Book Blogger 101 –  Book Blogger Decorum, Junkee Manners edition…

Book Blogger 101 – Book Blogger Decorum, Junkee Manners edition…

First off – I have to say the Twitter Party last Thursday was EPIC. 1K+ tweets. I landed in twitter jail (can’t be a party without someone going to jail) and I think we all learned some valuable lessons. It has been suggested we make this a regular thing – so chime in on what would be a good time to host it (during the day) and how consecutively (every other Thursday -etc) .

Now for the Featured part… Decorum.

Some incidents have been occurring lately that made me realize we haven’t done a Manners post in awhile. This post is coming to fruition because of questions posed to me, things that have actually been done to me and things that I have inadvertently done…can’t wait for your feedback on this one.

I personally believe that the reason the world is screwed up is the fact that hardly anyone respects each other anymore. The wonderful thing about the book blogging network is the fact that most of us are very respectful, friendly and usually overly generous. Readers in general, I believe, look for the good in the world and other people because they want to believe in Happily-Ever-Afters. They might be snarky, they might be prickly at times, but as a hole, this community is one of the most welcoming and good group of people that I’ve come across.

That being said, some things are not always apparent. And might need to be pointed out…

Don’t Sell Out.
Recently there has been some reports of “paid for reviews”. (There was a Forbes article) Nothing new. This is a typical marketing technique. I don’t agree with it, but a few clients of the agency I used to work for, routinely would post their own reviews on Google Pages. You could always tell because their positive feedback matched the bullet points used in the advertising. Does wonders for your street cred via savvy shoppers (sarcasm). Yet, now it has trickled down into Amazon and book reviewers. Top reviewer Donald Mitchell (Amazon Top Five Reviewer) has made $20K with his book reviews. Combine that with the Top Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner – who most people believe is an stooge, how does this look to the consumer? Fake – that is how it looks. How can you trust someone that gets paid for a review? That is called advertising not a review.

A Book Blogger is only as good as her/his reputation. You ruin your reputation no is going to trust your reviews anymore.

Don’t sell out – no one will trust your opinion anymore. I’m sure, no you are thinking: How does one sell out as a book reviewer?

  1. The obvious: Take money for your reviews
  2. Post a positive review just because you don’t want to anger the author 
  3. Post a positive review just because you don’t want to anger the publisher/publicist contact
  4. Post a positive review because you are on a blog tour
  5. Regurgitate the synopsis without any opinion, just because you hated the book and don’t want to anger any of the aforementioned 
  6. Only post positive reviews because you don’t want to anger anyone…
They even have step by step guides on how to sell out as a reviewer: 

I might make people grumpy with that list, but that is my opinion. You don’t want to post negative feedback – well then you aren’t giving your opinion. You agree to post that author guest post – but not post a review, because you hated the book, because you just made a contact with this particular publisher…well that my friend is called questionable reviewing aka selling out to the publisher. 

We Aren’t Competing People. 
There are plenty of authors and books to go around. This isn’t a competition people. With such a small/big community, with limited topics – we are all talking about books and authors – ideas are going to be passed around, changed up and regurgitated. There are hundreds of memes out there, there are thousands of crazy ideas, names, blog names and even blog designs that might be similar to one another, on the same topic, or do the same thing. Its how this thing works. What we are not, is two book stores that opened up right across the street from each other, fighting over the same clientele. Our clientele can shop at ALL of our blogs. So, stop with the snide comments. Yes, I know you think your blog is the best thing ever and that meme that you came up with rocks the freakin’ house or that you wrote the BEST REVIEW for The Hunger Games ever written. Yes, we get it. Be your biggest fan – that is how you should roll. But, don’t prop yourself up by trashing other people.

Just because my blog asks people to follow me in a giveaway and yours does not, doesn’t make my blog a big baddie – it is just a difference in technique. Don’t enter my contest if you don’t like it. Just because your HOP has a few more steps to do than my HOP doesn’t mean it’s a terrible HOP, it just means it might take a little longer to accomplish. Differences in technique and opinion will be out there, it’s not WRONG, it’s different. I use a five paragraph review technique and I summarize in my own words, I know that you might hate book summaries in reviews – does it make what I do wrong? No it makes it different from what you like. Just because you don’t like vanilla ice cream does not mean that it should be eradicated from the Earth. Remember that when you are going on and on about how people that participate in certain memes are just bragging, or grubbing for followers…there have been some feelings hurt and people questioning their own techniques because they think people will stop following them, or that their blog sucks. Which I think is terrible. I really hope that during these BB101s I’ve never made anyone feel insecure about their blog technique. I’m sorry if I have.

