Book Blogs – The Possible Do’s and Dont’s…

I had an email yesterday from someone, who has asked to remain nameless, asking for thoughts on book blogging as they were thinking of setting one up. I am a firm believer in the more book blogs the merrier, in fact I have been known to say to many people ‘you know you should really write a blog’. Now this person didn’t just want my thoughts they also wanted all of yours too. I did send a small tweet out about this last night but then today thought ‘sod it, let’s make a blog out of it’ – though I am hoping my honest response won’t get me in trouble in the meantime. So here is part of the email that sparked this all off and after I have had a rant go at responding I (and they) would love your thoughts too…

This might seem an odd request but I was wondering if you or your readers might have any tips for a budding new book blogger? I am always amazed by the breadth and diversity of the book blogging world and would love to be a part of it. I just wondered if there were any things you could recommend doing when starting a new blog, or indeed recommend not doing. I would love your thoughts on what you like about other blogs you read or anything that puts you off revisiting a blog, and of course any insights from other bloggers and followers of blogs on what they do and don’t like?

What is interesting about this is that this year I have been pondering the same thing myself a little. As I mentioned a while back, when I was reaffirming my own blogging boundaries, I realised that I had gone from following ten blogs to around five to six times that many blogs and so I have been looking at lessening that and this has meant looking at what puts me off other blogs and what keeps me coming back. So I came up with five reasons for each, firstly what keeps me coming back…

  • Lashings of personality – I like reviews in the broadsheets, however the reason I like blogs all the more is that I get an emotional and personal reaction to a book and the enthusiasm or emotive response to a book can have me rushing it up the TBR quicker than an academic one on the whole. I also feel like I am getting to know the blogger.
  • A good sense of humour – Something I am often jealous of in a few bloggers is how they make their reviews so witty and so I enjoy reading them even if I have no plans to read the book they have read, if that makes sense. I need to do this more; I do in my vodcasts and on The Readers I think, but not so much my reviews.
  • Well rounded and backed up reviews – Be it a rave review or some constructive criticism on the whole, as long as it is not the sort that involves being vile with a smile, I like a blog that has a bit of depth. Not being a snob but if I wanted a brief ‘it was good’ or ‘it was crap’ I would go on a certain shopping website. I don’t expect a literary essay by any means, a nice thoughtful well rounded review does the trick.
  • More than just book reviews – I love reading about books. I also love book blogs which talk about the behind the scenes of reading. What books they have bought (even if they know they shouldn’t have) or borrowed recently, where they have been out and about, book habits etc. That said if all I got was those and no reviews, and just cat pictures or knitting for a week, I would be put off.
  • No agenda, just enthusiasm – I have noticed some blogs seem to have an agenda, either you feel the blogger just wants all the latest books and then doesn’t actually write about them or that someone is writing it purely in the hope they will get a blog-to-book deal or some job in publishing. If that is an aspect of it or an off shoot of it, and I know it can be with me and my job – but I don’t mention it on the whole and hope you think I am genuine, that is fine and in some ways will fuel the fire of bookish enthusiasm. Enthusiasm always shines through.

What puts me off…

  • High opinions of themselves – Says the man who is spouting on about what he does and doesn’t like, but I have been asked, ha! Sometimes you get a tone with someone’s writing that they could have written this whole book better than the author or that people should be thankful that they have written a review of any book at all. It is hard to explain but you know it when you read it. I like to feel I would want to hang out with the bloggers I read.
  • Layouts – This actually could be a whole list in itself. I don’t like (though I make an exception of one blog) white writing on black background, blog posts where you have to ‘click to continue reading’, lack of pictures (just text and I turn off, odd considering books are all text on the whole and so is this post), adverts – well too many of them (this annoys me on broadsheet websites), pages that are too busy, odd text (sans serif etc). I like a nice clean spacious layout.
  • Reviewing books way in advance – this sounds really silly but if a book isn’t out for a week or two, let alone a month or two which can make me grind my teeth/snarl inwardly, I have no interest in reading a review of it. What is the point? Ok, I could add it to a wish list I guess, like I do many, many books, but I have no thoughts on it to share, nothing to add and if the blogger is doing it all the time it just seems a bit smug even if that is not how it was intended. I myself like to have a chat on my blog with commenter’s about the books when I can, how can I do that if none of them have read it and only the publisher has? Each to their own though.
  • Endless Meme’s – I admit I used to be a bugger for this, and those blog to blogging awards (which seems like constant back patting), yet after a while they got too much. One every so often doesn’t nark me at all, but a few every week… erm, no.
  • Too much negativity – If a blogger never has anything good to say about a book, or only likes one book in five, then I just haven’t the time. The internet is a place that people use all too easily to be mean and I have no interest in it. Why would you spend your time wanting to read books you loathe let alone write about them?

