Aug 24, 2011

Posted by in Interviews | 11 Comments

Need Book Blogging Advice? Then Read This! (a.k.a. An Interview with Rachel and Kristi)

Tell me if this sounds familiar…  You are sitting at your computer, working on a blog post when suddenly, it looks all wrong!  The sidebar is on the bottom and the font is freaky green!  Or you are a new blogger and you just don’t know how to get your blog’s name out there.  I mean, you have two followers and one of them is your mother.  You try to tweet everyone out there but you just end up getting on people nerves and they block you!  Gah!!!

Okay, maybe those scenarios are a little farfetched, but the basic idea is there.  How many times, as a blogger, have you had a question about code or reviews copies or layout or followers and you just didn’t know where to turn?  Well, there are two incredible ladies out there who know what they are talking about when it comes to blogging and they openly share their wealth of information with you!

Rachel and Kristi are there names and they have agreed to answer a few questions about themselves and about blogging for me today!

First off, can you tell us a little about yourself, your blog and how long you’ve been blogging?

Hi there Julie…thanks so much for having me! My name is Rachel, I blog under the name Parajunkee. The book blog I run is called Parajunkee’s View. Parajunkee’s View focuses on speculative fiction, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy…genres in those range from Young Adult to more mature adult novels. If it’s got fangs, fur or wings, set in some far future or apocalyptic setting, it is a book I want to read and review. But, along the way my blog has become a little more than just reviews. I’ve also taken up a habit of promoting other book blogs, so I run a few columns on top of the reviews, they have to do with blog promotion and expanding your network. My blog has been in operation since August of 2009.

A little bit about myself…. hmmmm… I’m really boring! I live in a small town in Indiana. I’ve been married for five years, I work as a orthodontic technician and I love going to the movies! I’ve been blogging at The Story Siren for almost four years now.

Why did you decide to start writing “your blogger help” posts?

I also happen to run a small design firm, that over the last few years has come to specialize in blog and web design. In search of awesome giveaways I thought I would give away blog designs. They have come to be a very popular giveaway on my blog. One of the giveaways that I offered I wanted to focus on start-up bloggers. Named it the Big Sis, Little Blog Program. The goal was to make it a nomination process and the winner would win via votes. The winner received a Free Blog Design, a giveaway sponsored by myself and some blog friends and myself moderated a Ning site for all of the runners up where we answered blog related questions, posted lists, contact information and great stuff like that. After the program ended I thought it was a shame to not offer it up for everyone so I started posting Book Blogging 101’s every week. It took hold and now it has been a feature on my blog every Thursday for over a year.

My inbox was full of questions about blogging and book blogging, and a lot of them were the same questions. I thought that if four people had the same question maybe more people did too and they were maybe too afraid to ask, or didn’t realize they could.

What question do you get asked the most often?

How do I create drop down navigation menus. This started after everyone discovered I knew how to code HTML and CSS.

There are a few I get asked a lot….

  • How do you get visitors? (and this question in other variations.)
  • How do you get advance readers copies?
  • What do you do with your books when you’re done reading them, and can I have them?
  • Can you check out my blog and give me your thoughts on it?

I marvel at your patience ladies.  That and you ability to not freak out when you open your email and see LOTS of messages waiting for you in your inbox.  How many emails from other bloggers do you receive in an average week?

It is not THAT crazy. I have a special Google form set-up for questions, so I keep it separate from my email. Mainly only a few a week ignore that form and go straight to the source.

Oh goodness…. a lot! I would say I get a least two or three a day. I don’t mind it though. I ALWAYS reply to bloggers that have questions too. (although it may take me a few weeks… *looksawaysheepishly*)

You both host incredibly successful meme features.  Rachel, you have “Follow My Book Blog Fridays” (Follow Fridays) – that you host with Alison Can Read – which currently has over 301 blogs signed up.  And Kristi, you have “In My Mailbox” (IMM) which currently has over 396 blogs signed up.  What made you decide to start these meme features and did you ever think they would take off the way they did?

Well, before everyone got into the HTML and drop down navigation questions the question everyone kept asking was how do I gain more followers? And in the spirit of promoting start-up bloggers I figured a blog hop with a Feature attached would just be the ticket. It has exploded! Some of my features have reported gaining 200 followers in one day! I also have the feature spot booked up on my blog and Alison’s blog until 2012.  I had a feeling it would be popular, because everyone wants more followers, but I really had no idea it would be this popular and I have a feeling it is just getting started.

