Thursday, February 25, 2016

7 more tips to help you become an awesome book blogger - a ReadItDaddy Editorial

This week's editorial has been inspired by awesome Zoe over at Playing By The Book - a book blog that sets the bar higher than high for the rest of us lowly blogger folk to follow.

Zoe has put together an awesome list of tips on how to become a successful book blogger for Quarto Kids, so stop by that post and have a read...!

Cheekily I thought I'd follow up Zoe's post with a few musings and observations of my own. We've been doing this for 6 years so perhaps some of our collected wisdom might help you get a great start in book blogging too.

1) Libraries are awesome - use them! 

The number one tip I'd give anyone thinking about starting a book blog of any kind, whether for kids, adults, MG or YA, is to get your butt down to your local library and make use of their generous loans. Most libraries will let you borrow ARMFULS of childrens books at a time. This is how we started, and we still dip into our local library from time to time to seek out books that are out of print, books that fall outside our catchment zone from generous publishers sending us awesome stuff to review, and of course there's no better place to hunt down brilliant non fiction than a library, is there?

2) Get the kids involved otherwise what's the point?

Book bloggers are fantastic folk who give up their own spare time to discuss books, in some cases rate them, and in the majority of cases give some useful feedback straight from the mouths of the ones who really matter when it comes to children's books - their kids! The last one is vitally important really, because there's no better feedback for an author or illustrator than hearing direct from their target audience that a book is ace (or poo).

Children give great and quite often brutally honest opinions and you know if you get a firm thumbs up from them, you are definitely on the right track. It doesn't take much effort to make some mental notes when you're reading books to them, with them or getting some feedback from them on what they're reading independently - use that in your posts and they'll rock!

3) Be aware of what you are, and don't let it go to your head. 

Congratulations! You are now a bona fide book blogger. You are one of several million individuals on the planet who use their spare time to write about books, but always be aware of what you are. Rocking up to a book launch or festival, swanning in with your entourage and expecting everyone to instantly know you and know of your blog is (from an outsider's viewpoint) quite amusing to watch. By all means if you have the chance to introduce yourself to an author or illustrator, do so with a bit of humility and if possible let them lead the conversation a bit. If they haven't heard of your blog or haven't seen your 5 star review of their latest work, don't be offended because the chances are that seldom few authors will ever see what you write. Likewise, don't make a pest of yourself on social media - it's a very quick way to getting blocked by that person if you think tweeting every single review directly at them is going to win them over.

4) See other book bloggers as friends as colleagues, not as "The Competition"

Everyone - and I do mean everyone - has a different approach to book blogging. Some people have tons of time to devote to beautifully crafted and lengthy missives with full illustrations and photographs of the books they cover. Some (like us) keep things punchy and direct (mostly because this isn't anywhere near a 'day job' and never will be!)

Ultimately though there's room for everyone and all the myriad different approaches they take. Visiting other people's blogs, making comments, joining in with blogging communities and networking with other book bloggers is actually a huge part of the 'reward' and you will meet some truly wonderful folk through book blogging. So never try to see it as a race to see who can get content out first, who can nab an author exclusive or who can attain the most books without their house bursting apart. You'll definitely earn a lot more respect from your readers and fellow bloggers.

5) Take time off

We're our own worst enemies when it comes to this one but now and again you do need to step back and just enjoy books for the sake of enjoying them. There's nothing worse than sitting there in a panic about a review schedule and a whole stack of unread and unreviewed books. Take time to enjoy what you and your children read and for goodness sake, don't start getting stressed about the things you haven't done - be proud of what you have done instead!

6) Don't be afraid to reinvent your blog in tune with the way your children's reading tastes change as they grow up

Some bloggers have a distinctive blogging 'voice' which fits with the type of books they review but there's definitely nothing wrong with changing that voice from time to time. It's always a good idea to give your blog a spring clean, to freshen things up and (if possible) to hire an awesome illustrator to come up with new headers and logos to really spruce things up. Likewise it's always a good idea to accurately reflect your own children's reading tastes and how they change - particularly if you want to ensure your blog is shouting from the rooftops in their voices rather than yours.

7) Last but by no means least - Love what you do and if you don't, stop doing it!

Seems like the most no-brainer advice in the world but if your children no longer want to contribute to your blog, and you find it all a bit of a drag, stop doing it. There's nothing worse than reading a blog that smacks of someone merely copying and pasting press releases into a post, lazily slapping an image on it and calling it a day. People will visit a book blog for advice, for your opinion and sometimes (and again this is something lost on a lot of bloggers) to ultimately be entertained by what you write. Use your mouthpiece effectively but if you find the whole thing a chore, that'll show up in your writing and switch people off.

There you go - 7 more nuggets of useful info if you're considering starting up your book blog. We'd love to hear from anyone just starting out so do drop us a comment if you can!

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