Book Blogger Stats Survey Results: 2020

Book Blogger Stats Survey Results 2020 Banner


I ran a book blogger stats survey in 2016 (results here) and again in 2018 (results here) to help create some transparency around “average” stats for a book blog, as many bloggers dislike talking about their own stats and often seem to assume that other bloggers’ numbers are much higher than their own. I also think average stats can shed some light on questions of why book bloggers don’t get the same paid opportunities as other influencers in the bookish community. I initially was not going to do an updated survey this year, but then I thought…why not? It’d be interesting to check in on whether things have changed.

There were 56 responses this year, which is comparable to 2018 but about half as many responses as 2018 (when there were 107). So do keep in mind this is a limited sample size– although I would say that the numbers this year align pretty closely with the numbers from the past two surveys.

I generally kept the questions about stats the same, so people can look back and compare with the past two surveys, but I eliminated the questions asking what people thought other people’s stats looked like. At this point, having people guess that doesn’t make a lot of sense, when they can just look at the results of the previous surveys. A few of the questions were not marked “mandatory,” so a couple of the questions were not answered by everyone, but you should be able to see that information by the pie chart for each question.

smaller star divider

Survey Results

I started by asking how long people have been blogging, to see if there is a correlation between how long people have been blogging and how high their stats are. Frequently, the answer is yes, though there are people who have been blogging a short time who have high stats and people who have been blogging a long time who have lower stats.

Next, the question people might be most interested in: how many page views a day do you get?

64.3% said 0-50 views. A total of 84.3% answered 100 or less.

There are some outliers. One person said 401-600. One said 600+. And one person said 2000+

What are these bloggers doing? First, they get a lot of views from search engine hits, not just from other book bloggers. And for blogging advice, one recommends: “Consider what other, regular readers are looking for, not just what you’re doing in your own reading life.”

Next, I asked about number of followers. This seems to vary widely and not necessarily correlate to page views.

It looks as if a lot of us are getting 0-5 comments per day, so if you want to brighten a book blogger’s day, leave a comment!

Basically no one who answered the survey is also on Booktube.

Nearly 39% are not on Bookstagram either. 18.5% have 101-300 followers there.

Over half of people said the majority of their traffic comes from the WordPress reader. This means their audience is likely mostly other bloggers.

Most bloggers still think other bloggers have higher stats, even though that is not the case.

Most people have more social media followers than blog followers, even though the majority of their traffic is not from social media.

Finally, I asked a new question this year: where do you spend most of your time following bookish content? Interestingly, almost half of bloggers said they follow most of their content not on other blogs.

smaller star divider


Finally, I asked three optional open-ended questions at the end of the survey. It would take A LOT of space to list all the answers, but I will note some trends I saw in the answers and provide some representative quotations.

What do you wish people would do in order to better boost and support book bloggers?

Trends: Comment more, share posts, find new bloggers to follow, actually read posts instead of “liking” them

“I wish people commented more. I love good conversations more than a high follower count.”

“I’m torn between sharing their posts (as it increases circulation/exposure) and being mindful about leaving comments (as it creates a welcoming environment for new readers when they show up).”

“Be kind. I’ve only been in the community for five months but I read a lot of articles regarding the disrespect book bloggers receive from publishers, PR companies. Most of us work really hard on making our posts engaging, fun, and we deserve credit. So if you read a book review or any other post that you like, be loud about it by sharing it on social media and consider subscribing/following that particular blog.”

“I wish people outside of the blogging community (i.e. booktubers, bookstagramers) would share blog posts more often.”

“Interact with the social media posts I put out to share my blog posts, comment on my posts.”

What do you think the most challenging thing about book blogging today is, in terms of followers, engagement, etc.?

Trends: Finding time to blog, finding followers, standing out, getting engagement

“Finding book bloggers that are like minded as in reviewing a wide range of books and have unique content.”

“I would say kind of what I said before that more people are flocking to YouTube and Instagram and not as many people read and follow book blogs so it is harder to grow a platform there”

“For me it’s not knowing how to promote my blog. I don’t know what makes a blog popular, or how to post things that will give it visibility. All I can do is post my reviews and hope they resonate with people in some way.”

“Just keeping up with everything! Many platforms, etc. Also aligning what I read with what other people will want to talk about.”

“For me, it’s time. When I first started I had so much more time to read other blogs and comment on other’s pieces. I used to do it daily. Now I read far less than I used to and I tend to do it in spurts. On the one hand, this is necessary for me to keep blogging. It has to be sustainable and I have to enjoy it. On the other hand, I do miss that interaction.”

“Finding the time to write for my blog whilst also juggling my health, school, work, family, and other personal projects. It’s really hard to find the time, energy and inspiration to create new and original content on a regular basis.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to increase followers, engagement, etc.?

Trends: Engage with other blogs, use social media, create original content, keep going (and a lot of “I don’t know” answers)

“Don’t just copy what other bloggers are doing content-wise. Create weird, niche content that actually matters to you, rather than just doing the same stuff as everyone else. Followers want unique ideas and perspectives, not the same cookie-cutter content. Also, social media is a great way to direct followers to your blog – I think people see platforms like Instagram as completely separate from their blog, and it’s it’s “own thing” but I’ve found that by being active on Instagram (and creating unique content there) has directed a lot of people to my blog.”