Respect other peoples opinions and ideas. It may not be congruent with your own way of thinking – but it doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong. Snide comments hurt peoples feelings. Especially when it is directed at someone’s masterpiece – their blog. Think about how you would feel if another blogger made that statement about your blog…and remember this:
Twitter is forever. Eve
rything you tweet out can be searched on Google. Even if you BLOCK someone they can still see your feed just by going to your twitter page or searching via Google. What is said on Twitter does not stay on twitter. Keep that in mind, the next time you want to send out a ranty tweet. And I’m speaking from personal experience. I’ve had tweets misconstrued by my friends and I probably hurt their feelings. Just because I felt a snarky, ranty tweet was in order. Think before you tweet.
Forge Ahead Yourself. 
To give you a little background on myself, I’m a JUST DO IT kind of girl. If I don’t know how to do something, I GOOGLE it. Yep, great invention that Google thing. I’ve since compiled some of what I learned in tutorials and these Blogging 101 Posts. But, lately I’ve had a rash of “I’ve just started blogging can you tell me how to become huge?” or “Can I have a list of your contacts?” (Yeah that one never ends no matter how many times I say it’s uncool) or “I have this contest, can you post about it for me?” Yes, I do these Book Blogging 101 posts and yes, I seem to be a fountain of knowledge (still don’t know why you guys trust me) but I can’t just sum up everything in an email and I also can’t use my own resources to promote your blog for you. Blogging takes time, time, time and hard work and organization and networking. Myself and all these other great book blogs out there that have been at this game for awhile are not here to do it for you. We did it ourselves, I can point you in the right direction, but I’m sorry to say you are going to have to do the compiling, the writing, the networking and the promotion yourself. It is how this game works. 
Sending out mass emails to bloggers stating “I’m new to the book blogging world and I don’t know many people, you guys blogs rock and would love to have you sponsor my blog. Help with contacts, giveaways that sort of thing. Can you help me?” is a good way for bloggers NOT to help you. Also, sending out multiple tweets to high follower count bloggers saying PLZ RT this message, even though you don’t even follow these blogs is just going to get you marked as spam. Why would you do that?
Asking to have your contest featured on someone’s blog is also not going to earn you brownie points. Mass emails, tweeting someone with a link that you don’t know – and repetitive comments on multiple blogs is spamming…
Tips on how to get bloggers to promote you….without being considered spam.
  1. Offer to write a guest post for someone – have the CONTENT already lined up…”I have this idea, what do you think?” 
  2. Want a blogger to RT your message? Make twitter friends with that blogger! How hard is that? A friendly “Hey How Are You?” over a few days won’t hurt you.
  3. Ask a fellow blogger specific questions – not just generalized “How Do I Become Mega??” I’m sure they would be willing to help if they had a roadmap

All of these things can help solidify and foster good relationships with fellow bloggers instead of forming resentful opinions. People respect others that are willing to work hard for their goals – not just sit back and let others do it for them. The established blogs you see around the internet have worked months and years establishing contacts, blogger friends and generating quality content. It is not about them hoarding the information, it is there for you – just take the time, ask the right questions and be ready to put a good bit of time into the equation.

I think that is it, rant done. Also, FYI – you might have seen this around the web lately #BBAW – Book Blogger Appreciation Week. It runs from September 12 – 16. It is a Book Blogger Appreciation that happens every September (since 2008). Awards are given, community activities take place that sort of thing. Some of you might have been nominated. Some of you might not have. This is a nomination process – so you would have needed to be nominated by a friend or reader. If you didn’t get a nomination it doesn’t mean your blog isn’t Hot Stuff – it just means that the people that make a habit of nominating people didn’t nominate you. If you did get a nomination, good for you, that type of person thought of you. Good luck to everyone on the Long List. And for those that didn’t make it, be sure to poke your friends around this time next year and get them to nominate you 😉
XOXO Happy Thursday! Less Talk More Reading — or whatever it is I usually say.

