and my book was due to arrive April 3. How long do your usually take to arrive?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi again! I've never had a book that never arrived from BFB, although honestly I never checked when they did come, so I might have had a late book and not realized it was late.

      This is found at the bottom of BFB's FAQ page concerning late books:

      Q: What should I do if I haven’t received my book within the 10-14 BUSINESS DAY time frame?
      A: First log in to your account and make sure your address is correct. Second, check to see if anyone else signed for your book or picked it up and forgot to tell you (UPS delivers to the front door). If neither of these explain the delay, email us and include your name, book requested, and date you received the email saying your book was batched for shipment. We’ll ask our warehouse for the tracking info and if necessary, re-ship the book.
      (http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/faq)
      (Contact info found at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/contact)

      Delete

Thanks for dropping by! I'd love to have you chime in.

Comments are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments or commentors as I see fit. Bullying or spam in particular will not be tolerated.

You won't see your comment appear right away, as I've recently enabled moderation. This is just to ensure I see comments and can respond, as Blogger no longer sends notifications of new comments to us blog authors. Thank you for your patience with this.