So that is my thoughts on it all.  If I had to pick one thing though I think as I started my blog as a diary of bookish thoughts that is what attracts me to others overall, that and not taking themselves too seriously. Oh I am off again. As I said I did ask on twitter what put people off and got some of the following responses which I don’t think the people who tweeted me back will mind me sharing…

@1mpossiblealice – I like blogs for the human touch… like chatting to a well informed friend

@afictionhabit – reviews that regurgitate the plot and then give a score rather than describing what it felt like to read the book…

@sly_wit – Basic readability. Not the writing, but layout issues; black backgrounds, clutter, etc. Then it is just a question of style.

@dogeardiscs – High brow literary commentary, cluttered layout, constant memes and lack of voice

@penandpencilgal – sounds silly I know, but not enough photos

@stujallen – meme’s, pointless ones. Lack of personality, like to know who is behind the blog

@chasingbawa – Too much complaining about not being taken seriously, etc. Reading + writing blogs should be informative and enjoyable.

@JacquiWine – Anything too academic/over analytical. My work is v analytical, so I am looking for something more personal/engaging from blogs. I am not too keen on scores either

Blimey, that wasn’t even all of them, but these were the commonly occurring factors. Mind you my main tip would be blog for yourself and do what you like. But what about you out there be you a blog writer, blog reader or a blog lurker what do you love about them, or what keeps you coming back?. I would love your thoughts and so would this soon to be book blogger (and probably a few others too).  Though if you all say a blogger who writes a cruddy blog post like this I may weep, ha, ha, ha!

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82 responses to “Book Blogs – The Possible Do’s and Dont’s…

  1. I think you’ve got it all covered. Layout is a biggie for me because it’s the first thing you see when you get to a blog. Sidebars full of pictures put me off, flashing pictures is a no-no especially.

    I personally don’t like very long reviews – whether I have or have not read the book, I don’t want to read a book about the book, so to speak. Endless author interviews are also boring. Five questions should be enough.

    • You see I don’t mind long reviews if they arent dry. I have noticed that mine are getting longer but hopefully I am not boring everyone by going on and on but its a great way for me to diarise what I have read and my thoughts to it and why. I also do more than 5 questions in interviews hahaha. But then if people aren’t a fan they can skip those ;)

  2. I love that there are so many book blogs around that review such a wide variety of titles in differing ways. But it does make it hard to keep up!

    • Yes I love that too Sakura, I really don’t want people thinking this is me grumbling about there being too many blogs as that is far from my opinion, I do have keeping up issues – yours is on my list that I need to comment on as much as I drop in on.

      • No worries, I know how busy we all are.:) I really enjoy your posts on book blogging though and love the way you manage to inject humour into your writing!

      • Awww thank you Sakura! I don’t think I put any in and always worry about me being ‘me’ or not ‘me’ enough lol

        Btw, Polly is coming up soon and I am going to chat to her about coming down, hopefully to join a Riverside Readers meeting lol

      • I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Your personality shines through.