Ask your BB101 Questions here…

Book Blogging 101: Conference Schedule

Book Blogging 101: Conference Schedule

First off Just a LITTLE reminder, I will be hosting a twitter party today…we will be talking Book Blogging! Stop by. You don’t have to follow me, just follow the Hash Tag #BB101
Where can I find a list of Book related conferences? I’ve heard of two (from your blog) and even google hasn’t helped me find information on these conferences. I’d love to be able to attend some.. if only I knew where to find them!  – Meli

This was the best I could do…if anyone sees anything I left off, just email me please!

Book Blogging 101: Stolen Ideas & Mentor Me

Book Blogging 101: Stolen Ideas & Mentor Me

Do you happen to know the specifics of how S&S; Galley Grab works? Can you browse or are you assigned titles? How can you sign up for it? – Anon

Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab program is something similar to but S&S; keeps it completely in-house. They usually have a few titles each month that they allow to be downloaded and they let you know via email each month.

The website is located here. Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

The website states that the Galley Grab program is for invited guests only, which is where the quandary lies. But, most bloggers are usually invited by one of the authors in a newsletter or via a blog post. They’ll have a banner on a site (like for Lisa McMann’s Cryer Gross galley) that says click here and it will take you to the sign-up page.

Emailing someone at Simon & Schuster might also get you in the door. Just a quick question to an email listed on their website.

When you are invited, once a month an email will go out with a list of the titles that are on the “grab” you can click a link to download any of those titles and you usually have one month or as little as 14 days before they expire. You can only read them on certain software and most of it is via your computer. There are ways of getting around them and reading them via your iPad or smart phone or things like that, but it varies per device.

A few weeks ago I started working on an event.  I posted on a few forums looking for feedback and possible co-hosts.  I never got any answers, but I went ahead and put it together anyway.  For two weeks, I’ve been relentlessly marketing my event.  Not a week later another post pops up, in the same forums I’ve been marketing on, for the same event I’m hosting, but on another blog.
Basically, I’m a little pissed.  I put a lot of effort into putting together what I hope will be an awesome event.  I even looked for co-hosts!  I can’t help but want to say something to this other blogger.
What would you do? – Bekka

Same exact? Meaning like same name? Same topics? Same Modus operandi? Because that would be rude and rather forward to post it in the same forum. Or is it just similar? If it is a blatant rip, I would email the blogger. I would send them a sort of “cease and desist” letter. Something along the lines … I posted my idea in the forum, dated XX XX XX, your initiation of the event is almost an exact replica of my event. Out of a courtesy to a fellow blogger I would hope that you could stop doing the event or change the name and parameters. Don’t be ugly though. Ugly will only get returned ugliness.

If it is just a similar event. On the same lines, but a different name, things like that you have to take like a good blogger. These things happen, but there is really nothing you can do about it. You can’t own an idea. It would be like if I came up with the French Fry – I can hold on tightly to my recipe but if someone comes up with something similar I can’t freak out. Even if they do it better.

Punch a pillow. Bitch about it on twitter. Unfollow and give the evil eye to their blog. But just keep it in your heart that you did it first, this person can’t come up with an original idea so they have to copy it from you and then pity them their flatness.

It happens and it happens a lot! But, remember sometimes it happens by accident. Sometimes other bloggers don’t realize it. Ideas are like butterflies they flit around the world erratically.

Is there such a thing as “Giveaway” etiquette? Like, what is the appropriate time to post a giveaway if an author or publisher provides a book for the giveaway? Is it better to do the giveaway before the review, after the review, with the review? And what if the review is critical? – Aimee

  1. If you are scheduling the giveaway with a review you should give yourself one month to read and prepare the review
  2. If it is a negative review I would rethink having the giveaway at all. But, I’m talking HATE the book type of critical. If it is just a middle of the road sort of critical, I would probably post the review after the giveaway post
  3. Praising review? Maybe the day before the giveaway post, get them excited! Maybe list I’ll be giving away this book on such and such date…
  4. Most of the time, though if I’m given a copy to review/giveaway I post the giveaway with my review

There is no real etiquette set in stone,  just that if you are given a review copy with a giveaway to go with it, review the book. If you are given “promo copy” and then a copy of the book thrown in, which does happen a lot. there is not as much pressure to review it with the giveaway. Publishers will usually specify if they want the review posted with the giveaway.

