Books Magazine

5 Things Your Mom Didn’t Tell You About Book Blogging

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

Sure, you’ve already got a great book blog. Your mom loves it. In fact, your book blog is so good that more people than your mom and brother read it.

That’s step one to blog success—more than just family members!

But how does your book blog stand out in the middle of all the thousands of book blogs on the intertubes?

Well, I don’t claim to be an expert or anything, but I have been blogging about books for nearly 4 years, and here’s what’s worked for me.  These, of course, are in addition to these blogging tips I gave a few years ago. All those tips still hold true as well.

So here are a few of my thoughts that, just maybe, your mom didn’t tell you:

Book reviews are boring.

This is my dirty little secret: I really don’t like writing or reading book reviews. Maybe once—if it’s a book I’ve never read. But I just generally avoid them. I don’t have a problem with people who only write book reviews—that’s fine. But it’s just not my thing. In fact, like I said, I don’t even enjoy writing them. My review posts are my least favorite posts to write on this blog. I just feel so long-winded and generic.

I like reading and writing about the quirky, off-the-beaten path stuff related to books and reading. The weird stuff. The strange facts you never knew about the book or its author. I think that’s why my blog (and sites like Book Riot) have been fairly successful. People are interested in more than just a book review.

Your English professor doesn’t blog, so ignore him.  

I think step one to writing a book blog is to forget everything your English professor told you. That’s not to say that he didn’t have valuable things to say. He’s a smart guy with a lot of great insight on literature. But if you want to find your blogging voice, then you need to get his voice out of your head.

You’ll never been willing to say that Mrs. Dalloway sucked or James Joyce was a blowhard if you have Dr. Snotsengrass looking over your shoulder for the rest of your blogging career. Find your own voice. And, remember, it ain’t his.

Don’t make it all about you, but do make a lot of it about your opinions.

Does that make sense?

Whatever you blog about, I hope you’re thinking of ways you add even the smallest something to other people’s lives—even if it’s just a two-minute post that helps them get their minds off their busy day. So in that sense, it’s not all about you.

But you know what those people don’t want to read? This: “Moby Dick was interesting. Herman Melville is a good writer. This book is really good.” Blech. Tell us what you really think. If you like a book, then tell us why—with energy and opinion! And don’t apologize! People love to read and listen to opinions as much as they love to share them. Why do you think political talk radio is so popular?

Ignore the stats. Write about what you love.

This one is difficult advice to follow. Most of us love to know people are reading us, and blog statistics are an easy way to confirm that.

But it’s also easy to get sucked into stats and start following the trends too much, to worship the stats just a little too much. I know this blog so well that I can usually tell you before I click publish whether or not a post will do “well” or not. It would be easy to tailor every post to those numbers and quickly get away from the purpose of 101 Books, which is to read through the Time Magazine list.

If I published 900 posts about dogs reading, I might have some nice traffic here and there, but I’m not sure exactly what either of us would gain from that—and I would have totally sold out the purpose of this blog for some extra numbers, and maybe a few extra dollars. Don’t do that.

Write about what you love, and the numbers will naturally follow.

Life gets in the way. Embrace it.

You remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted this?

Here’s what happened. I almost always work ahead with my 101 Books posts. In other words, today’s post was probably written 3 or 4 days ago, at the latest. I like to stay ahead.

But on that particular Monday, I was coming off Memorial Day weekend with a jam-packed week ahead of me with a family wedding, and completely slacked on the blog. I was running behind most of that week.

So what did I do? I just threw a photo of a dog with a toupee on the site and called it a day.

You don’t have to do something silly like that, but it’s okay to be honest with yourself and your readers. Sometimes, you just don’t have it. Life happens. Your wife has a baby. You go on vacation. Your dog is sick. Your brother’s getting married.

And, honestly, most of your readers probably won’t notice you haven’t posted for a few days anyway. Life goes on for them, too.

It’s easy to taking blogging way too seriously.

So take advice from “experts” like me with a grain of salt. Everyone’s situation is unique. What works for me might not work for you.

Relax and have fun with it. The more you can do that, the more success you’ll have with your book blog.

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