This is where I pretend that I know what I’m talking about.

Spawned from the Big Sis, Little Blog program, Book Blogging 101 was born. Do you have a question? Leave it in the google docs form and I’ll try and answer them in the order they are received.

We have a few questions this week. This might be a long one…

Q: I like to make my blog very reader-friendly. I’m a small-time blogger, less than 100 followers, and most of the blogs I read are very precise, perfect, and professional. I like to make my readers feel like I’m one of them. For example, I may miss a few days of blogging, or ramble for a bit about nonsense, and there’s plenty of joking on my blog. But I don’t want to chase my readers away, even as I try to be more “like them”. How can I balance the line?

A. My best advice is “write what you know and let it all hang out”. Cliche, I totally get it. But you can’t force yourself into any direction and anything forced is going to read that way. Forced. Write funny, write silly…if that is who you are. It will only make you seem more approachable and entertaining. If you chase a few readers away, they probably would have gone anyway. I think as long as your jokes aren’t insulting, or mean-spirited things should work out fine. You can always make sure your reviews are professional and then have fun, joking, posts in-between. Hang in there, we all started out with only 1 follower…be proud of those 100…that is hard to achieve. The followers will come as long as you make sure what you write about is entertaining and worth reading.

Q. Should you check with a publisher about receiving an ARC? Will they always send an e-mail confirming they got your address and are sending the book?

A. They will not always send a confirmation that they are sending an ARC. I’ve requested a book and received that ARC within days, with no confirmation what so ever. I’ve also gotten an email response to the query I sent. I guess it depends on the publisher.

As for checking with the publisher. I would suggest checking on them if they confirmed you were to get an ARC and haven’t received it yet. I wouldn’t recommend sending an email checking on whether they got your request and if they were sending out a book. That would probably just be viewed as pestering and might ruin your chances of actually getting the book sent to you. Once you send that initial request, the best thing to do is sit and wait.

Q. You have the best pictures on your site for features and what not. How can I find Stock Photos to use without stepping on any copyrights?

A. Honesty, I purchase mine from sites like iStockPhotos, Shutterstock and Thinkstock. Those sites usually have free images of the week, you might want to check there regularly, they might have some fun images you can use for free. I know by purchasing them that I will not have a copyright problem. I don’t know that great of free sites, maybe http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page Wikimedia Commons, or sites like http://www.freedigitalphotos.net where you have to credit the photographer and the site might be good use for you. I might also recommend looking on Etsy, they have some wonderful photographers with very very reasonable prices.

Q. I notice that some people use forms when they are hosting giveaways. Is is much easier to use them than to have others just comment with their email? And how would I go about creating one?

A. I actually have a post on creating the forms: http://www.parajunkeedesign.com/2009/12/using-google-docs-for-contests-and-lets.html

There are some pros and cons for both ways. For the forms you keep people’s information private. There are no floating email addresses for spammers to scoop up and use. But there is also no validation, so a user can enter the form as many times as they have a different email. Also with the forms there is a lot of prep work, if you do extra entries, you have to do a lot of adding at least to pick the winner.

Then there are comments entry, the pros of course being that you usually have to have some kind of ID to login and comment, so you can verify easier because it is attached to a google profile or OpenID. But there is a lot of slogging through comments to pick the winner which can also be time consuming.  Especially if you have to count the comments… time consuming.  I actually added numbers to my comments to make things easier. I also ask that for every extra entry they leave an extra comment. This way when I use Random.org and pick a winning comment, I just scroll down to that number, and viola, winner. Very easy and saves me from doing math. Which is a big plus.

Now I know what you are thinking, how do I add the numbers. I recommend this post…it takes a bit of HTML knowledge, but you might be able to do it.
http://www.solidblogger.com/show-numbering-comments-comment-numbers-in-blogger/

Q. Should you or should you not share the books publishers send you to review? 

A. Here are some general guidelines that I’ve picked up on..

Setting up an ARC tour. – Ask Permission!
Sending an ARC to a friend – Ask Permission if they are going to review it before PUB date, if just to read, it shouldn’t be a problem. Use your discretion and your knowledge of the person. This is because of piracy issues, how would you feel if you “friend” used the ARC you sent them to scan in a digital copy and loaded it to a piracy site. If it is after the PUB date there should be no problem in lending it out.
Selling an ARC – Do Not!
Selling review copies – Not illegal, but kind of cheesy. You didn’t pay for it, why should you profit? In fact it cost the publisher or the author money to send it to you, once again, kinda cheesy. Trade it, loan it out, donate it.
Passing on or Loaning out Review Copies – Go for it, spread the love. It is generally recommended that you donate your review copies to libraries after you have reviewed them.

Ask your BB101 Questions here…