Knowing Your Blogging Goals Can Help You Pick Which One to Pursue
After 11 years of blogging here at Pages Unbound, reading tons of blogging advice, and asking other book bloggers what they recommend to boost stats, I have come to the conclusion there are two main ways book bloggers in particular can increase traffic:
comment prolifically on other book blogs
focus on improving SEO.
These tactics bring in traffic from different sources, however, so knowing what you most want from your blog can help decide which to focus on. (Or, of course, you can dedicate time to doing both!)
Commenting on Other Book Blogs
If you value engagement and are hoping to get more people commenting on and interacting with your own blog posts, commenting on other book blogs is a valuable strategy.
Of course, you want to be genuine and leave comments that add to the discussion and try to make real connections with other bloggers. You don’t want to simply pop by and leave a short, “Nice post!” on something you barely even read, nor do you want to just leave a link to your own blog.
However, commenting and blog hopping is valuable because people can’t really find and read and (hopefully) comment on your blog if they are not aware it exists. Commenting frequently on a wide variety of blogs is likely to bring other bloggers back to your own site to check it out, and some will naturally become followers. This is great for engagement because other book bloggers are the readers most likely to actually leave comments on a blog, unlike more casual followers.
Improving the SEO of Your Blog Posts
If you are interested in getting a massive increase in page views, focusing on improving your SEO in your blog posts is a good bet. A lot of book bloggers report that the vast majority of their traffic comes from search engine hits (which is definitely true here at Pages Unbound; our second highest source of traffic is from the WordPress reader and app, and it doesn’t come close).
The only caveats here are:
visitors from search engines generally do not leave comments, so this is a good source of traffic but not engagement
sometimes when they leave comments, search engine visitors are more aggressive than book bloggers
you might have to think about writing “the type of posts people would search for,” as opposed to writing and posting whatever personally interests you.
In regards to point #3, you can, of course, try to optimize SEO on nearly anything. Some bloggers put a lot of effort into utilizing SEO on their book reviews, for instance, and these can end up as a significant source of traffic. Alternatively, you might simply think of things people are likely to Google, which are often lists (think: Books Set in NYC) or informational articles (ex. How to Write an Amazing Book Review).
If you are a book blogger who has written a post on SEO for book bloggers, feel free to leave a link in the comments below!
Both strategies will take time, but a lot of book bloggers have found they have paid off. If you only have time to pursue one, think about which you would enjoy more (engaging with other readers/the technical puzzle of good SEO?) and about what you want in return (possibly more discussion on your own blog/views from the general public using search engines).
The rise of BookTube and BookTok, along with articles like the March 2021 New York Times one lauding the selling power of TikTok videos, resulted in a lot of demoralization among book bloggers. Publishers, it seemed, were no longer interested in working with bloggers and were sending ARCs (advanced reading copies) mostly to influencers on other platforms. Additionally, though publishers had declined to pay book bloggers for years, citing a lack of funds, there were suddenly reports that they were willing to pay influencers on BookTok. Book bloggers felt unappreciated, lied to, and betrayed. And people began talking once again about book blogging “dying.”
This May, Pages Unbound turns eleven years old. People have been predicting the death of book blogs during much of that time, though Briana and I do not think that is true. To me, the idea that blog are dying puts too much weight on what publishers think of bloggers and how willing they are to send bloggers ARCs. There is an assumption that lack of recognition by publishers (and authors) means book blogs are no longer worthwhile or relevant. I could not disagree more.
Book blogs are primarily a space for readers, one that builds a community among individuals who love to engage with and talk about books. They still serve that function–we have more views than ever here on the blog! But, over the years, some bloggers have begun to see the mission of book blogs as “supporting authors” instead. The trouble with this is that bloggers then spend countless hours laboring to read, review, and hype books–taking photos, posting reviews on multiple channels, sending out pre-launch Tweets, urging people to pre-order, maintaining several social media platforms to sing the praises of certain books or authors, etc.–all unasked for. The mission has become to act as unpaid members of publishers’ marketing departments. And, even though this work largely goes unrecognized, bloggers keep doing it because they hope that if they do more and more and more, they one day will be recognized–and paid–for it. But I do not see monetary compensation happening any time soon. The publishers have revealed their hands. They had the money and the ARCs all along; they chose not to use them on bloggers.
