Why I Think Comments are the Single Most Important Way to Support Book Bloggers

Disclaimer: Ok, some people would probably argue paying book bloggers is the #1 way to support them, but not every blogger has a ko-fi or Patreon where they are asking for money, and I’d personally say paying bloggers should be on publishers/authors/people asking for marketing and not other bloggers. This post is more about how blog readers can support bloggers.

A consistent theme in the book blogging community is that many of us started our blogs to connect with other readers– and that we value conversations and friendships more than anything else. When people answer questions about why they love blogging, they often answer “the community.” When people explain what they consider success for their blogs, they often say “connections with my followers.” So, while conversations about whether blogging is dying, whether bloggers should be paid, and whether bloggers are valued continue in the community, I personally believe that the most important thing we all can do to support other bloggers and keep blogging alive is to leave other bloggers comments.

In recent years, I’ve noticed that our traffic here at Pages Unbound has grown, but the number of comments we receive on each post has gone down. In casual conversations with other bloggers, I’ve had many report the same: they just don’t seem to have as many conversations with other readers as they used to. No one is quite sure why, though speculation includes the fact there are just so many platforms (Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, TikTok) that it’s hard to keep up with them all to the fact that people might just prefer other platforms entirely. A lot of people seem to think it’s simply “easier” to comment on something on Twitter than on a blog.

But what is the result of this? Bloggers feel that no one is valuing their content, and that can be a depressing thought to someone who has put hours into planning, writing, formatting, and promoting a post. And when people feel that they’re “wasting their time,” they might decide it’s time to quit blogging. I’ve never thought that blogging is dead, or even necessarily dying– but it might die if tons of bloggers decide they’re not getting what they want out of it, which is readers who are interested in what they are posting and conversations with readers about books. To me, it seems clear that the one thing that can really revitalize blogging, even more so than (some, probably the biggest) bloggers being paid for their work, is readers leaving more blog comments.

Yet I also think that more blog comments can lead to the payment that some bloggers are seeking. When bloggers request ARCs or payment from publishers or authors, they’re generally self-reporting their stats. I assume the majority of people are honest about their page views and visitor count, but a publisher can never be sure. I myself have been confused by blogs that claim to have a billion followers and views yet, when I look at their sites, have zero comments on every single post. Are they lying about their stats? Are their page views from bots? From people who don’t really care about their content? Who can tell? When I go to a blog and see every post has 40 comments on it, however, I know I’ve found a blog that people like to read. This might also be interesting to publishers when they decide where to give out ARCs and, maybe, money.

No one is obligated to anything, of course. I myself don’t comment around as much as I’d like or as much as I’d use to, as real life responsibilities catch up to me. However, if you’re really invested in supporting bloggers, I think commenting is the way to go. Retweets and likes on posts are nice, but it seems that what people really want are readers who are interested enough in their content to take the time to leave a comment and say so.

Briana

Why Your Book Recommendation Posts Should Have More Than Three Books Listed

Frequently when I am blog hopping or scrolling through my WordPress reader, I find posts titled things like “Three Books about Mermaids” or “Two Books Featuring Mermaids.” Or maybe it’s just titled “Fun Middle Grade Fantasies You Should Read,” but when I open the post, there are only three book recommendations. Lists that are this short are always disappointing to me, and when I do book recommendations, I aim to list at least five books, but preferably 10 or more. Here’s why you might want to make your own book rec lists longer:

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Longer Lists are Better for Blog Traffic

If you’re interested in growing your blog traffic, particularly in getting more hits from search engines, longer lists are your friend. When people go to Google and search something like, “Books Set in New York City,” the top results are probably going to be lists with 10, 20, or even more books included on them. If your list only has three books on it, there’s a good chance that a list of 20 or 50 books already includes the three you are featuring. So the search engine is going to recognize that and feature blogs and websites with long lists as their top results. If you want to rank, you need to think of other sites as your “competition” and provide information that is as or more valuable than what they are providing.