        And hurray! Can’t wait to see you.^^

  3. I find this fascinating. I migrated my very dodgy badly written blog over to wordpress from livejournal about a year ago. In that time I have been slowly trying hard to improve my own blogging. So I can’t really claim to know what makes a good book blog. But I do know what I like.I like reviews on the kind of books I like to read – that isn’t always the latest releases. I don’t like memes – and don’t do them, although I have taken part in one or two blog hops – they can be fun. I am now trying to add to the kind of things I blog about – still bookish stuff – but not just reviews – although I sometimes find it hard to know what to write about – it sometimes seems easier to just do reviews. Funnily enough I have been preparing some future blog posts today – posts that aren’t just reviews! shock horror! I read quite a lot of book blogs – but just don’t have time to read them all – and certainly not to comment on them all. I think it is brilliant just how many there are. I have added significantly to my wishlists because of other book blogs. This is a great post Simon, thank you, I look forward to what other people’s comments on this are though as I feel I am very much still in the learning process of blogging.

    • I disagree with you saying that you cant say what makes a good blog. I have been going for over five years and still very review I write I strive to do better than the last, sometimes I do sometimes I don’t but that is fine either way. I read lots of blogs, as I do books, so that means I – and therefore you – have very valid opinions on what draws us and makes us avoid a blog. it doesnt mean we are right overall its just our opinions obvioulsy but everyone is entitled to say what does and doesnt work for them be it their own or other blogs. If that doesnt sound like a rant or blog law making?

      I have over thought this reply, ha!

  4. Seems like everything’s been said already, but I really think the two most important things for a new book blogger to remember are (1) Write/blog using your own style/personality. There are TONS of book blogs out there — your unique spin is what will make yours stand out and (2) Be active in the book blogging community. Read lots of blogs so that you can decide for yourself what you like/don’t like, leave thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs, and keep up with what’s going on in the book world. Good luck to the would-be blogger and kudos to her/him for reaching out to experts like yourself!

    • Definitely your own style, I tried hard at the start to make my reviews like broadsheet reviews or like the ones for work and that doesnt work on a blog I dont think. Reading lots of other blogs is good too – though remember reading books is the most important thing, otherwise no blog anyway.

  5. I like book blogs that offer a little more than just a straight review-perhaps an analysis of a fictional trend or area, suggestions for similar reads or even a more academic analysis. Basically, i’m looking to learn from someone with interest in a particular literature/wrier, whether they are a blogger/reader or blogger/writer or blogger/publisher or even a blooger/academic.

    • I think that makes sense. i wouldn’t say I always go for the most academic blogs though, there are some I like but I also like ones that definitely wouldn’t fit into that box. In a non snobby way. I like a nice mixture.

  6. Fantastic article: This is a really interesting post/comments feed, Simon, and raises lots of questions.

    But oh dear: I think I break all of the rules with my own blog: White text on a dark background, long reviews, few pictures, very erratic posting schedule, lots of critical/theoretical terminology (of which I remain a staunch defender: sometimes one long and very specific word is better than ten small and vague ones)… whoooops. I think my side-bar is quite neat and tidy though… so that’s a plus, right?…. :S

    To be honest, I think any book blogger should just do what feels right to them. I’ve read numerous “advice” posts telling people how they should contrive their blogs to attract the absolute maximum number of possible readers — as if blogging is some kind of competition for hits, or as if more readers is equal to higher quality — and such things always leave me cold and a little depressed. If you want your blog to look or read a certain way, then DO IT – don’t worry whether or not it might alienate a certain percentage of your potential readership, because worries like that kinda miss the point of blogging.

    I don’t get very many hits (I average about 15-20 views a day), but the people who do visit my blog regularly are a kind of hardcore community who leave in-depth comments and who share my interests and passions: and that, surely, is a valuable thing?

    If having fewer hits, or a smaller but avid following is the price I have to pay for having a darker, longer-winded blog than other people, then so be it! I’d rather keep things as they are than feel obliged to change my blog into something I don’t like just so I can attract more readers.

    So my advice would just be: find your niche and do what makes YOU, the blogger, happy. Don’t worry about what the majority want, and don’t worry about maximising your hit counter, and don’t worry if some people don’t like the look (or sound or whatever) of your blog. Blogging is personal, and pandering to the whims of what you think potential readers might want will likely leave you unhappy and unfulfilled. If you put hard work and care and honesty into it, then you’ll find an audience; you really will. Honest.

