But for the newbies joining, it's hard to learn the ropes - what should I/shouldn't I do? What can I/can't I ask? What should my blog be like? How can I stand out?
Let me help. Here is Nicole's Official List of (Unofficial) Rules for New Bloggers.
1. Be interesting.
I know, it's a lot to handle. But let your personality shine through! I don't want to read a blog that's boring and blah and uninteresting.
So try to let your personality shine. If you're funny, be funny. If you're snarky, be snarky. If you're clever, be clever. (If you actually are a boring person, um... pretend to be somebody else?) But be interesting. If you're interesting, you stand out, you become memorable - and besides, all good blogs should be interesting!
It's hard to explain how to be interesting - that's always a problem. That's why I say to be yourself, and let your personality shine through. If you're trying to sound like every other blog out there, your blog will get lost in the depths of the interwebz.
Don't follow the crowd! Use your own voice and don't cave into doing what everyone else does!
Be yourself. People know what authenticity looks like, and can smell a fake from a mile away.
Make sure you're having fun! Ignore the numbers at first, that stuff will come with interaction and content.
Donna at Bites always stands out - her personality shines through her blog.
2. Post often, but not every day. It's the quality, not the quantity.
Here at WORD, I try to post every day - but I've begun taking days off, simply because I don't have time to do a good post every day. Filler posts are fun sometimes (I love my Friday and Wednesday posts) but don't just keep posting about how you will post or about random things.
Posting a link to somewhere else is why people get Twitter accounts; posting a random picture is for Flickr. I want to see what you have to say.
On the other hand, if you're only posting once every other month, I'm not going to remember to follow your blog. It may be a GREAT post every other month. But you're not being consistent.
Ideally, I say post once a week, and make it a solid post. If you can post less than that, it's fine. And you can always schedule in advance!
But if you can't do at least once a week, I'd hold off on blogging for a while, at least in my opinion. And don't post (at least more than once) about not posting - we don't want excuses, we want blog posts!
Stay focused. If you're a book blog, readers probably don't care much about the sleeping habits of your cat.
Chelsea at Coffee and Cliffhangers posts consistently, and all of her posts are fabulous.
3. Thou shalt not steal.
Don't do it.
Sometimes it's easy - to steal an idea for a weekly feature, or steal the idea of a blog post, or even in an extreme case, just to steal and paraphrase reviews.
But that's not why you started your blog. You started because you love books. (Not to get free things. I'll address that later.) So don't steal something somebody else worked hard on!
Yes, I do know a blog that stole things. No, I won't link them - they've repented.
4. Don't be a recluse - visit other sites!
Visit other sites! Go out, comment, follow people, start conversations, make friends. The book blogging community is HUGE, and it's a lot of fun to contribute.
It's also the only real way to successfully get your blog out there. You have to interact with people so they know you exist! Don't curl up in a corner and just oogle things - leave comments, Tweet people. It's fun!
But don't spam other bloggers - don't post the same exact comment on all blogs you visit promoting your blog. I'll happily visit your blog if you at least make an effort to visit mine!
Erica at The Book Cellar always leaves some great comments on WORD!
5. Watch your layout!
I'm a huge fan of pretty blogs. I love pretty banners and pretty layouts.
On the other hand, that doesn't mean throwing everything you ever want into a sidebar, or overloading your page with colors and .gifs and WHEEE FUN THINGS. Keep it simple. An image or two is okay, and pretty banners are pretty. But make things easy to read (watch those colors!), and keep the important things - blog posts, Follower information, archives - easily accessible.
Lenore at Presenting Lenore has a really nice layout - simple, clean, easy to navigate and easy to read.
EDIT: Icey Books did a great post about how to clean up your layout and make it great - check it out!
6. Make it easy for your readers.
If you're talking about a book cover, post the cover in the post. If you mention a link to something, create a link.
The great thing about Blogger - and sites like Wordpress - is that they make it really easy for you to link things and add images and things like that. All you have to do is click a button. So play around and learn how to do all of that; if you make it easier for us, we'll love you all the more for it.
Lexi at The Literature Lion makes things easy to find for her readers!
7. It's not about the free books.
ARCs are not the point of blogging.
Say it with me: ARCS ARE NOT THE POINT OF BLOGGING.
Free things are a great bonus if you've been blogging consistently for a long time. But remember, that's not why you blog. You blog because you love books, not because you want free ones. If, perhaps, one day you want to ask for ARCs or start getting ARCs, that's great! But remember: your love of books comes first.
Don't expect ARCs your first month blogging. Build a reputation FIRST then ask how to get them.
Pam at Bookalicious loves books. A lot. A LOT a lot.
8. Review books are a privilege, not a right.
But if you HAVE been blogging a while, and you do start asking for ARCs, that's okay.
But remember - just because you run a book blog doesn't mean you're entitled to them. When bloggers get ARCs, it's part of an expensive to make limited run print of something. They're not handed out; you have to earn them.
So don't just ask for everything and then not review it. Don't make a blog just to get them.
And for Oz sake, don't ask authors for ARCs! They have so few to begin with - to ask them just makes it come across as rude. The books they get are for family and their biggest fans, and MAYBE their favorite reviewers. If you want to review their book, ask their publicist.
Don't ask authors for books. Don't whine about not getting ARCs/responses from publicists. Don't be an ass.
Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron Fey series loves interacting with bloggers - and she always makes sure review copies get into the right hands.
9. Be professional AND fun.
Blogging is a lot of fun. You get to goof off and have fun and post interesting things and be funny and snarky and witty and it's lovely.
But don't be stupid.
Don't insult people/authors on your blog for no reason. Don't go around making every other word a curse word (though cursing is acceptable, depending on the situation). Don't be rude or insensitive. It's not hard to do, but some people seem to have a hard time with it.
Don't believe my advice? Take it from some other bloggers!