Example: A quick Google search gives me these top two results of lists with 31 and 40 books respectively:

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Short Lists Are Less Useful to Readers Because They Eliminate Half the Books on the List Anyway

Even when I want to read a book about a certain topic, I don’t have an interest in every book about that topic. There are thousands of books about dragons, but if someone lists “three books about dragons,” there’s a very good chance I am going to look at that short list and think, “no, no, no,” and leave without adding a single one of them to my TBR pile.

This is particularly true if the topic of the list is very broad. What is even on a list of three books about dragons? Are all of them YA books? If I don’t like YA, I automatically will have no interest in any of them. But maybe they’re all different age categories. Maybe this three-book list includes one picture books about dragons, one middle grade fantasy, and one adult nonfiction book about the history of dragons featured in literature. This is interestingly varied, but if I am looking for a middle grade book about dragons, only one book on the list applies to me — and I might have already read it or not be interested in reading it for some reason. If I am looking for a YA dragon book, none of the recommendations help me at all.

This is why longer lists are more helpful to readers and more likely to provide them with valuable information to, ultimately, actually add one of the books to their TBR pile.

If you have a list of 40 books about dragons, you can now break it into categories: 10 picture books, 10 middle grade books, 10 YA books, and 10 adult books.

Alternatively, you can narrow the topic of your list: 40 middle grade books about dragons. And you can make it as narrow as you want, as long as you have enough books to make a decent-sized list. 20 middle grade books about dragons published in the last 10 years. 20 diverse middle grade books with dragons. 30 middle grade books with dragons that can talk. Now, if someone has an interest in this topic, the list has a lot of information for them to help them find a new book to read.

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One challenge I personally find to making very long lists is that I generally like to feature books I have read myself or that I feel I know enough to confidently recommend. If I were to make a list titled, “100 books set in Florida,” there is no way I will have read all of them, so making the list would basically involve Googling and finding other people’s lists and taking the books off those list to add to mine. This is definitely something people do, particularly bloggers who are blogging to make money and need their posts to rank highly in Google, as well as large bookish sites. You know whoever makes the Penguin Random House lists hasn’t personally read all 40 books they’re recommending on a single topic. So whether you’re comfortable making lists that include a lot of books you don’t know much about is up to you. I’m generally not, which is why most of my lists are 10-15 books instead of 45.

Do you prefer reading longer lists? How many recommendations on a list are you usually interested in?

Briana

10 Post Ideas for Book Blogs When You Haven’t Read Anything Recently

Creating content for a blog can sometimes seem quite the struggle, especially if you have not read any books recently and have nothing to review. But book blogs can talk about all things bookish–there’s no need to limit yourself to reviews or even memes. Here a few ideas to get you started posting.

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Recommend read-alikes.

This is one of the most common book blog posts, but always a welcome one! You can do a straightforward recommendation, like our post recommending books if you like Nancy Drew. Or you can try to capture some of the enthusiasm for something trending, like our post recommending books for fans of sea shanties or YA novels for fans of Bridgerton.

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Create a personality quiz.

People always enjoy taking a personality quiz! You can try a standard one like our “Which Female Character from Murder on the Orient Express Are You?or you put your own spin on the personality quiz, like with our “How Obsessed with The Lord of the Rings Are You?” quiz.

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Highlight some of your favorite author’s books.

Sometimes a beloved author has one book that really stands out to readers and that gets all the love. If readers are into one book, however, they may interested to learn that an author wrote more. We highlighted some of our favorite authors’ works in posts like “Beyond Anne of Green Gables: The Other Novels of L. M. Montgomery” and “A Brief Introduction to Tolkien’s Non-Middle-Earth Books.”

Another option is to take a really long series like Redwall or the Discworld books and create a guide explaining what each of the books are about, how they are related, and where new readers might like to start. This allows you to draw on your extensive fan knowledge to create a post you might not have realized will be really helpful to others!

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Post some book trivia.

Put all your bookish knowledge to use with some fun trivia-filled posts! We’ve done posts such as “Ten Things You May Not Have Known about J. R. R. Tolkien,” “Classic Books with Lesser-Known Sequels,” and even a series on bookish misconceptions.

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Weigh in on a bookish controversy.

