Book bloggers produce an array of bookish content, from reviews and discussion posts, and from blog tours to reading challenges. They have an incredible amount of influence and drive a lot of conversations amongst readers on social media. When it comes to promoting books and reaching audiences, book bloggers can be a great help: their opinions are so highly valued that they are often mentioned in cover quotes alongside established critics. When I realised two of my YA Shot colleagues, Deputy Director Hannah from Luna’s Little Library and fellow intern Annalise were such amazing bloggers, I was eager to interview them and find out more about what they do and how this benefits writers.
Luna: My blog, Luna’s Little Library, began a little over 5½ years ago. In a rather unlike-me move, it was created on a whim. One evening I thought, “Why don’t I try that?” Thus, I started with no real foundations or knowledge about the book blogging community. My blog focuses primarily on Young Adult (YA) and Middle Grade (MG), though I read across all ages. I’m passionate about promoting #ownvoices and diversity in books.
Annalise: Annalise Books started after I attended the 2015 YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) in London. I'd read very little while at university and decided to get back into YA after exams. It was at YALC that I attended workshops on blogging and vlogging – I was inspired to start blogging and reviewing immediately. My first posts were on my YALC experience.
Luna: Like a lot of other bloggers, I cross-post my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. Because book bloggers post so many reviews, we build our own following and ranking on these sites. On top of that book bloggers often have a multitude of social media platforms. Having a book blogger passionate about a book means they will be praising it everywhere and a lot of people will hear about it. Collaborating with book bloggers gives publishers another marketing outlet and writers a fan and ‘book-friend’.
Annalise: Bloggers can be a huge force for good around book promotion, and have introduced me to books I love but would never have read based just on the blurb. Writers really benefit from positive blogging press, which allows them to reach wider audiences. Book blogging has also helped me to really understand what I like and dislike in a book and hopefully that has made me a better writer; I now understand how to avoid some of the worst tropes and pitfalls! I've also become more aware (as has the writing and blogging community in general, I think!) of issues surrounding diversity and representation in YA.
Luna: When I initially began book blogging I didn’t expect to end up working with publishers and authors so frequently. The first few times I agreed to receive review copies or collaborate was because it was new and exciting. I think that might be quite a common experience. Frequently collaborations, such as interviews or guest posts, are in relation to a book release so the blogger is contacted by the author or writer instead of getting in touch with them. However, every year I host a month of diversity-themed posts in November and get in touch with publishers and authors directly. I find these the most rewarding because they aren’t about publicity but something the authors and I care about.
Annalise: I review copies sent to me from publishers as well as host blog tours, which is where different bloggers post a review or an interview with an author on consecutive days to celebrate a book launch. It helps drum up publicity, as well as providing insight into the author’s life, the writing process, the themes of the book, etc. They are really exciting to take part in as a blogger, but also as a reader: if I really like what a writer has to say on a blog tour I'm much more likely to pick up their book.
Luna: When it comes to building rewarding, mutual-beneficial relationships, my advice is to treat a book blogger how you would like to be treated professionally. Book bloggers are passionate about their blogs, and it’s worth noting that running a book blog is a full-time job that the vast majority of us maintain on top of a full-time job or education. Small things like keeping to an agreed deadline or not re-writing the content after it’s been submitted are a huge help. The best engagements I’ve had with authors are with collaborations on subjects we’re both passionate about. Yes, a blog post can be about the author’s newest book but I’m just as likely to let them write about another subject because it’s interesting and fun and lets readers get to know the author better.
Annalise: Before you approach a blogger for a review, you should know their reviewing policy (many bloggers post these on their blog), the type of books they like to read and their audience. You should also take advantage of any opportunity to meet bloggers face to face. At the UK YA Blog Awards for example (which takes place during the YA Shot book festival) there’s a programme of blogging and vlogging events where you can meet the individuals behind many amazing blogs and make connections. Most importantly you should always remember that bloggers are people too – treat them nicely and it will pay off!
Tia Armstrong is an undergraduate Law student at the University of Manchester, and wrote this piece as part of her first year internship with YA Shot. You can visit the YA Shot website here to find out more about them.