I’ve been blogging for 2 (and a bit) years now and I’ve definitely learned a few things. I’ve made some good choices but also lots of bad ones and I’ve found that the bad choices I’ve made are the ones that offer the greatest teaching points.
I started blogging with such verve and enthusiasm that there was only ever going to be one result, burnout. I had a break away from the blog for a few months to give myself the space I needed to properly analyse what I wanted to do with my blog.
After a few months I came back to it with a totally different mindset. Gone are the days where I promise weekly features because alongside my day job it just wasn’t viable for me. There are those who manage to juggle these tasks really well and I take my hat off to them, it just took me some time to realise what I could do.
2 years has given me the time to develop some really good habits, and I think they’re habits that other people will find useful if they can get into them.
Setting time aside to enjoy the reading experience
When you read for the purpose of reviewing a book, you can sometimes let the process take over the exercises. By that I mean worry about what you’re review is going to say before you’re even halfway through the book. I used to do this all the time and it led to reading becoming a chore.
I’ve always been an avid reader and I didn’t want to lose the joy I got from reading books. So now I actually take my time when reading the books I’m going to review. I do still have my review in mind but the process is a lot less frantic and much more enjoyable.
This is something that doesn’t come easy to me, I found it tiresome and irritating when I had to stop reading my book to jot something down. That was until I started reviewing books and realising that there was a point in the book that I loved and wanted to refer back to it. But wait, where the hell was it?! Exactly, note taking is good.
Note taking is also much easier now that we consume books digitally, apps like Kindle actually allow you to highlight parts of the text and annotate them. This creates a list of notes that you can refer back to once you’ve finished the book. Neat huh?
Talk about it before reviewing it
I have a few people I bounce my reviews off and talk to them about the books I’ve read. By doing this, I’m already formulating my review before I’ve put it down on paper. People also ask questions like “did this happen” or “did that person like that other person” you know? And that helps you when you’re putting your review together.
I also find that reading other people’s reviews, and any comments on their review, can help you pick up any angles that people are looking from. It may be something you hadn’t thought of in your review.
What?! Surely book reviews are meant to be subjective, you idiot! Yeah yeah yeah, I get it, but hear me out. I write book reviews with a subjective edge to them, after all, it’s my opinion, but i think we should remain, on the whole, objective. When reviewing a book i always keep in mind the target audience of my review. These are people that want an opinion but what they really want to know is if it’s worth buying. Being objective allows you, the reviewer, to look at it from other subjective points of view. Does that make sense? Probably not, because I’m no wordsmith. But the principle still stands. By taking an objective view we can provide a balanced review, something the reader definitely wants.
Take your time when reviewing the book
Allow some time for reflection when you’re reviewing the book. I do think that your immediate impressions of a book once you’ve finished it are important, after all, that’ll probably be the foundation of your review. But taking the time to explore why you feel that way is also important. It’s your reflection on the book that people want to read, not just your initial or final thoughts.
A great example of this is The Tattooed Book Geek, more often than not, he changes his mind and feelings towards the books he reads. This is a good thing because it’s something we all do as readers. It’s authentic.
Credit where credit is due
So you find yourself reading a book and think “oh man, this ain’t good”, we’ve all been there. But I think it’s important we, as bookbloggers, keep in mind that someone somewhere will enjoy this book and that in every “bad” book we read, there will be features that people love. I have struggled with this before with the Game of Thrones series of books, I can’t stand the way that Martin writes and I think he’s unnecessarily crude but hey, I guess it’s working. My review wouldn’t read like others, I’d slate it, bu ti know that others find a lot of worth in his writing. This is no different to any other book you’ll read.
I definitely need to work on this. I look back on some of my posts and I can see all of the spelling errors, usually through because of my terrible typing. Nobody types perfectly the first time round and that’s why you need to reread your post before hitting publish.
I hate spelling errors and some grammatical errors just turn me off (there instead is their) so it’s even worse when I see things like that in my own posts. Your readers don’t want to see them and I’m sure you don’t either, so spend 5 minutes just got in over any of the simple errors you might have made and sharpen them up.
This is a skill I’m constantly having to work on and I’m always checking and rechecking my posts. I now leave it a day or two before I publish my posts, just to reread them and see if they flow and convey what I want to say.
Sometimes I’m too eager to hit that ‘publish’ button when really, I should be waiting a little while and rereading it, or asking someone else to check out a draft of it. Getting fresh eyes on a post is definitely worth it, it will ensure that your post is exactly how you want it.
I spend about 30 minutes rereading and editing my post before I send it out into the blogosphere.
Are you a go-getter or a constant last-minute Larry? I’m the latter, and boy has it gotten me in trouble in the past. I’m now starting to figure out how to meet them, and it’s only taken me 29 years!! You see, progress isn’t always fast, am I right?
Deadlines are important because they can help to keep you on track. I think it’s more about knowing what kind of person you are (you can just call me Larry from now on) and by knowing how you operate, you can pick your deadlines accordingly. For example, if you’re super proactive and will have a review drafted and ready one week before it’s due (damn you) then you can pick deadlines that are quite tight. but if you can’t/don’t work like that, maybe pick something that’s more realistic so you don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself.
Using a calendar
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, having an editorial calendar is something that will greatly improve your blogging. Whether this is for book reviews, blog tours, content, or anything else, getting organised will make the experience more fun. I know right, calendar = fun? Yeah ok.
Using an editorial calendar allows you to organise your posts and compliments your content strategy if you have one, and you should have one!
Thanks for reading my 10 habits every bookblogger should develop and I hope you found them helpful. As ever, I’m hoping you all can help me out and give me your experiences of developing healthy bookblogging habits. Please comment below and let me know which ones you find easy and which ones are a little harder.