This does not have to mean something really controversial, where you are afraid of backlash, but could mean a question avid readers keep returning to. For example, we weighed in on whether the Chronicles of Narnia should be read in publication order or chronological order. Think of some issues your bookish friends have strong opinions on, such as whether a certain book counts as canon or if poetry excerpts or songs should be in the middle of books. Then explain your stance and watch the discussion ensue!

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Create a discussion post (or several) based on a specific book.

Many book bloggers seem afraid to post a discussion about a specific title, rather than on a topic that is merely generally bookish. However, our book-specific posts are some of our most popular! We’ve posted on everything from not liking the ending of King of Scars to whether Tolkien’s female characters have any depth. We have even weighed in on the great Team Keefe vs. Team Fitz debate being held by fans of the Keeper of the Lost Cities books.

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Talk about a childhood favorite.

Even if you have not read them in awhile, you probably have strong memories about your favorite childhood books. Tell readers why you loved them–and if you still, do! For instance, we’ve written posts such as Why I Still Love Nancy Drew to showcase our love of childhood favorites.

On the flip side, you could discuss a childhood book that disappoints you now or that you never liked at all. We’ve written on Why I’ve Never Liked The Giving Tree and Why I Never Liked The Rainbow Fish.

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Compare adaptations.

Plenty of books have film adaptations! Try talking about your favorites, such as which film version of Little Women is best, whether you play the Nancy Drew PC games, and more!

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Show some library love.

Readers love the library! Even if you haven’t read anything recently, you talk about other bookish things you love: the thrill of browsing, library resources you love the most, libraries you have visited, what your dream library would look like, and more!

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Share blogging tips.

Bloggers are always looking to improve, and our posts with some of our tips are some of our most popular. You can share everything from graphic design tips to a list of places to how you plan your schedule to a list of resources bloggers can use for editing images. We have a whole page of blogger resources!

What are some of your favorite non-review posts to write?

Also check out “How We Come Up with Discussion Post Ideas!

5 Reasons Book Blogs are Great Places to Promote Books

Although publishers seem to be concentrating their marketing an efforts on bookstagram and booktube, sending influencers on these platforms ARCs and even monetary compensation that book bloggers often are not offered, book blogs are still excellent places for promotion. Here are five reasons publishers and authors should still work with book bloggers to have their books featured on blogs.

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Bloggers Who Feature Books Generally Read the Books

I am not saying that bookstagrammers and booktubers don’t read books; clearly they do. However, it is also very common on these platforms for large influencers who have been sent books for promotion to only run a promotional post (perhaps because they are given so many books they literally cannot read them all). So they wave the book in their air during a video, noting they were sent the book and it looks interesting (but they haven’t read it), or they post a pretty photo on Instagram and write a caption with the book summary and say it looks interesting (but they haven’t read it).

Book bloggers are much less likely to do this. When book bloggers post about books (barring posts like TBR lists), they have generally read the book. They aren’t recommending it because they were sent it for promotion and are being paid to tell people to read it; they’re recommending it because they actually read the book and liked it. And genuine recommendations are worth a lot.

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Bloggers Post Full Reviews

Booktube and various social media are great for generally putting a book on my radar, for letting me know that the book exists in the first place and other readers seem to be hyped about it. But if I want to really know whether I should read a book, to try to decide whether I would like the book or whether I should spend the money to purchase the book, I look at reviews on blogs. Some bookstagrammers and booktubers do long reviews, too, of course, but I personally find them most accessible on blogs; I don’t like listening to ten minute videos, and my eyes sort of glaze over if an Instagram caption gets too long. Book blogs are the perfect platform to find full, in-depth reviews that actually help me make up my mind about whether or not I am going to pick up a book.

Blog Posts Have a Long Life, Marketing Books Long After Release Date

If I tweet something, I’m lucky if people see it 20 minutes after I posted it. My Instagram posts get the most interaction the day they go live. On my blog, however, I have people looking at posts I wrote 8, 9, even 10 years ago. Getting social media attention for a book around release date is important, but keeping buzz about the book alive long after its pub date is worthwhile, too. Blogs can help backlist titles find new readers and make new sales for the author, even long after the blogger posted about the books.