    The best thing about the blogosphere is the sheer variety of types and styles and looks of all the blogs out there. Lots of things work in myriad different ways. If people aren’t willing to put the effort into reading long and in-depth reviews, then that’s perfectly fine (though it is a shame) – but it doesn’t mean there’s anything *wrong* with long and in-depth reviews.

    I like blogs that have plenty of character… at least… that’s what I’m trying to do with my own. Whether or not I’m very successful is another matter…er…

    Tomcat.

    p.s.: and I agree, there can never be too many book bloggers! :)

    • Blimey how to reply to this brilliant comment Tomcat, lol.

      Firstly there are no rules, all I am doing is listing what I like and dont like, as indeed are the commenters. I love your blog, yes the white on black (tis you who I am referring to above lol) normally grates with me personally BUT, and this is a big HUGE but, I love your writing style and voice and so I ignore that small issue I have. I have also noticed that I often respond in tone to the tone of your blog and your one of the bloggers I am jealous of for your tone, so nurr!

      Yes, more bloggers the merrier.

  7. Tons of thoughtful ideas and comments! I agree about layout. For me, this is the first thing that either turns me on or off. I migrate to a simple black text on white background blog because it’s the easiest to read. I also agree with posting images but not too many!

    For book blogs with some serious personality and wit please see the blogs DEAD WHITE GUYS and BOOKS ARE MY BOYFRIENDS. I love their quirky, smart posts.

    There are so many book blogs out there. And for all of them, it’s important to find “your thing.” For example, THE FEMINIST TEXICAN READS, reviews all kinds of books but from a feminist latina’s point of view, which I find unique and informative. Also, GOSSAMER OBSESSIONS is a romance blog that writes mini screenplays using the plot of the book, which are very funny. While she also writes a serious review, she gets her jab at the genre in there too!

  8. I’d agree with heavnali, I can’t claim to know what makes a book blog good. For me it’s more about what catches my attention, whether I feel I “connect” with the blogger, whether I think they are genuine with their reviews. Book blogs don’t have to be perfectly written either for me to enjoy them. I love reading some blogs which are definitely more high brow than mine as it makes me wonder at some bloggers writing abilities and gives me something to aspire to. One thing I don’t like is that I am always disappointed when I make an effort to comment on a piece and the blogger doesn’t respond (that is by no means a hint btw!). As with books themselves, the thing that attracts you to a blog can be hard to put your finger on but there is space out there for everyone. Thanks for the mention aswell btw!
    Sarah

    • You can though Sarah, as can Ali, because you are a blog reader. Anyone who reads or visits any websites can have an opinion and though its subjective its still totally valid.

      P.S I can be rubbish at responding, I know this only too well, ha – I am getting better and back to form now though! Honest.

  9. I had such fun reading this, Simon! I’ve been meaning to write something like this for years, because I get those emails too, and I’ve always been worried that I’ll offend people – well done for avoiding anything which would point out individual blogs which sometimes nark you!

    I think, now, finding a niche is really important. Just try to do something a little different to the extant bloggers. And I definitely agree with Donna – pictures need to feature for me!

    • Thank you Simon. I was slightly worried there would be people thinking I meant them and I honestly wouldn’t want to offend anyone as all of this is so subjective. It is just I have been asked so many times I thought I would put it out there and see.

      I get what you mean about niche, that is how magazines are having to go because theres so many and now there are just sooooooo many book blogs.

  10. I agree with pretty much all of your points about what makes a good book blog. I personally don’t like book ‘reviews’ which just regurgitate the plot – if I wanted a chapter-by-chapter account of what happens then I would look at a Wikipedia entry. I’ve been blogging for nearly a year now but I’m still learning new things and trying to make improvements along the way. It takes a while to develop a good blog as you need a reasonable amount of (varied) content for it to really take off. There are a lot of book blogs out there but there are also a hell of a lot of books so you can be sure that you won’t run out of things to write about!

    • I think a summary of the premise is fine, if too much is given away that turns me off actually, I had forgotten to include that one.

