Over the past few months, as part of Lectito’s Book Blogger Q & A series, I’ve caught up with twelve fellow book reviewers to chat about how they review and what they love to read.
For new reviewers, finding your niche and figuring out the best way to talk books with your readers takes a lot of trial and error. So one of the questions I asked each reviewer is: What advice would you give to new and aspiring reviewers?
Here’s what they had to say:
Don’t let the pressure overwhelm you. The number of books you read and/or review is not the most important thing about blogging. Your passion and joy in the hobby is.
Read what you love, be honest but fair and most of all have fun!
Be yourself and be honest. Your review should have your voice, so find what works best for you and express your feelings with that.
Be yourself. Figure out what you want to do with your blog, deliver the content you want to deliver, read what you want to read. It has to be FUN.
Don’t get too caught up in what other bloggers are doing. Sometimes I feel like book blogging is a competition to see who can get the most followers or the best ARCs or the best blog tours or become the most “known” in the book blogging world. I realised very early on that I don’t have the time to compete. I have a full-time job, a boyfriend I spend a lot of time with, a hectic social life – I don’t have time to be active on Twitter and Instagram and spend hours writing new blog posts. I blog because I enjoy it. I write blog posts in five minutes and upload them. My advice is to figure out what works for you and don’t get too caught up in the crazy.
Find your voice and be true to it. Find your audience and be true to THEM. Don’t be gimmicky just for the sake of being gimmicky, because that gets old fast. And have FUN!
Set a schedule and stick to it. There are days when you don’t want to write anything, but you have to. That, and don’t do it for the viewers, do it for yourself. Reviewing sheds insight into your own reading that is strangely profound.
Decide on who your audience is and write to them. When I first stared, I thought that the only way I might crack the book blogging world was to appeal to the young readers in the young adult readership. However, I quickly worked out that this wasn’t whom I was truly talking too. My main audience is the adult readers, like myself, who read broadly and like to read young adult books. Knowing whom you are writing to helps to develop your voice.
Jump headlong into it. Writing is like running down a hill, it is deeply infectious, exhilarating and sometimes scary. Write everything from your head and your heart, don’t stop, just do it.
Be honest with your reviews. Try not to get too stressed—you are doing this for fun! Don’t feel bad about not finishing books that you aren’t feeling—not every book is going to capture your attention. Your time is valuable so use it wisely. Read what you love and forget what you don’t. Be respectful with your reviews. Remember that authors are people and when they release their work into the abyss of publishing, they are putting pieces of themselves into their stories. That being said, if you didn’t like a certain book, it’s not because it was a bad book, it just might not have been your kind of book. I firmly believe there is a reader for every book, so be honest with your opinion while still being respectful!
If you think you’re swaying someone with your personal yea/nay and don’t provide evidence, you’re really writing an online reading diary, not a review. Be honest about that, and include what kind of reviewer you are in your “About” section.
Also, if you don’t finish a book, don’t review it. Just leave it off your site. If an author sent it to you, write them a nice email about why you won’t be finishing it. However, judging a book you never finished is dishonest.
Just go for it, spill your mind and heart, and you’ll be fine.
As for me? Seek out books that appeal to you, rather than what’s popular, and approach your reading with an open mind. Be honest and don’t be afraid to give a negative review, even if the publisher supplied a copy of the book. That said, be respectful—the author put a huge amount of work (and possibly a small piece of their soul) into creating their story. Take the time to show your reader why you did or didn’t love a book.
The book blogging community is full of enthusiastic readers who love talking books, so don’t be shy! Follow other book blogs and chat with your fellow reviewers about their reading.
Find your own ‘voice’ and don’t be afraid to experiment. But the most important thing, as many of the other bloggers here have said, is to have fun!
For more tips, see the Lectito guide to better book reviews.
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