Friday, June 8, 2012

Armchair BEA: Day 5 - Ask the Experts.

Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads.
It's the last day of Armchair BEA, and today the suggested topic is "Ask the Expert" (click the link to go to aBEA's linky post).

Here's what aBEA had to say for today's prompt:
It's the final day of Armchair BEA and we want you to keep your passion for books and blogging about them going long after we've closed the event. Today we'll be sharing tips on keeping book blogging exciting and unique to your vision for your blog. Our suggested post for today is "Ask the Experts". If you have any burning questions for your fellow participants about book blogging now is the time to ask and if you don't we'd love for you to share your own personal tips about book blogging! Again, we'll have a link-up post for you on the day of the event. What else do we have in store for you, take a look:
  • A guest post from Pam at Bookalicious about the future of blogging.
  • Some interesting statistics you'll love!
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 Well, I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I'm sure I can think of a few tips at least. :)

1. Don't be afraid to break from a schedule or to miss a day or two during the week. I think one of the biggest problems I've had with blogging is feeling like I need to post every single day, and you really don't. It's okay to have a week where you don't post daily. Posting once a week might be too infrequent, but definitely don't feel obliged to post daily, and you don't have to have a schedule. It's okay to post whatever you want on whatever day you want. The only posts I generally keep on the same day are memes, and that's usually because it helps me keep track of them or because the day of the week is in the name...having my "It's Monday, What Are You Reading?" posts on a different day would be kind of silly, don't you think? :-P

2. Drafting and scheduling things within blogger is always a good thing! I don't know about you guys, but I can be forgetful, so scheduling or even making a draft of the posts that I need to post for blog tours, or even for memes help me remember that I need to get something finished. They also help me keep track of what I'm posting and when so I don't end up scheduling multiple posts on one day.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're unsure of something when you're starting out, don't be afraid to ask other blogger's for help. If you know a blogger who uses Netgalley a lot and you want to know more, ask them? If you're writing your review policy and want some advice, ask other bloggers? -- I asked someone about their review policy when I was starting out and they were incredibly helpful, so don't be intimidated by a high follower count or by a blogger who's been blogging for a long time. Most bloggers would love to help you, don't be afraid to ask. Also, the same goes for making friends. If you follow a blogger and think they seem like an awesome person, get in touch. I'm sure you'd make their day by telling them you think they're awesome. :)


And I also have a few questions/things I'd like to discuss. :)

1. Features. I've been toying around with ideas for features, but can't think of any that I want to actually do. How did you come up with features for your blog? And what kind of research did you do before you started doing it? Did you scour the web to see if it'd been done? Anything else?

2. Original Content. I never know what to post about when I'm not already posting reviews. How do you come up with topics for posts like discussions and such? And do you think it would be a good idea to try and see what kind of posts your followers would be interested in first?

3. Review Requests. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I get quite a few review requests, and since my review queue is already pretty full, I don't accept many. So, what's your advice on replying to review requests that you don't want to accept? Do you just ignore? Do you reply and say you're not interested? And if you do the latter and the requester keeps emailing about additional things like guest posts, interviews, or giveaways, what do you do? I usually just ignore them because I have replied and then received additional requests, but when you ignore them sometimes people continue to email thinking it wasn't received, so I'm just curious about what other people do.


 Okay, so those are some tips and some questions that I have. 

Feel free to leave your own questions in the comments, or the links for your own aBEA posts.
I'd also love some answers or comments to my own questions if you have them. :)

Thanks for stopping by! I've really enjoyed spending this week with your all through aBEA! I'll definitely be attending next year (if I can't make it to BEA---which may or may not happen :P). 

36 comments:

  1. Great advice! If I turn down a review, I usually offer to let the author write a guest post for the blog or do an interview. I hate to think that I haven't let someone's voice be heard. (I'm a big pushover.) The only requests that I tend to ignore altogether are the ones that begin with "Dear Blogger" or something impersonal that is probably a mass email. I figure if they don't contact me personally, I'm not someone whose response they'll miss. :-)

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    1. Thanks! :) Yeah, I'm a bit of a pushover too, which is why I stopped replying to all of them. I used to pretty much always end up caving and accepting the book anyway. That's very true about the mass emails. They definitely aren't likely to notice. :P

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  2. I reply to review requests I am not interested in with a standard reply I copy and paste. Personally I think its rude to not reply (consider how you feel when you email publishers who don't reply!)