“Be genuine. If you’re fake or trying to be something you’re not, people will know. Rather than having different social accounts, have one that you maintain consistently. I haven’t done this(yet) but I think that’s going to aid in better results than if you promote everywhere half-heartedly.”

“Blog hop! Sometimes you’ve got to give to receive. Just get out there and talk to other bloggers and around book Twitter. Make yourself seen.”

“Follow other blogs! Properly engage with them, talk to those people on social media and boost their content. Put out content that matters to you.”

“Think about why you started a book blog in the first place. I was getting annoyed by the fact that I didn’t have as much engagement and views on my blog while others would get loads. I was tempted to create a Twitter and Instagram page just to get more traffic. However, I reflected on why I had created this blog: it was to keep track of my thoughts on books in a more orderly fashion. It had never started with the need to have lots of views. So, I decided that I didn’t really mind just lurking around in my own corner of the Internet. :-)”

“My biggest advice is to interact with other bloggers. Look for more people to follow, yes, but actually read their posts. Comment something meaningful and kind. You would be surprised how many followers you can gain that way, not just from the owner of the post you are commenting on but also from other people scrolling through the comments”

“Be consistent and on a schedule that works for you. Graphics are important but don’t need to be difficult. (Canva is a great free option). Remember to socialize with others.”

“Find smaller bloggers (less than 500 followers) to interact with. It will not get you a lot of followers, but will increase the number of comments you get because they are most likely just as eager about finding someone to talk to as you are.”


5 Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Book Blog

drive traffic to your book blog


Krysta and I started blogging at Pages Unbound in 2011, and I like to think that we’ve been pretty open about our stats and growth over the years. (In 2016, I shared actual screenshots of our stats, which were pretty low when we first started but started to kick off more that year.)  In my 2018 end-of-the-year wrap-up, I noted that we surpassed 100,000 page views for the first time, which I was excited about.  (I also recently read a post by a book blogger turned lifestyle blogger who had similar stats to us and actually gets paid sponsorships, though for lifestyle stuff.)  We’re not the *biggest* book blog (there are several with very, very high stats!), but I think we’re doing quite well (and I should hope so after eight years!).  But I want all of you to do fabulously, too, and increase your stats if that is something you are interested in, so here are some of my best tips to gain blog traffic.

smaller star divider

1. comment on Other Blogs

This is always my number one recommendation for gaining and keeping new followers.  I saw a noticeable increase in traffic a couple years ago when I started commenting more on other blogs instead of just lurking.  I’ve also read a number of posts about traffic from other bloggers, and even “big bloggers” generally attribute much of their success to commenting around.

Of course, you want your interactions with others to be genuine.  Follow blogs you like, comment on posts that interest you, actually read the post instead of skimming it and awkwardly leaving a comment that’s unrelated to what the post says.  But, at the end of the day, people can’t visit your blog if they don’t know it exists, and commenting around is one of the best ways to let people know you exist and that you have interesting things to say.

smaller star divider

2. Write Discussion Posts

It’s old news in the book blogging community that discussion posts generally get more views than reviews do.  (For a lot of reasons, the primary one being that they’re of more general interest than a review, which someone might read only if they’ve read the book or heard of the book before.)  However, to get the most out of discussion posts (in terms of traffic), you need to post a lot of them.  I noted in 2016 that we were posting two discussions a week, and our page views went up.  Some readers even said they associated our blog with discussions, which made them more likely to visit our blog or to recommend our blog to others. (Read our list of discussion post prompts.)

smaller star divider

3. Write Round-Up Posts or Feature Other Bloggers

People love round-ups, whether it’s a list of interesting posts you read in the blogosphere, a list of bloggers you recommend following, or a feature post about one blogger you recommend following.  They love being featured in them, and they like reading them to find other blogs to follow or posts to read.  I also think sharing things you love about other bloggers is a great way to build community and bring positivity to blogging.

smaller star divider

4. Write Posts that are Useful to Readers

Blog posts about blogging (like this one) are popular, of course.  However, you can also share information that is valuable to people as readers, not just bloggers.  Reviews are one example, since you’re providing information about whether someone else would like to read the book and why.  Lists are also useful.  For example, one of our most popular posts is a list of YA books with male protagonists because many people are interested in such books but don’t know where to find them.

smaller star divider

5. Have nice graphics.

This sounds ridiculous, especially as I think I’m fairly vocal about the fact that the number one thing I will personally follow a book blog for is well-written and interesting content, and I don’t really care about design.  However, the fact remains that people are attracted to graphics, and experts constantly mention how visual readers are and how visual (or even video) mediums are the future of the Internet.  There’s also the fact that having strong graphics makes readers think that you’re serious about blogging and can give the impression that you’re a blogger with a large audience, even if you’re not (currently).  People are more likely to notice your blog and will stick around longer if you have strong visual elements.  Personally, I notice that posts with more visual elements  do better for traffic, and that reviews where I have an original photo of the book often do better than reviews where I use a stock image of the cover. (Read more reasons to focus on graphics here.)

What are your suggestions for increasing blog traffic?



Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

Following Copyright Law While Blogging


Copyright Laws and Blogging

Copyright laws grant creators exclusive rights to print, publish, perform, and otherwise distribute their work.  And what some bloggers may not realize is that copyright law applies even to them, and that copyright laws cover images as well as print.  So what are some of the laws book bloggers should be concerned with?

