YA Litwit's Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers
1. Turn off the CAPTCHA feature on comments!~ There is nothing that I hate more than when I go to comment on another blogger's post and a CAPTCHA pops up! (This is especially true when I'm using my phone because I usually lose the comment altogether, and typing on a touchscreen is no picnic to begin with!) I find it particularly frustrating when I have to type a CAPTCHA and then find that comment moderation is enabled as well. Overkill much? We all hate spam, but you can use comment moderation (all by itself) as a way to avoid that. If you want me as a follower, get rid of the CAPTCHA...
2. Don't ever, EVER comment on another blogger's post with only a link to one of your posts!~ It's one thing to comment on a post and THEN say, "Hey, check out my blog *link*!" In fact, I love it when my readers leave links to their own blogs, just not if that is the ONLY thing they are leaving. When someone does that, they are essentially saying, "Hey, I didn't even bother to read your post, but here's a link to mine!". If you're going to spend time commenting, say something useful, even if it's just, "Hey, great review!" or, "I totally disagree with you. You suck!"
3. For Heaven's sake, use proper grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling!!~ Warning: Rant Alert! You would think that this would go without saying, but sadly, it doesn't... I've seen way too many blog posts with misspelled words (I've even seen title and author names spelled wrong!), poor grammar (learn the difference between their, they're, and there, people!), and lack of capitalization and/or punctuation. It's assumed that you're well-read if you are blogging books; well-read people should have a basic understanding of the common rules of language, grammar, and writing. Trust me. Publishers will NOT be sending you books for review if they don't think you know the difference between your and you're, or if you spell their author's name wrong. I know we're all human, and I've made mistakes, but there are mistakes, and there is stupidity. Don't be an example of the latter.
4. Keep your blog looking polished and easy to read.~ I think my blog is nice and streamlined. It's not my design, but it was free and it's effective. My posts are front and center, and there is very little clutter on the sidebar. I don't grab every button I see, and I don't have more ads than I do content (actually, I don't have ads at all, but I don't have a problem with a limited number of them on other blogs). If a blog is cluttered, I won't visit it again. I just can't deal with mess.
5. No music!~ Do you listen to music while you read? I don't, and I don't want to. I find it distracting and borderline stressful. Since it's assumed that I am visiting your blog to READ something, I want to be able to focus on that. Also, I often read blogs at night and it really pisses my hubby off when he's asleep and there is a sudden blast of some lame song from my laptop because I happened upon your blog. If you want to put a playlist that your readers can play by choice, great, but leave it up to them.
6. Don't expect bound ARCs right away.~ I think I was blogging for 7-8 months before I even even REQUESTED a bound ARC and I was probably 9-10 months in before I actually received one. At first, I reviewed books I already owned or library books. After a couple of months, I started getting approved for digital books via NetGalley. If you regularly post well-written content for several months, you will eventually catch the eye of publicists. Be patient!
7. When you do request ARCs, do it right!~ Never EXPECT anything! When you request books, do it professionally. Be polite, concise, and use proper grammar/punctuation/spelling. Also, make sure to let the publisher know why they should send you one of their precious few ARCs over someone else (stats, link to your blog, etc.) If you are sent a book, read and review it in a timely manner.
8. NETWORK!~ Use Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, tumblr, etc. Create accounts and use them. Get to know the community you are a part of! Authors, fellow bloggers, readers, editors, publicists... All of these people share your interest in/obsessive passion for reading, and what's better than that? Also, go to author and literary events in your area. You know how many followers you will pick up by giving away a signed new release? You won't keep them all, but if you gain even two or three that interact regularly, it's worth it.
9. Expect this to be a nearly full-time job, so you better LOVE it!~ I spend 40-60 hours each week reading books, writing posts, networking, and reading and commenting on other blogs. I enjoy it immensely, but it is not a "spare time" thing. Any blogger will tell you that it's a labor of love.
10. Participate in weekly memes like this one, but don't be a mooch!~ Weekly memes are fun and they are great way to "meet" other bloggers. In addition to this meme, I participate in In My Mailbox, WWW, and Waiting On Wednesday (click the name to go to the host pages for each). I don't do them every week because some weeks I don't have time to read other people's contributions, and I think it's pretty obnoxious to post your linky and never visit any of the other bloggers participating. You don't have to visit them ALL (although I sometimes do if I have time), but you should at least visit/comment on 10-12.