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Bloggers Post on Multiple Platforms

These days, few book bloggers have just a blog. If you send a book blogger a book to review, it is highly likely they will also talk about the book on Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter, not to mention a variety of other platforms ranging from Amazon to BookSloth to Pinterest.

Blog Readers Love to Discuss and Debate

Blog comments are a great place for readers to discuss and debate books. Blogs aren’t just one and done things where the blogger posts a review and that’s it; often readers will continue discussion of a book and what did and didn’t work for them in the comments. This is also a place where readers might discuss questions a book raised or themes it touched on, which is exciting for authors who hope their book will get people thinking and talking.


What are some of the best reasons you think book blogs are excellent places for book promotion?

Briana

Are Spreadsheets the Secret to Successful Blogging?

Over the past year or two, spreadsheets seem to have become increasingly common in the book blogosphere. Bloggers routinely share scheduling habits with their followers, explaining how creating a spreadsheet keeps them organized and on task. Some bloggers may even offer their spreadsheets for others to use, as well. The complexity of some these spreadsheets can be staggering, with bloggers recording everything from season of the year to genre to age range, then determining how to arrange it all. Whatever keeps a person organized is probably a good idea! But does every blogger need to keep a spreadsheet to be successful?

The proliferation of spreadsheets can sometimes make it seem like there is only one “right” way to blog. And the sheer complexity of these spreadsheets can make them seem authoritative. Surely anything that has 15 columns and a sophisticated color-coding scheme must be the secret to successful blogging! However, I think it is important to remember that, ultimately, there is no one correct way to blog, to write, or to schedule. Everyone’s personality, habits, and style are going to be different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

One helpful way to look at this may be to recall how writing is taught in schools. Usually, teachers inform their students that the writing process consists of brainstorming, creating an outline, writing a first draft, revising the draft extensively, and then editing/proofreading. The process laid out tends to be very linear, and to suggest that all effective writers go through the same steps in the same order. But do they?

My writing process, in fact, looked very different in school. Most often, I would simply think about a topic for days or weeks, perhaps jotting down quotes or snippets of ideas on a piece of paper. Then, I would sit down and write out the whole paper, revising, not at the end of the draft, but as I wrote the draft. I do not believe I ever did a major revision of a draft because I had already done that work previously. I never did a mind map or anything else students are taught to do in order to brainstorm. And, if I was required to turn in an outline for credit, I would simply make one up, or I would create what is called a reverse outline, relying on the full draft I had already written. I suspect a good many students also create their own, effective writing processes that are nothing like the process they have been told they “ought” to do.

I think blog scheduling is very similar to this. There may be good organization ideas or “rules” out there that make sense and provide a good starting place. But they are not rigid. Just because one person likes to color-code books by genre does not mean everyone needs to do the same. My own scheduling process, in fact, tends to be very loose, and it is something I store in my head rather than in a spreadsheet. For example, I know that my co-blogger posts reviews on Mondays and I post reviews on Thursdays. Either of us can post a review on Saturday. Friday is reserved for our Classic Remarks memes. The rest of the dates are flexible, though I like to post discussions on Tuesdays since so many other people tend to post memes on that day, and I think it makes our content stand out. I also keep in mind seasonal trends, remembering to schedule reviews of spooky books in October, lists of romance reads for Valentine’s Day, and so on. The organization is simple enough that I can memorize it without spending time creating a spreadsheet, filling it out, and color coding it. Personally, I would rather spend time blogging than fussing over a spreadsheet.

The current popularity of blogging spreadsheets suggests that they are a tool many people find useful. And that is excellent! However, bloggers who are unsure about starting a spreadsheet or who do not feel enthusiastic about it need not worry. Just because something is trendy does not mean it is the the only way to do something. Everyone has their own unique blogging style–and that includes scheduling. Starting a spreadsheet may be worth a try, if a person is looking for more structure in their scheduling or a more effective way of scheduling than they currently have. But if scheduling without a spreadsheet works, then it works! In the end, there is no real “secret” to blogging success, just different approaches that may all achieve the same goal.