Criticism and Fair Use

Criticism and Fair Use

Fair use allows individuals limited use of copyrighted works in their own works without seeking permission from the copyright holder.  While most people are familiar with the application of fair use to teaching and researching, fair use can also apply to criticism or commentary.  For book bloggers, this means that book discussions and book reviews will most likely fall under fair use.

However, there are still guidelines to keep in mind.  The U.S. states that fair use is determined by four features:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Note that while bloggers may be able to quote copyrighted works in their discussions or reviews, they are usually not allowed to quote a work in its entirety, even under fair use The U.S. Copyright Office clarifies:

Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances.

Only a “portion” of a copyrighted work can be used for criticism or commentary.  That is, to be on the safe side, bloggers should not quote entire works or even substantial parts of copyrighted works.  Entire poems, if still under copyright, should not be posted on blogs.  Half of an essay from a favorite author should probably not be posted on blogs.  And large chunks of text that are not necessary for the discussion at hand should probably not be posted on blogs.  While it is true that there is no specific word count that bloggers should be aware of while quoting, erring on the side of caution is best.

And, remember, citing a work does not allow bloggers to bypass copyright law.  That is, if a blogger quotes an entire copyrighted poem, providing the title of the volume it came from along with the author’s name does not make the quotation fair use.  By posting the poem in its entirety,  the blogger in this case has still potentially harmed the poet because readers no longer have to buy the book to read this poem.  Instead, they can simply visit the blogger’s site.

Copyright Laws and Images

Copyright law also protects the use of images and photographs.  This means that bloggers cannot grab photographs from Google’s image search, from Instagram, from other blogs, or from websites without checking to make sure that the image is free and legal for others to use.  Even if it is, the image may come with other restrictions such as how the image may be used and/or modified.  If in doubt, bloggers should seek written permission to use the image.  And, as with texts, attribution is not permission.  That is, copying an image from Instagram and providing a link back to the creator does not grant a blogger permission to use the image.

Keep in mind that image theft is just as serious as pirating a copyrighted text.  Oftentimes artists lose money or see their brand damaged when their work is stolen and posted across the Internet.  Even if an image is copied from Instagram or another blog, the original creator may lose traffic and views now that they are no longer the only place where their work can be found.


Bloggers sometimes assume that fair use laws and attribution enable them to use copyrighted texts without permission.  However, this not always the case.  Bloggers should familiarize themselves with the details of copyright law and fair usage.  And, when in doubt, always ask permission.

Related Posts

Book Blog on a Budget: Obtaining Books

Blogging Tips and Tricks

Not enough money to buy a bunch of books?  No problem!  Below are some free and affordable options for obtaining books legally.

The Library

Getting Your Hands on a New Release

Place a hold Before the Release Date.

A short time before the book’s release date, check to see if it is in the library catalog.  It may not be listed as “available” but as something like “in processing” instead.  You can still place a hold.  Then you will (hopefully) be among the first to receive the book once it actually hits the shelves.

Put in a purchase request.

If you want a particular title, you can ask your library to purchase it–even if it has not been released yet.  They will then typically put you on hold automatically, so you should be the first to receive the book if and when it arrives.  (Note that libraries typically only purchase materials released in the past few years.)

Getting the Book When Your Home Library Doesn’t Own It

Use interlibrary loan.

If your library does not have the book you want, place an ILL.  The library will find a library that owns the book and they will mail it to you.  (Keep in mind that many libraries don’t ship off new releases.)

Request it from a Library in Your Local Library System.

If you don’t see the book you want at  your library, modify your search so you are capturing results from all libraries with which yours is affiliated.  You can then request the title and have it delivered for pick-up at your home library.  You can then return it to your home library, as well–no need for travel.

Check it out from a different local library.

If you go to a local library with your photo ID, proof of residency, and a card from your home library, you can check out books at a different library.  This should enable you to check out their new releases, since many libraries won’t give new titles to people who aren’t their patrons.  It will also allow you to check out their ebooks, so you don’t have to keep going back if you live far away.

Check it out from a different library in the state.

Some libraries offer a card to anyone who lives in the same state.  You typically apply online and receive the card in the mail.  Then you can access their e-books and other online resources.  The library may charge a fee or offer the card free free.  We have a partial list of libraries who offer cards to out-of-town residents here, but you  should go to the library website for all updated information.

Place a purchase request.

If your library does not own a book and it was published in the last few years, ask the to consider it for purchase.  They will typically put you on hold so you will receive the book first, should they choose to buy it for their collection.

Getting the Book When You Can’t Leave Home

See if YOu Can Apply for a Card Online.

Some libraries will allow you to apply for a card online.  You may have to show up in person, however, to receive full privileges and check out physical titles.  You can also see if another library in the state will mail you a card.  We have a partial list of libraries who offer cards to out-of-town residents here, but you  should go to the library website for all updated information.

Ask about Homebound Services.

Many libraries will deliver books to your door.   Simply tell them what you want and the titles comes to you!

Getting More Accessible Books

Books for Those with Vision Impairment

The Library of Congress will mail books in Braille and talking books to individuals with vision impairment.

Online Resources

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg has thousands of titles including ones not in English.  If you live outside the U.S., you will have to check your country’s copyright laws before downloading, however.

Open Library

Open Library has thousands of books available in the public domain.  However, some libraries have also digitized their books and made them available to borrow.