      I think we constantly learn, just like as people we constantly change and that will seep into our blogs too.

  11. some great tips got via this post thanks simon ,meme’s is my main put off the pointless ones ,all the best stu

    • Me too, it has given me food for thought about my posts and blog and stuff, though overall I will do what I enjoy doing as – selfish as it sounds – I do this for me more than anything.

  12. I don’t think that this has been mentioned, probably because I was the only one dumb enough to try it. When I first started blogging, I decided to review books chapter by chapter, as I had looked around and said to myself “Hey, no-one else seems to be doing that.” Three books and six months later, I realised why no-one else was doing this: it took me ages to read these books, while I bought ever increasing numbers of other books that I had to put on hold. It was frustrating to blog at a snail’s pace because I thought I was filling a niche. Just read what you enjoy, at the pace that you enjoy it.

    Also, don’t expect much in terms of comments or views when first starting out. I thought for ages that I would never get any traffic, which would make the endeavour pointless. While traffic to your blog can be great to see, if you need it to validate what you’re doing, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

    • Wow, that was certainly a different approach Hayley, but in some ways I can understand why you might do it – though the analysis in that must have been incredible. Have you kept those posts? I might have to go and have a nosey if so.

      The comments and views is important, though I would say dont start a blog full stop if you are after that. No one read mine for a year or so, and that was fine with me as I was doing it for myself.

      • I do still have the posts (for the books “House of Leaves”, “The Prince of the Mist” and “All Quiet on the Western Front”). I personally don’t like them all that much, as I feel I could have been more critical, but you’re more than free to take a look if you want.

  13. I like blogs where the writer’ s personality really shines through. I am a book lover but recently have had a hard time knowing what I like reading or sticking books out to the end (very frustrating – I’ve even thought about stopping reading completely which is a very odd thought) so reading entertaining blog posts about books (or cats or knitting) is something I really enjoy at the moment. My two favourite blogs for this kind of thing are yours and dovegreyreader.
    I think just being yourself in a blog is a good idea and you will enjoy it for what it is.

    • Gavin is having the same issue with a book at the moment, he isnt sure how bothered he is. My rule of thumb, though you dont have to follow it, is that you roughly know about 50 pages in, even subconciously, if you like a book or not and can give up then… or indeed any point after and so what, who is to know.

      • I often don’ t even give books 50 pages I’m afraid! I’m a bit ruthless and if something bugs me or jars a bit that will be it for the majority of books. I don’ t think it bothers me too much, but it would be nice to find a book that really resonates with me soon. I have just come back from seeing Les Miserables at the cinema, so I am now desperate to read that next!

      • Did you like the film? I hated it. Only liked the first section with Anne Hathaway! Bah humbug lol. I have the book… One day maybe.

        You sound like you know what you do and don’t like in a book. I’m quite jealous! I tend to give them a chance even if something snaps me out the world briefly. Constantly I won’t put up with though.

      • My reply to this seems to have skipped all the way to the bottom of the page – oh dear!

  14. Sharkell

    Initial impressions are important – layout as per comments above. I like pictures but don’t mind if this is just a picture of the book. I tend not to read really long reviews with lots of quotes from the book. I love ratings of books and an author list somewhere on the blog. Personality is important as are thoughtful reviews. And I also tend to follow bloggers that have similar reding habits to mine, which is not particularly helpful advice for a blogger starting out.

    • Oops I have been getting longer and more quote happy of late. It works for me to get everything out, which links to my diarising books through the blog.

      Similar reading tastes is a good point, especially when they read something you would never have dreamed of, they like it and so you have discovered something hopefully new to you. Thats what I think anyways.

  15. I like reading blogs where the writer has a viewpoint different from my own … or a viewpoint similar to mine! I do prefer it when people respond to comments, en masse or individually (I get jealous if they get loads of comments though) and like ones that comment on mine and keep the sense of community going. I like well-read and thoughtful posts but they don’t have to be all literary theory based.

