It’s not in the bad way. People are excited! This little blog has exploded in a year and eight months. I’ve got King, Lippman, Stapp (Yes as in Creed’s Scott Stapp.), Sorbo (Yes as in Kevin Sorbo.) and many other high profile names in my review stacks. The Top Shelf is booked almost solid until November! There are a few openings in September but I’m keeping them open so I have time to work on another project.
Which in a way ties in with this blog.
Sean Sweeney said it best in his blog yesterday. We book bloggers are not machines. Reviewing is not the only thing we do. We don’t just read four to six books a week and crank out reviews like clockwork.
So what do we do? Well let’s cover the most obvious one first.
Reading – We do A LOT of reading. Some of us can average TEN books a week. I’ve been known to read a little over 300 pages in a day. That doesn’t mean we just eat books and spit out a review, sometimes book binges like that are exhausting. I’ve had points where I’ve had to take two to three days off due to eye strain and that’s even with an e-ink e-reader!
Reviews – For us, sometimes this can be as difficult as writing a blurb is for an author. We want to find EXACTLY the right words to express how we feel without making readers feel like we’re not being serious. Reviews that start out with “OH MY GOD! THIS BOOK WAS GREAT!” generally don’t go over well unless there’s a clear reason why. Sometimes when we ask ourselves that question, we get flooded with reasons and ideas for what we want in our reviews so quickly that we can’t process it. I’ve had reviews take me months to get right. That’s right, MONTHS. I also post reviews whether they’re positive or negative. I don’t like it when authors tell me not to post a review if it’s negative. Why? Because I have loyalty to my readership first and foremost and that’s how I keep them. My honesty. If I five star a book it’s because I really love it! If it’s any less than that, you will have a solid reason why. I don’t nit pick at small things. If it’s big enough to jolt me out of being lost in the story or as I call it, my “reader trance” then it needs to be mentioned and I owe that to the author so that they can look at it and I owe it to my readers.
Okay so we have the well known stuff out of the way. Let’s go on to the possibly not so well known stuff.
Book Tours: In addition to our own interviews and guest blogs that we schedule ourselves, we also hop on book tours. Book tours are a GREAT way to get your blog out there and the book you’re promoting. You have a day set in stone that the tour is going to be on your blog and you have to have whatever you scheduled up by that day. That means there’s a time limit on the review if you have one. I also do something special with TTS. I’ve been known to help out the blog tour places I work for. If someone backs out or they need a spot, I’ll fill it for them if TTS has no content for that day. It’s more work for me but I’ve found some really great books that way.
Features: I do featured books and trailers. Usually I change them around the end of the month. I’ve been lax with that lately because I’m working on other stuff. If you have a book trailer, send it to me!
Facebook / Twitter – Bloggers almost HAVE to have a presence on social networking. It’s where we interact with our readers and authors we work with. I’m rarely on twitter but my blog posts are posted on there whenever I make a post. We have to constantly keep our readers involved by asking what they’re reading, what they like to read and things like that.
Deals: We also share deals with our readers! Whether it’s on the blog, or through Facebook and Twitter, wecan spend hours scouring the internet and deals sites sharing what we find with our readership.
Giveaways – Sometimes these are author promoted but most of the time they come out of our own pockets. Bloggers probably spend more money and effort on you than you do them.
Advertising Space – I sell advertising space for donations. Any amount you want and I post your book under the booster section for one month. THIS is how I cover most of my giveaways and review books that I can’t get by requesting.
Web Maintenance: This is THE biggest thing for a book blogger. After all our blog is our presence. We’re constantly searching for the best blogging platform ( WordPress, Blogger, Jumla..etc) and plugins or code to make our site do what we want it to do. Some of us actually have hired web designers. The rest of us do it ourselves. I’m one of the people that does it completely on my own. I update and maintain the databases on both the forums for TTS and the site. I tweak the skin, I scour the net looking for a fresh design ( I have found nothing better than what I got from AJ at WPExplorer! ). We also do graphics in situations that graphics aren’t provided for us. Lot of time and effort put into this one. We’re always searching for ways to expand and talk to others about the books we love.
Those are the main things we do other than the hours we spend every morning sending out requests to publishers to get the books we want. I’m hoping that maybe this will help you guys understand why sometimes it takes us a while to get reviews out. TTS really IS a full time job that I’m not getting paid anything for. What little I am getting from affiliate links, goes into giveaways and paying site hosting. Sometimes we don’t even get to keep the books we review. With the rise of places like Netgalley even that’s going away. Perhaps I’ll do a blog on that later. TTS does need more of me blogging. For now though I’m going back to reading. There will be some web maintenance later. I never did get the hang of Mondays 🙂