Knowing that publishers are not particularly interested in working with book bloggers is, however, freeing. Since bloggers are not in any sort of relationship with publishers, publishers cannot and should not expect anything from bloggers. There is no imperative to market books relentlessly on social media, to buy all the new releases as an act of solidarity, to urge all and sundry to pre-order a book the blogger has not even read themselves and cannot personally recommend. Bloggers are not being paid to work as publishers’ advertisers, and, frankly, I think we should stop trying. Doing all this amazing work free has only demonstrated to companies that, well, they are getting the work free! Why would they pay bloggers for it when it is already happening at no cost to them? Working even harder is not going to convince publishers to pay bloggers just because they are kind. Publishing houses are companies. The fact that they produce books, and that books are art, does not mean they are above financial concerns and calculations. Like any company, they will save money where they can.
Personally, I have never seen it as my duty to market books for publishers; they already hire people for that. Knowing this has allowed me to see my blog as completely my own. I am not obligated to write up lists of upcoming releases, or to urge people to spend money on certain titles, or to get out that social media post NOW before it is too late. I do not even have to read to a deadline if I don’t have an ARC. I can blog what I like whenever I like. I can celebrate backlist titles or talk about bookish things that do nothing directly to sell books. I can even admit when a book was not for me. Is none of that valuable because publishers do not pay me and authors forget to add book bloggers in their acknowledgements section, even when they include Bookstagram and BookTube and BookTok? I think it is valuable.
Maintaining my blog as a space for readers, and not as a marketing arm for publishers, serves an important function, even if it does little to promote this month’s hottest title. For me, the beauty of books is what is inside them, the worlds and the words and the ideas they contain. I love celebrating those things and discussing them with other people. I love finding like-minded individuals, who share my all-consuming love for certain stories or characters. I also love interacting with readers who have different opinions than my own, but who challenge me to see things in new ways. I love making new bookish friends! Not feeling obligated to advertise constantly allows me to create this space, one that is flexible and open and, well, hopefully somewhat distant from the need to constantly buy more and consume more and do more.
I think that if I tried to take the blog in a new direction and to “support authors” relentlessly in a way that meant I was not just highlighting their work and bringing some natural visibility to it through my reviews, but actively chasing new releases and doing cover reveals and urging people to pre-order and promoting books I have not read or do not actually feel really excited about, I would feel drained. I would feel like an unappreciated underling in the marketing division. But I’m not! I’m not part of the marketing division, and so I don’t blog that way. And that’s why I still feel excited about blogging 11 years later, and why I still sometimes feel a creative spark when I start to write. I’m not doing it for the publishers or even the authors, though I am happy to give exposure when I can. I’m doing it for me.
The book blogosphere is full of advice – much of it so common that it might seem like a truism. But how much of this advice is true? Below are five pieces of blogging wisdom that I do not agree with.
You need to review ARCs to have followers.
It seems to be taken as a matter of fact in the book blogosphere that one needs to have a mountain of ARCs in order to gain followers and receive traffic. I . . . honestly have no idea where this idea came from. Is there data on this, showing a correlation between ARC reviews and traffic? It seems more intuitive to me that showcasing ARCs might matter more on other platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, where visuals are prioritized and there might be more competition for views.
But book bloggers and their readers often tend to move at a slower pace, prioritizing longer, more in-depth reviews along with lively discussion in the comments. When people are looking for conversation, seeing the latest releases may matter less. In fact, our (rather few) ARC reviews here at Pages Unbound do not tend to have very high stats. Reviews a bit after release date seem to get more traffic and more interaction because others have had time to read the book and feel like they are able to comment on it.
We review ARCs very rarely at Pages Unbound, and our traffic is higher than ever. And the bloggers I follow? I don’t think most of them regularly review ARCs, either! I don’t look for ARC reviews when I follow a blog, and I suspect I’m not alone. It’s really not necessary to have ARCs in order to stand out or gain followers. Effective writing and interesting content matters more than being able to say that one has a bunch of ARCs.
You have to buy all the latest releases in order to have high stats.
This point goes with the one above. We’ve been blogging over 10 years at Pages Unbound, and it seems that the rise of Bookstagram really ingrained in bloggers the idea that one needs to be able to showcase a rainbow of 100 new releases behind them in order to get followers – and, for some reason, a lot of people seem to think that these books must be purchased and not from the library. Or they think that the library does not even offer new releases, and that’s why the need to showcase a bunch of recent titles means that one has to have an endless book-buying budget. Let’s break this down.
