Armchair BEA: Blog Development

Armchair BEA 2A collection of my random thoughts:

Blog development is something I’ve been wrestling with since I started blogging six months ago. I don’t just want followers, I want good followers, followers who care and comment. I know this is going to take time and dedication. I know I have a few followers who faithfully read my recommendations and appreciate what I have to say. They make it worthwhile.

In some ways as a reviewer of literary fiction I feel alone in the blogosphere. So many book blogs are almost fan sites dedicated to YA, fantasy and dystopian novels. As a result, it has taken me time to find like minded bloggers, who are dedicated to literary fiction. (It must be even more lonely if you are focusing exclusively on non fiction!).

Initially, I found Goodreads to be a great way of connecting with other readers. However, since it has been bought by Amazon I have abandoned it. Others I knew stepped back from it at first as well, but now they are drifting back (I think). Does anyone else have philosophic issues with Amazon mining their insights to sell books? I am thinking about switching over to BookVibe or LibraryThing. Does anyone have experience with either one?

As far as advice to offer, here is what I have:

  1. Social Media. It is crucial that you use it. Twitter, Facebook and even GoodReads (grrr) are no brainers. So far I have had problems figuring out how Pintrest can work for me, but that’s just me.
  2. Writing for the screen is different than writing for print. Keep things short and concise. People tend to skim more than read with a deeper and more critical eye. For this reason I like to keep my reviews down to 500 words.
  3. Clutter. A well organized blog is easier to read and will hold attention longer.
  4. Comment. Giving thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs will bring them over to your blog. If you genuinely share and interest, then you will like each others’ blogs.


  1. Never fear – there are plenty of us who enjoy literary fiction and the Classics (which you may have seen yesterday) as well as YA and whatever. I think you’re more thoughtful about blogging development than I was at 6 months! About Goodreads – I thought the whole Amazon deal got struck down? Maybe I imagined (hoped) that happened… I still use it, but mostly as a tracking system. I don’t really post reviews there – but I have been trying to be better about starring the books I’ve read over there. -Sarah

  2. There is a large community of folks who review largely literary and more general contemporary fiction. I dip in and out of whatever strikes my fancy and that tends toward literary or general fiction that has some sort of built-in angle or genre element. I like magical realism and things like that. I wish I could share my whole Feedly list with you! You’d be swimming in awesome blogs!

  3. I like the look of your blog. Sparce, clean. It’s my dream to work in such an environment… I’ve decided to follow you – although I’m a bit trepidatious and not sure I’ll be what you consider a “good follower”. I’ll try. I care (that’s a start). And I’m getting into commenting. But I’m a beginner. Pls be gentle with me… :0)

  4. I have definitely felt that way about YA book bloggers. There’s nothing wrong with YA and I will read it from time to time, but it’s not my main cup of tea. Which is why I’m glad I found your blog! I’m excited to be a follower of yours. 🙂

  5. I’m primarily a YA book blogger, but I read ALL kinds of books, and I think YA book bloggers definitely tend to sort of dominate the book blogging world just by sheer numbers. I know before I post a review that if what I’m reviewing is anything other than YA, it won’t be as popular(which is fine). I like your advice! I sometimes have trouble keeping my reviews concise(they’re pretty much never under 500 words), but I think I’m learning how to break things up so they’re easier to read & more accessible.

  6. I use Goodreads, but just as a way to track books. I don’t post my reviews there, but do rate the books once I read them.

    I think commenting is everyone’s stress. I love when people comment on my blog – as long as it’s a meaningful comment. I could do without the “hey…I’m now following you, please come follow me” comments.

    My Blogger Development

  7. I bet it is lonely for your preferred genre to be anything other than YA in this book blogging world. Like you said, people who read and blog solely about nonfiction must really be lonely. And I have to say, my nonfiction reviews have gotten to least page views and comments than any other genre. But it makes it all the more worth it I bet to find people who are like minded. Great post and good tips!

  8. I don’t think I’ll leave Goodreads unless Amazon does something really nasty to it. The main reason is I don’t feel like transferring my admittedly big book lists&such over to some new place. It works for me, and unless what works will be ruined I’m not jumping ship. If anyone uses my stuff to sell books, cheers to that.

    And I’m with you on the Pinterest thing, right now it looks to me like just another thing to do what has kind of 0 utility. Maybe we’ll see the error of our ways soon, maybe not.

    I loved your post and advice!

  9. I think there are a lot of bloggers who write about literary fiction, although they may be hard to find since the book blogosphere is so big now. I do mostly nonfiction and it gets a little lonely sometimes, but I also like finding people who are just getting into nonfiction and writing about that.

    Your tip about keeping reviews short is a good one. I am really wordy, but I think I lose people sometimes.

  10. It does seem like there are very few literary fiction reviewers out there. I occasionally review one or two, and when i first started out I had quite a few but now it’s mostly YA or fantasy of some sort. I use pinterest and I pin the book covers for the reviews, it gets a few hits here and there from pinterest traffic.

  11. You could set up a Pinterest board that contains the images used in your book reviews? You could then link back to your posts and get a bit more traffic. You could also use it to share the blog love, linking to other reviews you’ve enjoyed, or bookish quotes, or thinks on your ‘to read’ list… just an idea 🙂

  12. Thanks for sharing! I love Goodreads esp. the barcode scan app. very handy & so useful! at first I’m quite alarmed and worried but it’s part of change it’s inevitable.I’m curious what and how would amazon revolutionize the site etc.

  13. I am mostly literary fiction too, though I like to break it up with bits of crime fiction, chick-lit, and sometimes Fantasy.

    I started thinking about popularizing my blog only sometime last year. While twitter and goodreads is great, I suppose for pupularizing the blog, I found the quickest way was to participate in popular online memes/tags – Top ten Tuesday, Mailbox Monday, Teaser Tuesdays, and so on.

    It helps generate content for the blog. I am a pretty slow reader, so it was impossible to generate enough content on my own, when I am reading a book a fortnight.

  14. I had the same issue when I started out with finding blogs that were talking about the kinds of books I like (which includes literary fiction and non-fiction) and weren’t too “fangirl.” I did discover that there are some sites out there that have a lot of useful into about book blogging to offer even if I would never in a million years read any of the books they gush about. I’m enjoying your Armchair BEA posts. It’s nice to learn more about the person behind the reviews.

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