    Dear ***

    Thank you for approaching me regarding a review for your book, *****. Unfortunately I must decline the opportunity at this time. I do appreciate your consideration and wish you the best of luck with your work.

    Regards,
    ****

    Hope you have enjoyed ABEA

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

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    1. Honestly, I've never felt bad when a publisher doesn't reply to me. I understand that they're busy, so I get why they wouldn't reply. Especially just to turn you down. I can see how on the other side ignoring a request can be kind to, but maybe that's my whole "If you've got nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all"-Thumper side talking. :P I might consider the standard reply, but I'm not sure. Seems kind of impersonal, too.

      Thanks for your advice, it's definitely something I'll have to think about. :)

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  3. First off, love your tips!

    Features: I don't really do features, but when I am planning anything I always do a few searches. I basically see if it's been done before and if it's still being done. I usually try a few different "terms" and if I can't find it easily with those I'm good to go. If it's been done, you might consider writing that blogger and explain what you are wanting to do and ask them if it's ok. It's just considerate.

    Review Requests: For me, it depends on if they read my policy or not. If it's completely obvious they didn't, I don't always respond. (Especially if the book is out of my 100% genre.) I've also had some experience with...authors whose sanity was questionable. I've been "stalked" for lack of a better word. They peppered me with reveiw requests and copies of their blog and proceeded to "friend" me everywhere, among other things... So, if I think the author might be one of those - I don't reply. It's easier and safer to not. ;)

    I do try to reply to every other review request! When I do reply I refer them to blogger databases or to blogger friends who I've shared the synopsis with. I usually give the reason why I'm not accepting - I'm incredibly upfront with them. In a nice way, of course!

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! :)

      That's great advice about features! The next time I get an idea I'll have to do that, and I agree, it's always good to be considerate when you're planning a feature similar to someone's. :)

      Hmm, that's an awesome way to deal with requests, and that is very upfront, in a very awesome way. You're all giving me a lot to think about when it comes to review requests. :)

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  4. Wow!!!!!! I really love your amazing advice! i never thought of scheduling posts before!!!!!
    I have only gotten two review requests so far and for the one i liked I said yes to and for the one i disliked I ignored because it was a mass-out review request. If it was not a mass-out request and I was not interested in the book, I would do an interview.
    :) I love telling bloggers I like, their awesome!!!!!
    I adore the beautiful stars in your gorgeous background!!
    Happy Friday!!!!
    Rachel <3

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    1. Thanks! :) I didn't think of scheduling anything until I'd been blogging for almost a year, and once I started, I never stopped! And blogger finally has it's bugs worked out, so your scheduled posts actually post again. ;)

      That's a great way to look at it Rachel. :) I tend to wait to do interviews until I've read an author's book personally, but I guess you could make a standard interview for author's you hadn't read or something like that so that they could get a bit of exposure too. :)

      haha me too! :)
      Awe, thanks Rachel! :D
      Happy Friday to you, too! :D

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  5. Love the tips - especially #2. Whenever I have an idea for a post, I make a draft of it as soon as I can!

    For your questions, I don't accept review copies of books. so that solves that :-) But to come up with ideas for what to do on your blog other than reviews, I don't think there is any set way to come up that people do it - you just have to wait for inspiration to hit - maybe by looking through other blogs, especially non-bookish blogs or using other activities you like. Ex. movies coming out - Snow White and The Huntsman - might inspire a "5 of the most evil queens in books" or if you read a book about fairies that aren't good - a list of "so you think fairies are good - think again." Or watch a movie and then compare the book. That's all I can think of for now, but hope that helps.

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    1. Thanks! :D Me too, Tanya! :D I've also started used Notepad on my computer to save my templates for things like reviews, and memes. My drafts was getting pretty cluttered! haha

      haha that definitely solves the problem! ;D I think that's still great advice, even if there isn't a set way of doing it. :) And those are great ideas, you should write them! ;D I think I'll start writing ideas down in a notebook, and then I can just do posts based on that or something. :) It definitely helps, thanks again, Tanya! :D

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  6. Great point about scheduling posts, that has been a life saver!

