Today's topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is Blogging. We're supposed to share three tried and true practices for every blogger, as well as a new trend or tool we use or would like to try in the future.
1. Tracking System. I think one of the most important tools I use every day is a tracking system for the books I read and review. I've tried a few different formats, but the one that has worked best for me is a simple Word document with a table. Here's what it looks like:
For some books, the Review On column is set, particularly for those that are part of tours. For others, the Read By and Review On dates change as I read. When I add in a new book, I revise the dates for the others to keep track. I've also included notes on publishing dates, giveaways or interviews. And I added a column for 2011 to keep track of the state where the book takes place for a challenge I'm participating in. Finally, I change the shade of the row based on where I am in the process. At first, it's not shaded. When I am reading the book, it's light blue. When I've finished the book but haven't reviewed it yet, it's light gray. When I've published the review, it's dark gray. I think it's absolutely essential that every book blogger have some sort of tracking system to manage all their reviews, interviews and giveaways.
2. Standard Review Format. Another thing I find very helpful is having a standard format for all my book reviews. Some bloggers have specific details about the book that they include at the top of the review, such as publishing date, number of pages and genre. I don't include those details, but I do have a format I use even if it's not obvious. I always start off with a description of the book in my own words. This is usually one or two paragraphs. Next, I write about what I liked about the book. Then I mention any issues I had with the book. Then I recommend the book to specific types of readers. I end with a rating and sometimes include links to the author's website, reading group guides or other resources. I also have a standard disclosure statement that is at the end of every review. Having a standard format helps me organize my thoughts better.
3. Connections to publishers, publicists, authors, etc. The third thing I think is essential for book bloggers is having connections to people who can provide the books. Of course, if you're a blogger who only reviews your own books that you buy or get from the library, you don't need this. But it seems most book bloggers are working with book industry folks to promote books. And so it helps to have connections with certain ones. I have my name on several lists so I get emails often from different publishers and publicists asking me to review books. I decline the majority of the books I'm offered, because there are so many. But as a blogger, I need those connections to ensure when I want to review a new book, I have access to it.
I'm not sure what new trend I should talk about, honestly. I'm not sure what to consider as new trends. I'm on Twitter. I set up a Facebook page for my blog. I'm not on Google + so maybe I should be. I participate in readathons and blogging events like BBAW and Armchair BEA. I'd love to hear what new trends you have found helpful. If you want to read about other bloggers' suggestions, check out the BBAW website.