After reading a few articles about common mistakes that businesses make when connecting with their potential clients, I thought I could easily apply this from a book bloggers perspective.
The difference with book blogs though, is that there is so much variety within the niche group and that most book bloggers do not approach their blogs from a professional view-point. They think of their blog as just a forum to talk about their favorite subject.
Yet, time and time again I’ve been asked the question, “How do I gain more followers?” or “How do I network my blog?” And honestly, I think it does break down to professionalism and treating your blog like a business. It’s a mentality and a way of doing things. You can still have fun and use your blog to dish out what you think is important, but if you maintain a certain decorum and process it could help ground your blog and make it into a wonder of the blogging community. That being said, in my stalking around the blogosphere these are some of the things I’ve noticed that bloggers, even myself, engage in…but should probably make a habit of avoiding.
Book Blogger Mistake #1 Bad Writing
You are a writer. You write blog posts. You have readers. Readers do not like bad writing. You might not think of yourself as a writer, but you need to change that perspective. You might not be a fiction author, but your blog can be considered a media outlet. You are constructing reviews; just like large media companies will feature in their periodicals or newspapers. How can you critique an author on sloppy writing and poor grammar if your review is riddled with the same?
Don’t think it happens? I see it all the time. A rant on the shoddily edited work that they’ve just read and there is a word in the TITLE misspelled. If you hold grammar and spelling up to a higher standards in your reading preference do the same in your own writing.
But there is more to this then just hypocrisy. There is also the fact that bad grammar and spelling errors can jumble a thought and make it hard to understand. A good idea in a poorly constructed sentence won’t be as potent.
I think therefor I am. Much more potent than, I’ve been think alot, so I must have be in existence.
This is a very obvious example of an error but I see it all the time and on the same blog over and over again. I know not everyone is a born writer, but you can at least structure a sentence properly and know that you don’t end sentences in commas and not every sentence ends in an exclamation point.
Some suggestions on improving your craft can be as simple as using a word processing software to write out your posts instead of typing directly into blogger or wordpress. Programs such as Word will highlight your spelling and even grammar mistakes before you copy and paste into blogger.
Don’t want to bring over all the formatting that Word copies with it? To battle this I go to EDIT HTML in the blogger editor and PASTE the Word copy directly into there. This way it doesn’t copy over formatting that Word will auto-insert into your code. You don’t have to know HTML you are just copying your words.
Another suggestion is to research your ideas, facts and concepts before you write them out. Don’t just randomly post about facts that you think are correct. If you are awaiting a book release, research the exact date and title instead of assuming you remember it correctly.
Lastly, always proofread your work before posting.
Book Blogger Mistake#2 The Disconnected Blogger.
One of the main thing you want to do as a blogger is connect with your readers. You want to post about things they want to read. To connect best with your readers you should get to know them, this way you can cater your posts towards them. Give them information that they want and not unnecessarily information that they’ll ignore.
Here are a few things that I’ve noticed by reading other blogs.
Half the time in my reader I skip skip skip because most of the time it is non-relevant posts. Non-relevant to me, that is. A post about baking cookies. A cover reveal on a book that everyone has posted about, rants about another blogger. Skip, skip. They state things like “this is my blog, I’ll post what I want”. Quite fine, for you, it is your blog and you can do what you want. But, if you want to increase your followers and make a connection with your readers you might want to step back and not be so self-focused. To put it in perspective – you could have the greatest invention (in your mind) of the century, but if no one buys it, well it’ll just sit in your garage and collect dust.
I’ve also noticed that a blogger might talk down to their readers, take on the persona of “blogger knows best” (stop looking at me that way!!) and not account for the fact that the readers might know just as much, they are just using your blog for information gathering. I usually dub these bloggers, “blog snobs” (in a completely nice way of course). They might have great blogs, well put together, but if their posts come off with a “holier-than-thou” personality they might turn off a few readers. This can also happen without the blogger realizing it. Tone is a funny animal.
Take it to the other level, some bloggers put out a naïve, almost elementary voice when they blog. This also might turn off your readers, especially if they want a source for information and not speculation and childish type thoughts.
Then to an opposite extreme bloggers that just throw out promo copy, recitation of book synopsis, book cover reveals and release dates. Basically all they are doing is regurgitating what publishers are sending them with no personality or opinions filtered into the post.
All three of these blogging types might work for a certain audience, but you have to
make sure that you are pulling in that particular audience. That “big talk” blog might work if you have a well-educated readership, but if your readers are mainly holding only ‘some-college’ you might want to tone it down a bit.
Same with the naïve, elementary writing, if your readership is mainly young adult and middle grade readers it should work, but what if you are attracting the mothers of middle graders? You might want to pepper in some maturity and start writing for moms.
How do you get to know your readers? Ask them. Put a survey out. A lot of bloggers do this to find out their target audience. Make sure to ask things like age range, sex, level of schooling, etc. Demographics will make a difference in your writing style, especially if you review books for younger audiences.
Another site I can recommend is Alexa.com, they will analyze your audience for you.
Book Blogger Mistake #3 Quantity vs. Quality
You want to publish daily but you can’t come up with suitable reviews or content to publish, so you fill in the gaps with random posts. A lot of bloggers do this, filling in the gaps with memes, hops, mundane “pass it on” type posts and spam like material.
Let me just say one thing: Two Quality Posts are worth so much more than Five Mediocre Posts.
I’m just as guilty of this as most people. I felt I had to post daily and if I couldn’t come up with something pertinent I would just throw something out there. I’ve tried to fix that.
Successful blogs have a schedule and nine times out of ten stick to that schedule. If you don’t think you can handle five quality posts a week, narrow it down to three. Make sure you always post on the same day, so loyal readers will know that X blog will always post on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Tips to making Quality your priority:
- Create a schedule of your post a week or two in advance. Know what is going up instead of just “throwing” something together at the last minute.
- Brainstorm about what kind of topics you could discuss when you don’t have a review going live.
- Take a good topic and break it up into a few posts. This can also get your readers involved and prepared. I’m actually doing that with this particular topic.
You shouldn’t just use this mantra on your posts alone. Bring this idea with you as you lay out your blog and add widgets to your sidebars. Quality over quantity. Does the widget you are adding to your sidebar matter? Will your readers be impacted by the information it is conveying? Or is it just a bit of fluff? Crazy, over-designed blogs can turn readers off by the slow blog load and the over-stimulation of too much eye-candy.
Keep these three tips in mind and you are well on your way to building a successful blog. Next week we’ll cover three more Mistakes Book Bloggers make. A little Book Blogging homework to bring back next week…what mistakes do you think you are making? What steps will you take to rectify it?
Now for some quick questions:
Blogger In Draft has made this easy! I would suggest you travel over to the Blogger blog and check out the awesome post that they have up. Favicon for your blogger blog.
Email your contact and be honest with them. Let them know specific genres that you prefer to review. Ask them if you can maybe approve titles before they send them out. Most publishers should be accommodating so they don’t waste money and review titles.
There is always ALA (American Library Association) they have a winter conference. They also have some regional conferences. You might want to check out their website. Then there are always the Cons…there are tons of them. We have RomCon and ComicCon and DragonCon and Romance Writer’s of America and they have Writing Conferences — there are tons and tons. I can’t give you my experiences, because I’ve only been to ALA – but I think BEA and ALA are the major ones where all the publishers exhibit.
That’s it folks. Talk less. Read More. Happy Thursday.
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