    • The commenting thing is really interesting Liz, and Simon of Stuck in a Book did a brilliant post on it before Christmas. It is so hard to keep up with my comments at the mo, BUT at the same time I am aware I need to be popping by and commenting on everyone elses – there are just so many now!

  16. Just to add …. Visit other blogs and join in the conversation – hopefully some will come and visit your blog and start a new conversation there. Reply to comments when you can. It’s not about statistics, but sharing your thoughts about books, cats, knitting. The blogosphere is your oyster. :)

    P.S. Some people get annoyed with smileys :( I think they’re fun and have liked them since I got my first smiley badge in the 1970s :D

    • I think visiting other blogs, once I discovered them, was an integral part of blogging for me. The only thing is with so many new ones starting it is so hard to keep up with them, you worry people will be offended if you only stick to a ceratin amount, well that is the predicament I find myself in anyway.

      Nowt wrong with a smiley ;)

  17. I’m fairly new to this myself so I don’t know if I ought to comment. However – I like chatty and informative – a bit of background info – what the book’s about and definitely some analysis – a personal reaction. But not just I like it or I didn’t. As you say, with the blogs I like most, I feel I would like to have a good old conversation about books with the person writing them! I kind of started my blog to try and think more deeply about what I was reading – I find if I actually write something down it makes me analyse the book a bit more and I’ve found that really rewarding. Like Annabel says, sharing your thoughts – I’m surrounded by a family of film buffs so I really enjoy being able to get into a dialogue with people about the written word!

    • Course you can comment.

      I think it is about hanging out with people you think you would want to in real life. Books are solitary by nature and bar book groups it is hard to find lots of people to rabbit on about books with – that is where blogging comes in, and I have to say I have made lots of wonderful friends through it.

  18. I’m put off by filler – all those silly memes like “Mailbox Monday” and “Waiting on Wednesday.” Honestly I don’t care what books you’re getting in the mail if you have nothing to say about them yet. I’m not picky about the style of reviews, or a picture of one’s cat now and then, I just want to see actual content. I like that there are so many different styles of blogs to choose from and everyone likes something different, so do what you like. I actually post about knitting once a week on my blog, which obviously isn’t for everyone, but the combination of books and knitting is appealing to some people. As is the combination of books and recipes, or really long reviews, or only really short reviews. Or, you know, all those memes I criticized back at the beginning :)

    • I am not sure how I feel about some of those memes you know. I find them slightly irritating, and yet a) I do one on what I got from the library which I havent read but highlights libraries and their importance b) I do love seeing what other people have got bookwise, noseyness maybe.

      Btw, I have nothing against knitting or cats, as if I could, its just when a book blog goes to knitting for a week then its unlikely that I will be dashing back. People don’t love cat posts so I don’t put masses on her lots, just sometimes for those who do. Its a balancing act.

      • I completely agree with you about those ‘filler’ memes. I would much rather read a blog that posts nothing but reviews (if they are sparkly, engaging reviews) rather than one that bumps up the post count with filler like that. Simon, you compare your library vlogs to these posts but the key is that rather than just reeling off a list of titles like some do you talk about what prompted you to pick them up, maybe a little discussion around the book etc.

        I am pretty new to this blogging lark and have mostly been posting reviews – it is interesting to see that people appreciate a bit of bookish chat too, because I have always sort of thought nobody would be interested to read my ramblings on wider topics like that.

      • I think bookish chat is much appreciated. It doesnt have to be constant but its nice to get to know the person behind the blog better and you become your own slight niche if you know what I mean!

  19. ifnotread

    I’m new to book blogging myself. I initially wrote directly to an incredibly great book blogger/writer and asked her lots of questions. She offered some invaluable pointers, many of them listed here at this post. I also spent a lot of time looking at other book blogs, blogs that were varied in genre and style. I’m still finding my feet with my own blog and it’s been terrific fun so far :)

    • You contacting a blogger was lovely and nice that you did it privately, I wanted to put this out there a bit as its something that many people think about but aren’t brave enough, as you were, to ask. Blogging is great, hence my more the merrier motto.

