Guest Post – 7 Tips for Successful Book Blogging by Zoe Toft

Offering up a dose of excitement or wonder, pointing to a door which will entice others into adventures of their own – this is what I see myself doing as a book blogger of nearly 7 year’s standing. And over the course of 950 posts, clocking up 1.1 million views, here are a few things I’ve learned which make me a happy book blogger  – my definition of a successful book blogger.Bird1Whilst I aim to be professional, I know it’s important for me to be true to my heart. Showing that there’s a real person underneath the words of a review makes for more engaging reading. Bland reviews, with a plain synopsis and too carefully measured an assessment of the book won’t light any fires.Bird3I had an epiphany when I realised that I didn’t want my book blog to be a megaphone blasting one way into cyberspace. Instead I wanted it to be a cafe open long hours for conversation, some idle, some intense, but all welcome. It’s embarrassing to think about it now, but in the beginning I didn’t even reply to blog comments. Now I see the social side of my blogging (in my case, extending the conversation to Twitter, but for you it might Facebook or Instagram) as an essential part of the bigger picture.Bird4Encouraging myself to try new things, ask questions, follow up ideas and simply give things a go brings a vitality to my own experience of book blogging. Getting stuck in a rut and losing one’s mojo are common afflictions for a blogger, but I’ve found that by teaching myself to be brave, by risking new genres and activities, or simply reaching out to people I’ve nearly always got more ideas to blog about than I have time for.Bird2More than half my blog traffic each month is driven by people visiting old posts. To create posts which stand the test of time I try to write as well as possible (often with up to 20 rounds of editing!), and I make a point of including material which isn’t just relevant to the here and now – in my case book extension activities and themed music playlists. A “review” which essentially only includes a synopsis isn’t going to entice time travel.Bird5Help yourself by working out a book review policy and whether or not you want to include negative reviews on your blog. Providing honest, authentic reviews will bring respect from readers, but I also believe that there’s pretty much always a reader for every book, so even if a book doesn’t work for you or me, it may well for someone else. A review policy helps relevant publishers find you and also protects you when you start getting lots of requests from people to review their books.

Bird7As a book blogger I’m part of a fantastic community, on whose shoulders I stand. Without publishers sending me review copies, or fellow book bloggers making recommendations to me I couldn’t do what I do, so for me it’s really important to acknowledge their role. I don’t ask for EVERY SINGLE BOOK on a publisher’s list. I do acknowledge the source of each book I review. I try to review in a timely manner and thank those who have helped me with fruitful discussions as I think about my response to any given book

Bird6Book bloggers do it for the love of it. And so if you’re not having fun writing reviews something needs to change. But to have fun, you have to know how (Thank you Dr Seuss). For me this means talking to people about books, playing inspired by books and aiming to make each piece I write the best post I’ve yet written. For you it might be something else – perhaps collaborating with others on a blog, finding a very tight focus for a blog which allows you to intensely follow a passion or developing a crush on the postman who brings you piles of free and fabulous books every day…

The UK children’s and teens’ book blogging community is vibrant and varied. Why not make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy falling down the rabbit hole this is this recently collated list of UK based children’s and teens’ book bloggers

Zoe Toft blogs about brilliant children’s books and the play they inspire in her family at her blog Playing by the Book. Her particular interests include graphic novels, non-fiction and books in translation, alongside glitter, glue guns and story inspired sweet snacks.

You can also find her on Twitter @playbythebook