What do you think? Have you tried keeping a spreadsheet? Why or why not? If you have, did you find it useful?

What Would It Take for Me To Want to Monetize My Blog?

Previously, I wrote on why I prefer not to monetize my blog for now. And I hold to that. I blog as a way to relax, to enjoy myself, and to connect with other book lovers. I don’t want blogging to become an actual job because then I would have to treat it like one, with all the stress that would come with it. However, I have watched the conversations book bloggers have had over the years about monetizing, and it has made me reflect on what might make monetizing worth it.

Book bloggers often seem to conceive of monetizing as an easy way to earn passive income. But, from what I have seen, monetizing is not so straightforward. The majority of book bloggers who have tried to monetize–from affiliate links, bookish gift shops, paid content, etc.–generally do not share their annual income. Those who have shared seem not to be making all that much. So, the question for me becomes, how much money would a blog have to generate for it to make up for all the time and effort spent in attempting to monetize it?

Because there’s the key problem: monetizing a blog is not necessarily a source of passive income. Passive income, in the colloquial sense, is money earned by a person with little or no effort. One might think of a book written years before, which still generates royalties. Or a rental property one has invested in that leads to a monthly check. For a blog, one might conceive of doing minimal effort like setting up some affiliate links or formatting a post, and then watching the money roll in. But if I were to monetize my blog, I would want to know. How much time and effort am I actually putting in to format and write and link and schedule everything? Because we bloggers know that even a bit of copying and pasting and formatting of images can take a good deal of time, in the end, and that is before adding in work like a social media component. Is the hourly wage I would be making comparable to what I could be making if I were just to go out and get a part-time job?

The current minimum wage in the United States is a paltry $7.25 an hour, and it might seem easy to make that much from an hour’s worth of work on the blog. However, I would want to calculate out the actual time spent on the blog over the year, and my annual income that resulted from the blog, to make sure that I am actually working for a fair rate. But then I would also consider that many states have much higher minimum wages, perhaps up to $15, and that even employers in states that follow the national minimum might be offering more than $7.25. If I could make anywhere from $9.50 to $15 an hour working a part-time job, instead of spending time blogging for less money, I would start to wonder if I shouldn’t just go out and go a part-time job instead.

I also would consider that income from blogging is taxable, once a person starts making above a certain amount. Income from self-employment or freelancing is generally taxed at a higher rate than income earned working for an employer, to make up for the taxes that an employer would usually take out automatically and to account for the taxes the employer would pay. I would want to determine whether the money made after taxes is more or comparable to the money I could make working for someone else.

Of course, I suspect that many bloggers are not particularly interested in breaking down their annual income in the way I am. Some bloggers may simply want to make a bit of extra “beer money” and may not care about the hourly rate their blog income would equate to. Some bloggers might be happy working more hours for less money, if they do not have to report to a boss in return. Some bloggers may not want to get a part-time job and are just hoping for any extra income they can get. However, for my part, I believe that my time is equal to or even more valuable than the money I could earn blogging. And it would bother me if I thought that I was working long hours for little in return.

Right now, I am not convinced that monetizing my blog would enable me to earn a fair hourly rage. And I certainly do not think I could do as I am now and make some easy passive income. To convince people that my content is worth paying for, I would have to put in a lot more time and effort into making the blog look professional, changing the content, improving the social media marketing, and more. To me, it’s not worth it. I would not make enough money to compensate for it all. So I am content for the moment to continue blogging as a hobby, because it is something I enjoy and not because I am hoping for money in return.

What do you think? How much would you have to earn to think that monetizing your blog was worth it?

I’m Okay with Not Being Paid to Book Blog

Okay with Not Being Paid to Book Blog

Book bloggers have debated the pros and cons of being paid for their work for years, with most of the bloggers opposed arguing that people cannot trust a review that was paid. Bloggers who advocate for publishers paying for them respond that many professional reviewers get paid for their time–and no one doubts those reviews–and that all the hard work bloggers put into their content and their sites deserves monetary compensation. While I appreciate the desire to be paid for one’s skills, I personally prefer not to be paid by publishers for book blogging–and it’s not because of the reviews.