Okay, Rachel, I’m going to drive you nutz with my persistent queries. What If you have multi-contributors on your site (new situation), an author has just submitted a review request and more than one person wants to accept the opportunity to read and review the same book? Is there a general rule that normally applies in this type situation? Do we all fight over the request…  pull hair, set traps, sabotoge email accounts, to be the one chosen to do the review? Just kidding, we’re all civilized, I think. What is the best way to handle that type of situation? – Aimee

My suggestion would be the person that gets this first copy of the “chosen book” sits out for the next hot copy. Maybe go in alphabetical order. The next time it happens the person that was left out the first time gets the book. I do this with my kid and her friends, LOL.

Hi Parajunkee, Thanxs for sharing this wonderful go to bloging guide. I just love all the help you have provided me & my blog with so far. Also I was hoping to get some help with my basic “0 Comments” link. I want it to stand out, is there any thing I can add to blogger like a widget or code, to make it stand out like my addthis buttons? – Fellow Blogger

our COMMENTs link will be listed in your POST FOOTER section. Depending on your template that you’ve chosen you could have more options than I’m showing here…take a look at what it looks like for my template. (Click on the image to make it larger)

In this area you can change the font color and the background to make it stand out a little more.

Want to make it go even crazier? This will require CSS change-ups. You know the name of it right? POST FOOTER — well now we need to go into your EDIT HTML in the template and check out our options in POST FOOTER.

Back to Blogger > Template > scroll down > Edit Template

(This will vary for different templates)

Search text: .post-footer

This will be the CSS that changes what you .post-footer looks like:

To make your font bigger, you will be concerned with:
  font-size: 90%;

This mean it will be 90% the size of your “page text”

Increase 90% to 98% and you are increasing it 8% in size, on 2% smaller than your page text. Go over 100% and you will be increasing it larger than your page text.

Want to change the font? This is where you would insert a font code, something like:

font-family: ‘Carme’, sans-serif;
Find a fun font on the Google Font Directory and use it! Change things up, it’ll make it stand out!

Hey PJ you so ****ing {edited 😉 } rock. I want to start a book blog but I’m not quite sure how to get started. I was thinking since you are like an expert on this you could mentor me, or kind of show me the ropes tell me what to do those type of things. I so look forward to hearing from you!  – Flippy

I really do get a lot of these type of questions. In fact probably one a week, which I guess isn’t that much, but I don’t know what is really expected of me? Do you want me to start your blog for you? I thank you for thinking that I’m an expert (which I’m not – I just tell you what I would do) and thinking that I could make a difference in your endeavors, but this is kind of why I do these Blogging 101 posts so you can read them and make the decisions yourself. I can answer singled out questions – but I really don’t think it would be in my best interest to mentor or show someone the ropes. Once again, why I’ve done these posts. Sorry. I would like to be a lot more helpful!

That’s it folks. Talk less. Read More. Happy Thursday.

Ask your BB101 Questions here…

Book Blogging 101: WTH is Klout?

Book Blogging 101: WTH is Klout?

What the frack is Klout and why should I care? – Anon

Klout’s definition of their scoring is “The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1-100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence.”

Why does it matter? Think of it as a grading of how much your social influence is making an impact on people. Are people actually responding, listening, clicking? Klout lets you know if people are actually responding to you via social media.
Klout is great for businesses, especially if they are trying to figure out if hiring that full-time twitter guy will have a great ROI or if it is just a waste of money because no one is even responding. But, it can also help you, the blogger, judge if your WORDS are actually getting out there. Not to mention Klout will show you, the user the difference in the big Spammer accounts and the actually accounts that are trying to interact with users and pass on quality information when judging who to follow back.

Supposably there are three things that you are judged on for Klout. Your True Reach – who follows you, who you follow and how many lists that you have been added in. Then it judges you on Amplification Probability, how your tweets and posts are responded to by followers. Are they RTd a lot, do your tweets and posts start conversations? Things like that. Last but not least, they judge you on Network Influences, meaning how much Klout do your friends have? Meaning do the people you follow have Klout also? It has been described as incestuous and it is, because if your friends don’t have Klout well they don’t matter and who is judging you, well Klout of course.