Well, In My Mailbox was not initially a meme. If you’ve seen any of my mailbox posts you know that I get a lot of books. Some of them are ones I’ve requested or accepted review requests from… but a lot of the books are unsolicited, actually let me restate that… the majority of the books I get are unsolicited (however it wasn’t always like that!). So, the basis was… I had more books that I could read, and while a review is great ‘publicity’ I still wanted to mention the books I was getting even though it may not be in the form of a review. Thus, In My Mailbox was born. Just because I might not have a chance to read it, I still wanted people to know about it.

And then because I’m nosy like that… actually I just thought it would be fun, I invited other people to participate too. It just grew from there. Honestly I didn’t think it would be as popular as it today.

You don’t have to follow anybody or jump through a bunch of hoops… you just have to make a post about the books you got that week… can be bought, borrowed or for review and spread the excitement!

What would be the best piece of advice you could give to a new book blogger?

Make a Plan! There are so many book bloggers that just start-up and fizzle. You need to know what you are getting into before you jump in head first. You want to stand-out, you want to be a little different. Do some research, see if other people have your book blog name (all it takes is a little Google Search!). Know where you want to go with your blog, what you want to read (at least generalized ideas) and things you would like to accomplish with your blog. Shooting from the hip might be fun and interesting to start but you could find yourself locked into somewhere you really don’t want to be in a few months. Setting goals, objectives and parameters, just like you would if you started a training regiment or were launching a business is something that I think is very important with start-up blogs. It can help launch a blog quickly and weed out mistakes that happen with blogs that don’t prepare.

Don’t be afraid to be different. Find your voice!

What would be the best piece of advice you could offer to a seasoned book blogger?

Blogger Burn Out is real, don’t let it get the best of you. Learn how to say “no” to review requests and book buying shopping trips. Your TBR pile can be exciting and can be also be a stress inducer, especially as review copies sit there for longer and longer than expected. Put things in perspective, you can’t read everything and you can’t say “yes” to every author that requests a review.

Remember why you started your blog!

And finally, what would you say is the best piece of advice YOU have ever received?

Don’t Panic. 😉

Have fun!

With your knowledge, guidance and patience, you ladies truly are the goddesses of book blogland.  Thank you so very much for all of the time you put into your Book Blogging 101 Rachel and your Dear Story Siren Kristi and for answering my questions today.

You can check out Rachel’s Book Blogging 101 page and Kristi’s Dear Story Siren: Find It Here page for a list of FAQs from their features.  And be sure to check their blogs regularly.  Not only because of their advice posts, which are ongoing, but also because they know what they are doing when it comes to book blogging and just studying their blogs will set you on the right track.

  1. Great advice. No one sure has the same name as I do 😉 At the same time, sheesh, my name, no one can remember it, lol.

    And I do have a blogger that I email my questions, she is a life-saver. I have gotten a few questions myself but the stuff these two get o_O

  2. Two of the bloggers I respect the most in one place! Great interview, ladies. Rachel and Kristi – thank you so much for doing what you do to help other bloggers out there. It is greatly appreciated!

  3. Great advice! Thanks Julie for getting these ladies in one place 🙂

  4. Excellent interview and great advice. I recently was viewing my Book Blogs website and a new book reviewer actually started a discussion “How do I write a good review?” and they had a blog. So I love the idea about researching a bit before diving in.

    If I can ask a question here I’d ask….I know how to put blog buttons on the side bar but on Blogger how do I put blog buttons in a post in the body of a blog post. The gadgets on the sidebar are excellent, I just don’t know how to do it in the body.
    So…How do I create drop down navigation menus? LOL

    A wee shout of for Julie as well as you have been a lifesaver for me.

    I love how the book blogger community is very supportive of one another. It makes me want to help out too by doing RTs on Twitter or hosting. I thought that there would be wicked competition out there but when blog leaders like Julie, Parajunkie and Kristi are demonstrate there kindness and willingness to help, it makes me proud.

  5. What a great post! It was fun to hear the answers! smiles…

  6. Thank you Rachel and Kristi for sharing your knowledge with us and thank you Julie for this great post.

  7. Great interview with some great advice!

  8. Awesome posts ladies! LOVE it. Julie what a great idea for an interview. Even though I’m almost to the year mark I’m sure that some of the content on both Rachel and Kristi’s sites will help me out. Of course you and I both know that I constantly go to you for help…maybe I can get some answers from their FAQ’s areas to save you from having to answer me. 😛 😉

  9. blodeuedd – I believe that a blogging BFF is mandatory! Not only for tech support but for venting to too. 😉

    Theresa – Hear hear!

    Patti – 🙂

    Michelle – Researching and planning is very good advice. I agree. 🙂

    Christi – I loved the answers too. They did a great job!

    Bookaholic Cat – No reason to hide the knowledge, right? 😉

    Ally – Advice to remember, for sure. 🙂

    Deanna – I love that you come to me for help. I help when I can, but these two know so much more than me! LOL And you know you can email me anytime!

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