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The Compulsive Reader: May 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Little Friendly Advice

I don't normally get off on telling people what to do, but consider this blog post a little friendly advice...as more and more bloggers crop up and competition for books, readers, etc., begins to form, I have to say, I've been a bit shocked at how some people behave. I try to stay away from the drama, but here's some Do's and Don'ts that I've gleaned over my years reviewing that every blogger should be aware of.

Do be nice. About everything. Seriously. Whether you blog just for something to do and never plan on it being more that that or you blog because you want to get into publishing someday, treat every person you work with like you would a potential reference or letter of recommendation.

Don't do this for the free books. Yeah, it's totally fun, but if you are the type bragging that you have such and such contact and you got such and such book, or you spend more time hunting for freebies than actually blogging, you've got a problem. Similarly, don't go sharing every publicist's email address in your address book with all your new blogger friends. They don't appreciate it.

Do give credit when credit is due. You have undoubtedly noticed lots of cool features out there, like Lookalikes by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie, or In My Mailbox by the Story Siren and Alea. Those are awesome. Sometimes, they want YOU to participate too. But if you do, credit them. It's only fair. And don't steal content from others' features. If you want to blog about it too, okay, cool. No one's stopping you. But either be creative about it, or make sure you acknowledge them.

Don't forget your manners. Um, re: be nice. Introduce yourself. Say please and thank you. Authors have told me about impolite bloggers (oh, the stories!), and yeah, they still answer their interview and guest blog requests, but they don't think too much of the blogger afterward. So, think about the tone of that email before you send it.

Do be careful about how much you tell in your blog. Okay, I know. Like your parents and teachers haven't told you over and over and over again about the dangers of the world wide web. But seriously--just because we all love books here doesn't mean there aren't creepers out there. So be smart. Yeah, it's fun to read about the reviewers behind the blog, but always be on your guard. It wasn't until real recently that I've felt comfortable sharing with my readers a bit more about myself, and not many know my name. I like it like that. You know when a piece of information might be too much, or if your blog is becoming more personal than book-ish. Just be aware of it.

Don't regurgitate other people's opinions. I'm not lying, guys, I KNOW of bloggers who don't read books, or if they do, they get lazy, and they Google search a book, find reviews, and rephrase bits and pieces of the review to form a review of their own. Not only is this lazy and stupid, it's plagiarism (and if you've ever been schooled in the technique of paper-writing, you'll know that rephrasing things doesn't get you in the clear, it still counts as plagiarism).

Do share your own opinion. Don't be shy. Basically, like Meg Cabot says, "You're not a hundred dollar bill. Not everyone is going to like you," applies to a lot of things in blogging. Not everyone likes every book. So, if someone is reading your blog, they want to know YOUR opinion, not the general opinion of the masses. Similarly, authors and publicists are used to people not liking books as well. It's okay, because everyone is different. If everyone loved the same things, then...everything would just be messed up. Also, everyone likes an honest review more than a positive review.

Don't be negative about mistakes bloggers make. We all make them. And SpellCheck doesn't catch everything. So, if you spot something, shoot the blogger a nice, polite email instead of gossiping about it on Twitter or leaving icky comments. I mean really, this is grade school stuff, right?

Do comment about relative stuff. If you have something to add to the conversation or post, go ahead and add it. Talk about a book, agree, disagree, debate, give your opinion. Just don't say, "Check out my blog," or "Hey, you've got an award!" That doesn't add to the dicussion, and it's annoying to weed out. Which leads me to...

Don't get all nasty to a blogger because they have an opinion other than yours. Remember my whole "everyone is different" spiel? Respect it. Diversity is the flavor of life, or something like that. Plus, no one likes an anonymous, mean commenter. So go ahead and disagree with me, tell me why you don't agree with me, you can even try and convince me to join your side, but don't disrespect my, or anyone else's opinions. We're all entitled to them.

Do respond to your mail! This goes for comments, questions, anything. Blog readers like it when you connect with them, so if someone asks a question on your blog, respond! Same with email...always respond to the person who writes to you. it's just polite, and it will leave a really positive impression!

Do always be respectful and positive! Blogging is fun, and just remember to treatr others the same way that you would want to be treated.

Anything else anyone would like me to address?