Kindle Books

You don’t need a Kindle to download free or cheap Kindle books.  The Kindle app is available for  various devices including tablets, smartphones, and laptops.


Simon and Schuster puts some of their YA titles online to be read free and legally.

World Digital Library

The Library of Congress offers free access to thousands of primary materials in various languages.  You may not find the latest YA release here, but it is a cool collection.

The Way to Bea Boo Cover by Kat Yeh

Purchasing Books

Library Book Sales

These also support your local library!

Used Book Stores

If you can’t find a book online, you can check to see if your local used bookshop has any hidden gems.

Garage Sales

People tend to sell children’s books once their children are grown up so you might find some MG and YA if you check out community sales.

The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart Book Cover

Other Sources

Little Free Libraries

See if anyone in your community has a Little Free Library and then check out the selection.  You can give back by the community, too, by leaving a book of your own.  Or, if your community has no libraries or no Little Free Library, start your own Little Free Library!  Be the change you want to see!

Book Swaps

These are like Little Free Libraries, except workplaces tend to have shelves or baskets where you can leave a book and take a book.  You can also propose starting one in your workplace.

30 Discussion Post Prompts for Your Book Blog

On Literature

  1. What would you like to see more of in X genre?
  2. Do you think there are any problematic representations of romantic love in books?
  3. What do you think of required reading in schools?
  4. Do you read classics? Why or why not?
  5. What’s your opinion of Shakespeare? Genius? Overrated? Confusing?
  6. Have you ever read a book in a second language? What was the experience like for you?
  7. Tell us about your favorite childhood books.
  8. Do you like characters who have vastly different sets of morals from your own?
  9. Do you think characters should learn something by the end of the book? (Learn to love their bodies, learn to be confident, etc.) Or can they end somewhere similar to where they started?
  10. What underrepresented fairy tales should get adaptations?

On Reading and Books

  1. What do you love about your local library?
  2. How do you organize your books?
  3. Do you get rid of books? How do you decide which ones go? What do you do with them?
  4. Do you have an official reading schedule, or are you a mood reader? Why?
  5. What books did you “have” to read for school did you end up really liking?
  6. Do you collect different versions of the same book? Why?
  7. Have you ever destroyed a book?
  8. How did you become interested in reading as a hobby?
  9. How have school literature classes influenced the way you read?
  10. What do you think about turning books into art?

On Blogging

  1. What makes you want to read a blog?
  2. What is some of your best blogging advice?
  3. Have you tried blogging advice that didn’t actually work for you?
  4. How do you balance blogging and real life?
  5. What are some of your favorite blogs you want to recommend to others?
  6. What made you want to start blogging?
  7. What are some of the best things about the blogging community?
  8. What have you learned about writing from blogging?
  9. What have you learned about reading from blogging?
  10. What did you not know about blogging before you started?
smaller star divider

See Also

How to Title a Blog Post


Every blogger, of course, has an individual style and there aren’t necessarily any “right” or “wrong” ways to title your blog posts.  However, if you struggle trying to think of what to call your posts, consider some of the suggestions below.  These are the points I consider when choosing whether or not to click on a post.

Title Your Post What It Is.

Bloggers tend to follow a lot of other blogs, maybe even hundreds of them, so the decision to read or not read your post may be made in a matter of seconds as your followers scroll through their feeds.  If you title your post something like “Find out what book made me laugh the hardest this year” or “Yellow squash and zombies?  What gives?” you might lose readers who don’t want to bother clicking on your post only to find out they don’t want to read about the book you’re featuring.  You might also end up accidentally making readers feel slightly tricked if they click on the post thinking it’s about squash only to discover that squash isn’t featured at all.  Help your readers out and let them know exactly what they’re going to be reading.

Try to Ask Original or Thought-Provoking Questions.

Writing original content can be difficult when there are so many bloggers out there, but it pays to try to feature discussions and posts that others aren’t.  If you write a post titled something like “How many books are on your night stand?” you’re not giving readers a lot to engage with.  Basically they can only comment with however many books they have on their night stand (assuming they have one) and then the conversation risks coming to a stop.  I don’t click on posts with titles like this because I’d prefer to read something that people have to discuss.

Avoid “Yes” or “No” Questions.

When I see a post with a title like “Should books have covers?” I mentally say to myself “Yes” and then don’t click on the post because it seems like the question has already been answered and I don’t really need the author’s input.  A question like this also seems to have a sort of obvious answer (see the point above) so I’m less inclined to click on it.

Even if the question is a more engaging one such as “Are sequels good or bad?” you’ve already primed the reader to answer “good” or “bad” in their heads and move along.  You’ve also accidentally suggested that the conversation isn’t really an engaging one to have since it’s apparently so easily answered with one word–even if that’s not the case.  Instead of asking a question like this, try titling your post with a provocative answer.  What is your conclusion about sequels?  Tell your readers upfront in the title and let them decide if they want to engage with your argument.

Consider Search Engine Hits.

Trying to be original and clever in post titles can be stressful, but keep in mind that your post titles should have the keywords you want search engines to find.  So if you title your post exactly what the post is about because you can’t think of a good pun that day, it’s all right.  At least you’ve increased your presence in search engine algorithms!

Krysta 64

How to Write More Posts for Your Blog without Reading More Books

Of course to be a book blogger you have to read books. But if you’re feeling pressure to be the fastest reader on the Internet in order to have fresh content for your blog, think beyond the book review to other ways you can feature books—without increasing your reading pace.