    As for original content, I only do something like that when I'm thinking about it. I did a discussion on comments the other day because I was visiting blogs and I ended up saying great review a lot, and I know I don't mind getting comments like that, because a least they're talking to me, but I LOVE the ones that talk about something I said.

    As far as review requests, honestly, I ignore most of them. I occasionally accept one, and I often offer to do an interview and a giveaway. It's really your choice.
    Check out my Day 5 post if you’d like

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    1. For me too! :D

      That's a great point to make. :) That way you're kind of blogging about what's on your mind when it's on your mind. And that's a great discussion topic. I'll have to go check it out. :) Also, I agree! I love those comments, too. Although I get some weird comments where people basically post their own review in on a comment on my review...which I guess is technically telling their thoughts on the book, which I tend to ask for in my review, but usally they have no segue from the review into their thoughts...which make it seem weird. :P

      I definitely appreciate your honesty! I was starting to feel like it was bad of me to ignore most of them! I'm glad I'm not the only one though. Yeah, I've done that before too, and I've offered to do reviews for some even though I know it most likely won't be for a while, but I make sure that they understand that first. Very true! :)

      Will do. Thanks for leaving the link! :)

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  7. You have sound advice here... and I agree with the commenters above.. as for your many requests I do mostly ignore them.. and now for the past year I have taken down my personal email address. So where there ws once a CONTACT button.. it now redirects to my Review Policy.
    If you get that publicist who won't go away after ignoring did not work, then just make sure your review policy is up to date and clear, adn direct her to your review policy.

    If it is a book that you would not mind spotlighting, go ahead and offer to do that, if it is something that would fit within your genre.

    But remember you are not required to do anything at all =)

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    1. Thanks, Marie! :) That's a good idea, and I like the whole directing people to my review policy thing. That's great. Mine's pretty up to date, but I think if I start directing people to it, I'll clarify some or something like that. I know I don't have a genres I don't accept section, so I might add that. :)

      Good idea! :) Maybe I'll make a feature about that!!! Ooooh, inspiration may have struck after all. All of you who have commented are great for inspiration! ;D

      Thanks, Marie. I think that's one of the things that I know, but I sometimes manage to forget. ;)

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    1. That's okay, and thanks for sharing your link! :)

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  9. On review requests, I think it's common courtesy to reply, at least with something like "I'm sorry, my review queue is full." If they continue to contact you, I'd ignore after that point. Some people don't get it, but most understand. And you never know, the person you have to say no to right now might end up being someone you build a good relationship with, if that makes sense.

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  10. Nice tips! I think if you get a review request, you should always try and reply. Just say you have too many books at this moment so, unfortunately, you must decline, but you wish them the best of luck with their book. If it's a book that I think sounds pretty good, but I just can't review it, I might offer myself to do a guest post or something. You can also send them to another blog you know who you think might like the book...just some thoughts.

    As for features, I suppose researching around would be a good idea, to see if it's being done. I wouldn't stress about original content too much. Sometimes you just get ideas of things to add to your blog and you go for it. Try and think of your other interests or things you would like to know about...that might lead to a feature.

    -Lauren

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    1. Thanks. :) Those are definitely some good points about review requests. :)

      Hmmm, I've never really thought about it like that. That's a good point. :)

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  11. I used to ignore review requests unless I was interested. But the guilt just started to build up. Now I respond to any genuine review request and politely tell them I am uninterested. I just delete the generic book requests.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. :) You're all really making me think about this whole review request thing. :)

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  12. On review requests, how I respond really depends on who the request is from and how it was worded. I just delete requests that look like they were sent to every person and their mother. I always respond to people that I already have a relationship with. If the book looks good, but it is a bad fit for my blog/me, I may suggest someone else they can contact.

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    1. Yeah, I always respond to people I already have relationships with too. That's a good idea. I might have to start suggesting other bloggers. :)

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  13. I just ignore. I am not so sure that is the best method, but I do it....

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    1. haha that makes me feel better. :) I ignore too, and I was starting to feel a bit guilty. :P

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  14. 1. When I came up with my Deserted Island feature it was just one of those things that came to me. I always seemed to ask authors what one book would they want with them if stuck o a deserted island during interviews. So one day I thought "why not make a feature about being stuck and what people would want". I also made it about bloggers and authors, because to me bloggers are like my best friends so why not feature my friends. It's a great way to help promote other blogs. :)

    2. Discussion posts are hard for me. I have a million ideas written down, but when I go to write about them I always feel like I'm not saying enough. So I have some ideas to make them better. I think from now one when I have a topic, I am going to ask a few fellow bloggers to weigh in and I'll post their opinions too on my discussion post. I hope this will help stir up some comments.