First of all, using library books to review or to photograph is perfectly acceptable – and not uncommon! Secondly, if one has a public library and that library is adequately funded, it will have new releases. You can be among the first on the wait list for a new release by searching the catalog and placing the book on hold before the release date. If the book is in the catalog, it will have some sort of label like, “Being processed,” or, “On order,” but you can still place a hold. Finally, if you do not see the new release you want, ask your librarians how to submit a purchase request for the title. If they buy it, they should place you on the hold list (or you can ask about this), so, again, you will be among the first to get the book when it finally hits the shelves. You definitely do not need to buy books to get them early or on or around their release date.
Finally, it seems to me that the idea that one needs a bunch of new releases in order to be competitive and gain traffic is, once again, an idea book bloggers got from Bookstagram and BookTube – possibly from the popularity of book haul posts. Many bloggers seem to associate these other platforms negatively with consumerism because of such posts. But the good news is that book blogging often tends to be less about consumerism. Book blogging can move a bit more slowly than other platforms because longer reviews may be prioritized, and it takes time to read and review a book–more time than it takes to just show the cover for a haul picture. The audience for book blogs understands that the medium is different and that the written word is being prioritized over photographs (though pretty pictures are appreciated, of course!). They are not necessarily expecting posts about all the latest releases at once.
You need a custom domain name to be taken seriously.
Many bloggers will suggest that bloggers should pay for a domain name to look more professional and be taken more seriously. This may matter more for other types of blogs, but book blogs are not customarily monetized right now. Removing the “WordPress” from the address bar does not matter to most readers and surely does not impact publishers’ decisions to send ARCs or authors’ decisions to do blog tours or interviews. Getting a custom domain name is a completely optional expense at this point for people blogging as a hobby, and bloggers should not feel pressured to spend money on it if does not make sense for them.
You need to be really active on social media to be successful.
Admittedly, many bloggers have reported that interacting on social media or posting on places like Pinterest has increased their views. However, with the potential number of platforms expanding (TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram . . . ), it’s important to decide which (if any) platforms you really want to engage with. Trying to be really active on too many will likely be exhausting, and mean less time for creating actual blog content. So think carefully about if you actually enjoy the platforms you are on or are considering joining. For instance, if you are on Instagram, do you like taking photos or do you just feel like you ought to? Also consider if those platforms are doing what you thought they would. Maybe you have followers on Facebook and interact with people on Twitter, but none of them are actually clicking through to your blog content. Are you okay with that? Do you still find it meaningful to invest time there?
Choosing what social media platforms you really enjoy will help you use your time there more effectively than if you try to balance too many platforms at once. But, even if you decide you do not want to be on any social media platforms, that’s okay! “Success” is how you define it. Maybe success means, not getting tons of views from Twitter, but instead forming meaningful relationships with other bloggers and having interesting conversations. And you will still get traffic, even if you are not on social media. Commenting around on other blogs will boost your traffic, as will creating posts with good SEO. Most of our traffic here at Pages Unbound currently comes from search engines, and not from social media clicks.
Generic blogging advice always works well for book blogs.
I would argue that a lot of the generic blogging advice I see does not necessarily translate effectively to book blogs. Why? Generic advice often assumes a larger, more general audience, as well as the potential to make money. That is, generic advice often assumes that bloggers can pull from a really large pool of potential audience members – but book bloggers do not always have these same numbers. For example, food blogs might get tons of views because tons of people search for recipes. Everyone eats and many people cook. Book bloggers, on the other hand, seem to get less traffic than other types of blogs, and that traffic is often from fellow book bloggers, and not the general public. As a result of comparatively lower stats, book bloggers have historically struggled to monetize successfully.
So I’m always skeptical of generic advice that may not apply to book blogs. The advice above, to get a custom domain name, is one piece of advice that might apply to blogging generally. But for book blogs? It doesn’t make sense to spend money on something that may not make one money. So I find that the most effective book blogging advice often comes from book bloggers. After all, they are the ones figuring out how to navigate the circumstances unique to book blogs.
What do you think are some book blogging myths that should be debunked?
Monetization of book blogs is obviously a hot topic, and over the course of the 10 years I’ve been blogging, I occasionally see book bloggers take an alternate approach: What if, they ask, I didn’t try to make money directly from my blog but, rather, set myself up as a freelance editor (using my blog to market my services)?
