So you think you like reading? You think you like books? Are you the kind of reader who goes through withdraws if you don’t read at least once a day? If you answered yes, then having a book blog might be a fun way for you to grow as a writer yourself, and to help all those authors you love.
It doesn’t take money. You could do this completely free. Check into blooger.com and wordpress.com. There are a lot of good blogs where the blogger uses all free resources. Paying a little money helps but it is not necessary at all. For this site, I paid for a wordpress.org site, my url, and the template I use. I also paid for a professional to design my logo. I spaced out these purchases so I didn’t have a huge chunk all at once. I’ll talk more about developing your blog in a later post. Today, I want to share how I connect with authors and how to develop relationships with them.
When I first started I reviewed books I had already read. I had no idea how to connect with authors and I suffered from a bit of intimidation. I found a site listing authors who want readers to review their books. (I tried to find it but I can’t so I don’t know if it is still around.) I found two books that looked interesting and sent in a request. I honestly didn’t expect much because I was just starting. The authors agreed and sent me their books. It was as cool as Christmas morning to a kid. Both of these authors contacted me directly. I read their books and then wrote reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and my blog. Then I took a bold step and asked them if I could do an interview. Again, I didn’t expect them to agree, but they did. Since then I have helped these two authors every chance I get. They are both wonderful ladies and I recommend both their books.
Then I listed my blog on the website The Book Blogger List. Once I did that, I had too many requests. If you list your blog on this site, make sure you are specific about your requirements. If you are not clear, you will be asked to read anything and everything. I try to get back with an author within 48 hours, but that doesn’t always happen. I keep a folder in my email labeled “Book Review Requests”. When I have completed the review and it is posted, I move that email to a folder marked “Book Review Requests Completed”. I keep requests in that folder for about a month after it is posted just in case I need to get to it easily.
For me, it is easier to read books on my Kindle, so I always ask for .mobi files. I do not take epub or pdf anymore. At first, I didn’t ask for exactly what I wanted/needed and I had to convert files. If you need to do that, you Calibre. It’s a free software that will convert .epub but not .pdf. It’s also a good way to store any and all ebooks. I can read books on my phone, my tablet, or my Kindle. For me, this is awesome because I never know when I might have a few free minutes I can read. I think authors are also more willing to give away free ebooks.
I also request books to review through NetGalley. There are a lot of books here to read. I have been turned down though. So if you go through this website, don’t be upset if you request a book and the publisher/author says no. Just move on; don’t take it personally.
Book tour companies are another way of getting books to review. Be careful with this because it is easy to get overwhelmed with too many books. I only work with one tour company; The Audiobookworm. Jess is an awesome gal to work with. I like to listen to audiobooks when I exercise.
Big houses are hard to get free books from, but there are so many indie authors who write great books. For this reason, I read more indie books than big house books. I get to know the authors and work with them on a much more personal level. I now have some authors who just send me their books and/or arcs without me even asking. That makes me feel like a rock star every time that happens.
There is some professional protocol you need to follow if you want to develop a good rep for your blog.
- If you get a free book in exchange for a review, state that in your post and on your site.
- If you say you are going to review a book- review it. There have been a couple of times, books got lost in my tbr. I contacted the author each time, explained while the review was later than I had told them, then quickly got it done. That leads me to…
- Tell the author how long it will take you to read their book. Be realistic and then add two weeks to your turn around time. Let’s face it- life gets in the way.
- If you read a book, that is just horrible- let the author know before you post your review. No one likes a surprise like a bad review. Remember for many of these authors, their books are kindred to their souls. When they write a book and share it with the world, they open themselves and it is raw and personal for them.
- Post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. No matter how good your site, you will never have an audience as big as Amazon. So share your input so more readers will see the book. Again, state if you got a free book in exchange for a review.
- Don’t ask for money for your review. Just don’t. It’s tacky.
Authors need readers and readers need authors. A book blog is a great way to meet both these needs. I haven’t spent much time on SEO, mailing list, and audience development. I’m working on that over the next couple of months. I’m not for sure how much I am really helping my authors and I want to do more. For me, I’m not looking to make a lot of money with my blog. I have one affiliation account with audiobooks.com and I need to work it more. I try to make enough to pay for my own expenses. I’ve gone back and forth on trying to make more. I’ll be looking into that over the next couple of months too.
If you are a book blogger or looking to start one, comment below and let’s connect more.