f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: If I Could Write a Letter To Me - #1: So You've Started a Book Blog
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Friday, February 10, 2012

If I Could Write a Letter To Me - #1: So You've Started a Book Blog

{ ++ } Inspired partially by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, partially by the Brad Paisley song (Letter to Me) and mostly by my desire to share some of the knowledge that I've learned in the months since I started blogging, I am introducing a new feature here at Once Upon a Prologue called If I Could Write a Letter to Me.  Each month I'll tackle a different subject in the form of a letter to my younger blogging self - sort of a "things I wish I'd known when I started," and a collection of tips and tricks I've picked up along the way.  I may or may not keep the letter format, just depends on if it's easy or difficult to write.  It should be fun, I think, and maybe I'll pass along some info.

If I Could Write a Letter to Me- #1:  So You've Started a Book Blog

Dear Blogging Self, Day 1:

So earlier today, you had this great idea, totally inspired by Suz over at A Soul Unsung.  She started her book blog a couple weeks ago, and you started thinking, “huh, maybe I should start one too,” then today, you did.  You’ve clicked the sign-up button, thinking “it can’t be that much different than LiveJournal,” and now you’re staring at the pre-made templates wishing you could design something kick-ass for your blog.  It’s only been a few hours and already you’re fantasizing about giving it a cool book-ish name, jazzing it up, and ooh, what’s this cool thing called GFC?    It’s pretty much immediately apparent that the book blogging world is a huge place, VERY different than LiveJournal (your usual platform where you’re comfortable,) and that it’s going to be a great big adventure…if you can ever figure out how to get started. 

Here are a few pointers, some do’s and don’ts.  (If you’d known these, your transition from fumbling geek to honest-to-goodness book blogger might have been easier, but it wouldn’t have been half as much fun.)

  • Do think up a name first, and stick with it.  Don’t randomly decide on a new one and change your blog URL.  The first author who sent you a review request WILL Tweet you with, “where has your blog gone?!”  Also, don’t spend hours agonizing over the perfect name.  One will come to you when you least expect it; you’ll say it to yourself a couple dozen times before you realize that’s what you’ve started thinking of your blog as – Once Upon a Prologue.
  • Do decide what kind of a blog you want yours to be.  Is it a YA blog?  Paranormal romance?  Women’s fiction?  A bit of everything?  Eclectic is absolutely cool, but if you start juggling too many genres, you’re only going to confuse yourself.  Decide to focus on a few genres you truly love. 
  • Do set up a dedicated email address for your book blog.  One address where anyone can find you – publicists, bloggers, authors, and other book lovers.  Don’t try to use two – that’s just crazy! 
  • Do be individual.  Other bloggers have been doing this for so much longer, and they have their review format set up, as well as their features and their memes.  It’s okay to be jealous of how amazing they all are.  (It’s okay to want to do the “I’m not worthy!” salute from Wayne’s World.  But you probably shouldn’t.)  But don’t covet.  Find what works FOR YOU.  Find YOUR style, not theirs. 
  • Don’t jump in to sending ARC requests.  You may think sending that first ARC request makes you a rock star, but really, you aren’t going to be sure what to include – and you’re going to forget your mailing address.  Take some time to study other’s example letters, and let your own voice filter in to your ARC requests.
  • Don’t check the mailbox obsessively.  Just because you sent off an ARC request doesn’t mean you’re definitely going to get one.  Also?  Don’t flood the publishing world with ARC requests.  Send one or two at a time.  Just because you get spazz-y over books like a shopaholic does over a new pair of shoes doesn’t mean overkill is a good idea.  Plus, this whole book blogging thing is about SO MUCH MORE than just free books.
  • Do be a bit picky about review requests.  You’ll get some amazing ones, and some out-there ones.  Don’t feel pressure to accept every single one.  Accept the ones you truly WANT to read.
  • Don’t agonize over followers or play the number game.  Followers are amazing folks, and they will come in time.  Don’t follow more blogs than you can visit – that doesn’t do you any good. 
  • Do Comment, comment, comment on other’s blogs!  Show your support, and they’ll show the love in return. 
  • Do write honest, thoughtful reviews.  Take your time on them, and make them worthy of being read.  Don’t be afraid to state what you truly think.  If you liked a book, say so.  If you didn’t, then tell the world, but in a tasteful way.  Bloggers and authors will respect you FAR more for that then if you were ever to inflate a review.  Build a reputation of being a blogger others can trust to be honest.
  • Do have fun!  You’ll eventually tell others, “if my job was my hobby and my blog was my job, I’d be happier,” and you’ll find that it’s true.  Blogging will introduce you to new friends and new books.  And in short, it will change your life.  So get out there and be awesome, like I know you are.

{ ++ } So, some self-deprecating humor IS intended here.  And discussion and feedback IS VERY VERY welcome.  Next month's "letter to me" won't be bulleted and might change format, but will probably be on followers or ARCS.  This one was kind of a general "things I wish I'd have known," hence the list style.  : )


shirleytemple83 said...

I am a fairly new blogger so this was very helpful! You could have been writing the letter to me! Thanks for the tips!

Lauren @ Hughes Reviews said...

Great advice!

I liked the part about setting up a separate e-mail for your blog. It's something I did with mine and it has helped me immensely not to have to wade through all the other crud to get to my much more important blog e-mails :)

And I love the button for this feature! So pretty!
Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

Jade said...

Lovely points and I have to agree with you. This is great advice for newcomers and even book blogging vets who've lost their way a bit. Best advice is to do what works for you. If you try emulating others too much you'll lose yourself and your voice. And it's easier to keep a blog going when you're passionate about the subject and passionate about how you get your posts done.

And it would be beyond awesome if this were my job!

Stepping out of the Page said...

Great post. I agree with most of the points you've made there. I can see this post being very helpful to a lot of people. :) I myself have just come across your blog and I love the theme and title. Great post. :)

Stephanie @ Stepping Out of the Page
Remember to drop by my International Giveaway!

Marie Landry said...

These are great tips, Molli! I sure wish I'd known these things when I was starting out. And yet, you're right, it wouldn't have been half as much fun. Blogging has been a fun, crazy learning experience, and I still feel like I'm learning stuff a year later, and I bet a year from now, I'll likely still feel that way! I hope more new bloggers come across this and are able to learn from you!

Kate S. said...

Great letter and I agree with everything you said in it!

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