1.) Analyze an Interesting Aspect of the Book

Book reviews tend to tackle a book as a whole, but you can think about one particular aspect of the book to analyze more in-depth.  This may sound a little like writing an essay for a literature class (and maybe thinking of it that way would actually be helpful for narrowing down a topic), but the post really doesn’t have to be academic.  It just has to focus on one interesting aspect of a book and interpreting it, whether that’s talking about a certain character, a particular theme, or anything else you can think of. Stephanie from Chasm of Books does this in her post about Boromir’s characterization in The Lord of the Rings, and Krysta does it in her post analyzing Delphini Diggory’s role in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

smaller star divider

2.) Discuss a Controversy/Debate Surrounding the Book

Everyone loves a good controversy.  Instead of discussing a controversial point about a book briefly in your review, you can dedicate an entire post to it.  You can even do this for books you’ve read a while ago but are still very familiar with, not just ones you’ve read recently.  On Pages Unbound, Krysta took on the question of whether Harry Potter and the Cursed Child counts as canon or fanfiction.  But this approach also works very well for classics.  Some questions never go out of style, such as whether Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester is really romantic or whether C.S. Lewis’s portrayal of Susan Pevensie in The Last Battle is sexist.

smaller star divider

3.) Write a Unique List

You can always feature fun lists on your book blog such as “My Top Ten Favorite Fantasies” or “The Best Books I’ve Read This Year.” But you can also brainstorm lists that focus on an interesting aspect of one specific book or series.  For example, Stephanie does this in her post about the Six Bravest Acts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1.  (And, I mean, she can write a whole new post about pt. 2 if she wants still!)

smaller star divider

4.) Feature Books You’re Reading for School or Work

If you’re reading a book for classwork, consider featuring it on your blog!  Classic books (as long as they aren’t too specialized or obscure) are often very popular with other readers (who may have also been forced to read them for school).  Even if you’re reading a nonfiction book, consider if there’s a fun way you could introduce it to other readers. Maybe instead of a traditional review you can feature some interesting facts you learned from the book that you think others would like to learn, too.  BONUS: Writing about your school books will help reinforce them in your mind, and you may even do better in class or get a cool idea for an class essay.

smaller star divider

5.) Consider a Co-Blogger

Giving up individual control over your blog is a big decision. And there are definitely some less-than-good co-bloggers in the world. (Krysta and I had two just ghost on us here at Pages Unbound.)  However, one sure-fire way to get more content and get more posts about a wider variety of books is to welcome a new reader to your blog.  After all, book bloggers these days are often expected to juggle a number of tasks in addition to just reading books and writing posts about them.  If you think a co-blogger might be the way to go for you, you can check out some of my suggestions for finding a great co-blogger.

Tell us in the comments: What unique content do you post other than book reviews?


How to Start a Book Review Blog: A Complete Guide

How to Start a Book Blog and Succeed

How to start a book blog, review books, and have a successful book blog


After doing some research on blogging and finding relatively few resources that were specifically about how to start a book blog, I decided to put together this guide for those thinking about diving into the book blogging community.  (Especially since some of the top results on Google are things like “How to Start a Book Blog in 6 Easy Steps” that cover only the very basics and seem to be articles written by paid bloggers for clicks, not by people who have ever actually started or run a book blog!) I started Pages Unbound in 2011 with very little idea of what I was doing, so I hope other new bloggers feel they don’t have to do the same!

Table of Contents: 17 Steps to Start a Book Blog

  1. Choose a blog name.
  2. Choose a blogging platform.
  3. Choose a theme.
  4. Write an about page.
  5. Write a review policy.
  6. Write some posts–and schedule some posts in advance.
  7. Decide whether you will rate books.
  8. Read other books blogs.
  9. Add widgets to your sidebar.
  10. Make graphics for your blog.
  11. Decide which social media platforms to promote your blog on.
  12. Start a review archive page.
  13. Participate in the book blogging community and comment on other blogs.
  14. Work on SEO for your blog.
  15. Apply to get ARCs to review.
  16. Consider whether you want a co-blogger.
  17. Host a blogging event.
Beginner Book Blog Tips

The Basics of Starting Your Book Blog

1. Choose a Blog Name

Once you’ve established yourself under a certain blog name, changing it can be hard, so you’ll want to put some thought into this. Choose a name that reflects what your blog will be about, and also do some research to check whether it’s an original name or whether there are other variations.  (For instance, someone started a blog called “The Page Unbound” several years after we founded “Pages Unbound.”  This could be confusing to both of our audiences.)

2, Choose a Blogging Platform

First, decide whether you want to go paid or free for your blogging platform.  Free is a good place to start if you’re not sure about how long you’re going to keep blogging or you’re just on a budget. The two most popular free platforms are and Blogger. While I personally recommend for ease of use (and ease of converting to paid later), you should research both platforms and decide which will be most useful to you.

If you know you’re going to be serious about blogging, it could be good to go paid from the start.  At least pay for a domain name.  That way you won’t lose any followers if you change blogging platforms from, say, Blogger to and end up changing your URL.

3. Choose a Theme

Think about two things: the tone of your blog and user readability. Pick (or pay for) a design that represents the spirit of your blog: playful, serious, focused on mysteries, obsessed with fantasy, etc.  However, make sure it’s easy to navigate and that your text will be easy to read. (For example, avoid light fonts on dark backgrounds. Also check if you can change the font size if the default is too small.)