So why do I care about Klout? Well, first it is fun to know that I’m one of the “cool kids” on twitter. I like judging standards and my Klout score affirms that I’m actually getting information out there and people are responding to it. On top of it, Klout offers perks. I was able to be one of the first US users to try Spotify because of my Klout score. I’ve also gotten a free audio book and a years supply of deodorant. Silly things, but what other sites send you deodorant??

Finally, though, Klout also points you in the right direction for social media networking. It encourages you to do things that you should be doing with your twitter and facebook accounts to promote your blog:

  1. Join in on conversations
  2. Start conversations
  3. Send out meaningful content
  4. Network with other bloggers
  5. And do all of this consistently

There have been some articles on how to increase your Klout score and this is one that has been referred to constantly if you are interested:

But, don’t take my word for it, what is your Klout score? Here is mine:

Okay, dumb question here but perfect for computer lingo challenged people like me.
What is the difference in page views and unique visitors? I want to include my stat info for publishers upon request but stats and such are so confusing for me. – Anon

Pageviews is how many times your site has been viewed, so if I routinely visit your site, or hit refresh while I’m on your site, that is a pageview. A unique visitor is a view by a user in one session. So the first time I click on your site it judges that as a unique visitor. If I reload it counts as a pageview not a unique visitor. If I close my browser though and then go back to your site that is counted as another unique visitor.

Hi! Me and my friend have had a book blog for about a year now, and our favorite part is probably hosting book giveaways. However, neither of us have a lot of money to buy stuff for giveaways, and while publishers are very generous, we would still like to do more than our occasional giveaway. Any ideas for a budget-friendly but fun giveaway? – Amanda

Bookdepository is big and offers free shipping and discounted books. This is a good option on a budget.

Swag! Bookmarks are always a fun idea and cheap to ship!

Other than that, giveaways are a big investment. Books + Shipping = about $10 for paperbacks and $20 for hardbacks.

Try getting your hands on inexpensive books which might cut costs and always ship MEDIA MAIL – very inexpensive (about $3.00 a book).

I’m thinking of doing a giveaway. What’s acceptable for a prize and what’s not (i.e., swag, new/used books, gift cards, etc.)? – Sarah

Anything is acceptable for a giveaway! Swag, new and used books and gift cards are great ideas. Some might not have the desired draw as others might have, say a Gift Card might be a lot hotter than a Used Book – but all are acceptable.

I am going to be a freshman in high school and I just started my blog. I was wondering how can I improve my writing on my blog ?

Also, how old do you have to be to receive ARCs and go to the different conventions? – Abby

Improve your writing by practicing and proofreading. Sometimes when I’m working on a hard post I’ll write it out, dump it and rewrite it. This way the thought is in my head and I can hone it better the second time around. Then proofread, proofread, proofread and no matter how many times you do this, there will still be errors. Having someone else look over it is also a great idea. By others picking out the mistakes you make, it will help you know what mistakes you have a tendency to make.

About the conventions and ARCs, from what I could tell there is no age limit for convention and ARCs.

You know, I don’t care what you say, I’m still going to post about my
dogs. They always get a ton of comments every time I do that, so I’m just going to do it. I don’t know how you justify it, it’s my blog and I don’t think it is a mistake. – Anon

That is superb, if they get a lot comments, more power to you. Once again, I was just saying from a book bloggers perspective you might want to stick to just books. I was just putting it into perspective that if a person follows you – from a book readers stand-point (not a social stand-point) and wants to know about books, most of them will not stop and read your posts on the Shih-Tzu names Pookie and her exploits with your stuffed panda. Then added to that if a publisher is looking for a new blog to add to their “reviewer” list and they stumble upon Pookie – they might skip to the next blog that has an actual book topic.

Never a matter of what you SHOULD do with your blog, just better blogger practices when trying to enhance your BOOK BLOG. Now, if you had a Doggie Blog – well I would be telling you to get the books off of it and focus on Pookie and Mr. Stuffy.

That’s it folks. Talk less. Read More. Happy Thursday.

Ask your BB101 Questions here…

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