It’s an exciting idea! And there are a lot of book bloggers who do freelance editing, either copy editing or developmental editing. It can certainly be done. However, I often see bloggers who think that their enthusiasm for books and their generally good knowledge of spelling and grammar are enough to succeed. Chances are, they’re going to need a bit more.
Here are some things I believe are worth considering before you set up that “Editorial Services and Rates” page on your blog:
Decide What Editing Services You’re Offering
First, you need to decide what type of editing you’re offering. Developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading are all different tasks. If you say you’re an “editor” but you actually mean you want to copy edit, potential clients may be confused.
List Your Qualifications
Second, take an honest look at what your qualifications to be an editor, copy editor, or proofreader are. Simply being a reader and having thoughts on books might not qualify you to be a developmental editor because writing a book review and giving editorial feedback are different skills. And being good at spelling and knowing the rules of grammar might not make you a good copy editor; you need an eye for detail, an ability to spot inconsistencies, and the patience to do a task others might find tedious. You also need to realize that copy editing and/or proofreading doesn’t mean reading a book through once, noticing all the mistakes, and being done.
So if you have specific experience doing developmental editing, copy editing, or proofreading, whether it was for a college publication or for some self-published author friends, write it down! You’ll want to list this on your web site, so potential clients know, as well.
If you don’t have any specific experience doing any type of editing, you might want to consider if there are ways you can acquire some before setting up a freelancer web site. Is there somewhere you can volunteer? Someone who can vouch for your work? A class you’re willing to pay to take?
Consider Technical Business Aspects
Finally, keep in mind that freelancing isn’t necessarily as easy as setting up a web site, listing your rates, and waiting for clients to come rolling in.
Of course, you’ll have to figure out what to market your services and get clients to know you exist.
You might also need to research financial aspects of freelancing. What platform are you going to use for accepting payments? Depending on where you live, how will you report and pay taxes on income? Do you need to register yourself as business or LLC?
This isn’t an exhaustive guide to freelancing by any means. If you’re serious about trying it, I recommend reading up on the topic and talking to fellow freelancers to ask about their experiences. Getting things set up the right way from the start will be more likely to lead to success than thinking, “Well, I like books, so I can totally be an editor, right?” and going for it blindly.
Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.
The Prompt: Do bloggers owe their readers anything? Do bloggers deserve anything from their readers? Do you think there’s a specific etiquette that bloggers/readers should follow when interacting? Do you as a blogger pressure yourself to provide certain things to your readers? Do you do certain things when you read a blog post?
This is an interesting question, but because book bloggers are almost 100% unpaid, I think the answer is short: bloggers and their readers owe each other nothing besides common courtesy. And because the book blogosphere is so good at this, I don’t feel it’s necessary to elaborate much on the topic either. In over 10 years of blogging at Pages Unbound, Krysta and I have very rarely received a rude comment; when we have, those comments were frequently from people who are not book bloggers but rather people who found our site from outside sources like search engines or Pinterest. In the book blogosphere as a whole, readers usually leave polite comments, even when disagreeing, and bloggers usually leave polite responses. I think that’s the most anyone of us “owe” anyone here.
If a book blogger managed to successfully monetize their blog (I haven’t seen this yet, in spite of seeing some attempts), I’d say they owed their readers more. If readers were paying to read certain posts or subscribe to the blog in some way, I’d say the blogger owed those readers quality content and whatever content they might have promised, whether they said they were going to publish two discussion posts a week or list all the middle grade books coming out in the summer or whatever.
But because blogs are free? There’s no kind of contract here. Sure, a blogger should strive to write interesting and comprehensible content — but they don’t have to. If readers don’t like the content on a blog or think it’s absolute gibberish they can just . . . not read that blog. There’s nothing stopping them from exiting the site and never visiting again.
And while I try to support book bloggers in general by reading their content, commenting, and liking their posts, I don’t actually owe that to them as a reader, and I understand no one owes that to me Book blogging is largely the realm of hobbyists, and when there’s no money exchanging hands, everything is just very casual.
What makes a good discussion question? The kind that not only generates a conversation in others, but also makes you, the originator of the question, want to answer it, as well? Read on to find some of our tips for crafting discussion questions that get people talking!
Go beyond “yes” or “no” questions–or questions that will only generate a sentence response.
A compelling discussion question requires an answer that needs at least a few paragraphs to answer. On a basic level, this means going beyond questions such as, “Do you like to reread books?” (which could prompt one to answer simply, “Yes,” or “No”) and adding a little bit more, such as, “Why or why not?”