Also, I discuss this more in the intermediate tips on using graphics, but do keep in mind that you should adhere to copyright laws and should use images for your blog theme that you have paid for the right to use, that are your own images, or that are explicitly free for use online.

4. Write an About Page

Readers consistently say they like to know about the blogger behind the blog.  While you don’t have to get too personal if you don’t want to, you should still say something about yourself and the general purpose of your blog. Allow your readers to get to know you and what they can expect you to be writing on your book blog.  If you’re comfortable with it, consider adding a photograph for an even more personal touch.

5. Create a Review Policy

As a book blogger, even a newbie one, you’re likely to get requests from authors and publicists to review books or feature other content on your blog, such as author guest posts or interviews.  Instead of waiting for people to email you and then panicking, decide up front whether this is something you are interested in and then list your guidelines on your Review Policy page.

Some things to include in your review policy:

  • What posts you will consider. (Only reviews? Only author interviews?)
  • What genres you are interested in and what genres you don’t want to review.
  • Whether you will post negative reviews or whether you will post only three star reviews or higher.
  • Whether you will post the review somewhere other than your blog (Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.)
  • How quickly you expect to read and review book requests.
  • What formats you will accept. (Only print books, Kindle books, PDFs?)
  • The email address people can contact you at. (I recommend creating a blog-specific one, instead of using your personal email.)

6. Write Some Posts–And Schedule Some Ahead

Obviously, your blog is going to need content. You can start out with a simple introduction post telling people who you are and why you’ve joined the book blogosphere. (You can read my tips on writing your very first book blog post here.)  From there, your content is likely to include book reviews, discussions of books, book tags, etc.  Write some of these posts in advance. 

Decide how often you want to post on your blog (three times a week? once a week?) and consider writing out at least three weeks’ worth of posts before your blog goes live. This will save you a lot of stress trying trying to post consistently and keep you from scrambling to create content.  New bloggers often report blogger burnout when they fail to schedule posts before they launch.

7. Choose Whether You Will Have a Rating System

Many, but not all, book bloggers use a rating system on their book reviews to give their audience a quick indication of how much they enjoyed the book they are reviewing. There are pros to including ratings (for instance, other people seem to like them) and cons (for instance, sometimes people seem to skip the review and just check the rating). Krysta and I didn’t use ratings on our blog for several years. And it was fine. However, you probably want to be consistent with using or not using them from the start, and you’ll also want think about what graphic you’ll use for the rating.  In fact, many people don’t use stars at all, but some other image that goes with their theme like tea cups, cats, muffins, etc.

8. Read Other Book Blogs

If you’re not really reading other book blogs, now is a good time to start. While there’s always room for creativity in the blogosphere, there are also conventions. Find out what other bloggers are doing and what readers might be expecting from your blog.  If you want to break the mold and do something wildly different, that’s great, and now you’ll be doing it as an informed decision.

Intermediate Book Blog Tips

The Details of Starting Your Book Blog

Once you have the foundations of your book blog, it’s time to start thinking about the details: making the user experience good for your readers and getting visitors to come to your blog.

1. Cultivate a Great Sidebar

Don’t overwhelm visitors with too much information in your sidebar. Think about what information will be useful to them, and put the most important things towards the top.

Consider including in the sidebar:

  • a brief bio (save the long version for your About page)
  • a search bar for your blog
  • a way to subscribe to your blog (email or WordPress feed)
  • links to your social media pages
  • a blog button if you have one
  • a list of your most recent posts
  • a list of popular posts
  • information about any special events you have going on

Consider omitting from the sidebar:

  • the tag cloud (No one really uses this to navigate.)
  • a calendar (I can see your recent posts.)
  • recent Tweets (I can just follow you on Twitter.)
  • too much information about favorite books or other fun facts

You can also choose not to have a sidebar at all. Some bloggers feel that sidebars clutter their space and prefer to include information like how to follow them on social media elsewhere.

2. Think about Graphics for Your Blog

Most blogging experts recommend having at least one image per blog post.  Planning this out can take some time.  First, you want to be sure you’re staying on the right side of copyright laws and not using images illegally. Secondly, you’ll want to think about branding your images and keeping the look consistent across posts. (Consider making graphics similar sizes, fonts, and colors.)

Image Basics

To get started, you might want some basic graphics so you don’t have to make an entirely new one for every single post (unless that’s something you love to do). So, you might make an image for use on all discussion posts, an image for use on all Top Ten Tuesday posts, etc.

Advanced Images

If you have time to invest into making many graphics or you’re invested in using images for traffic growth, make a unique image for each blog post.  To be really unique, you can use your own bookish photography.  Otherwise, find royalty-free images and optimize them for sharing.  This means putting the post title on the image and putting your blog name or URL, as well.  If you’re going to be sharing a lot on Pinterest, expects recommend portrait-style graphics (long vertical images).

Check out my recommendations for free graphics tools for book bloggers here.

3. Choose What Social Media to Join

Few book bloggers only run blogs.  Joining social media will help you both meet other bloggers and readers and help you promote your content.  If you’re a social media fiend, feel free to join everything: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Riffle, etc.  However, remember that the most valuable social media is the one you enjoy enough to actually use. If you’re going to start slowly or have limited time to devote to other outlets beyond your blog, I recommend Goodreads (of course) and Twitter as the places where the book community is often most active. (You can also read my posts on using Goodreads to drive traffic to your blog and using Goodreads to write better reviews.)

