Monday, August 20, 2012

Bloggers helping bloggers #6

My final Bloggers Helping Bloggers contributor is Kathy from A Glass of Wine. Thanks for being part of my first blog series, Kathy!

My name is Kathy and I run the book blog A Glass of Wine. I have been blogging for around a year and half now. I love YA novels with some adult titles thrown in. I have a cat named Aria who tends to try to eat my books, and work as a travel agent when I am not reading.
  What are some things an aspiring book blogger needs to consider when setting up a blog?

I think most people underestimate the amount of work that goes into something like this.  The usual refrain from new bloggers (and I still consider myself a newer blogger as I have been blogging for about a year and a half now) is how much more involved it is than they were expecting. Most bloggers spend over an hour a day either writing reviews, using social media to promote the books they review (and their blog), and that does not even include reading time.

Always do this for the love of books and sharing the word about books you really enjoyed. The other stuff is just a bonus that happens when you’ve put in the effort. Doing this because you love it is really the most important advice I can give.

What social networking tools do you use to promote your blog? Is there one that seems to work better than the others?

I mainly use Twitter to promote my blog. I swear by Twitter. You have access to send your review links right to the publishers twitter feed and they often retweet them. Not to mention authors are always happy to retweet and mention reviews they come across as well. Other bloggers will often retweet reviews from fellow bloggers, especially if it’s for a book they enjoyed.

It is a fine balance between promoting and spamming though. I think a few tweets throughout the day for the various time zones is sufficient otherwise people may grow tired of seeing your reviews pop up constantly.

I know a lot of bloggers have set up Facebook pages for their blogs. I think this is fantastic idea. While I haven’t set one up myself, it is something that I am considering. It all comes down to what works for you, and your blog.

In your opinion, what's the sweet spot for review length? How often do you post reviews? What other things do you post about (if any)?

I don’t think there is a certain length that they should be. I tend to write between 500 – 800 words depending on the book. Some have been shorter. I find the more I love a book the longer the review tends to be.

I post 3 reviews a week at a minimum. I have a set schedule that I rarely deviate from which helps me keep on track. I use Google Calendar to keep track of what I am reviewing and on which date.

I also post a Waiting on Wednesday pick each Wednesday. It’s a book blogger meme that is very popular. It helps promote books that we are excited about and has caused me to add numerous books to my ‘to be read’ pile.  I also do a post highlighting my weekly obsessions on Saturdays. This is where I put newly unveiled covers that have caught my eye, book trailers that stood out, or book sale news I am excited about. It’s also a place where I talk about my other interests (TV, movies, etc). It helps people get to know ME, the blogger behind the blog, a little and that’s important.

I think the most important thing is creating a schedule you enjoy. Try to balance it with reviews, topic posts, and other fun things. Above all else, make sure your blog reflects YOU.

In your opinion, does a blogger need a certain number of followers or reviews before he/she can start writing to PR departments asking for free books? Is there a particular format she should use to email these people that will make them take her seriously?

I think it depends on how long you have been blogging. Most publishers would want you to wait until you've been reviewing more than six months. I think they want to see that it is something you are serious about doing, and something that you didn't start up on a whim. Some publishers may have specific follower totals, or page views that they would like you to have, but I don't think there is a set rule they go by. My advice is to simply make the best blog you can and have a clear voice that is your own. If you are using social media, and have a healthy following most publishers will be happy to work with you.

What I found worked for me was introducing myself to the publisher via their media contact email that most publishers have available on their website. Telling them about your blog, your stats, what type of novels you review, and your contact information is a good place to start. Most publishers have a person that handles blogger requests and will get back to you.

Just for fun: Congratulations! You were the last tribute standing at this year's Hunger Games. What fictional boy (doesn't have to be Gale or Peeta) do you hope is waiting to welcome you home? Why do you like him so much?

Hmm....I think I would like Noah Shaw from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer waiting to welcome me back. He's British, loves animals, a little on the bad boy side, and did I mention the accent?!

This concludes my Bloggers Helping Bloggers series. A huge thank you to Brooke, Nikki, Sarah, Monica, Julie, and Kathy for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer questions for me. You guys rock!

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