When I first began book blogging nearly ten years ago, I understood from the start that this was a hobby I was choosing to put my time and effort into, and that I would not be paid for it. And that was great! Book blogging as a hobby means that I have complete control over my time and my content. That’s exactly the way I want it.

If I turned my hobby into a job, that means I would have to start treating it like a job. I would have to invest even more time (and probably money) into it, to make the blog look professional. I would have to work towards deadlines that publishers gave me. I would have to create content that publishers want, instead of content I am interested in. Finally, even if publishers did not demand I create a set list of content, I would have to change my content anyway, in order to generate more page views so I could remain competitive with other bloggers.

One aspect of getting paid that I do not ever see anyone mention, is that one usually has to spend money to make money. The influencers on YouTube and Instagram whom book bloggers envy most likely own professional cameras and may even hire professional photographers. To compete, book bloggers would probably have to start doing the same, paying for professional website design, professional graphics, professional cameras, and, of course, self hosting. Even bloggers who try to do all this on their own might have to invest money in a course, or, at least their time. And time is money, right? Now, obviously, plenty of bloggers already do this sort of thing–that’s why they want to get paid in return. But bloggers who are currently happy doing their hobby practically for free–like me–may think twice before investing in a venture that might not actually provide any compensation in return.

Additionally, getting paid by publishers would mean that I would no longer have the creative freedom I now enjoy. Currently, my blog is an eclectic mix of reviews (middle grade, YA, adult, classics, and nonfiction), lists, and discussion posts. Publishers, however, might very well want to work with a blog that has more of a “brand” so readers know what to expect: lots of middle grade love, all the latest on YA fantasy, etc. They might also provide me with a set list of content they want published: a cover reveal, an author interview, and a review. The posts I used to write discussing classics or asking readers to show some library love? Probably they won’t fit into the new brand.

Another likely outcome of book bloggers getting paid is that book bloggers would begin to see each other as competition. Publishers have a limited marketing budget, and they would understandably want to spend it on the bloggers who could give them the most views and interactions in return. To achieve higher stats, bloggers would have to become even more secretive about what they do to succeed–perhaps choosing to no longer publish free tutorials for beginners, hiding their statistics, and sharing fewer roundups or link backs. Bloggers might also have to change their content to generate higher views, perhaps focusing more on listicles, for example, than reviews or discussions. That’s not really a road I want to go down since I started blogging to discuss books with people, not merely to generate stats.

Finally, I am just not convinced that all the additional time, effort, and money I would have to put into a paid blog would generate meaningful income in return. It seems unlikely that I would be making enough to quit my day job (and, even if I did, the terror of doing so would prevent me since I wouldn’t believe that blogging gave me real financial stability long-term). Doing all this work, and changing everything I love, just for extra “beer money” would not be worth it for me.

I acknowledge and I appreciate all the hard work we book bloggers do! I understand that we possess unique skills, such as writing, photography, coding, web design, and more. And I can understand that people want to be paid for using those skills. For me, however, blogging is most enjoyable as a hobby. And, for now, that’s the way I would like to keep it.

7 Concrete Ways to Boost Book Bloggers

How to Boost and Support Book Bloggers

Throughout 2020, there has been a near-constant cycle of discussion on Twitter about book bloggers’ feeling under-valued, particularly in comparison to other segments of the online bookish community, such as a Booktube and Bookstagram (and maybe even BookTok, which is very new!).

The vast majority of book bloggers blog because they enjoy it. There is no payment received, and many bloggers don’t even receive “compensation” in the form of ARCs or free books to review. Many bloggers who do review ARCs, especially international bloggers, only have access to digital galleys, so they’re not even receiving a physical product–just early access to reading a new work.

However, it can be difficult to spend hours a week reading, writing, formatting posts, taking photos, making graphics, promoting posts on social media, etc., even when you love it, if you feel as if no one is reading your content or if they don’t think it’s as valuable as other types of online content. To help address some of that, I’ve put together a list of some ways to boost and support book bloggers.