Note that there is also a large book community on Instagram (Bookstagram), but this site generally is not going to be a traffic driver back to your book blog.  Join if you’re truly interested in taking book photography and interacting with other readers on the site itself, not because you think it will be a good way to promote your blog.  And, if you are interested in joining, don’t worry about not owning “enough” or “beautiful” books.  It’s perfectly fine to take creative photos of your ereader featuring book covers or photos of library books.

For my tips on Bookstagram, check out:

Josephine at Word Revel also has an excellent Bookstagram 101 series.

After you’ve joined, make sure your social media is clearly linked to in your blog sidebar, so people can find and follow you. Then add your blog URL to your social media profiles.  If you’re on WordPress, you can also set up your blog so it will auto-share new posts on Facebook and Twitter.  (There are also options for sharing other sites, such as LinkedIn, but most book bloggers won’t be using these.)

4. Start a Review Archive Page

One of the first things I do when I visit a new book blog is check out their review archives.  I want to know what kinds of books the blog features, and whether I agree with the bloggers opinions on books we’ve both read.  Make it easy for visitor to access your content by starting a page for your review archive, which you can choose to alphabetize either by author or by title of the book. You can also make archive pages for any other posts you routinely write and want to group by category.

5. Participate in the Book Blog Community

If you want people to read your blog, the single most useful thing you can do is read and comment on other people’s blogs.  Write meaningful comments and connect with readers, and they’ll want to read your actual blog content. Alternatively, no one can visit your blog if they’re not aware it exists, so go out there and talk to other readers!

You can also join memes, read-alongs, reading challenges, Twitter chats, or other events that other bloggers are hosting.  Big events include Bloggiesta (a few times a year) and Armchair BEA in May.

For more on how you can get traffic to your book blog, go here.  You can also see the best blogging advice submitted by our readers.

Advanced Book Blog Tips

Advanced Book Blogging

If you’re super serious about getting traffic to your blog or becoming known in the book community, start thinking about search engine optimization (SEO) for your blog and creating timely and unique content.

1. Complete These Quick SEO Tips

There’s a lot of information on the web about improving your SEO and getting traffic to your blog. The following tips are quick ideas to get you started:

  • Include ALT tags for your images. (Use the media editor in WordPress to do this.)
  • Compress images. Part of good SEO is making sure your site loads quickly. If you’re using lots of  large image files on your posts, use a site like to make them smaller.
  • Use heading tags.  Your blog post title will be an H1 tag. In your post, use H2, H3, and maybe H4 to structure your post.
  • Use keywords.  Make sure you’re naturally including the words you think people would use to search for your post in the post itself.  If you’re reviewing a book, for instance, you’ll probably want to mention the title and author name a couple times throughout the review, not just once.
  • Use links.  Send readers to other related posts on your blog to keep them engaged and reading.
  • Update old content.  Once you’re an established blogger, make sure your old content isn’t wasting away.  If you’ve written an interesting discussion post or helpful guide, update it and re-share it on social media.

If you’re wondering what kind of stats you might be able to expect as a book blogger, check out this informal survey I took.

2. Get Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)

Indie authors and publicists may begin contacting you about reviewing their books very early in your blogging career.  However, if you’re interested in getting ARCs from major publishers, your blog will probably have to be at least six months old, and you’ll have to demonstrate to publishers you’ll bring the book visibility by sending them your stats for follower numbers and average page views.  Updating your blog frequently and having comments on your posts can also be useful.

For e-ARCs: Simply go to Netgalley or Edelweiss, fill out your profile, and request.

For physical ARCs: Check out some of these guides.

Some publishers have specific forms they ask bloggers to fill out to request ARCs, and the publishers do not wish to be contacted by email for ARC requests.

You can also enter Goodreads giveaways for ARCs for check the Shelf Awareness industry newsletter for ARCs.

3. Think about getting a Co-blogger

As the tasks “big” book bloggers are expected to perform increase, I’ve been predicting that bloggers seriously invested in growing or even monetizing their book blogs may want to co-blog.  After all, bloggers are expected to

  • consistently write unique content
  • read books and other blogs
  • comment on other blogs
  • take photos
  • make graphics
  • run social media
  • host events
  • …and more.

If that’s not something you have the time to all by yourself, or you don’t have the skills or interest to do, you may want a co-blogger to help.  If this idea appeals to you, find out what questions you should ask potential co-bloggers.

4. Host Your Own Blog Event

Once you’re fairly established, you can think about hosting your own bookish event.  This can be anything from a read-along of a book you enjoy or a book you want to read but haven’t yet, to an event where you focus on a single author/genre/series/etc. and collect some guest posts from other bloggers.

It’s a good idea to look around and see how other people host events first.  For instance, what times of discussion questions or activities might go with a read-along?  How long should the event last?  How many people can you expect to participate?  Start planning and scheduling from there.

If you want guest posts, I recommend approaching some bloggers you think will be interested in the topic of the event and sending them an email specifically asking if they would like to contribute something.  (Also include details like when you would want the draft, how long the post should be, whether you will be linking to their blog and social media, etc. so they can make an informed decision.)  If your blog is still smallish, you may have trouble getting participants if you just send out a general call for guest posts.  Approaching specific bloggers to guest post will help ensure you get content and your event succeeds.