However, it also means avoiding questions that would generate easy responses that do not in turn generate more discussion. For example, a question such as, “Where do you like to store your books?” even though it is not a “yes or no” question, will likely receive simple answers such as, “On my bookshelf” or, “On the nightstand.” There is not a lot more to say in response, except perhaps why (“It’s convenient,” or, “I ran out of room on the shelf”) and even that requires only another sentence. Furthermore, these answers are unlikely to generate further discussion from other readers unless someone comes up with a really novel and useful way to store books. The conversation will end with each person saying where they keep books and no one really talking to each other.
In the same vein, questions with numerical answers may not necessarily generate much discussion, either. A question like, “How many times have you read your favorite book?” or, “How often do you visit the library?” again requires only a short answer: “X number of times.” A really thought-provoking question needs just a little bit more to get people talking.
Instead of asking questions that have an easy, one word or one sentence answer, try asking questions where respondents might have to think through different possible answers. For example, a “how” question would make people consider multiple outcomes. Take a question such as, “How could the library be improved?” or, “How do you decide what to read next?” Respondents can probably think of several changes they would love to see in their library. And they probably have various answers for how they decide what to read next because what they want to read might vary on their mood, their available free time, what reviewers and websites they have been reading, and more.
But thinking through possible answers might also mean that mean that, even though a respondent might immediately think of their answer, they can also imagine other people answering differently. For example, “Do you think the public library is still relevant? Why or not?” might automatically make many people want to scream, “YES!” But they probably also realize some people might want to scream, “No!” To write a convincing response, they will have to demonstrate why they think the library is still relevant by providing examples and anticipating counterarguments. Their answer will have to be at least a few paragraphs, and it will be easier for their answer to inspire a continuing conversation.
An easy way to generate discussions that continue for awhile is to think about questions that generate controversy. This could mean tackling trending topics (such as when Twitter get upset at people calling their book exchanges “libraries”) or responding to questions that still continue to energize and divide the bookish community (like whether Susan Pevensie was treated fairly by C. S. Lewis). Controversial questions do not have to be questions that make people angry–just questions that have multiple potential responses people might make. They are questions that do not necessarily have easy answers, but ones that might require some more research, thought, and nuance.
Do some research.
The thought of doing research might make some bloggers cringe. They aren’t in school, after all! But looking up information is key not only to answering questions, but also to generating new ones. The internet will often take hold of an idea and present it as fact, and others will usually take that information at face value. Try questioning others’ takes! Reading up on the issues will often present new facets to be taken into account, which might raise thoughts such, as “But why?” or, “What if?” or, “How?” or, “Then what?” Follow these thoughts to generate new, invigorating questions that can in turn become a discussion post. The nuances of a question are often what make it fascinating, and these nuances are often only revealed after some research provides a fuller picture of the issue.
Much of this advice boils down to one thing: when crafting a discussion question, try to imagine how other people might respond. If it seems like they might only have a reflexive one-word or one-sentence answer, that means either that they do not find the question interesting (They’re responding in a kind of, “Well, of course!” way) or that the question itself might not be that interesting (It happens.). Ask questions that require some analysis from responders, ones that make them consider different points of view than their own, or ones that enable them to imagine different possible answers. The types of questions without easy answers are the ones most likely to generate a conversation, since people will offer different perspectives, thus keeping the discussion going.
1. Include Book Bloggers When You Discuss “Bookish Influencers”
I cannot count the number of times in the past years when I have seen authors, publishers, and non-blogger book influencers list bookish influencers they want to thank, recognize, or support — and their lists completely failed to mention book bloggers.
For example, an author will tweet: “Thank you to all the Booktubers, Bookstagrammers, BookTokers, and other bookish influencers who have supported my book and made my debut a success.”
I see that, and my face falls. Publishers and authors do still send ARCs to book bloggers, even if they send more to influencers on other platforms. Publishers still organize blog tours. Authors do interviews and write guest posts for blogs. The least they can do is acknowledge book bloggers exist instead of, if bloggers are lucky, resigning them to the “other influencers” category.
2. “Like” Their Blog Posts
I’ve written before about how I believe leaving book bloggers comments on their posts is the single best ways to support them, and it’s generally accepted that the vast majority of bloggers prefer a comment to a “like.” However, I think “likes” still have value. If you’ve read a post but don’t have time to comment or can’t think of a comment to leave, a “like” still indicates that you read and enjoyed the post — and it signals that both to the blog owner and to other readers. If someone sees that a blogger’s post has a large number of “likes,” that will suggest to them that post has value, and they will be more likely to read it themselves.