  20. I don’t think I could give a list of attributes which the book blogs I like share, or eschew, because their appeal is often their originality. I think it is important to try to do something distinctive, both visually and in content, in order to stand out from what can seem like a crowd, and that is one reason while memes seem best avoided, and doing something different – like TomCat having a dark background when everyone else has white – can make certain blogs easier to remember. Having said that, when I come across a new blog I will often make a snap judgement about whether to read through a few posts or not, and certain things will put me off immediately – anything too cute or covered in buttons or with a handwritten-type font will immediately suggest the content as lightweight, and any content which is sarcastic or mocking or too prescriptive and I will not usually want to continue reading.

    I think the most important advice to a new blogger, though, is to put a lot of thought and effort into letting others know of your existence, and to view this as a very important part of establishing a new blog. Reading and commenting on other blogs is important though very time consuming, and there are other tools which can help build networks. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are wonderful ways to establish connections with fellow book lovers.

    • Then the attribute you like the most must surely be originality ;)

      I think that you are right about the start, you can’t just blog and expect people to find you automatically. You could in the olden days, ha, but now there are so many I have heard its as much about blogging and being seen on other blogs at the start, I don’t envy that. Twitter is great too, yes indeed.

  21. I love this post. It gives me a lot to think about when it comes to blogging and I think it’s going to be really helpful to that newbie blogger as well.

    Another point I want to add is setting up commenting so it’s easy for people to comment. I hate the capcha and a lot of times I pass commenting because I just can’t make out those letters.

    • Oh blinking capcha, its horrid isnt it? I understand why people do it but like you say it can really put me off. WordPress has a brilliant spam filter so I have never needed the dreaded capcha.

  22. I’m surely not qualified to add anything significant that others haven’t but I certainly like literary weblogs that are concise in their reviews, avoid “memes”, use intelligently good pictures and also where people post occasionally on other aspects of life other than books and bookreading. FInding your own voice and not becoming too obsessed with posting daily is advice I would commend to your correspondent. I’d much rather read something really good a couple of times a week than see “fillers” just because you feel it essential to have a daily post.

    • I dont think you need a qualification to comment on this DP, its all subjective but everyone has an opinion dont they?

      i get what you mean about fillers, I think I have had filler moments in my blogging past.

  23. kirstenhwhyte

    I have to echo the advice about not setting yourself restrictions. I did that at first and then blogging becomes a chore rather than something enjoyable. I think it is important to blog when you feel like it. Keeping reviews concise is good too. A general overview and your thoughts are what is important not a page by page description. And just one more thing – don’t feel that you have to blog about every book you read. I tend to post about books I have really enjoyed and want to recommend / have strong feelings about or ‘big name’ books that have just come out that people may be interested in. If I have struggled through a book or don’t really have any thoughts on it either way, I tend not to post about it, especially if it’s not a recently released book.

    • Restrictions? What do you mean?

      I completely agree about not blogging about everything you read. I was thinking about this with Agatha Raisin. I dont tend to have loads and loads to say about each book so I might store them for an occasional Agatha catch up post. See this post and all the comments has got me thinking about my blogging.

      • kirstenhwhyte

        Okay, I’ll be honest, I can’t work out if the “Restrictions? What do you mean?” questions are real questions or not!! Anyway, I’m with you about Agatha Raisin. They’re great for those moments when you just want something simple, but there isn’t much to say about them.

      • No they were real questions sorry. I just wonder what restrictions you mean you have as a blogger? Time restrictions of you feel restricted from things you can or can’t say?

        Agatha is amazing. I won’t hear anything else said about her. Ha.

      • kirstenhwhyte

        I didn’t say Agatha was bad! Okay, restrictions – what I meant was, don’t limit yourself to just blogging about one certain topic. You are first and foremost a book blogger (correct?) but you don’t just blog about books you’ve read, you also post stuff about things related to books and your adorable kitties, so you mix it up a bit. When I first set up my blog I was only going to post about writing and the trials and tribulations of being a writer, but then I realised that there were other things I wanted to blog about as well that didn’t necessarily fit into the criteria I’d set myself. I guess what I was trying to say is don’t limit yourself to blogging about one thing and one thing only. It’s good to have a main focus but don’t stick to it to regliously. Does that make sense?