Krysta and I asked other readers for guest posts when we first launched our (kind of annual) March Tolkien Reading Event.  Now that we’ve been blogging for several years, the event is big enough that we get participants from putting out a general call for guest posts.

smaller star divider

Other Posts You Might Be Interested In

What tips do you have for people looking to start book blogging?

Book Blog Basics

Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

Blogging Tips: What to Do If You’ve Been Plagiarized

Blogging Tips

As plagiarism becomes an increasing issue in the book blogging community (or at least a more widely publicized one), it’s good to know what options you have if it ever happens to you.

1. Find the Plagiarism

Oftentimes writers stumble across plagiarism accidentally. They’re reading a post and it sounds familiar, or a friend tips them off to an article that sounds like something they’ve written. If this happens to you, your next step should be finding out whether the one stolen post is the extent of the plagiarism. It often isn’t, so be prepared to find more content stolen from your site or from other bloggers.

You can quickly check for plagiarism by running the blogger’s posts through an online plagiarism checker. I like the one at Small SEO Tools because it tends to pick up more plagiarism than other free checkers I’ve tried, but you can use whatever tool you like best. Alternatively, you can run your own posts through the checker and see if you get any hits that aren’t your own site.

2. Take Screenshots

Before you do anything else, take screenshots of the original post(s) and the plagiarized version(s). Make sure the dates each were posted are clearly visible in the screenshot so you can prove which version was posted first. This will be your proof your content was stolen.

You should do this before alerting anyone of your suspicions because news can leak.  You don’t want the plagiarist becoming aware of your suspicions and removing posts before you have documentation of the theft.

3. Alert Anyone Else Who Was Plagiarized

If you find a blog that plagiarized both you and other bloggers, alert the other victims.  Email is the most private means, but some bloggers don’t list email addresses as contact information, in which case you’ll have to decide whether you want to go more public by tweeting them or posting a comment on their blog.

Contacting other plagiarized writers is a good move at this point particularly if you’re feeling alone and not sure what steps you want to take next.

4. Decide What to Do about the Plagiarist

Your basic options:

  • Do nothing.
  • Privately email the blogger and request your content be removed.
  • Publicly out the plagiarist on social media or through an expose post on your own blog.
  • Notify Goodreads, their blog host, and any other sites their content is plagiarized.
  • Look into legal options. (Rare for bloggers due to time and expense.)

If you already contacted other bloggers, your options might be limited, so be prepared.  You may want to try contacting the plagiarist privately first, but someone else might already be publicizing their theft on Twitter.  If this is a concern for you, you should consider switching steps 3 and 4.

5. Be Prepared for Nothing to Happen

Sometimes plagiarists apologize, and sometimes they deny everything.  Sometimes they remove the offending post, and sometimes they “close” their blog just to start a new one and keep plagiarizing elsewhere.  Most web hosts will cooperate with you in removing plagiarized content, but Goodreads won’t keep banning the same person forever if they just keep creating new accounts.  So if the plagiarist refuses to be shamed out of the blogging community and you don’t have the money or inclination to start a legal case, the outcome of the confrontation with the plagiarist could be disappointing for you.  (It was when I was plagiarized.)  Just know that the blogging community has your back, and you don’t have to face everything alone.


How to Schedule Posts

Blogging Tips and Tricks

Yesterday one of my tips for Top Ten Tuesday was for bloggers to schedule their posts ahead of time.  It saves on a lot of stress and means your blog will still have content even if you are too busy one week (or one month!) to read or review.  At the suggestion of Laura from Colorimetry, I am outlining here some advice on how to make a schedule that works for you!

1.   You need content to schedule. 

This means you’re going to have to read.  If you have something like summer vacation when you read more than during the school year, take advantage of it.  Write reviews soon after reading the book—or at least take really good notes—but don’t get excited and post them right away.  Save them!  You can also write a lot of memes ahead of time, as the blogs running them will often list the topics or questions several weeks in advance.

2.  Decide what your schedule will be. 

Do you want to post once a week?  Four times a week?  Will you always post reviews on Wednesdays and a meme on Saturday?  Having a regular schedule means that both you and your followers will always know what is going on, and they will know when to check back for new content.

3.  Get a calendar.

If you have something on your computer or your phone like Windows Calendar you can use, do it!  Seeing your posts visually laid out means you can make sure you don’t review 5 mysteries books in a row or that you don’t have all your discussions posts clustered in one week.  Using a digital computer instead of on paper means you can easily move titles to a different date if something comes up—like an author wants you to review their book the week before it is released.  If you have different types of post you are scheduling, feel free to color-code them.  Here is a week of my calendar from March:

4.  Figure out how the scheduling feature on your blogging platform works.

On WordPress, you can change the date a post is published in the little box near the top right corner of the post you are editing.  Make sure you press “OK” beneath the date.  Then make sure you hit “Schedule” (which will replace the normal “Publish” button).  Otherwise you’ll just have a draft.  Here are instructions for Blogger.

5.  Relax! 

Schedules can be broken.  Even though you have dedicated followers, they will understand if you get busy or get behind—because they do, too!  And no law will be broken if you suddenly decide to do a review on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

Check out more blogging resources here.