Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why You Should Be a Book Blogger and Reviewer

Are you a bookworm or reading enthusiast?

Being an indie author who just published my first YA fantasy novel, I had the fortunate happenstance to learn considerably more than I had expected to about book reviewers and bloggers. In this new world of digital publications, the audience is vast and everyone has the ability to become not only a consumer, but also a critic. The next J.K. Rowling will be discovered in the multitudes of book blogs and reviews, not by a major publisher.

People such as my wife and myself live for books.  We are avid readers and a bit particular about what we like to pick up.  I say we, but my wife has been on the indie book scene much longer than I have and she has discovered numerous series that she has grown to love connected directly to self published authors and bloggers.

It's nice for me to talk about this in a purely abstract sense, but that isn't why I decided to write this article.  You might consider my proposal and become a book blogger, but the task may look challenging.  Honestly, I don't know about the work involved, but from what I could see, the initial tasks of getting started can be simple.  The number of new writers entering the self publishing market are growing exponentially.  This means content and for a blogger, new content can become a tedious task.

Here's the basics of what I believe you need to get started:

  1. A Blog
    1. There are plenty of sources out there that will let you start an online blog for free. You can find sites like Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, so just take your pick.
    2. You can set up a URL very easily with most of these services.  I think my personal URL was like $12 on Blogger and it was very easy to setup.
  2. Content
    1. As I said, blogging can become tedious when it comes to content.  That's the great thing about becoming a book blogger and reviewer. You can do a search for blog tour website and sign on to become a tour host.  This means that when an author contacts a blog tour organizer, the organizer provides a media kit with the basics on the tour (or blitz) so that you, the blogger, has content to write about.
    2. You should also think about what kind of books you prefer to read.  You should also add a "Review Policy" on your blog so that new authors can discover your guidelines for doing a review on your site.
    3. Giveaways - Wow, this is the coolest part from what I can see (other than getting free books to review).  Many new authors, like myself, lack exposure.  When I signed up for my book blitz with Lola Book Tours, she suggested that I do a Rafflecopter giveaway. This was by far the most powerful tool I found as an indie author to get my voice out there with the big audience.  Book bloggers and reviewers benefit from Rafflecopter giveaways as well. This is a service that they can provide their blog readers that makes things a bit more fun.  
    4. Content for your blog can range from posting a Cover Reveal for an author to using exerts from the media kit provided by your blog tour organizer or even as I've suggested here, writing a personal review of an author's work.  You can schedule these posts weeks, even months in advance, carefully ensuring that you have fresh posts scheduled to be posted for each and every day.
    5. If you plan to do book reviews, find your voice and style.  Book reviewers that I follow tend to be humorous, for example, but if your style is more poignant, then you should feel free to express yourself. And remember, you will most likely attract readers that share the same tones that you share with your readers.
  3. Social Media
    1. Start a Facebook page for your blog.  You will also want to do Twitter (which I have found a lot of fun in doing) and of course Google +.
    2. Goodreads:  I cannot stress enough the exposure you can get as a reviewer on Goodreads.  You can find many groups of other readers and bloggers to help you cherry pick the best of the best indie authors out there and this will also give you some virtual street cred as you make friends on the site who may come to appreciate your reviews and suggestions. Zig Ziggler said it best that the best form of advertising is mouth to mouth.
    3. Sign up for Bloglovin and get a button to put on your blog. Also register your blog and claim it on bloglovin to expand your audience.
    4. You should also consider other accounts to interact with your audience like Pinerest and Instagram.  You can even do video blogging and do video reviews of your books.
  4. Monetization
    1. This is the big one that comes after you built your foundation with the other three points of this article. The number one revenue generation resource on the internet is paid advertising.  This is how companies like Google make their bread and butter. You can sign up for a Google Adsense account and place a few, well placed, google ad widgets directly into your blog.  You can also control what kind of ads you would like to run by using suggested terms and blocking terms you don't want to see on your site.
    2. You can also offer to premium advertising spots on your blog for publishers and other indie authors, however, this will probably take a lot of work.

Of course, these are not all the things that it would take to be a successful blogger and book reviewer, but this is enough info to get your feet wet. Remember, if you are an avid reader, the idea of "free books" is usually more than enough motivation to do something you love to do anyways.

And if you don't want to do a blog, there are still other ways you can get involved with indie authors. If you just like winning stuff, you can follow some of these book bloggers that I have suggested and enter Rafflecopter promotions for free books, gift cards and more.  There will be a continuing, ongoing supply of these as more and more authors discover the power of this tool.

You can also use your social media links you have now to talk about books your reading and posting Rafflecopter links so that your friends and family can join in on the fun.

So, this is a great place to start with all of this. If you are serious, honestly it wouldn't take that much to get started.  It can begin in a single day if you motivate yourself to make it happen.  Remember this however, the cardinal rule of being a blogger is to blog every single day.  I'm guilty of breaking that rule myself (as recently as NOT BLOGGING the last two days) and my site traffic has suffered for it. That is why that I recommend scheduling a blog launch for yourself. Setup the blog, make connections to blog tour sites and tell them you are just getting started and any pointers are welcomed. Give yourself a few weeks to get some initial blog posts scheduled and each day, try to have content ready for the days you don't have something schedule. If you have a really good, productive day, you can even get a week's worth of posts done. Try to stay one to two months ahead on your scheduled posts.  And if you decide today that you want to post something different, you can always add a new post for the day (just as long as you have yourself covered for future posts).

Good luck!  Send me invites to your blogs if you take the plunge!  Would love to see the great things you have to offer!

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