      • Ahhhh. Now I get you! Yes I know what you mean. Write around what you love too. Good advice.

        Lovely to find another Aggie fan. I didn’t mean you didn’t like her. I meant those strange other people ;)

      • kirstenhwhyte

        Ah yes, those strange other people :)

  24. I enjoyed the film a lot and would love to see it again – but I came to it knowing absolutely nothing about the story or musical. I am going to treat myself to a copy of the book using my points at Waterstones on Saturday afternoon – can’t beat a “free” book (even though I dread to think how much I have spent to accumulate those points…)! It will probably take me all year to read – may solve the book problem for 2013 in any case!

  25. JoV

    Oh dear.. I’m probably guilty of some of the don’t’s. But I don’t think I am good enough to try to be entertaining. :D so will be contented just to remain a so-so blogger and not a celebrity blogger. lol
    I must say I can’t be as committed as I first started the blog but I totally agree with white fonts and black background. I don’t like it. Keep it up, you are doing a good job!

  26. I haven’t yet reached my first anniversary as a blogger so am still in the trial and error mode. Based on that here are my top 3 tips

    1. Have a clear purpose – it doesn’t matter whether your blog is a way to keep track of your reading for yourself alone or you want to share your thoughts with others. If you have a purpose the content will be easier to create and you’ll be less likely to run out of things to say.

    2. Learn and adjust. You will probably find the initial scope of the blog changes. As others have said here, you need to find your own style and approach. I started with the intention of blogging about reading the Booker prize winners but realised I couldn’t read them fast enough to make an interesting blog. So it’s become broader.

    3. Say something meaningful. Don’t just say “I read this book by xxx and I liked it and here is the plot” tell me why you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy it. Tell me why you chose it, or where you read it. Would you read any more by this author. Anything that shows you as a person. Otherwise there’s no point. We can get the basics from bookseller sites so your blog should go further than that.

    My dislikes are:
    * coloured text on black. I had one follower who wrote in lurid green with exclamation marks. White on black is shard for me but manageable but green just screams and I don’t want people screaming at me
    * Too many postings bemoaning how the person is behind with their goals or challenges for the year. No one makes us do these so why fret about it so much in public.

  27. Col

    I’ve been blogging for less than a year and to be honest I’ve still no bloody idea what makes a good blog! So anything I say now has to be read with that in mind. But what I’ve learned, in my first ten months, is this
    1. Keep clicking “save draft” every five seconds (and more frequently than that if possible) when you start off. If you don’t, sure as fate you’ll do the wrong thing, hit the wrong icon or it’ll crash and you will want to swear and swear and swear!
    2. You can swear AT your posts but don’t swear IN your posts – if you do your mother will read it and phone you up to tell you off!
    3. Don’t look at the stats too much – if they are crap you’ll just want to cry!
    4. I’ll say it again for emphasis – Don’t look at the stats too much – if they are great, you will STILL want to cry because seconds after you start to celebrate your ‘breakthrough’, your mother will phone you and tell you she got all her friends to click on that “little book page thing of yours so that you feel SOMEONE is reading it!”
    5. When your mother tells you she and your friends have been visiting your blog to boost your stats don’t ask her if she and her friends liked it – she will only reply that “Oh we didn’t actually read any of it, love!” and you will cry!
    6. If you make any reference in your posts to your wife/husband/lover, make sure you ONLY say effusive, over the top, exaggerated, complimentary things about them! They will be pretending they don’t read your blog – but trust me, they are! If you say the wrong thing they’ll sulk for days and you’ll be living on bread and water and the whole family will scowl at you for just saying “hello!”
    Apart from those tips, which essentially boil down to ignoring your mother and sucking up to your lover, the only other tip for me is do whatever you like – it’s your blog – who cares if hardly anybody reads it – you can get your own back by posting long-winded comments like this one on other people’s blogs!

  28. A great list of likes and dislikes, and almost entirely in line with my own tastes in book blogs.

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