    3. Review requests are hard. If it's a big publishing company that I work with often then I always reply. If it's an unsolicited request it depends - some I reply to and some I just ignore (there are spam ones out there). I have had people keep pushing and I have just told them I am not interested in their book/genre or that I am honestly booked solid for months ahead. And the ones that keep persisting I just start deleting their emails. Some people just can't take a hint. *sigh*

    Great tips and questions. :)

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    1. That's cool about your feature. I didn't know that's how it started. :)

      That's a great idea! :D And that way too you could event have a google doc at the end of of each discussion post with suggestions for future ones. :)

      Yeah, same here. That's true, some are spam. Some people totally can't. :P lol

      Thanks! And thanks for your answers. :)

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  15. Features should be something that comes to you naturally. As a library worker I was often asked for book recommendations & when the really popular books were out, I turned to older books. I started Nostalgic Fridays as a way to feature some oldies but goodies that people might have missed.

    Discussion posts should be something you either have an opinion on or know something about. I think the key is blogging what you know, so I've done a few posts about censorship & content related areas. I've toyed with the ideas of genre definitions several times.

    If I can't review the book & it's something I actually am interested in, I usually offer to feature it on Waiting On Wednesday or do an interview or something. I know they just want to get the word out, so I still try to help them if I can.

    Tattooed Books

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    1. That sounds like an awesome feature! :D I'm gonna have to totally check it out, and I like the whole natural to you thing. That's neat. :)

      Good pints. :)

      Oh, I wouldn't put it on Waiting On Wednesday, but I don't really use that feature. I also consider WOW for more upcoming releases rather than already released books, but I do like the idea of giving some kind of promotion to the ones you're actually interested in. :)

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  16. Haha, I only posted four times last month! I think the longer I blog the less concerned I am with posting every day. Or week. :P

    Most of my features come from things I'm interested in. Idk, I think you just have to test out ideas. Sometimes they flop and no one cares, sometimes they're really successful.

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    1. haha that's kind of funny. :P

      Great point! :) I'll have to try out a few ideas and see if any are successes. :P

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  17. First ~ Great advice! I wholly agree with everything you said b/c I did the same thing!

    Second ~ I end up doing a lot of memes that cover everyday of the week b/c they end being the things I like to talk about. I've found a group of bloggers that I love how they "talk" so I kind of circle their little group and join them when I can :)

    As for features? What do you love most about reading? What do you want to promote? What is something outside of reading that you can combine with reading? Maybe thinking in those directions may give you an idea for an original feature!

    And I am NO help on the reviews! I don't get many requests b/c I'm shy. There's only one I started but it wasn't my thing and I told the author that and I think he understood. It was a Stephen King type book and I hate Stephen King. Oh well...

    Thanks for visiting me this week!! I'm glad we "met"!!! (I'm following now...)

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    1. Thanks. :)

      Yeah, if I were ever going to try and feel the week like that, I'd go with memes, too.

      Good suggestions. :)

      Awe, well sometimes you just don't click with books. :P

      haha I'm glad we met too, and you're welcome! Thanks for visiting back. :)

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  18. Oh man, don't get me started about review requests. It so stresses me out! I always feel so bad when people email me and I don't want to review their book. I've *sort of* gotten better at it, though nowhere where I need to be. If it's an impersonal email, I delete it, no worries. If it's addressed to me, but it's clear they have no clue what my blog is about, I delete it. If it's a well drafted email but I still don't want to read their book I will try to offer them a guest post spot. My trouble is when the book SOUNDS good, but I'm not sure if I want to accept it because of time issues and/or just bc a book sounds good, doesn't mean it actually is.... then I try to give myself time to think about it or look up reviews on it, but then the trouble comes when I just let the email sit in my inbox... and sit some more... and then I feel more guilty about it, etc. Soooo... not a perfect system, but I'm working on it. =b

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    1. It stresses me out too! Oh, I do that too! When I already have too much to read I leave the ones I like in my inbox and the guilt totally builds! I need to work on it too. :S

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