3. Share Bloggers’ Posts to Social Media
It only takes a couple seconds to click the “share to Twitter” button at the bottom of a blog post and help a blogger reach a larger audience. While it’s nice if you write a little bit about why you enjoyed the post and think others should read it, you certainly don’t have to. Increased social media links pointing to a blog can also help bloggers get a small SEO boost and improve their traffic beyond just the people who click on the original tweeted link.
4. Use Their Affiliate Links
If you’re planning to buy a book or other item anyway and you know a book blogger has affiliate links, consider using them. There’s no cost to you, and because many book bloggers end up earning very little from affiliate links, it will certainly make their day.
5. Follow Their Social Media
Is there a blogger you like, but you’re only following their blog or only following them on one social media site? Consider following them on other platforms to increase their reach and show your support.
Pinterest (Pinterest was second last year, and we got a few thousand more views from it in 2020 than in 2021, but I also didn’t put much effort into Pinterest this year, so the results are still good with ~16,500 views.)
Twitter (not remotely close to views from other sources)
~185,000 views, our best year ever!
We had ~106,000 views in 2018 and dipped down to ~89,000 in 2019 and went back up to ~140,000 in 2020. I believe the increase in views in 2020 and 2021 is attributable to more views from Pinterest and more views in general from people being home and online during the pandemic.
READING STATS AND FACTS
Oldest Book Briana Read This Year: Belinda by Maria Edgeworth (1801)
Longest Book Briana Read: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
Briana’s Pages Read: ~26,000
Most Read Books: young adult, picture books, middle grade
Percentage of Briana’s Books from Library: I didn’t really keep track this year. Oops.
To help support and promote book bloggers further in 2022, I am hosting a (very casual) “Support Book Bloggers” Challenge. The idea is simple: we will work together to read blog posts, share them, comment on them, and boost book bloggers in other ways.
There are no real “rules” here. It would be lovely if you wrote an introduction post on your blog saying you intend to participate in the challenge. You can also use the intro post on your own blog to check off tasks as you complete them. And each month I will publish a post here on Pages Unbound, so everyone can check in with how they’re doing on the challenge and, if applicable, share links to any posts they have made.
I have included 12 ideas, so you have one task to focus per month in 2022, but there is no obligation to do the tasks in order. Choose whichever option works best for you in any given month.
Of course, you can also participate in this challenge if you are not a blogger but have another platform. Just replace “write a blog post” with “make a video” or “create an Instagram post” or whatever works for you.
Happy blogging, everyone!
Social Media Hashtag: #BookBloggerSupport22
1. Find 10 Book Bloggers You’ve Enjoyed Reading in the Past and Give Them a Shout Out
The shout out can be as a blog post on your blog, a list on Twitter, or any other ways you want to show them support.
2. Find 10 New-to-you Book Bloggers to Follow
Follow 10 new book blogs. They don’t need to be new blogs, just new-to-you. Optional: write a post, create a Twitter thread, etc. sharing their URLs with others.
3. Leave Comments on 10 Book Blogs
4. Write a Post Supporting Book Bloggers
A round-up of blog links you enjoyed reading in the past week or month
A post about why you enjoy reading book blogs in general
A post about how other people can support book blogs
A list of bloggers with affiliate links or ko-fi accounts that people can support
5. Share 10 Blog Posts to Social Media
6. Respond to 5 Comments Other People Have Left on a Blog
Instead of leaving a comment replying to the blog posts, try starting a discussion by replying to a comment someone else has left on another blog.
7. Write a Post about Books You’ve Read Because of Other Bloggers
Your list can be specific (I read X book because Y blogger recommended it), or it can be more general (I read these books because they seem popular with bloggers in general).
8. Follow 5 New Book Bloggers (Less Than 1 Year Old)
Optional: write a post, Twitter thread, etc. sharing their URLs with others.
9. Write a Guest Post for a Blog or Feature a Guest Post on Your Blog
Guests posts seem to have declined in popularity on book blogs in the past couple years, but they can be a fun way to increase your reach and introduce readers to new bloggers.
10. Read 10 Blog Posts and “Like” Them
This is the simplest way to support book blogs — read them! — but sometimes we get busy, and this falls by the wayside. So take the time to read 10 posts and leave a “like” is possible. Bonus: comment on them, as well.