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Read Book Blogs

This is obvious, but it’s also so essential I think it deserves the top spot on this list. Bloggers blog because they like to do so–and really nothing is more rewarding than knowing other people are reading and enjoying the content you are posting. However, reading book blogs also boosts their stats, which can help bloggers who want to ask publishers for ARCs or even ask to be paid for their time: more people reading the blog means the publisher is more likely to agree to their request.

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Comment on Book Blogs

Comments are basically the lifeblood of blogs. Bloggers can know people are reading their content if they look at their stats and see they’re getting pageviews, but comments mean people found the content engaging enough to take the time to respond to it. Bloggers love this and love having discussions! And, again, comments can help bloggers who want to receive ARCs or other compensation or even just grow their audience because other people can see the comments and that the blog has an active and engaged audience.

Share Links to Book Blogs– Everywhere

If you want to help book bloggers boost their audience and influence in the online bookish community, sharing links to blogs–either the homepage or to specific posts you find interesting–is key. People can’t read blogs if they don’t know they exist.

Places you can link to and promote book blogs include:

  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Youtube description sections
  • Reddit
  • Goodreads forums
  • Podcasts
  • Your own blog posts
  • Anywhere else you post online

The idea is to expand beyond the book blogging community and bring book blogs to the attention of people who might not normally read them or even be aware of them.

Write a Post (or Video/Instagram Post/etc.) about Why You Enjoy Book Blogs

In a world where “experts” are constantly saying visual platforms like Youtube and Instagram are the future (or, at this point, the present), some people may need convincing that book blogs offer something worthwhile. So, if you like reading book blogs, it can help to explain to other people why you like them and to point out what features blogs have that platforms like Youtube and Instagram might not.

Boost Book Blogs in Awards When Possible

There are frequently online “awards” for bookish things, and sometimes these awards (like the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards) have categories that essentially amount to “best bookish influencer.” Book bloggers are not often nominated for these awards. (If they are, there will be about 10 Booktubers/Bookstagrammers nominated and one blogger.) So, when possible, you can nominate and vote for book bloggers!

If You Have a Blog Tour, Share the Blog Posts

This is directed more towards authors/publishers, but if you are asking bloggers to take part in a blog tour, asking them to spend time reading a book and creating content, or to post authored content on their blogs, and to do so to a specific schedule in order to promote a book– you should share that content! Link to it on social media and encourage your followers to read it!

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Talk about Book Blogs in Real Life!

There are a lot of people who are not involved in the online bookish community AT ALL. So if you can work some book blog promotion into real life, blogs might get more readers! If you have a blog, you can even start with promoting your own, either by mentioning it to friends or “casually” leaving your own bookmarks or business cards in library books or other places. Or you can tell people about other blogs you like to read!

*Katie from Doing Dewey says, “I’ve recommended bloggers who review a specific type of book several times when non-bloggers have asked for book recommendations :)”

Blogging in the Time of Coronavirus

Finding time to blog during a pandemic can seem not only futile, but also pointless or even insensitive. Many people are juggling telework, schoolwork and childcare, all from home. Many people are experiencing indescribable suffering, from the loss of income, from illness, or from illness or death in the family. Writing about books may seem silly at best, offensive at worst. How can the world go on pretending everything is normal?

I know I have had less time to read and to write in recent weeks. My situation is better than most, yet I struggle to find the opportunities to do what I once loved. I also struggle to find meaning in it all. I try not to obsessively watch the number of cases and deaths in the U. S. and the world rise, but I cannot help but be affected by the shutdown, and what it could mean for the future. In such a time of uncertainty, musing over literary techniques, cheering on fictional romances, and falling into fantasy worlds simply seems hollow.

However, I still think it is important to try to go on and to recover some semblance of normalcy. The pandemic and the shutdown are likely to continue far longer than anyone had predicted. It is no good sitting on floor and staring at the wall, trying to shut the world out. It is far better to try to accept the world as it is now and to find a way forward. So far, I have been doing that by attempting to maintain a routine, making sure I eat healthy, and making sure I get outside at least once a day for a socially-distanced walk and some exercise. A sense of anxiety never fully goes away, but I get by.

