Sunday Salon: I’m a #bookblogger, bring on the books!

The Sunday Salon badgeThis post has been written because of a random tweet I found from Lisa Pottgen (@destinyisntfree) which went “There’s been too much “start a book blog, get free books” That’s really not how it works.”

One of the mistakes any new book blogger can make is “I’m now a book blogger, people are now going to give me free books! I don’t have to buy another book in my life!”.  To a certain extent, this is true – but it is a double-edged sword and it doesn’t come without some hard work.

Quantity does not mean Quality

The “big hitters” (those people you would have previously paid money for their books) rarely give their books out for free, and then generally only to those people “in the know”. You will get approached with offers of free books – but usually from smaller, less well-known authors who you have never heard of before.  It’s a Caveat Emptor moment here: some can be fab, some less so. Without some fairly strict rules – the first one is to give yourself permission to say “no” – you can be bogged down with books you don’t really enjoy and can be burned out fairly quickly.

It is a case of being selective

You do have to take a chance with some authors – it’s the same as going into a bookshop and picking up an author you’ve never read before.  Don’t accept a book simply because you’ve been offered it. Accept it only if you think you’re going to give it a reasonable review (the “reasonable” review is even more important if it turns out you didn’t like the book itself).

There are only so many hours in the day, into which you need to read the book, write/record the review, publish it, tell people about it. Ironically, being a book blogger means you probably spend less time reading books than you did before.

Getting the types of books you want takes effort.

It’s not a case of build it and they will come. You have to establish relationships with authors, publishers, websites like Netgalley and Edelweiss and be prepared to read the books and write the reviews. Then tell people about the review. If your first foray into getting a free copy of a book from a publisher is to go to up and say “gizza a copy?”, it  rarely works. You are likely to be ignored at best. There is a person at the other end of that email address/twitter name, and they need to be treated as one. Build up a relationship. Don’t go in always expecting a book in return for every interaction. Have conversations, answer quizzes and polls, put the hard work in, and then you *may* be rewarded.

Go to events, such as book signings, author interviews, readings etc. There are a number of authors I read for who I met several times before I started reading their books. Knowing the author (and hearing their books read out loud) will give you a good indication as to whether you’d like their work before committing to reading it.

Build yourself a review policy – it’s unlikely to be perfect on the first go and may take years to develop.  Often you know what you won’t do only when you get asked to do it (I’ve been asked to review a book for free – after I’ve paid full purchase price for it – no thanks!).

Your Online Presence

Have an online presence and keep it up to date. Publish reviews as often as you can, wherever you can. Hang around on twitter/facebook/google+.  Publishers are more likely (but not guaranteed) to take you seriously if you actually tell people about books for no better reason than you want to. Follow and comment on other people’s blogs both inside and outside your niche.

Attend online events such as Bloggiesta (Several times a year), ArmchairBEA (once a year), Blogtacular (weekly online chats as well as annual UK events)

I’ve done it myself

Netgalley and Edelweiss (along with sites like Librarything) can be lethal to people who request books to read. It is common to be a kid in a candy store on sites like this and do a glut of requests for books, forgetting that you will have to actually read the book and review it.  It took me over a year to learn to control the desire to request everything on Netgalley and work on getting my read to request ratio in a much more healthy state.  It’s still a long way off what it should be – it’s currently 54% when it should be closer to 80% and it’s all my fault for requesting too many books and not reviewing them fast enough.


The world owes you nothing and it certainly doesn’t owe you free stuff. Everything comes at a cost, usually time. Time to read, time to write, time to interact….hopefully the above post will give you some indication as to the work involved, even in my small little corner of the tinterweb!

So, constant reader, does any of this resonate with you? Where are you in your blogging journey? Have you just started out? are you several years in, reading this post and shaking your head?





16 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: I’m a #bookblogger, bring on the books!

    • I’ve just reviewed this post to share with a newbie on Goodreads and realised I haven’t replied – so sorry! Thank you for your lovely comment and it’s certainly no longer about the freebies!


  1. I still get lots of offers to review for self-pub and the occasion Random House book shows up in my mailbox. It’s not like I come home to stacks of books and you are spot on that you can get buried under a mountain of books to review if you’re not selective. I wish I could say I was a perfect and had reviewed 100% of what I said I would. I still hope that eventually I will get around to them, but I know pre-publication was the point.

    Great post!


    • I’m working through the books that I’ve been given for free, and rarely ask for more – though I have just got the first of a series of 3 summer reading books from Quercus! silly girl! Luckily it’s a fairly light read, and I have the month to read and review it so it’s not like it’s an impossible read


  2. I’d like to add that if book lovers don’t buy books, who will? I don’t want to pay full price for a book but I will do it if I think about helping a bookstore stay in business. That young blogger was a selfish girl. I don’t request free books because I do not want to waste my time reading books I don’t already want to read. But I am a big user of libraries where books are also free and I can request the books I want and know I will always get them eventually.

    My Sunday Salon


    • Here in the UK, if you borrow a book from a library, the author gets paid approx 60p ($1.00) each time it’s take out. Borrowing is a great way to support your fave authors, especially if you’re not willing or able to pay full price.


  3. I get free books at the library. I got tired of feeling bad about not reviewing books that were given to me, so I limit accepting books, now, to authors that I “know,” at least as on-line friends. Otherwise, I’d rather just get it from the library — no pressure!


    • Main reason I dont use the library? I have so many books in my house as it is! One day I will get them under control honest!


  4. It resonates re Net Gallery. I no longer request books for free unless I intend to read them. I became so stressed as I was reading for the sake of keeping up with the books I had to read. This year I am reading a book a month with my book club then choosing which books to read next. I am back to loving reading again instead of it being another ” to do”. Strangely I’m writing more reviews now than ever.


    • you’ve given yourself permission to read for enjoyment, that’s what it is. Last year I decided not to set a goodreads challenge, and I still ended up reading 60+ books, so I did it again this year!


  5. Sound advice, especially about being careful not to get carried away with sites like NetGalley. I think I fell into that trap at one point. Now I’m far more judicious about what I request. Though I still have too many unread ARCs I have at least got my ratio up to 72%. I’ve never made any direct contact with publishers yet. They must get thousands of requests that way


    • I’ve never gone to a publisher and gone “gimmie!”. I have (perhaps stupidly) engaged with publishers on twitter, where I have ended up with books to read and review, sometimes with timeframes! Oh Lord!


  6. Chiming in late – found this post via Book Bloggers Do It Better. You are so right! I was reviewing on other sites for years before I started my blog, and it was very rare I got offered a copy of a book. Now with my blog, I do get free books, which means usually half of my reading time for the month is booked with these choices. It makes getting to that new series you just found that you love that much harder. I find I am very selective about the books I agree to review as a result.

    And if I don’t get a free copy of a book I want to read? I go buy it. That just means I get to read and review it on my time table instead of someone else’s.


    • I’ve brought the next book, in hardback, based on the freebie previous book.

      My netgalley ratio is still low at 56% but I’m now trying to balance with the other books in my TBR, many of which I have gone out and brought!


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