11. Link to Other Book Blogs in Five of Your Own Posts
Creating a round-up of interesting links from other blogs
Writing a discussion post inspired by someone else’s and linking back
Linking to other bloggers’ reviews at the end of your reviews
Linking to another blogger’s post in a discussion post to support a point
Including quotes from other bloggers and linking back to them in one of your posts
12. Share 10 More Blog Posts to Social Media
Repetitive? Maybe. But bloggers love when other people share their posts, and they get more traffic!
Other small things you can do to boost bloggers this year:
Comment on a book tour post. (Why: So publishers can see bloggers have an audience and these marketing posts are reaching people.)
Comment on an author interview. (Why: These posts tend to get few comments, so commenting shows authors and publishers that people are reading them — and blogs in general.)
Tag a publisher on social media when you retweet a 5 star review from a blogger. (Why: These posts often get little recognition from publishers.)
Vote for book bloggers in any end-of-the year awards where “book influencers” are nominated. (Why: Usually these categories are dominated by bookstagrammers and booktubers.)
Share your secrets to blogging “success.” (Why: We’re all in this together! If you have a great way to get traffic or comments, let others know so we can succeed as a community.)
Discussion posts have become a staple of book blogs, with readers reporting that they often prefer to read discussions and bloggers reporting that discussions do indeed generate higher traffic than reviews. While book discussions started out as simple questions, with bloggers often just asking questions such as, “How many books do you currently have on your nightstand?” the length and quality of these posts have evolved over the years. Now, bloggers might discuss anything from whether series or standalones are preferable to consumerism on Bookstagram. What many bloggers still seem not to post, however, are discussions that focus on a single title or a single aspect of a book.
When I raise the idea that book bloggers might post in-depth discussions about specific titles, instead of talking about books in general, some bloggers seem hesitant. Part of this is a fear of sounding too “academic” and scaring potential readers away. Much blogging advice, after all, advises bloggers that readers on the internet have short attention spans, and thus anything text-heavy should be avoided. Extrapolation of this idea suggests that anything that sounds intellectually heavy should also be avoided–readers presumably do not want to read anything that might remind them of a high school English paper.
Blogging about the questions raised books need not be dry and tedious, however. Interesting ideas can be raised without clouding them in academic jargon or writing a post that becomes the length of a doctoral thesis. A balance can be struck with intellectual ideas and an engaging writing style. In short, bloggers need not dread that writing about books in-depth might make them sound overly scholarly and thus scare people away. Truly, a discussion post about a single feature in a book could be merely five or six paragraphs–the idea is, after all, to generate discussion, not to post the final word on the book. A post can simply raise a question or idea, and then let the rest of the conversation, with all its complexities, contradictions, and side trails, unfold in the comment section.
Despite their mixed reputation, discussion posts focused on specific titles have many benefits for bloggers. Firstly, they allow bloggers to expand upon their thoughts on a book. Because most reviews are fairly short, they need to be focused and thus may only mention a few main points of interest, rather than everything the reviewer might wish they could talk about. Secondly, they open up the door for more discussion about favorite books–an especially wonderful benefit since many bloggers start blogs specifically because they want to talk about their favorite books with other fans. And, lastly, they allow bloggers to generate more content without having to read a bunch of books. One title could, in theory, be the inspiration for an unlimited amount of future posts!
But what kinds of discussion posts might generate the most discussion? At Pages Unbound, we have posted a mix of discussions on everything from classic works to childhood favorites to the latest YA bestsellers. These sorts of posts seem to work best for getting a conversation going. After all, people need to have read a book or at least heard of it in order to discuss it. So anything that people might conceivably have been exposed to or have strong feelings about (think, for instance, books regularly assigned to students or the latest release that everyone seems to be reading) is a reasonable choice. Taking up questions that have constantly intrigued readers (such as whether C. S. Lewis did Susan Pevensie wrong) could all get a conversation started. Not all discussions will take off, of course, but it could still be fun writing them!
For inspiration, here are a few text-specific posts we have written:
The posts range from more general questions–what makes a book or a franchise successful– to more in-depth analyses about characters or philosophy to opinions on fan-based issues such as romances. Discussions can be based around almost anything!
Book-specific discussion posts do not have to be boring or dry. Nor do they have to scare readers away! Many readers are waiting for the opportunity to talk about their favorite works and to think about them deeply. General bookish discussion posts are fun–but specific ones can be, too!