As I reflect on my way forward, however, it seems important not only to maintain a healthy schedule, but also to return to some of the activities I love. Staying at home will be the new normal for some time, and I know I need to do more than simply get by. Finding comfort in reading, in writing, in connecting with others online, is not merely escapism. It is a necessity.

Trying to find happiness in times of misery is sometimes viewed as inappropriate. But wallowing in fear ultimately helps no one. It only makes things worse. Reading and writing are activities that help me relax, give me a mental break from the tragedy around me, and help me process my thoughts. So I’m making a new commitment to continue blogging. Because being at home does not have to mean losing the activities I love.

Do Book Bloggers Influence Book Sales?

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Introduction

A recurring piece of “advice” for authors, circulated on Twitter but likely other platforms as well, is that “bloggers don’t influence book sales.” I don’t have widespread statistics on whether this is true (Does anyone?), and I’m certainly under no delusion that I, as an individual blogger, am inspiring mass purchases. I admit that very few people come to my blog, read a review, and then prance off to their bookseller of choice to purchase a book I just praised. (Bloggers who have affiliate links might have a little more insight on direct purchases, but they still can’t tell if someone bought a book later because of their review or bought it in-store or bought it but not through the affiliate link.)

However, of course no individual person is going to sell a significant number of books. The real question is whether bloggers in aggregate sell books–or essentially whether the existence of blogs has any marketing value at all. I’m certain they do, and anyone dismissing bloggers out of hand is likely giving up a lot of free publicity.

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Think of Bloggers As Word of Mouth Publicity

It might be helpful to start by thinking of bloggers as word of mouth publicity, something which is also difficult to measure–but which most people would say is valuable. Bloggers are, essentially, avid readers and book fans who like to talk about books publicly and recommend them to other people. Again, of course most people aren’t going to hear about a book just once, even from their best and most trusted friend, and then immediately purchase it–but bloggers provide more than one time exposure. When bloggers pick up a book, readers see and here about that book from multiple sources. There’s a marketing theory that suggests that someone needs to hear about a product about five times before they consider buying it. Bloggers do the work of making sure people hear about a book multiple times, which puts it on their radar and makes them more likely to read or purchase it.

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Book Bloggers Do More Than Blog

Next, consider that most bloggers aren’t just writing a book review on their blog and calling it a day. They are promoting the review across multiple platforms, often across days or even weeks. A single blogger who reads and review a book could promote it on:

  • Their own blog
  • Goodreads
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Amazon
  • Other review sites
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Other sites

And they might continue to promote the book by mentioning it in subsequent blog posts like lists of favorite books or round-ups. They might even do a giveaway and pay for a copy of the book with their own money to give to another reader.

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Bloggers Are Often Book Pushers in Their Day Jobs

Also take into account that a disproportionate number of book bloggers are involved in the book industry in more than just blogging. Many are teachers, library workers, and booksellers. So a blogger who came across a book solely from blogging (i.e. would not have received or read an ARC or other promotional material at work, even if they do work at a library or bookstore) now has the opportunity to recommend the book to students, patrons, and customers.

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And Most Book Bloggers Do This Free

And this is all free publicity and marketing for the book. Some bloggers do charge and make some money from blogging (especially if they’re actually more popular on platforms like Bookstagram or Booktube), but the reality is that the vast majority of book bloggers are doing all this work free. If the price of having a single blogger (never mind dozens or even hundreds of them) write thoughtful reviews distributed across multiple platforms and create social media mentions across multiple networks is basically nothing, it seems strange to say that bloggers are irrelevant, don’t influence book sales, and aren’t worth authors’ time.

Yes, of course, things like individual booksellers stocking and hand selling your book and getting an interview on a major television show or getting a movie deal are going to be massive movers for books. But bloggers aren’t exactly doing nothing to market and sell books either, and for an investment of literally $0 (or maybe the cost of a review copy), it’s worth giving them a chance.

Briana